151 – where my heart is.

It’s been a long time. I wanted to do a proper update with how I’ve been doing the past few months, but this past week has been tough. I feel this plethora of emotions weighing upon my heart.  I hope that by working through these thoughts, the heaviness will go with it.

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I found myself in tears last Thursday on the bus home from the hospital. I had just finished my elective in geriatric psychiatry and was feeling really inspired that this was something I’d be interested in doing for the rest of my life. But a sort of doubt or guilt was festering in my mind. 

On Tuesday, we talked about social inequality as a determinant of health. Many of my classmates shared their personal stories about how growing up in a socioeconomically disadvantaged community affected their views on life, education, health, and privilege. I did not share my own story then, but I thought about how lucky I was to have someone like my mom in my life. How fortunate I am to be where I am now.

My mom fought through more hardships than I could ever imagine. Her family immigrated to Hong Kong from a rural town in China, but they were penniless as they struggled to adapt to city. Even now, my grandmother and aunt live in an apartment the same size as my bedroom in Vancouver. Despite being a straight A student, my mom couldn’t afford to go to college, opting instead to work to support her family. In contrast, my father scraped through college with D’s across the board. Life isn’t fair.

Life certainly continued to be unfair as my mom worked 80 hours a week while caring for two children. Some nights I stayed up until 2 to 3am, worried if something might’ve happened to her. But she came home every time without fail (and very cross because her eight year old was still awake). Yet, I never really appreciated what she did for me while I was growing up. Even at times when she only had a couple hundred dollars in her bank account, she never let our poverty stop us from doing anything. Never, ever, ever was i left hungry. There was somehow always enough food in the house. I took lessons in swimming, skating, art, piano, violin, Chinese, and Japanese. Instead of denying me these opportunities, she worked more hours instead. Sometimes I wonder how I learned absolutely nothing about diligence from such an amazing human being.

In contrast, my father could not serve as a better example for what I didn’t want to be. While my mom worked herself to pieces, he cheated on her. Buying some unknown woman an apartment and being stupid enough to not put his name on it. I still don’t fucking understand.

We almost lost our house when I was in tenth grade. Since my father technically owns half the house, he wanted to sell it if my mom wanted a separation. Clearly, the money meant more to him than the livelihood of his children. I remember their heated arguments as I stood outside the door, devastated and confused. In the end, we still have the house and they are still together…on paper anyway. When I moved for university, he took over my bedroom, destroying many of my belongings. Although I’ve forgiven him for everything in the past, I still feel numb at the thought of him. But I digress, that doesn’t matter anyway.

I suppose what I fear the most is becoming like him. He is thousands of dollars in debt because of a gambling addiction. I look at myself and my own reckless decisions and can’t deny how much I am like him. I put myself in debt by moving across the country for university, a decision I still can’t justify was worth it. I look at my gaming addiction and I think about how gambling isn’t that far off. I feel like the more that I reflect upon my behaviors, the more I realize I am just as ungrateful and stupid as he was. And it scares me. I doubt my ability to change who I am. But I swear I’m trying.

What drove me to tears on Thursday was a consult with a patient who spent over 20 years looking after his parents, quitting his job as a pharmacy technician and giving up his dreams of going to medical school. His story moved me. Made me think about what really matters in life. It made me think that I really wanted to be home, spending time with my mom and letting her know how much I appreciate what she did for me. But home feels so far away.

I feel so lost. I need to find a way to channel these emotions into an effort to work harder, to motivate myself through these doubts. I feel worthless, when I should feel privileged. Depressed, when I should be stimulated. It’s funny how you feel more scared looking down from the top than on your way up the mountain.

I haven’t given up. I will find my way. Even though these feelings are hard, it feels better to have acknowledged my weakness instead of running away. I will be okay.

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it all feels like ashes

these days have been feeling like disaster

with every moment that passes

I feel something shattering

I thought I was so sure of

who I loved

what I loved

and where on the horizon my dreams laid

but nothing feels like it’s in the right place

a transition from certainty to the unknown

is truly perplexing.

 

there is an inescapable gray

bleeding into my heart

but I can’t stop its rushing current

all I can do is lie here frozen

screaming for the colours

to come back.

walls of gray

broken down by my inadequacy

I don’t know how to face it anymore

they say nothing

but I feel it by exclusion

I no longer pretend to feel welcome

beyond those doors

though I struggle to accept

this hollow state of mind.

 

I keep on pushing through

just a few more months

one week at a time

but it’s really all too much

even my best efforts

to numb these currents down

are fruitless

I lie shattered

broken and weathered

unable to pick myself up

unable to hold on

to that sliver of hope

and so I find myself engulfed

entranced in inhibition

privy to these crushing thoughts.

 

I cannot see the horizon

beyond these walls of gray.

broken pieces on the ground

it’s been a long, long time

but I feel your return

a shadow rising from my past

a dreadful defiler

 

you’ve poisoned my heart

into feeling worthless and empty

but I know that is wrong

I know that every life is priceless

and that this feeling too will pass

 

but the numbness feels inescapable

and I’m anxious every moment

triggered by my own inability

I’m lost and left behind

 

every attempt to break free

from this isle of desolation

seems futile from the start

and thoughts that never got to me

are echoing in my ears

 

my confidence has shattered

broken pieces on the ground

and I fear for the worst

I fear that they’ll never again be found

 

I feel stupid

weak

incapable of doing well

in the things I’ve always loved

and slowly

I’m suffocating

in thinking that

I’m just not good enough

 

I’m trying my best

to build myself back up

but damn is it hard

to look at the shining face of happiness

when it seems like something I don’t deserve

 

it’s going to be okay

like the hundreds of times before

it’s going to be okay

I’ll make it through this once more.

