Tag Archives: Depression

Sea of Silence (Look, it’s a working title ok?)

Tonight I laid beneath a galaxy of emotion
Striking, and paralyzing, and somber
and I wondered
how many times have I been here before?
how many times have I told myself
that maybe it’s time
To bridge that great divide
Between an ocean loud with feeling
& the coveted land
Stable and silent and sacred
And swim through the salted waters,
Miles away from my own solitude,
stand before the sun drenched shore
and stop—
Only to turn back to the solace of shackles and shadows and say to myself
Some sorrows are too deep to share
— ?

To All My Dramatic Dreamers (Myself Included)

Yesterday, I wrote a piece about superstitions and my experience with the paranormal. I forced myself to write it. After I finished, I decided to hold off on posting it and wait till the next day– today. This evening, as I sat in front of my computer ready to publish my piece I decided to write something different (which is this post that you’re reading right now). Why? I can’t really say. Perhaps it’s because what I had originally intended to post didn’t seem adequate enough. It felt rushed and forced and all it had to offer was mediocrity. I can’t deny that I’ve been in a stump these past few months. As you can tell from my lack of posting, I’ve lost enjoyment for my craft and have been feeling passionless, which is scary because I’ve convinced myself that writing and reading are my bread and butter. I’ve told myself that it’s all I have to offer the world.
Reading and WritingReading and Writing Reading and Writing
I’ve lived most of my life assuming that my career would center around these two words that have consumed me for most of my academic life.
 Then all of a sudden I lost any motivation and desire to continue reading and writing, and I was lost– am lost. I know this isn’t groundbreaking. Everyone is lost at 21. Boo hoo, Via. Welcome to the most inclusive club on Earth!

Despite this suffering being a communal affair, I still feel helpless. My world has tilted from 23º to 90º and I’ve been left with the one question that has paralyzed any forward movement in my life: Do I like reading and writing because I’m actually passionate about it or do I like it because I’ve been told that (relatively) I’m good at it? Thereby convincing me to love it? Because if I didn’t actually love it, where would that leave me? What would I do then? If I truly loved something, why did I give up on it for months? Why did I lose any desire to continue? Why did I dread reading and writing during my final semesters? Hello, existential crisis.

I thought back to my undergrad and realized how I fell out of love with reading and writing because I felt forced to do it. I needed to write that 10 page exegesis because I needed that grade to pass and ensure my parents’ sacrifices for my education weren’t in vain. I needed to work those hours at the Writing Center, reading and peer-reviewing other students’ papers to make money. I needed to complete my Literature degree because I had already come so far. I was so surrounded by what I thought I had loved that I felt suffocated by it.

And then I thought about the potential career I had planned for myself (publishing), which more or less, would be the same thing. Would my attitude towards reading and writing– my supposed passions– shift from adoration to resentment then? 

Then I wondered if anyone else has thought this. Do accountants become accountants because they love numbers or because they’re good with them? This question reminded me of an article I read claiming that we do ourselves and our community a disservice by building a career solely off of something we love. It argued that, more or less, following your dream is a waste of time if you’re not one of the lucky few. This post went against everything I’ve been taught. Not follow your dream? How… pessimistic– or perhaps, now, realistic? After all, it’s called a dream because not everyone has what it takes to make it tangible. Or maybe they do, but they’re perpetually screwed over by the injustice of a fickle world. I questioned constantly the validity of this statement. It had merit. There are countless artists– writers– out there who love an industry that doesn’t love them. There are hundreds of unrecognized talents who are overshadowed by those who were in the right place at the right time but are mediocre at best.

Then I considered the idea that I lost my love for reading and writing because I lost faith in my ability to actualize my goals– because I was afraid what I wanted to do wasn’t what I should do, that it wouldn’t be profitable or I wouldn’t “make it”. And then my mind went on a tirade bombarding me with questions of my quality of life if I were to pursue a career in publishing that has less than fruitful results for the majority. Then it bombed me with questions regarding my happiness were I to do something I could find security in but didn’t fulfill what I really wanted. Then I paralyzed myself even more from my inability to just decide. Then I attacked myself for being so consumed with needing money. I rationalized this desire by understanding that I obviously need money to survive. Then I thought about how broke I was and questioned how I could ever become independent. After I went through this– for lack of a better term– episode, every romantic notion claiming that we foster happiness by following our dream was folded in half and stored in the far off drawers of my mind. 

And then I went crazy.

When I calmed down enough, I then thought about the binate system we’re conditioned to follow: this or that but never both. Or or or or.  It always had to be one or the other. You either follow your passion and risk a less stable life or you choose a profitable job which you might be good at but have no real interest in. In the midst of this dimming thought, I realized I never asked myself why I couldn’t do both. More than that, why did the choices have to be either good or bad, or bad or worse? Why couldn’t the options be good or best? With such a dismal outlook, it was no wonder I “lost” passion. 

