Yes this is a post about depression. No this is not inspired because my birthday has recently passed and I am now one year older. More so it's inspired by the fact that I've come to a point in my oblivious existence that I've accepted my own bouts with depression.
At UCI, I distinctly remember an episode where I could not cope with stress. Instead of talking to a professional, I completely shut down. I didn't want to hang out with anybody. I went to class, work, and home to sleep. Sleep was my main coping mechanism. It allowed me to ignore all the pressures and anxiety I felt. With the help of friends who drew me out of my bubble of sadness, I snapped out of that episode. I tried to never go back to that dark place. But in doing so I turned to self medication. The Anthill Pub was my favorite pharmacy that specialized in cider, guiness, and snakebites. It was an expensive way of stress relief, but socially accepted because I was in my early 20s and in college. Drinking was the norm. There could be nothing wrong with a pint of cider at lunch, at dinner, or whenever. When undergrad was over drinking daily stopped, but binge drinking began. Going out on the weekends and blowing off steam meant partying hard and drinking too much in one sitting. Eventually this stopped because I didn't enjoy the party anymore.
I knew I wanted to go to grad school, I just had to figure out what I was going to study. Eventually this lead to a student affairs masters program that made me a Trojan. I was excited to start school and figure out the next chapter of my life. But with the excitement came panic, self doubt, anxiety and fear. When my first year of grad school started there was a hiccup with my financial aid and I lost it. I panicked and succumbed to ugly tears. Now I know I've mentioned that I am a cry baby, but I would normally not lose it over something like financial aid. It was then that I realized I had no idea what I was doing and it was because I had always relied on my mom's accountant sensibilities to guide me to the right place.
Ate L, my cousin, suggested I see a professional, but I didn't think it was necessary. Even though I was in a program that is a "helping" profession which taught about the necessary aspects of counseling and therapy, I completely bought into the stigma of seeking mental help. I bought into the Asian American mantra of handling problems on my own. I shake my head at how ridiculous and hypocritical all this is. I didn't heed Ate L's word until my 2nd year of grad school. I began seeing a therapist and unloaded all my emotional baggage. I also started writing, which was an extremely cathartic process where I put down a fictional story inspired by mom's stroke. It exercised the weight of those emotions through therapy and writing.
I know that there are more things that I need to let go, so I continue to see a therapist who allows me to process life. There are times where I stop and think I can do this on my own, but I stop myself from going down that lonely path. It's not fun. It's not helpful and most of all it's not me. Thankfully Strawberry Farm Boy is here to keep me in check, to give me hugs when I'm going through ugly tears, and to be the touchstone I need to let me know that it'll always work out. Also a thankful shout out to my cousins and bffs who help this oblivious only child feel less only child-like. The oblivious tip for today? If you feel the cloud of uncertainty and depression, get help. Talk it out with a friend or a professional. There's always someone out there who's willing to listen.