158 – learning how to write again

I haven’t written anything in a terribly long time. I am afraid I’ve lost my words. And it scares me to stare at a blank document, fingers poised over the keys, only for nothing to come out of it. I hunger for how I was once able to spill my heart out over my sleeve without a second thought, and be fearlessly vulnerable in self reflection. What has changed? And who am I anymore?

I am currently working on my application for residency and am terribly stuck on writing on my personal statement. It’s been so long since I’ve articulated anything and I feel inept to write anything, let alone a statement to highlight my best characteristics. I feel the pressure though to get this moving, from my peers and internally as well. I never thought it would be difficult to write 500-1000 words – it doesn’t seem like very much – but I guess when you’re stuck, you’re stuck. There’s no way around it…I’ve got to find a way through.

I think I want to start here though. Where writing is less intimating. Where I can wade around into shallow water before I remember how to swim again – without the risk of drowning. Because I think it would be easy to drown right now. To become so overwhelmed with the stress that I become crippled under the pressure, unable to make any progress at all. The hole is right there, ready for me to jump into. Tantalizing me. The sweet temptation of procrastination urging me to leave it all for later. I mean, how important is the rest of your life anyway?

I am going to start writing again. To remember who I am and how I got here, and where I want to be. That’s really all they want to know about me anyway. And I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try and sell myself a bit. I don’t know if I can really do that right now though. I don’t feel worthy nor capable of achieving great things. I don’t feel accomplished. I feel inadequate in the face of my peer. I’m going to do my best.

157 – I had forgotten.

There are so many things I want to tell you, but I no longer have the right to say anything but thank you. Thank you so much. For being there during the darkest year of my life. For listening when I didn’t think anyone else would. For being so darn easy to talk to that I no longer felt the need to write out my thoughts. You were my blank canvas. And you let me paint you over and over. And not a single complaint. No matter how hard my brush strokes scratched against your surface. You took every Newton of that force in perfect stride. Thank you.

And now that you’re gone, I’m going to have to learn how to live again. How to make myself whole when I feel like rubble collapsing deep into this Earth. I want to disappear. To pretend I don’t care if the whole world forgets about me. But darn, I still care too much. So I put on those fake smiles and that false sense of confidence, hoping that it’s just enough to get me over the finish line. But it’s still far from here. I’ve a long way to go. And I can’t make it there if I’m sinking so easily in the shallowest waters.

I cried for days. And at first, I blamed you. It was your fault I was hurting like this. It was your fault I couldn’t move on. It was your fault for rejecting me when I needed someone the most. But I was wrong. I was heartbroken, but that didn’t make me miserable. I had just forgotten how depressed I was before I met you. I had forgotten what depression even felt like. And I so mistook it for a broken heart. I thought that if I got over you, I would be happy again. That all the weight upon my shoulders would be lifted with time. Because they told me that time will heal a broken heart. But it doesn’t necessarily heal a broken person. A broken person like me before I met you. Like me after losing you.

I can try to chalk it up to some stupid miswiring of the neurotransmitters in my brain. But I can’t help but think that it was me. wired those neurons to be this way. I set myself up for failure with years of self-isolation, angst, and reluctance to acknowledge the people that cared me about me. I did this. It’s all my fault.

And don’t tell me I’m wrong. Not yet, anyway. Because for now, maybe it’s not so bad to be thinking like this. To believe that if  I made some mistakes somewhere along the way to get to where I am now, then maybe I can make some right decisions to get to where I want to be. To believe that I’m not powerless.

Maybe I’ll take a page out of twelve-year old me’s book and go back to my age-old motto of “Believe in yourself”.

Yeah. Let’s do that.

Believe in yourself.

156 – The same monster with a different name.

I am feeling a lot better today in comparison to that awful morning. I realized that my writing down only negative feelings was not giving an accurate representation of the whole spectrum of my experiences. For my own sake, I’d like to reflect on the after, on how I move through my depression (and now my anxiety). Continue reading “156 – The same monster with a different name.”