I thought back to Bukowski’s famous words: “Find what you love and let it kill you.” I had been consumed by this line when I first came across it. I remember reading it, letting it sink in and thinking they were the most profound words ever arranged in a 9 syllable sentence. Fuck yeah! I couldn’t wait to be killed by my passion. MURDER ME, CHARLES BUKOWSKI! MY BODY IS READY.

But here I am, years later, figuratively dying and wondering why does it have to be so dramatic? After all was thought and anguished over to an overwhelming amount, I thought about those who follow their dreams as a hobby while they pursue more profitable avenues; they continue to hone their art in some hope that one day they’ll find their big break. A practical and reasonable choice. I don’t think it’s giving up–more like… being wise. Why does following your dreams often equate to being impetuous and foolish? Why is there no smart way to accomplish your goals? Practicality isn’t romantic, sure, but that doesn’t make it a less viable option.

So here I am, slowly trying to figure out a smart way to be what I want to be. Do I love reading and writing again? I’m working on it. In fact, this is the first time I’ve been inspired to write all summer and I must say that I feel satisfied having completed something of value– at least to me. That’s a start. I’m also thinking that I’ll try the practical route and see what comes from that. I might also change my mind the next day and just wing it all, but I’m thinking that that’s okay too.

So while I’m often subjected to boughts of hopelessness and despair and all the dramatics of life in regards to the future, I’m quite eager to figure it out as I go along. I’m learning to trust myself and understand, that for all my mistakes and flaws, I know I’ll be okay in the end. Again, maybe that seems arrogant, but what I’ve also learned is that you need a little ego to be where you want to be in life.

 

What do you guys think? I’d love to hear your opinions below. Let’s have a discussion!

-petrichor-

Today, the book I was reading got wet
I left it outside on the porch, let the rain
Trample over the opened pages, and
didn’t realize what I had done
until the downpour subsided
And the rain slowed to a drizzle

When I picked it up next, I cried
Such a small thing to get upset over
But lately I’ve been feeling as flimsy as these wet pages
As bendable as the soft paper cover
As fragile as the watered down edges

And lately, I’ve been more and more like water
Like a stream traveling with no destination
Loose, unformed, lacking a single shape
So easily folded into nothing in particular
And as hard as I‘ve been trying,
it seems all I find are shadowed crevices
and because of gravity and because I am water
All I can do is fall through
Separating even more of myself
until I’m just
a
single
drop

But when I opened the book, I saw that my notes
Haphazardly scribbled– were unmarred
The spine of the cover– intact
and the dog eared pages– still folded

When I saw this, I cried again.
And as the droplets began to fall once more,
As the gray clouds danced against the wind,
I laid my book beneath the fan
Walked outside, let my limbs fall languidly
          Felt my body flow north
And joined the rain

Inevitable Lessons of Being A Sad Girl

Life is crazy. No surprise there.
It’s unpredictable.
It’s hectic.
It’s all types of fucked up and all kinds of beautiful.

Most of all, it always moves forward. Luckily for me, much of the momentum that pushed me through this past year and a half had comprised of bouts of sadness so deep, it scared me. It felt inescapable and unmanageable. With my graduation date quickly approaching, I constantly worried about the future: where I would be, what I would do afterwards, where I would work, and mostly how I would pay for myself once I became independent? How could I make something of myself if I was too afraid to take the risk of following my passion for writing? I was stressed and sad and angry that I didn’t have the answers so all I did was remain stagnant in my position. And because of that I felt I had no purpose. I was pushing against a rock I couldn’t move.

Without going into too much detail, much of the depression that I experienced was also a product of internal issues (self-confidence, stress, anxiety, uncertainty, etc.) along with a few other moving and unpleasant events that were outside of my control, but manageable had I simply approached the situation better (failed and strained relationships with friends, family, and lovers). I had harbored and nurtured these problems with negativity and worry and this reflected in my work ethic, my social circles, and my daily interactions with other people. I was easy to anger, to irritate. I pulled away from many people, and procrastinated at every opportunity. Most damaging of all, I convinced myself that I deserved to feel this way– to hate myself for having no “real” excuse for being sad, but still being so anyway.

But I look back at those dark moments in time, even with the happy days in mind, and cannot think of anything I could be more grateful for. I mean that with the utmost sincerity.

You may be wondering why I would be praising something many would consider a misfortune. Why would I be happy to have been sad? I realize that may seem odd and perhaps offensive to some who have been clinically diagnosed with depression or mental illness. That is not my intention at all. But it is because of that deep depression that I have come to learn more about growth and happiness, and most importantly, myself.

