Eventful Day

It has been an eventful and moderately overwhelming day – both for good and bad reasons.

I woke up this morning and discovered that I was low on both Zoloft and Strattera. I was very tempted to let them run out and just quit my psych meds cold turkey. I don’t think that would’ve been a great idea but I’m just sick of taking the medications that I don’t feel like are working. I was contacted by an old co-worker who was worried for me – she suggested that I seek help from an inpatient facility to help me cope. I thanked her for her kindness and unexpected messages because I hadn’t talked to her in maybe a year and a half. The fact that she cared enough for me to reach out warmed my heart.

My day started proper with my first Peer Educator duty of the day where I had to sit in on a presentation done by one of the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion (HWP)’s Assistant Directors. The topic was “Alcohol and Personal Choice”. As it was a presentation that I hadn’t seen before, I was very attentive through it all.

As I listened and learned, I also felt guilty for my drinking last Friday when I was feeling extremely disappointed, and depressed. This was because the presentation was about making healthy choices such as limiting drinking to less than 4 drinks per day and a total of 7 drinks per week (for women) or 14 drinks per week (for men). Last Friday, I had consumed 3 drinks and a shot of cinnamon schnapps (which tasted terrible btw) in an hour with an empty stomach. The result was a drunk me relatively quickly.

I made the worst decision ever to drive home. I was convinced I was okay. Somehow, I managed to park my car straight, and shower without falling down and killing myself. By the time I got to bed, I had actually just collapsed without realizing that I had fallen asleep until 2am when I got up abruptly because I needed to pee. The next day, I realized what I’d done and realized how easily I could’ve been arrested for DUI as well as how easily it could’ve been for me to cause someone harm. I was very regretful of my choices.

The presentation was definitely an eye-opener for me and I resolve to – if I even drink – to never drink so much so quickly. I was after a Peer Educator so I need to practice what I preach. I’m just glad that I get a second chance to never repeat this mistake again.

After the presentation, I was supposed to go to the Cube, where the office for the HWP Peer Educators’ was located. My office hours were from 11am to noon. As soon as I reached the Cube, I got a text from one of the Lead Peer Educators that I could skip my office hours today to help one of the other Assistant Directors (we have 3 ADs) with tabling. So off I went to help her set up the table – we were at the Campus Center to promote October as Domestic/Relationship Violence Awareness Month (yes, I’m aware that October is also Mental Health Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and National Coming Out Month).

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It’s On Us to Stop Sexual Violence!

I pasted a sticker on my skateboard to promote the campaign to stop sexual violence on campus and in the community. I figured that with how I carry my skateboard everywhere, it’s a good way to raise some awareness.

I had a good time tabling – I always do – because I not only had the opportunity to speak to the Assistant Director, but also another Peer Educator and be able to connect with people who stopped by the booth. It is one aspect of my job that I really enjoy.

Doing my job as a Peer Educator really makes me happy because not only does it make me forget all my woes for a while, it also allows me to help people with theirs. I realized today that I’m only happiest when I’m doing something Peer Educator related lately.

After my Peer Educator duties, I had to go to the MAC to perform my Mentor duties there. It was extremely busy at the section that I had to tutor at so it was hard not to get a sore throat by the end of my 3-hour shift. I was exhausted – socially, and emotionally by the end of it. Tutoring is always an exhausting affair because sometimes you could be dealing with students who have no clue what you’re talking about or students who have a hard time grasping concepts. I do enjoy helping people solve problems though so that is definitely one aspect of tutoring that I enjoy.

In the middle of the MAC shift, I went outside to the courtyard to find the Westboro Baptist Church members spewing hate towards the LGBTQ+ community and the establishment of an LGBTQ+ Center. They were there to protest the Center.

I’m proud to say that my university was not only prepared (they put up metal barriers around the area where the protestors were), the staff and faculty were also there to prevent students from engaging in the hate-mongers by forming a human shield between students and protestors. The CAPS staff were there as well to provide psychological aid and counseling if needed. I was so impressed by the staff and faculty because of how much they care for the students. They voluntarily stood outside in the sun to protect the students.

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I was very surprised by how many people showed up as well in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. I didn’t think we would fill up the huge courtyard but we almost filled all of it. While the WBC protestors were screaming their hateful words, the students had a dance party instead – the speakers were blaring loud music and it drowned out the protests.