155 – I’m terrified.

Just woke up from a nightmare and had my very first anxiety attack. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop hyperventilating. And I couldn’t stop these intrusive, debilitating thoughts from re-entering my head.

I tried to close my eyes and will myself to go back to sleep, but the nightmare just got more and more vivid. I felt worse and worse until it spiralled out of control.

I’m still in shock this just happened. It wasn’t even real. These feelings are completely out of proportion. And I’m scared. I don’t know how to stop this from happening again. I feel it’s going to come back any second. And I don’t know how to manage it.

Just when I thought I was safe again, a new monster appears. I surrender. Please leave me alone.

154 – Sometimes you forget who you are.

It’s easy to get lost in a crowded space, when you feel that there isn’t any room for the things that you love and the things that you care about. You listen in to the murmurs around you, trying to get a sense of what’s going on, trying to find a way into the conversation. No worthy thoughts come into your mind. And who would want to hear your unworthy ones? You never thought of your self esteem as something fragile until you entered this space. Now you fear that one mistake might be all that it takes. You smile, laugh, and latch upon some sense of acceptability. But this won’t be enough. You know this.

And so you walk between the lines, searching for something that you didn’t even know you were looking for. You pretend to have found it, and exclaim a false sense of epiphany. But it’s like the others can see right through you and no one pays you any mind. You become quiet, hoping by some contradictory possibility that you are more visible when you don’t speak at all. Of course, it doesn’t work. Why should it?

You feel ashamed for wanting something more. Be thankful for what you have, you whisper under your breath. After all, it could always be worse. This is so minuscule of a problem that it’s barely a problem at all. Yet you remain fixated on this urge, this craving to be heard. You know so very well that this isn’t the right path for you to go down. You don’t have to find your place in this crowd. Because this probably isn’t where you belong.

You belong here. This is your space. I promise you things will be okay. Here, you are free. Here, no thoughts are unworthy of being said. Everything matters. Or doesn’t have to. You have the right to choose. You can stay for as long as you want. Until you find out what it was you were looking for. Until you want to leave again. Here is safety. Here is comfort. Here is exactly what you needed.

153 – to a hopeful new me: some resolutions.

It’s way past the new year, but I guess it’s never too late to make some goals for the year. I felt a little guilty that I missed last year so I figured it would be even more awful if I missed this year as well. I’m gosh darn awful at completing my new year’s resolutions, but it’s nice to look back to see where I wanted to be and how far I still need to go.

Here’s a little reflection on 2016’s resolutions (hella late, I know).

  • I ended up going to Canada’s Wonderland as a pre-graduation thing; that was a lot of fun – bunch of places I still have yet to go in Toronto, but hopefully I’ll have time to go sometime while I’m still in Ontario
  • I got real close to Masters in LoL in 2016…(decayed out of my promotion games) – not sure that this year will be the year, but maybe?
  • 10 posts/month was the goal…who am I kidding?
  • I did enjoy learning again! In some courses. Obviously not in the one that made me miserable.
  • I didn’t have a super productive summer in 2016, but I did do well on my MCAT retake so that was kind of worth it.
  • & lastly, I got into med school. So it seems that I’m not a total failure at keeping resolutions.

Alright. So, 2018, what have we got in store for you?

  1. Learn enough Korean to survive your exchange in July. [I really hope this works out…]
  2. 5 posts/month. This is totally reasonable. Please. [As an aside, I’d love to do some clinically-related writing…it’d be interesting to blog about my experiences]
  3. Pass all my exams in pre-clerkship.
  4. Find a reviewing system that works for me. [Most likely cheatsheets. Maybe flashcards? Oh, and a question bank.]
  5. Learn to knit something new. [& maybe crochet??]
  6. Go back and visit friends a few times.
  7. Write and actually send a letter to my mom [Instead of throwing it in the recycling, never to be seen again. Why am I like this?]
  8. Become a healthier person [This is terribly vague, but essentially just nutrition, exercise, skincare, & mental health. Maybe make-up from S Korea so I can be prettier? That’d be nice for my self esteem…]

This list seems achievable, so I’ll leave it at that before I start to add things that might not be so simple to achieve. I finally feel ready for you now, 2018. It’s about time. 🙂

152 – Life is always worth living.