Now, I am not a guru of life. I don’t have all the secrets of the world nor do I wish to. These lessons I’ve learned have not automatically brought me to a realm of absolute happiness. But I have learned that “happiness” as a perpetual state of being is not possible, nor should it be. I don’t say this because I am a pessimist, but because I’ve come to understand that the goal of life isn’t about finding absolute bliss for the rest of our days.
It’s about living.
And to be alive is to know pain and hardship and heartbreak and love and laughter and moments of joy so profound it’s impossible not to believe in something greater. It’s about trying to understand world and coming to terms with the fact that we never truly will. To be alive is to live in a paradox.

This leads me to

Lesson One:  Let go of the need for happiness. 
I read a quote once and though I am unable to relay it verbatim, it went along these lines: If you forbid yourself to be sad because there are others who suffer more, then you cannot allow yourself to be happy because there are many who are happier than you.

I spent many months being upset– mostly at myself.There was so much guilt whenever I felt sad or angry, because every night I took a step back and thought to myself: What do I really have to be sad about when I have supportive family and friends, food on the table, shelter over my head, and a stable education? If I started to feel sad I’d instantly beat myself up for looking at the world so negatively. I forced myself to be positive and would get upset when I couldn’t be. How could I when I would constantly meet and interact with people who suffered more tangible worries than I could even imagine?

But I had to learn that feeling completely out of sorts with the world and with myself is an inevitable part of living. Feeling guilty for natural, valid, and uncontrollable emotions is unproductive and unreasonable.

IT’S OKAY TO BE SAD SOMETIMES.

To be in a spectrum of emotion is to be whole. No matter my economic circumstance, my personal situation, my work or school life– be it in a terrible state or a great one– I learned that it’s okay to feel. To live. It was time to stop being so hard on myself for being human.

Lesson Two: Only I am responsible.
My parents, my friends, and my environment have all shaped me. Yet my mold isn’t merely governed by these outside forces. It’s subject to internal movement: my thoughts, my goals, my emotions. Every inch of my mind. The world I live in and how I choose to perceive it is up to me and whatever comes of that is my responsibility.

I worry about what’s to come constantly. I have no idea what will become of my life in ten years or five or even two weeks. What if someone I love dies? What if something comes around and completely throws me off my path and sets me back? What if I can’t get a job after I graduate? This anxiety only fueled what had already been a chaotic mind.

What I had to understand is that outside forces beyond my control will always be there, but to place blame on the state of my life on anyone other than myself is to disregard my ability to rebuild myself and grow from hardship. If someone pushed me down and I stay there, that is my full and conscious decision. Instead of blaming the world for placing a rock in my path, I learned to break down that rock into fragments so fine it would be unrecognizable. Weather it down with water and knead it until it became clay. Then mold that obstacle into whatever I chose. Because only I am responsible for it.

Lesson Three: It’s all about balance.
I remember a time where the playgrounds I once frequented had thin metal beams that I would walk with precarious steps. And I remember the time my friends had dared me to run across the beam without falling down.

I failed.

That experience taught me two things.

1. Balance is crucial.
2. I have to walk before I can run.

This past year I had to relearn these lessons. I reached my capacity for stress, but continued to add things that only pushed me even further past my limit. I overloaded on classes, work, and extracurricular activities and let my work pile up. And when I would silently crumble under the pressure, I’d beat myself up for not being able to handle the stress. I expected so much from myself for no other reason than I wanted to be better and I wanted that now. But rather than benefit me, it only weakened my resolve. I placed my goals on the foreground and pushed my mental health in the background not knowing that there was space for both in the front. Here I was walking on a metaphorical beam of life, holding a feather in my left hand with a ton of bricks weighing down on my right. How could I have possibly stayed balanced?

What I learned from falling too far over the edge is that I didn’t have to carry a huge weight on my shoulder in order to make something of myself. Most of all, I didn’t need to do any of that now. I was trying to fly through the stages of life, but I had no idea what I was rushing for. Maybe I had been in a silent competition with those my age who already seemed to have it all figured out. Whatever the reason, I have come to determination that when I reach my goals, I will go into them with a clear and balanced mind.

Much of what I’ve presented so far may seem preachy coming from a young adult who still has so much left to experience. I have no idea if I’ll come back to this and find that all I’ve written contradicts what I will learn in the following years. Or maybe I won’t.

I don’t really know and that’s okay.
I can’t unpack the entire world in only 21 years.
And you know what?

That’s okay too.

My Life Explained By Numbers

Challenge Day 1: Introduce Yourself 

I have lived a grand total of 1,070 weeks, which, factoring in the date of my birth is exactly 7,489 days today. This is not including leap year so really I’ve lived a total of 7,494 days. That means I am made up of 10,791,360 minutes of alternating good and bad decisions, lazy days, detours and misadventures, lies, love, 99¢ ramen runs and 1 Rihanna concert. I am 3 inches above 60 and 115lbs of solidified magic and madness. I have been with 3 people, only said “I love you” to one, have 5 close friends I would do anything for, 4 parents I love more than anything, and a dog I would jump in front of a slowly moving car for. I am the 3rd kid in a group of 5, but I am legally an only child. I was adopted 1,089 days from my birth and have lived on the island of Guam for nearly 6,400 days.

