Life has not been easier. After two years of getting my hopes up, it seems like my struggles with depression and anxiety still persist. It seems like each day is just as bad as the day before. It does not help when parents do not understand. They don’t, and I feel like it is my fault because I have trouble verbalizing my thoughts and emotions. When there is no communication, the only thing that can happen is miscommunication. I do know that I have an amazing support system at school. For the past three years, my school counselor tirelessly listened to my silence, my rants, and my sobbing. My teachers generously make accommodations for me. My mentor patiently speaks life into me. Different from many high school students, I choose to unravel myself at school, where I feel the safest. Still, I find myself struggling to survive. My life becomes a series of meaningless motions, connected together without a purpose. I feel like I am walking up a mountain with a backpack full of rocks. The problem is – this mountain is infinitely tall. My efforts to cope with my emotions are useless. I still get stuck in loops of thoughts, panic attacks, and sad attacks (a term I use to describe sudden, unexplainable sadness).
Where do I find hope to live on?
My counselor answered:
You find it in friends
Walks in the sun
His answer made me think. Are these earthly pleasures worth living for? Do they bring meaning and purpose in my life?
As a Christian, I know I should “do God’s will” and find purpose in living for Christ. But these words just seem empty to me. Honestly, I feel mad at God for allowing so much suffering in my life. He is supposed to be the Healer…
I am trying to come up with a response to this by writing about it, but I cannot. I can only pray that God will give me more wisdom and understanding, and one day He will restore everything back to the way it should have been. Now I will pray and go to sleep.
Summarizing progresses and achievements that I am thankful for this school year:
- Stronger support system
- Better expression of thoughts and emotions verbally and written
- Piano recital
- Researching a lot on Autism and going to Dr. Shore’s conference
- Surviving the service trip and enjoying it despite the challenges
- Getting to know my classmates and making good friends
- Taking difficult AP courses and doing well
- Knowing my limitations when I cannot do presentations or seminars
- Asking for help when I am unsafe
- Moving towards openness with parents
- Learning more about myself in many aspects (triggers to anxiety/sadness, capable of speaking sometimes in class or in presentations, new, healthier coping skills, perseverance of smoothing cement, recovering traumatic memories, quick learner at card/board games)
- Starting both anti-anxiety meds and antidepressants, which were both seemingly impossible when the school year started
- Growing in wisdom by reading Proverbs with my mentor
Summarizing things to work on/continue working on and praying for:
- Better communication skills with parents, counselors, teachers, peers
- Learning to recognize that people are created for community, that I don’t have to isolate myself when I am struggling
- Taking deep breaths and practicing visualization
- Working through the memories
- Learning how to be a servant leader
- Reducing insecurity, fear, anxiety, sadness and increasing joy, peace, love, courage
- Being comfortable of who God made me to be and embracing my identity rather than thinking that I am an alien-like monster all the time
I watch my brother lie in his bedroom with the turquoise curtains drawn and walls closing in as if extracting all the life from him. The bookshelves sway like sluggish waves in his blurry vision. The words on the randomly lain textbooks flutter on voidness and neglect. The clamorous debate over death heightens as the resonating isolation amplifies over all else. Life is too much for him to bear. Before I could come up with a hopeful word for my brother, he reaches out to his vibrating phone.