This is a confession – one that’s had a long time coming. It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to bring myself to really process and reflect on things happening in my life. I suppose I was riding the wave, trusting that it would bring me to where I would need to be, whilst closing my mind from all the negativity that was tearing me apart. In a way, it worked. It got me this far. But it’s time that I called out my demons in such a way that they won’t keep coming back to hurt me.

I was in an awful state of mind for most of my undergrad senior year. Most of the anxiety and feelings of worthlessness stemmed from my thesis project. Nothing seemed to be working out the way I envisioned it to. While everyone else was making progress on their projects, I felt that I was continuously hitting a dead end. Even simple reactions that were shown to work by my supervisor somehow turned into a mess of unrecoverable chemicals. While no one in the lab wanted to put me down nor did they ever make me feel ostracized or unwelcome, I felt another piece of whatever self-esteem I had left break off and shatter every time I walked through those doors.

Things got worse throughout the year, instead of the better that I was promised. I set fire to a waste bin because I forgot to thoroughly clean a syringe of a highly oxidative reagent. A lab mate’s quick thinking saved the situation as I just stood there frozen in the fear of what I had just done. I almost wish they had kicked me out of the lab for good then. Maybe I would’ve been spared all of the misery that continued to pile on after. The only consequence I received was increased supervision so that an accident like that wouldn’t happen again. And of course, I would fuck up again a few months later by forgetting to turn on the ventilation on the glove box after purging it. I was a walking disaster so to speak.

I wasn’t okay. By February, it was clear that I was sinking further and further into a hole I could not crawl out of. I very much should’ve given up and dropped the course, but I felt that I couldn’t approach the administrator after he had given me a special pass after handing my application in late. I didn’t want to let yet another person down.

My friends at school knew I wasn’t happy with the course, but they probably didn’t expect that it was destroying my mental health. They were surprised when I broke down at the poster presentation where you had to present your research to professors. I felt incredibly stupid, like I didn’t know anything after months of trying to get a grasp on this project. We buried that day in alcohol with my friends saying silly things about the prof that put me down in order to cheer me up. As much I would like to put it all behind me, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that hollow feeling of worthlessness that drowned me.

Things spiraled out of control so easily and so quickly. I should’ve gotten help somewhere along the process, but didn’t. I would never suggest that anyone attempt to deal with something like this alone, but I did anyway. I genuinely wanted to kill myself several times over the course of those two semesters. I spent more nights crying myself to sleep than I can count. Even now, I feel like a disappointment looking back on how little I had accomplished.

The little things saved me. The little things that told me repeatedly that life was still worth living. Attending class and dinner dates with my friends. Playing video games. My favourite drinks at Second Cup whenever I was having a tough day or had a late lecture. The many “I miss you” messages from my mom. Knowing that I would be somewhere better next year. And my boyfriend at the time…(whom I cannot thank enough for being my escape from all of the misery; our recent break-up was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done).

I just wanted the time to make this blog as a reminder of why life is always worth living. Depression is not terminal. There will be good days just as there are bad days (or bad years). While it takes a great deal of strength and courage to commit suicide, it takes just as much to continue struggling through this hell and persevering. Sometimes it can be easy to feel alone in this great big world, but you’re never alone in feeling that way. Even on the nights when the sky is grayed out, you can rest easy that the stars are still out there somewhere in space. Even when the world seems to be full of darkness, there is light somewhere beyond the horizon. Believe in it. There will always be a chance for things to get better. Hold onto it and don’t you dare let go.