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


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.


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.

148 – dreams shatter, but we carry on.

I fell into a deep slump last semester. Burned out from classes and research, all I could do was try my best not to let depression get the best of me. In November, it took all I had not to burst into tears every time I stepped into the lab. I dropped one of my courses and felt really out of my element even in classes I thought I would be comfortable in. My ability to write in a fourth year level course was questioned and even now I’m not sure I have the confidence to say I’m a good writer anymore. Without a doubt, this has been the worst year of my undergrad, exceeding the horribleness that was my turbulent first year in which I spent every month at the doctor’s with another physical illness.

Still, I’m halfway there. I’m sure I’ll make it through somehow. I haven’t gotten all of the details worked out quite just yet, but I’ll get there. One way or another.

My absolute lowest moment came from a rejection email from UBC. With that, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fulfill my goal of studying back home. With that, I began to doubt whether or not I was even good enough to have my dream become reality. I thought then that maybe I wasn’t smart enough and that I should be considering an alternative career. But those negative thoughts blew away when I talked to my mom over the telephone. She assured me that even if I got rejected from every school that she would support me trying again or taking the time to find a new dream. I’m really lucky to have her support. She also told me that she’d come live with me for a year if I got into med school somewhere else – though I’m not sure I’ll take her up on that offer since I don’t know how well my brother can handle living alone (despite being five years older than me…). Regardless, failure became an option for me and not the end. Just another possibility that I needn’t be afraid of.

Things have gotten a little easier this semester, but not by very much. I’m still struggling in the lab, but have gotten more or less numb to disappointment. I still hate the thought of letting down everyone the lab, but my inability was shattering every inch of self esteem I had left. I think it’s best not to think about what others think of me. Especially if they’re not good things.

I think my perspective has shifted a little – especially after hearing that one of my old high school teachers has struggling with untreatable cancer – something he dedicated a lot of his time and effort into raising awareness and money for. I’ve always had the mentality that the present is more important than the future – to enjoy the small, happy moments as they come, but I’ve also placed a lot of my hopes on the future, on the life that I spend day-to-day fantasizing about living. I think hearing the news really shifted the timeframe of my mind a little bit more to what’s happening right now. Along the same train of thought, I decided not to apply for graduate school in Chemistry. It wouldn’t be something I’d enjoy and life’s too short to be spending everyday of a year or two on something that I wasn’t thrilled about. There are other options out there that I think I would enjoy far more even if taking a “gap year” is sometimes considered a waste of time (I disagree with that sentiment).

I got an interview invitation from McMaster so that’s one blessing that’s been thrown my way in this really tough year. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I’m prepared for that – it’s given me both hope and confidence that my dream doesn’t have to stay a dream. The interview, however, is a few days after the poster session for my thesis project – so I’ve only got so much spare time. Nevertheless, I want to make it through these next few arduous months with no regrets. If that means sleepless nights and caffeine-powered study sessions, then so be it. I’m ready for you, 2017.


I think one of the reasons I’ve always had a hard time getting myself to study is because there’s never been any pressure for me to do so.

I don’t think my mom’s ever really once told me to study and she never got me a tutor except for that time I asked for one ’cause enriched math had me realizing I was not very enriched in math at all.

In fact, my brother and I spent most of our childhood gaming. And that’s exactly where I find myself heading towards a lot of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing this post to blame my mom for my ever increasing procrastination habits. Instead, I’m very appreciative of how I was raised.

Sometimes I hear about the parental pressures some of my friends are facing in university and it makes me feel really thankful that my parents leave me to do whatever I want. Yes, deep down inside, my mom wishes I chose business over science (less years of school and still relatively okay in terms of finding a job), but she always let me choose exactly what I want.

And it’s sad to hear stories of people who were forced into an occupation.

And it’s frightening how extreme Asian parenting (though I’m sure it’s also present in other cultures) can be.

And it’s not that I don’t feel empathetic towards people struggling to meet their parent’s standards,

But I do feel fortunate.

That’s one thing I feel thankful for in the face of exam period.

It’s a warming feeling to know that even if my exams don’t go well, I won’t receive a lot of backlash (except from myself).

In light of this, I’m trying my best to ensure my motivation to do well stays high.

I can do this.

I hope.

123 – Trying not to compare myself with others.

I am surrounded by brilliant people.

And I suppose, I always have been.

I know it’s stupid to compare myself to other people, but I feel like it’s a natural tendency and it’s hard to stop doing it.

I look at my friends with better GPAs and likeable personalities

and see them struggling to get into medical school

and I can’t help but think

if they’re having trouble getting in, how could I possibility?

On one hand, they’re motivating me to try harder (though I’m unsure if this motivation is actually working).

On the other hand, it’s depressing (perhaps this is countering the motivation?).

It’s hard keep the thoughts out of my head:

I’m not good enough.

They are better than you.

But I know that thinking that way will only move me further from my goal.

So I mustn’t compare myself to anyone but myself.

I must shift the comparisons I’m making from out to within. I know I should be worrying about how I’m going to improve rather than thinking about how much there is improve.

I know I shouldn’t, but I still do.

I don’t do it often, but it sneaks its way into my head from time to time.

I think it’s just something I have to accept.

Maybe I just need to shift from “I’m not as good as them” to “They’re better so I can be better too”.

