Of Being Happy and Mindful

I am happy today.

I am so happy that my anxiety, and depression are temporarily gone from my awareness. It’s different.

Something else is different too.

For the first time in my life, I am not afraid to say that I am proud of the fact that I am happy. I don’t have to make excuses and downplay my happiness, like I’ve always felt like I had to in the past. I could never tell people positive things about me because of how afraid I am of others judging me for being happy as a depressed person.

In group today, I told Jenny and Brandon that I love them so much that it hurts me tremendously to see them both in the darkness, still struggling to climb out of the pit of depression. I told them that I felt really sad that Jenny have been victim shamed so much in her life that she can’t even bring up the topic of sexual assault or even believe that women are right to talk about their survival with her significant other, and that Brandon felt that he can’t feel okay with who he is. I recognized their pain because I was just a few months ago, steeped in it. I’ve been through all the shit, and muck, and though I still visit the pit from time to time, I’ve also been spending a lot more time in the sun lately.

I told the two of them (because only 3 of us attended group today) that I didn’t want them to misunderstand me – that for a moment, I didn’t want to tell them how I felt because I was afraid that they would judge me as ‘hypocritical’. I felt hypocritical because back when I was in the thick of depression, many supportive people have told me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That there is hope. At that time, I had scoffed at every single one of them and in my mind, had resolved that none of them knew how I felt. I refused to believe them because I didn’t think that they’d understand. That no one would.

Now I’m more stable, and can cope with my difficulties better. And I suddenly realized that I now know what those well-meaning people had been saying to me. I knew now that they weren’t just saying words to make me feel better but rather they really believe it.

I said, “I decided to say what was on my mind anyway even though a part of me felt like a hypocrite but I trusted… Or at least, I hoped that you two would get what I was saying, and where I was coming from. You both have seen, and experienced me at my lowest. You know how much I’ve struggled. So I hoped that you’d hear my message and see it as coming from someone who did go through shit and who did do all the hard work to come to this sunny side. And it is my hope, I am so so hopeful that you two can feel this way too because it hurts me so much to see you two struggle. I want so much good for you guys!”

Of course, I cried. I got very emotional and I explained that I didn’t know why.

T offered an explanation, “Jules, when you said all those things to Jenny and Brandon, I could tell that it came from your heart. That you genuinely wanted good things for them. And in saying those things, telling them that their issues are valid, that they’re worthy to feel the way they do despite what others have told them, is also in the same way, self validating. You were also talking to yourself, Jules. You told yourself that you were worthy, and that you were valid…”

What he said struck me. He was right. I was validating myself too. And that’s why I got emotional. I still have trouble telling myself good things without crying. It’s so emotionally impactful for me that I can’t do it without the tears.

Later, I shared with Brandon how I’ve been able to climb out of the pit – it was that I had built a support system around me who would remind me from time to time that I’m doing well, and that I’m heading the right direction. I told him that it’s all and well to be able to self validate, but to also receive such recognition, and encouragement, is huge. I told him that I felt so much stronger now because I have recognized who my people are.

I then told him how much of a privilege it’s been for me to watch him grow, and to see how much he’s grown. He used to be high strung, philosophical, cold, distant, and so stressed out. Today, he sat there with an even temper, and was able to participate in the conversation without even once going to the philosophical arguments. He was vulnerable, and allowed himself to be, and he was accepting of all the feedback he was given. I felt so proud of him. When T asked me how I felt towards Brandon, I said, “I feel so good. I feel so privileged to have seen such a huge change. It makes me extremely happy that you are reaching that point, and are working so hard yourself. I feel so much affection for you right now. It’s almost like you’re my little brother, and you’ve done so much good work!” I wanted him to know that his hard work is being recognized. It made me feel so happy to be able to say that because not only did it impact him, it also rebounded and hit me with the fuzzies.

Just before group, the Director of the Office of Health and Wellness said to me,

“When you learn to love yourself, those who love you will come back around to you. You don’t have to acclimate to others. You are a square trying to fit in a round hole. You’re not meant to fit!”

The Health and Wellness Promotion Coordinator then added,

“Those who are for you can’t go. Those who are not for you, can’t stay”.

Those two things have changed my life today. The words reverberated through me and I felt the anxiety that has been holding me back all this time ebb away. I was so afraid of losing people, and losing good times, that I was willing to settle for mediocre just so that I don’t have to rely on only myself. When I heard all that, I learned that I could let go, and the world will still revolve… And somehow, that helped me let go today.

It helped me stay uplifted, and positive.