“Do you want to come out? I’m here waiting for you.” I watch him shudder as he responds. Blinking his swollen eyes, he says, “Come. It’s time to tell her.” Gathering up all his energy, he splashes water on his tear stained countenance and crawls out of his room of invisibility and hibernation. Continue reading “Short story on suicidal thoughts”
When I got home from school today, I escaped into my imagination. I regressed into a 5 year old or younger. I constructed for myself a blankey world – a world based on patterns and math. While everything is made up of pixels and routine, it is diverse and fun. It is a world that neither has the vague area of gray nor the boring blacks and whites. It has the color of blankey! People in blankey world are comfortable with abiding by the rules and living out the pattern of blankey, respecting each other and respecting the silence. Everyone speaks the same language in the same literal, predictable way so that there is no misunderstanding figurative meaning. People here do not feel pressured to communicate and are happy to be their own unique quiet selves…
I found this helpful to me today as I was struggling with suicidal thoughts. Someone said to me before that suicide is a selfish thing to do, but it is not when all I am thinking is to relieve my parents and friends the heavy burden they are carrying (me). Or when I believe that the world would be a better place without my existence, that I am just a mistake that God made and should not be in this hellish place. I would pray for God to take my life after so much pain and pray that He would miraculously heal me. I would also weigh the grave consequences of suicide and the things I would miss out from. I still hope that depression and anxiety would go away one day, but everytime I slip into another episode, disappointment overcomes me. After two years of coping with unstable emotions daily, how much patience does God expect me to have?
5 Unhelpful Things Fellow Christians Have Said About My Mental Illness (and My Responses) – https://themighty.com/2017/03/christianity-mental-illness-anxiety-depression/
I was playing the piano this evening, and I played a game with myself – to play through the entire piece three times without one mistake. If I made a mistake, I would have to start over from 0 again. Very quickly, I found that it would take me days of practicing to achieve that, so I dropped my standards to playing flawlessly just once. When I couldn’t do that either, I slowed down my speed and was hyperfocused. It took me at least 6 tries (the piece is long so it took me almost half an hour) to get it perfect, and I even let myself go with a few slipping, unsolid notes.
My middle school piano teacher taught me this game. I remember that many times when we had class, I would make over two mistakes in a simple piece, and he’d tell me to repetitively play again. He would not scold me but be very calm and stern as he cut me off in the middle and start over again. Something in his tone and in his way of saying “start from the beginning” made me cry almost all the time in class. I was very frustrated and wanted to give up after 4 times of his same monotone response. He said that music is art and art should be perfect. Playing the correct note at the right time is the lowest standard and the first step of dealing with a piece. Style and musical expression come after. He said that a pianist’s entire career is ruined if he/she made one single mistake in a concert. He told stories of himself playing 16 hours a day (40 minutes practice, 20 minutes rest) for weeks, playing the same measure for that day if an error was made there. My piano skills improved quickly under his teaching, and I cried less and less as I stopped making as many mistakes.
I don’t think I’ll ever match the extent of his persistence though I long for that level of perfection. I wonder why my teacher’s rigidity does not take away the joy of playing music. I played tons of mistakes in my recital last year and my life is not ruined, maybe because I am not a professional pianist. So when I was trying to practice a tenth of what my teacher endured this afternoon, it made me think that maybe I do not need to apply what I’m trying to do with music to all areas of my life. I feel bad for finding excuses for my lack of piano practice, but it IS impossible for me to make music perfect, especially with my careless personality and clumsy fingers. I’ll just keep piano as a hobby. I need to feel comfortable saying: there is room to make mistakes.
Happy Chinese New Year!
Because I attend an International school in Taiwan, I get an extra week off other than Christmas break – Chinese New Year break. I think this was imposed because of the traditions such as family reunions that Taiwanese families have to keep up.
I have spent these two days finishing Jennifer Niven’s book – All the Bright Places. It has been an amazing read about a difficult topic – mental illness (bipolar disorder) and suicide – and Niven has portrayed this beautifully, encouraging discussions over the web.
As someone struggling with anxiety and wild mood swings and an advocate for disabilities and mental illnesses, I encourage you all to read this book if time allows. Mental illnesses are scary and real; fortunately, there are also numerous resources for us to seek support. Reading this book helped me learn more of the prevalence of mental illness in teens like me, that we may go to great lengths of hiding what we are going through and that we may be confused or too ashamed to speak up. People may not want to wear the labels, like depression, anxiety, and autism, because of the negative stigma attached to them, but it is crucial to recognize that these labels are the key to accommodations, treatments, and support.