As there were only 7 of them, you could barely even see them in the sea of people. I was saddened to see 2 children amidst the protestors. I wondered what they were being taught. While I agree with Biblical teachings and getting children acquainted with the Bible, I can’t say I agree with teaching hate to children. It’s so disgusting.

While the counter-protest in the form of the dance party by the students was going on, the whole place was just abuzz with energy and movement. I looked around and realized that it was like I was back at the Pride day again back in May. It really looked and felt like a Pride kind of event. Unbeknownst to the WBC protestors, their action had made all the LGBTQ+ community and allies come out together and have a good time. It was definitely an unexpected win in my opinion.

I spent about 10 minutes finding some of the people I know, taking photos, taking selfies, and talking to people before I resumed my shift at the MAC. It was a good event – what was supposed to be a negative event turned into a very positive one.

I was also able to meet the Director of CAPS at the LGBTQ+ Center. She was there to provide CAPS’ support. I introduced myself and told her that I wanted to thank her for the services that CAPS provide. I thanked her for all the hard work that CAPS is doing and how all the staff that I’ve ever met are very professional and have been really helpful. I told her how much I utilize the services and how I’m glad that CAPS exists. I told her that I didn’t know how much thanks she and CAPS get but I wanted to make sure that at least I say something. She told me that people don’t often thank them and that it’s rare to hear a note of gratitude but that she appreciates getting them all the same. She thanked me for bringing my thoughts to her attention and she seemed genuinely pleased that I had stopped to talk to her. Despite having been at CAPS for a year and a half now, I had yet been able to talk to the Director herself so I felt honored that I was able to do so today.

On a less than stellar note, I wrote an email to the management of the new restaurant that I had just joined about 3 weeks ago. I told them in my email that I was unable to continue employment with them because I am struggling too severely with depression and suicidality. I told them that even being around the work environment gets me down. I made it explicit that I would be suicidal every time I was at the restaurant. I apologized for letting the team down, for not finishing my shifts, and for not providing ample notice.

The truth is, I was just done with the place. I was done with all the management issues and how little the managers care about the employees. Besides not caring, they were also uptight about a lot of things – for me, they were upset with my dyed hair so I had to dye it back to my natural black.

When they told me that I had to do that, I was livid. I didn’t like them ever since then. I felt like I had lost a part of me when I dyed my hair back to black. I felt upset because the stability that I’m trying to rebuild for myself came crashing down when I lost the ability to express myself. For days, I felt uneasy because my hair was solid black. It is strange but somehow, my mental wellness depended on how I looked or felt on any given day.

Anyway, I hope the management team understands my restrictions and can forgive me for the immediate resignation. Somehow, I can’t see them being very compassionate. I could imagine them judging me and gossiping about me. I’ve never quit a job without giving ample notice before. And I’ve certainly never quit a restaurant after just 4 weeks of working there.

The negativity, whining, backstabbing, and gossiping that happens among the staff of the restaurant is definitely very annoying to deal with. I didn’t need to add more drama in my life – I already have enough to write a book with. I hope the management team doesn’t call me. I contemplated calling them and giving my resignation that way instead but the thought of calling someone and talking to them on the phone made me sick to the stomach. My anxiety was definitely acting up a lot and I didn’t think that I’d be able to speak on the phone without crying very hard. That was definitely a hard part of my day today.

Overall, I am spent. S and I will have a lot to talk about tomorrow.

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Representing the MAC, and the Office of HWP while also promoting mental health advocacy.

Impassioned Desires and A Sense of Purpose

Psychotherapy, joining the Peer Educators’ Program, and the divorce are three things in my life that have changed me for the better.

I was talking to my friend, El, and I marveled at how much I’ve changed, and how much I’ve done just in the space of one year. I thought about how the divorce had been a catalyst of even more exponentially growing change for me. It’s only been 4 months but the kind of things that I started doing, and the way I’ve started behaving have improved.

A few days ago, while at work, I was able to stand my ground during a minor altercation with my co-worker who was accusing me of stealing his tables. I not only stood my ground and adamantly protested his accusations as being wrongful, I also yelled at the guy for being ridiculous, for not watching his section closely enough, and that because of his incompetence, that I had to greet a table for him and take their orders. I didn’t yell very loudly – I just raised my voice – but it was enough for him to recognize that I wasn’t about to be bullied by him – even if he stands a full head above me. He recognized that I meant business and quickly shrank back down and apologized. He offered me a handshake to signify a truce. I had half a mind not to accept it but I did because I felt that he had learned his lesson.