142 – :(

Feeling really down right now. Seems like drowning in a state of depression is inevitable despite my desperate attempts at plugging the holes on this sinking ship.

I just feel really stupid. So damn irresponsible. And not good enough.

Turns out that the 4th year research course application deadline was three weeks ago. It’s something that I really wanted to do and was looking forward to doing. Didn’t hear about the deadline from emails or from classes, but that’s no excuse for being uninformed (I could’ve checked the website more regularly). Didn’t even know I had missed it until my friends were talking about it today.

Took me a good minute to process the fact that I had missed it. Shocked, really.

Then I did the only thing I could do – run to the undergraduate advisor and ask if there was any chance I could hand in a late application. Although he initially was going to say no, I think he felt bad for me and let me hand one in anyway.

The application was a single page and took literally a minute to fill out.

But I just didn’t know. And I hate myself for that.

I probably would’ve had a pretty decent chance at getting accepted into the course if I handed the application in on time. But now, I’m much more likely to be rejected if considered at all (Why would you want a student working in your lab that can’t even follow deadlines?)

I guess the odds are now kinda like my chances at getting into med school. Small, but possible.

There are probably other opportunities I could look for in the new school year.

But this was the easiest, most structured, and reliable option.

And I just fucked it up.

It just feels awful. And although I know I don’t have the time to be wallowing in my stupidity, I can’t stop myself.

I just can’t help feeling this way.

I suppose if there’s one good thing about this incident, it’s that it’s given me a taste of what missing a grad/med school application deadline would be like – something I definitely want to avoid in the coming months/year. There’s a 0% chance you’ll get in if you don’t even apply.

Sigh.

I signed up to retake my MCAT in light of these events – turns out registration opened Feb.10 (strangely early this year). I need to do well.

Going to try to put this unfortunate lapse of awareness behind me as I have two impending midterms this coming week.

But I don’t know.

All I really feel like doing right now is curling up in bed and crying.

I know it’s not the worst thing in the world that could happen and in hindsight it’ll probably be “no big deal”, but right now, I can feel its weight crashing down on me.

And it hurts.

And it’s triggering emotions that I haven’t felt in a long, long time.

And I really don’t want to go there.

135 – Pressing “Restart”

Been overwhelmed over the course of the past two weeks. Can’t think of a better word to describe how much I couldn’t really handle the things that were happening around me.

Got sick last Monday. Likely a viral infection. It got worse as the week went by and I actually don’t know how I survived. Did two midterms I didn’t really study for. BS’ed a lab report together last minute and then completely butchered the pre-lab that needed to be done before the lab. School was a nightmare and it’s safe to say that I probably didn’t do well on anything that week.

Recovering slowly now. Can feel some of the heaviness lifting off my shoulders – especially as the long weekend approaches (thank goodness for reading break).

Also found out that I got a little mini scholarship from my college (U of T is divided into colleges) for having a decent GPA. $500 isn’t much in the face of a $7.5k tuition, but it’s something. This made me really happy for all of lone second before my brother killed it with some bad news.

My uncle had passed away from cancer.

I’m actually still not sure which uncle.

But I would rather live with the uncertainty right now than have to face a reality that could turn out to be much worse.

All the information I have is from a Skype message with my brother – the vaguest person alive (exaggeration, but not far from the truth).

“Uncle” could be anyone.

In Chinese culture, “uncle” is a very vague designation.

Anyone could be your “uncle” provided they were close or close to your family.

But “uncle” could also mean your real uncle.

As in my father’s brother.

As in his twin brother.

And I can’t imagine how that would feel. Losing someone with the same face as you, someone you grew up sharing everything with.

For the first time in a long time, I feel sad and sorry for my dad. He may not be the greatest person in the world, but no one deserves to lose someone they love.

But all of this is speculation.

It all comes down to the fact that I don’t know shit.

And probably never will know anything concrete about family affairs (other than my aunt and grandmothers whom I have at least met and love).

In Vancouver, there was already a barrier of communication. Now I’m in Toronto, there might as well be a Great Wall between us.

And just thinking about this pushed me into a state of depression.

Spent Halloween night just crying (and subsequently had to lie every time someone asked me what I did for Halloween). I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone in my life. At least back home I always knew what my mom and brother were up to. Now I don’t even have that (except for the ~biweekly calls I make back home).

All this isolation was devastating to me.

Made me want to give up and just go home.

But I can’t.

I’ve come so far and to throw it away would just break me even harder.

And so, just like every time you reach a GAME OVER in a challenging video game, I have to press RESTART.

Because it’s not over till it’s over.

Every time I hit a slump,

I just got to reset my mindset and carry on.

Remember the good moments and let go of the bad.

This might be a bad analogy, but I’m going to put it in here anyway to cheer myself up a bit – I always love applying the things I learn in class to my own life:

Just like a treadmilling actin filament in which the minus end is breaking and the plus end is building it back up, as part of me is breaking, another part has got to be strengthening up. And just like in the cell, this breaking and building will propel me forward.

——

P.S. Rest in piece, dear uncle. No matter if I knew you or not, I’ll pray you have a good afterlife. We will miss you.

134 – out of focus.

I feel stuck.

Trapped in a box as the whole world around me continues to rush by.

It’s scary.

As if my body is not my own and as if someone else has taken over my mind. What I want and need to do isn’t being done. Every time I try to focus, there’s this annoying throb in my head that leaves me feeling awful and sick.
Not exactly a migraine. But nothing good either.

My life just feels a little out of focus.

Somehow I’ve got to find a way out of this box.