So much so that I went and watched Power Rangers at the theater by myself. I was giddy with excitement because I felt like a child again, and Power Rangers was one of the more positive aspects of my childhood. I remembered how hopeful, and strong I had felt every time I watched the show. Watching the movie today reminded me of that. I also felt that the interaction between the characters to be similar to what I’d felt for Jenny, and Brandon today. It felt good. They feel like family.

I also was able to learn that when I love myself, it makes me love my partner, Cherie, even more than I already do. It made me secure in our relationship, and I am not worried about a thing right now. I confessed to her, and to group that my relationship has been going well – despite some fights – and it’s been going on so well that I have consciously caught myself thinking, “Wow. This is going well. Now what can I screw up so that I can go back in the pit again? What can I do to make it so that I feel depressed again?” I’m so used to being in the dark that being in the light feels strange, and uncomfortable. I know that now.

Today has been one of those really mindful days for me. I’m just so aware of my life, my speech, my actions, and my feelings. I don’t know if it will last or not, but I am hopeful that even if it doesn’t, that I’ll be able to handle it and turn the negatives into good growing experiences.

Progress on Self-Affirmation

So almost a month ago, I had posted about someone that I had been chatting with – someone that I had met over a dating site in this post (Love Bug). I was supposed to meet them last weekend for the first time and they had reservations about our date. They cancelled, and told me that they felt stressed out with the pressures of school, with how their relative is sick, and how it’s so much pressure to meet me for the first time.

I felt like I had been too pushy and too insistent for us to meet. At that point, I was very burnt out with life itself and felt that if I gave myself a reason to leave the city I live in right now, that I might feel better. That if I could meet this person, I could feel better.

It was hard not to feel disappointed when we didn’t meet. It’s not that easy to admit that either. Somehow, it feels embarrassing.

Every time I think of this person, and how they haven’t messaged me in about 8 days now, I feel like somehow I did something wrong. Maybe I pushed too hard? Maybe I said something that they took offense to? Maybe I am texting too much? Maybe I’m too desperate and it comes across as needy? Maybe it’s just me… Everything’s my fault, right?

My anxiety started to convince me that it’s something that I did or didn’t do.

Then tonight, something else happened. The anxiety came back because I had contact the person again through the dating site. I had seen that they were online so I decided to send them a “Hi, hope you’re doing well” kind of message. They didn’t respond and shortly after I sent the message, they went offline. I had a feeling that they didn’t want to talk to me.

I started to beat myself up again. Thinking that it’s probably something I did – that I should’ve waited a little while longer before talking to them again but now I’ve blown it because I couldn’t wait a few more days.

As I showered, my thoughts went back to what I could’ve done differently.

Then I said to myself, for the first time ever, “No. You did everything right. You did everything you knew to do and you didn’t text them every day. You texted them once every few days. You’ve done everything you could. Now it’s me for them to reciprocate”

“What if they don’t?” The inner me asked.

“Well, if they don’t respond back, too bad for them… It’s their loss really. You’re intelligent, you’re attractive, you’re pretty awesome, and interesting. For them to let you go is a huge mistake. And it’s fine because someone will recognize your talents and appreciate you for your qualities. They’re making a poor choice if they choose to leave you”

A few moments after I finished that conversation, it hit me that I had just self-affirmed in one of the most positive manners I’ve ever felt. I was compassionate and understanding of myself. I recognized some of my good qualities and was not afraid to tell myself that I did indeed have those traits.

I felt thrilled that this had happened. I felt thrilled because this is an amazing step that I’ve taken. It wasn’t easy to get to this point but now I’m starting to be more and more aware of my action and words! Wow! What progress!

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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Why I Write

So over on The Mighty‘s closed group for contributors, people are writing short passages on why they write what they write – be it all the articles for The Mighty, other media outlets or their own blogs. I started to read the dozens of responses but as I continued, I started feeling really pained and burdened – not by what they were saying but by how many people suffer and struggle daily.

As I read the entries, I slowly discovered that we all suffer and struggle in some capacity or other. It’s painful and difficult to talk about and yet, these people have decided to talk about it. Many of them would not want to be called “brave” just because they’re speaking up but brave is what they are and should be described as.

I don’t know if I, myself, can accept the adjective “brave” to describe my own pieces and my own writing as it is a difficult word to accept for ourselves. It is much easier to call others “heroes”, “courageous” and “brave” but to call ourselves such seems – at least to me – quite arrogant and boastful. I can’t say that writing and speaking about mental health issues is a particularly brave thing to do because I feel like advocating for mental health issues is what I’m supposed to do.