For the first time in my life, I was in a public confrontation with someone who is much bigger than me in stature, and who has a very strong personality, and I didn’t shrink. I mustered all the courage I had and stood up for myself!

The divorce hurts. And I use the present tense because it still hurts me to think about what I’ve lost. At the same time, it also has empowered me to do all kinds of things that I would have otherwise never have done because either I would have been held back, or that I wouldn’t have felt it was appropriate to be off gallivanting on an adventure without my husband.

I don’t think I’d have been able to spend as much time on campus as I have been doing lately because I’d be rushing home. Nowadays, I have the freedom of being single and doing whatever I want, whenever I want. Sure, many days, that is actually overwhelming because many days, I don’t know what I want. However, I’d like to believe that I’m getting better at that…

I also had a chance to speak to my Director about my time as a Peer Educator, what I’ve learned, how it’s impacted me, and how I want to continue to grow. She had taken an hour of her precious time off to talk to me and for an hour, I gushed about how amazing my experience has been as a Peer Educator, how great it is to be able to create change and make a difference on campus, how I now have a clearer idea of what I want to do in the future, and a little about my background and how much the Peer Educator Program has impacted my mental health as well. The Director was so happy to hear me share all these things. She in turn shared some wisdom and some of her own passion. She kept telling me how much she wanted to cry because of how amazing my story was – she also told me that I’m so resilient and so strong.

I also self-disclosed my suicidal tendencies and tell her more about how much I’m struggling. Despite that, I have also decided to keep pushing on and to keep fighting. The part of me that doesn’t want to get better still fights back but I feel like she’s getting weaker by the day. It seems like it at least, when I’m on a good day like today.

The Director then said to me, “You are a a woman of color, like me. You are going to make an impact in the community in ways that all the Caucasian Peer Educators can’t. You’re going to reach the women who never speak up or come forward as sexual assault survivors. You’re going to inspire a new generation of “Jules”. As a woman of color, you give a face to what is possible. I gave a face to what’s possible for the other Peer Educators who struggle to find their place. Take JJ for example, she came up to me one day and said, ‘What? But you’re a black woman. How could you be in such a position of power? Wow… That must mean that I can do the same too! I want to be just like you!’ You will do the same for someone else”

I was just so awed by her. She is only 4 years older than I am but her depth of experience and the wisdom she’s gained from her years of experience really shows. I was so thankful that she had taken her time to talk to me today. It renewed my passions, and made me even more determined to follow through with my recovery. I felt fired up.

Later, I felt even more fired up when an old high school friend of mine messaged me. She had been in contact with me for months now because she had wanted to improve her English skills. As I was the person who had constantly gotten really good grades in English back in high school (and was even the only person in my school to have gotten the highest grade possible during the Malaysian University English Test), she had contacted me for help. I agreed to help her on a regular basis because she showed so much initiative and so much drive to change. English is not an easy language to learn as a non-native speaker so I was awed by her desire to improve despite the difficulty.

Today, she messaged me and said some really inspiring things. It made me even more fired up!

With her permission, I post these screenshots of our conversation here:

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I erased her full name and photo just to protect her privacy.

This conversation was a God-send. I was just so amazed at the timing. It was what I needed to hear. It was validating and urged me on even more. It humbles me to know that I can inspire others just by being me. It humbles me whenever people tell me their story. This is one of the reasons why I keep doing what I do.

I want more people to be successful. I want more people to be cognizant and mindful of their lives, mental health, and emotions. I want more people to care about others and give to others the way I am doing. I want people to pay it forward and keep doing so until all lives have been touched and changed.

What a world that would be!

I’m inspired, fired up, excited, humbled, grateful, and hopeful today. Despite the end-of-the-day struggle with depression and suicidality, I had had a very good morning/afternoon. Although I grappled with the idea of self-harm tonight, I also had more strength to resist it because of the motivation I received this morning.

It’s amazing what just one person can do to another – in my case, I had two people do to me what I try to do to others all the time – they reminded me of who I am, what my purpose is, and how I can change the world.

Peer Educator as Role Models 

​Volunteering and being accepted into the Peer Educator program has to be one of the best things that has happened to me at school because it’s motivating me to want to get better in my mental health. 

One of the expectations that the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion (HWP) have is that all Peer Educators should be role models for other students. So, with that in mind, it’s encouraging me to want to practice self care and to maintain my health and wellness! 

I’ve not been wanting to get better for the longest time. A part of me still really doesn’t and is still resistant. But… After an entire afternoon and evening of talks, planning, and team building exercises, I’m becoming more open to the idea of being okay with getting better. 