I think I can do that.

I know I can.

106 – In need of a change.

I’ve only had about two hours of sleep so my cognitive abilities are quite low as I am writing this. I’m not even sure how I finished a whole essay out last night (it’s complete BS so I feel sorry for the TA who has to mark it…except the TAs are on strike so who knows when that will be marked). I could’ve had a full night of sleep yesterday. Poor time management. Leaving my assignments to the last moment. It’s true that this is the case, but I just felt a lack of motivation to do anything to prevent it.

I just haven’t had very much motivation lately. I can barely lift open the cover of a textbook before I get this hopeless feeling and have to put it down. I’ve been having too much sleep lately (other than last night). 12 hours is not healthy. I find it hard to get out of bed. Winters here are really harsh on me. I just can’t find my spark.

Been playing a ridiculous amount of Town of Salem lately. The people there aren’t always the brightest, but there’s this satisfaction when you’ve figured out the whole town out and you know you’re going to win. I’ve always been a fan of mysteries, curiousity being one of my greatest weaknesses. I don’t seem to be lacking in cognitive motivation in that regard, I suppose.

Breezed through my chem lab today (the least stressful of them all) and am currently enjoying a maple fog latte that I thought was well-deserved for getting through my two chemistry classes awake (I’m lying, I always treat myself to coffee shop drinks regardless of whether I have an occasion or not. My poor wallet, I know.)

For the next week, I think I’ll be as nice as possible to myself. Maybe if I make myself happy consistently, motivation will come along with it. Hah. It’s the spoiled girl in me talking. But I’ll give it a try.

I got my first choice of supervisor for NSERC. I’m happy about that. The professor in charge of the group seems like a really nice guy and the graduate students all seemed very friendly when I attended their seminar session. I hope I’ll learn a lot and be able to enjoy my summer a bit. Not so happy about the fact that it’ll be 16 weeks I’ll be stuck here. I think I’ll be able to go home for the last 2 weeks before school though. That’d be nice.

I guess all the people I talked to through NSERC count towards my “emailing a faculty member and meeting up” resolution. So let’s just check that one off for now. Hopefully, I’ll be doing a lot more of that.

I am disappointed in myself for missing an ultimate game last Saturday. To be fair, I had a late Friday night and slept over at my boyfriend’s place so the trip to school didn’t seem quite appealing. Plus it was cold. Always blame the cold. At least I’ve gone to every other game so far. So that resolution isn’t completely butchered.

I’m not so concerned about making friends anymore. I think that if I just focus on myself and be kind and open to the people around me, I’ll naturally find people that I can talk to and connect with. Met a really lovely new friend when I was meeting up to talk with Dr. Nitz (who is an amazing professor from what I’ve heard and from my own personal meeting with him). We talked for so long (about chemistry) that I was late for work last Thursday. Opps. No regrets. Anyway, gonna cross that resolution off the list.

I’m going to keep trying to make a change in my life. I feel like as of university, the goal has always shifted every semester from “doing well” to “surviving”. I keep telling myself I’ll get back on my feet after I survive the next midterm. Before I know it, I’ve been “surviving” the whole semester. I want to thrive. I want to do well. And that isn’t going to change if I don’t make some serious changes within myself. Maybe I need to approach a new line of motivation. Give myself little rewards for every hour that I study. That sort of thing. I’ll try some things out this weekend maybe.

Got a three hour abnormal psych class now. As much as I love the material and how the prof is quite the character (in a good way, of course), I’m not sure I can survive with my 2 hours of sleep. Ugh. Stayawakestayawakestayawake.

Alright. More updates later. I don’t think I hit 10 blog posts a month for Feb. I’ll do more updates this month.

I can do this.

105 – I think I’m depressed (again?).

It’s like I’ve lost all motivation for school. I have a midterm tomorrow that I just can’t seem to study for.

I sleep too much (15 hours yesterday and 12 hours the day before).

I can’t focus. I forget what I’m about to do every few seconds.

I still have a slight cough and lately have been breaking out in hives from the cold (-20 degree weather is not treating me well, sigh). I haven’t had hives since an allergic reaction to eggs when I was like 8 years old. Like seriously? I feel like I’ve been sick forever.

I just want to feel well.

I just really want to go home. I hate this city and how it’s been destroying my immune system.

I feel like I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. But I know I don’t. This winter has really, really sucked for me, but I have felt depressed even when it’s not winter. And I never suffered from these awful physical symptoms back home. These awful physical symptoms that spiral and break my mentality.

I don’t have time to see a doctor/therapist this week, but I will find time soon, especially if my physical symptoms persist.

I can’t survive like this.

At this rate, I fear I won’t even be able to make it home. My grades are suffering too much. I think my Med School dreams are more or less dashed, so I’m thinking of doing a year of Grad School then applying again. At this rate though, no UBC grad school would accept me. Sigh.

My. body. needs. to. adapt.

A lot of international students that I’ve talked to tell me that they love Toronto. Why can’t I see what they see?

I don’t belong here. I think if anything, I’d rather live somewhere too warm than somewhere too cold.

I’ll keep trying to find my motivation, to find a little bit of brightness in my life to hold onto. I know I can do this. I just lack the willpower. But I’ll find it.

I’ll find it.

Because the alternative is too scary to think of.