Roughly 40.8% of my time has been dedicated to aiming for decent grades, memorizing various literary devices, and trying but failing to find the solutions to limits as x approaches a constant. Since I will be entering my senior year of college in 3 months I still have about 180 days left of school. I spend around 8 hours studying and attending classes 5 days out of 7. That’s roughly 40 hours a week pursuing my academic goals. This number, of course, varies upon the time in the semester, the amount of credit hours, and the type of student, but I’d say it’s comparable to a full time job. That leaves the other 59.2% of my time left to spend with my family, friends, and pursuits towards personal endeavors outside of academia.

As for a few defining moments, towards the middle of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 I experienced the best and worst time of my life. I spent 305 days in a different state, attending 12 hours of school each week and a large part of the the remaining 156 hours mainly focusing on a healthy appetite for social interaction. During those days, I spent 5 months nurturing a relationship, which 153 days later would fall apart once I flew 7,145 miles back home. This, coupled with the fact that I’d be leaving the satisfaction of sudden independence and roughly 25 brand-spanking-new good friends, left me with 213 days battling with what turned out to be the hardest yet most transformative season of my life thus far.

My first day back on Guam I landed at 10 o’clock in the evening, fell asleep around midnight, and 6 hours later woke up to go on a morning hike to distract myself from the pain I knew would be inevitable. The next 2 days succeeding that were spent with tears wallowing in sadness so deep, at times I could do nothing more than curl up in a ball and force myself to go to sleep. It was nearly 3 months of complete devastation and a sense of yearning for something I couldn’t yet name.

On day 3, I had had it with depression and vowed to do everything in my power to never feel that way again. As a result, the 76 days that followed from then on were spent actively trying to distract myself from the hollowness I couldn’t seem to shake; This included watching movies nearly every night at the theatre, going out with friends, cleaning and reorganizing my 4 year plan for university, hiking, running, swimming, eating, and most of all: avoiding. But as ever, that perpetual shadow of what I could only call grief– the loss of what I left behind– continued to plague me for more hours than I wish to count. I spent nearly 22 hours a day questioning why this was and came to the conclusion that my sadness was the result of an idle summer– jobless, purposeless, and holding on to a past I hadn’t yet learned to let go of.

On day 79, I went back to school. I had a reason for getting up again. The sudden routine didn’t provide for me the solace I had hoped for right away, but I started getting back on my feet and focusing on life outside of what use to be and who it had been with.

214 days after that cloud of darkness shaped itself above my head, I had successfully worked with my pain instead of against it and from that blossomed a strength I once thought impossible.

48 days after the new year, about 8 months after my return home and my months long depression, I met someone new. Thus followed a good 4 to 5 weeks of first experiences with a new person, a different pair of lips, and another wave of sadness, which came when it all came crumbling down roughly 47 days later. In those weeks, life grew even more hectic. Final exams and papers worth 20% of my grade approached their due dates, work peaked, family crises rose from the ground like weeds in the soil, and my usual 9-5 at school turned into 9-1. The hands of the universe were arranging my life in an intricate pattern of dominoes which fell piece by piece leaving me to catch them all in the tiny expanse of my 2 hands. It was yet another season of learning and growing, and reaping lessons I still haven’t fully grasped.

I don’t want to dwell on such things, however. I am 151 days into 2017 and 2 full weeks of happiness. This has been a year which has proven to be a fruitful experience of soulful expansion and youthful optimism and it’s only just begun. In the grand scheme of things, if I live up to 73, the average lifespan of females in the world, I have a good 19,723 days before I die. This is assuming that I don’t get hit by a bus or contract e-coli before then and that I pass away exactly at 11:13 p.m. on November 23rd 2070. This is also assuming I’m average- which I’m not– thank you very much. I have about 2,818 weeks left to see Coldplay live, visit 10 countries, skydive from 14,000 feet in the air, and reach my goal of having read at least 2,000 books in a single lifetime. I have 53 years left to grow the seeds of my purpose and create a garden that will continue to flourish even after I perish.

I am the summation of 3,747 nights, 3,748 days, 179849 hours, and 7 very important people. I am chasing life with 2 legs and grasping for experience with 10 fingers clasped tight. I am learning. Although I am made up of numbers which simultaneously increase and decrease as I continue to create myself, I am essentially just 1 being ceaselessly racing towards infinity.

(I wrote this on May 31st, 2017. The numbers should reflect that.)
(Also, I’m really bad at math.)