I think I’m becoming less afraid of the idea of being better. I’m becoming more confident that I’ll be okay being a strong, independent, well trained, and intelligent woman. That I don’t need to have a partner in life to inform me of what I need to do or how I should think and live. That I’ll be fine by myself. 

I’ll post more once I’m back home in civilization where the Internet is not the speed of a dial up connection and where there is phone reception but I couldn’t sleep until I post this short reflection. 

I saw a shooting star tonight and the night sky looks beautiful with all the stars that I can’t normally see because of all the light pollution. So, right now, my anxiety is not as strong and I’m feel much calmer. It’s really nice for the Office of HWP had decided for our retreat to be out here in a recreation camp site! It’s good for me to get away from the city from time to time. 

Facing a Speed Bump

After the good day I had yesterday, I woke up feeling a really painful ache in my heart – a result of the gaping, and bleeding wound that I have in it from the divorce. Despite all the connections I made yesterday with my friends, I woke up feeling lonely.

It wasn’t a good feeling – and it’s especially jarring since I had been more stable lately. So like I did yesterday, I tried to comfort myself by doing things that I knew were helpful.

I went skateboarding in the morning – I actually forced myself up at 8.30am. I had a good time there – I fell twice but found myself starting to learn how to roll out of a fall. I didn’t sustain any bruises this time so I seem to be doing much better at not falling so badly. It was stifling hot though so I called it quits after just an hour.

Then I went and had lunch with a coworker and her daughter. She introduced me to a restaurant that I think I’ll probably dine at a lot in the future. We had a good conversation together and I felt like I got to know her a little bit more. I also felt a little closer to her.

After lunch, I went to work, only to get sent home because my manager didn’t need so many server on tonight. So I asked N if he’d like to hang out again like we did yesterday. He said we could so I hung out with him again and we played more of the same video game we’ve been playing.

So you’d think that after all that, I’d be feeling good, right? I mean, I did the same exact things that I did yesterday. I skated, met someone for lunch, and then spent time with N. I should be feeling good. But why am I not? It perplexes me.

The Secret Of Becoming Mentally Strong – TED Talk

This is a very important TED talk to watch. In it, Amy Morin instructs people on how to become mentally strong, in order to weather any emotional upheaval in life.

I know I for one need to do the things she shares. It’s not going to be easy.

The things she shares are very painful for me to hear. I know I needed to hear them and I’m still resistant to the idea of improvement and change. I’m so terrified of it even when I know how much I’ll benefit from it.

The intensity of my suicidality has increased again lately due to the extreme stress that I’ve been put under through life events that I can’t control and my job. I told S today that this weekend was the first time in 3 weeks (since I started on Zoloft) that the suicidal thoughts had been this intense. He’s concerned – as am I.

After watching this TED Talk, I knew that one of the things I could do is to change my mental habits but change is terrifying. I don’t want to do it and I hate myself for that, which ironically is one of the things that a mentally strong person wouldn’t do i.e. disparage themselves or put themselves down.

Sigh.

I think I am at the point where I just don’t want to go on which is why I don’t want to do any of the good habits that Amy suggests in this video. I am just too tired to keep fighting. I am tired of all the pain and suffering. I guess I’m throwing a pity party for myself, aren’t I?

When I Stood On The Top Floor Of The Parking Garage

After the incredible session with S on Monday, I had one that I felt really unsatisfied with on Wednesday. I was unsatisfied because I was in a confused state of mind so for the first half an hour, we talked about something that I didn’t feel was very important and didn’t hit the points that I wished it had which unfortunately, because I was so confused, I wasn’t even sure what points I did want us to hit. I also felt unsatisfied because with only 20 minutes left, I had remembered an 8-year-old memory and had brought it up. It was something that had impacted me so much and had devastated me so badly 8 years ago that I had buried all the memories connected to it for that amount of time and had never thought of it again until Wednesday. Because we only had 20 minutes, after I had explained all kinds of details to S, we didn’t have time to process any of the information that I had presently. We briefly talked about how disappointing people had been towards me then and how cruel what they did to me had been.
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Grades and Achievements This Semester

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Spring 2016 Grades

My disappointing grades this semester. Yes, a lot of you are going to look at this and say that I’m crazy for thinking that this is disappointing. Hey, I can’t help how I feel about it. I know I could’ve done better. I know I could’ve gotten a 4.0. Now my Cumulative GPA has dropped to 3.839. I know it’s not the end of the world. I know it’ll go back up as I progress through the rest of my program. But like I said, I can’t help how I feel.

