My mother tells me every day that she misses the way I used to smile, engage, and laugh. Not kidding. My mom will send old Facebook posts of me in Disney World from 4th grade and text our family group chat that she misses her old daughter. I don’t think her intention is bad, but I’ve always wondered if there was something wrong with me. Why are my sisters the same? Why have I become more closeted from the world? Why can’t I be as happy as I was 10 years ago? Who am I? You know, I have to tell you that I do miss being my old self as well: carefree, relaxed, and genuinely happy.
Growing up, my mom was a single mom raising 4 daughters on her own. That meant no room for unnecessary roadblocks. My mom immigrated to America in the ’90s and it was hard leaving her family behind. My mom’s journey to America with hardships and discrimination makes it seem like any of my hardships weren’t valid. This might be typical for Asian families but my mom truly doesn’t believe in mental health, but I understand because she grew up in Asia. But this hurts me. I can’t open up to my own mother so what makes you think I’m going to open up to anyone else? That’s the thing, I don’t. Even writing this is a little ballsy of me but here we go.
For the longest time, I neglected and ignored my inner thoughts and told myself that everything was fine. I thought I was too strong to fall into any type of depression. Being the source of jokes and the outgoing friend, I thought I was safe from any other feelings than happiness. When my mother and I’s relationship became rocky at home, it affected everything. I started to not try in school. I refused to eat. I sometimes skipped sports team practice. All I wanted to do was sleep. I had no motivation to do anything. I closed myself off from the world. I wanted my name and face to be erased from the world. This specific depressive episode would cause me to end Freshman year with bad grades and severely affect my spot on my high school sports team. I had extremely unhealthy coping mechanisms which contributed to my sudden weight loss and the loss of energy in me. Dance has always been my source of happiness, but I let my emotions take that away from me. The time where I didn’t dance for a year felt like forever. Something was missing in me.
I had this very good friend. He was always there for me. I give him most to all of the credit for helping me climb out of the pit. He knew how to talk to me. I opened up to him and he knew how to give me advice. Crying in bed, he would facetime me and watch movies with me to make me feel better. His words seamlessly aided me and provided comfort to my broken soul. I didn’t feel broken. His presence healed my wound. He encouraged me to dance again and to hang out with my friends more. A common side effect of any depression is random bursts of anger or aggravation. I had these bursts a lot. But he understood and calmed me down with just the right amount of kindness in his voice. Nothing felt forced. With him, I felt happy again. I felt like smiling through Main Street at Disney World holding my mickey pretzel.
It was healthy that I finally opened up to one person which eventually helped me out of the hole I was in for a while.
Soon, I learned that I didn’t have long term depression but just seasonal depression. This stemmed from the fact that a lot of emotional and sad events happened during the colder seasons. With no chance back then to process my feelings, it developed into an annual depressive episode. As the years go on, my seasonal depression has gotten better, which I’m blessed for.
The thing is when someone struggles with their mental health, they become extremely vulnerable and blind sighted. Over the summer, I hung out with people who were bad influences on me and I was doing things out of my moral compass. Of course, I thought it was acceptable but I regret a lot of things I did with them. I wasn’t myself and I felt like I was trapped in a persona I didn’t favor. Once school started this year, I realized I hated the person I became and developed my yearly symptoms of depression. With college apps and other drama in my life, this was the worst time to fall into my depression. Over the past week, I started to feel my seasonal depression overcome me. But this year, I’m not letting it control me. I had one day where I slummed around as if I was in my peak depressive episode, but after that, I didn’t let it take over. I’m writing this to put it in text that I’m not letting it control me or my actions this year. I’m stronger than my pessimistic inner voice and feelings.
I always thought it wasn’t okay to open up because people would perceive me as weak, but opening up is actually extremely strong and it takes all the courage and self will you have to open up. I’m not kidding when I say find something you love to do if you feel a little depressed. Take care of yourself because at the end of the day, you’re you and you cannot change that whatsoever. You are not alone. But seriously, it’s okay to not be okay.