I asked S weeks ago what my purpose in life was and why I’m still alive – he had reminded me to seek the answer within myself. When I searched for the answer, I recognized that my purpose in this life is to share with others my life and my experiences – because who knows, maybe someone someday can benefit from it.

So I realize now, as I read everyone else’s reasons as to why they write, that the reason I write about my ADHD, depression, anxiety, self-harming tendencies and suicidal ideations is because I want to reach out to those who are afraid and ashamed of who they are and what they struggle with. I write because it not only empowers myself but also empowers others. I write because I learned this year that “When you share your story, others will too”. I write because after I started to do so, I started meeting wonderful people who struggle with other mental health issues in some way or other. I started to learn more about other people as well as myself. I started to understand my own capabilities and limitations and how to overcome said limitations.

I also write so that I can represent – at least in some minor way – those who can’t do so for themselves. It is my hope that through my writings, drawings and speeches that I will be able to contribute to the abolition of the stigma of mental illnesses.

I have found now that to keep silent is to give up my rights to be recognized as a functioning member of society worthy of being heard. To keep silent would mean allowing shame to consume me and to define who I am.

Instead, I now know that I need to continue this work. I only started a few months ago but the amount of times I’ve had comments from people who’ve been helped have been heart warming. I never set out to reach people – yet, somehow, I did. And that has made the biggest difference to me. It is now the force that will continue to propel me forward and to continue my path of advocacy. Knowing that my writings, drawings and speeches can help even one person – even if that one person is myself – is more than enough to be a purpose for me to persevere.

Fall 2015 Grades

Full Grades

Fall 2015 grades

Not bragging but I received another 4.0 this semester and I’m extremely grateful, especially since as you all know, I’ve been struggling pretty badly emotionally and psychologically this semester.

I don’t know why exactly but this semester had been a mostly downhill rollercoaster ride and I had been more depressed than I’ve ever been in my life. I was also more anxious than I’ve ever been and more unfocused and impulsive than I’ve ever been. I don’t know if those are just a result of higher stress or whether it’s because therapy is shining a light on these issues and so I’m more aware of it – by being more aware of something, it’ll seem more severe in many cases.

I’m grateful for all the encouraging people I’ve met this semester who have had a part to play in my success in school – of course my ever faithful husband who bears the brunt of my emotional upheavals and instabilities, my patient and insightful psychologist, S, and my new friends, El, R, M and E who have been extremely encouraging have been consistently there to support me. Without them, I doubt that I would’ve achieved all A’s in all my classes.

I’m also grateful for my instructors who had been understanding about my difficulties as a non-traditional student whose English is a second language who also struggles with ADHD, Anxiety and Depression. They had been gracious – especially my Color and Design instructor who had allowed me to turn in an assignment a couple of hours later because my ADHD-addled brain couldn’t remember that I had an assignment due. I’m also grateful to my Speech instructor who encouraged me to speak my mind and allowed me to share my experiences in mental illnesses. I am grateful for the reconsideration of my grade for one of my drawings in Architectural Presentation as I felt like I could’ve definitely done better on that drawing but was allowed to make up for it anyway. And I’m definitely very thankful to have met my Algebra and Trigonometry 2 instructor because if I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have applied to be a tutor for math or have even gotten the 107.69% grade and “Best in Section” title for that class. He is by far the most passionate math teacher I’ve ever met and I’m so glad to have been able to be a part of his class.

Now, I just need to calm my anxiety down because it’s already telling me that I won’t be able to keep this up for yet another semester. Hubster exclaimed, “But that’s what you said last semester remember? And see how well you did this semester!” and I countered with “Yeah, but I’ve got Calculus and Computing next semester!” to which he responded with, “Oh whatever. I know you can do it. You’ve proven that you can!” A mutual friend had also said to me, “You know Jules, you really prove that with a will, there’s a way!”. I truly believe that now. That if I want something bad enough, I will achieve it because I will work hard to do so.

I also need to remind myself that if I can do this well when I’m struggling with being emotionally unstable, what can’t I accomplish when I’m better? It’s a good reminder to keep fighting. I may have added three more scars to my arm from the self harm but I know that someday I will be able to overcome that – even if it means having to fight every single day against that impulse.

Thoughts From Therapy – #33

I have several thoughts from therapy today but I probably won’t be able write it in detail until Star Wars craze has died down a little bit and to give time to people to watch the movie because S and I talked a lot about it – not the movie per se, but the things I related to in the movie and how I felt from all of it. There won’t be spoiler in this post but I will refer to Star Wars since that made up the bulk of the analogies I was using to describe how I’ve been feeling.

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