That said, at the same time, if I were to tell you the dozen things that I was struggling through while I was going through this semester (including reliving some past traumas, struggling to work 50-60 hours a week while going to school, struggling with my sexuality and my identity, and several other major things I am not comfortable talking about yet), I’m sure you’d say that you’re amazed that I even managed to finish the semester, let alone get this kind of a grade.

It also reminded me of what B (the psychologist who had facilitated the group therapy that I had been a part of for a better part of this semester) had told me. “Isn’t it more important at the end of this semester to see that you’re still here and managed to keep yourself alive than whatever grades you’re going to get?” Well, I’m still here, still breathing when more than a hundred times throughout this semester, I’ve been battling my own suicidal ideations. I think that counts for something too.

S tells me that I’m very resilient and that resilience has shone through while a fellow blogger, Q, has noted that I had higher than average coping skills – all of which have dragged me through these months. I’ve emerged battered and bruised; I’m still here. I know it counts for something in many people’s eyes. I guess, I just need to believe that myself. It’s such a struggle because right now, I don’t. A friend of mine, SH, told me that it’s great that people can help me through but I need to want it myself. I need to want to live. I need to fight for that myself because really, I can’t rely on anyone else to keep me alive. I know he’s right. But it’s also hard when I really don’t want it. S was concerned when I told him that I didn’t want to live.

At the end of the day, I’m my own worst critic and worst enemy.

Maybe I need to just list out some achievements and hopefully it’ll help me refocus and at least get through today.

Accomplishments this semester:

  1. Finished the semester and remained alive. Sure, I’ve added more scars to my left arm from all the self-harm but I didn’t go through with my plans to kill myself.
  2. Got an A for Computing which was a class that I thought I’d never be able to get through.
  3. Got a B- for Calculus – which according to S is “far from failure”; of course he’s right. I thought I was going to fail this, but I didn’t. And despite not studying as hard as I should have, I still managed to escape a C.
  4. Got an A+ for History of Interiors and Furniture, a class that I didn’t think I was going to enjoy when I first signed up for it but ended up really loving.
  5. Got an A- for Space Planning, a class that was extremely difficult for a 100-level class. I survived it.
  6. Helped tutor 4 different students in math. I don’t know how they did but I hope they did well.
  7. Worked 40-60 hours a week while going to school and haven’t had a nervous breakdown from it yet.
  8. Participated fully in the Peer Educator program’s Health and Wellness Leadership Academy. I expect to be promoted to Peer Educator in the Fall of 2016.
  9. Got myself a haircut that reminded me a little of who I really am. C, the other psychologist that facilitated my group therapy, told me, “It’s not just hair” and I’ll never forget that.
  10. Worked at the Math Assistance Center (MAC) and made new friends – I also learned so much from these individuals because they are not only as nerdy as I am but also so diverse in interests and skills.
  11. Self-cared by utilizing all the services that the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provided including individual psychotherapy, crisis-intervention walk-in sessions, and the Understanding-Self-And-Others group therapy.
  12. Made several HUGE breakthroughs during therapy with S this semesters – all of which really sucked because of how much it hurts to relive the traumas, how painful it is to admit some things that I’ve worked hard to brush off, and how hard it is to recover repressed memories.
  13. Finally admitted that I struggle with same sex attraction desires. I still have a long way to go to work on this but this is the first step, right?
  14. Some things didn’t work out but it’s really no one’s fault so being able to write that down is in itself an achievement.
  15. I bought a car. Sure, it’s more debt to my already huge debt but at least now I can take myself places and not burden Hubster with having him drive me around all the time.
  16. Was nominated for a Women’s Leadership Award for school. I didn’t win but getting to submit my resume for a chance to win was something!
  17. Sat down with a suicidal friend and helped comfort her – this in turn helped me comfort myself. She’s fine now and things got much better for her. Perhaps the same will be for me too.
  18. Kept up with my ADHD medication and the medication has finally stabilized in my system to actually help me instead of hindering me when I first started taking it. I’m MUCH better at paying attention and functioning like an adult now.
  19. Sat myself down and forced myself to write this list – which made me think of all the good things that have happened this semester. Sure the list of bad things is longer but this is still something! I did ALL these things and probably even more that I can’t remember. I actually feel a lot better than when I first started writing this post. Wow.