Sunday, May 17, 2015

'do small things. on repeat.'

I wore yellow yesterday because I thought it would make me happier. But when the lights in the movie theater went down, it just made me sad. You can't see yellow in the dark--but you can't see much in the dark, anyways.

Cheever used to say that saying the phrase, "I want to be happy" automatically creates our own unhappiness. By acknowledging you want something, it means you don't have it. At the end of the day, we're the ones creating our own unhappiness. It's all about perspective, right?

But I've been sad for a long time--not necessarily unhappy, just sad. There's a word for what it is: after the end of an abusive relationship and the start of a fast, downward spiral, the doctor said it's depression. But the cost of acknowledging it always felt too great to me. Financially. Personally. (The cultural stigma is not lost on me, I get it. Just last week at the AAPI Summit, the topic of mental health and the barriers facing the community was at the forefront of many conversations. It is, after all, mental health awareness month.) I told him I wasn't depressed because I didn't know what it meant and I felt OK at least 50% of the time, and I was working and laughing and living. He said that being high-functioning didn't mean I wasn't struggling, and that struggling didn't mean I couldn't keep functioning. There were ways around the feeling. Talking to someone, for instance. A professional. Or finding activities that would keep my mind steady, calm. Have a routine. Have a regular sleep schedule. Stuff like that.

And be mindful, he said, that anything can be a trigger--anything as small as breaking a favorite necklace to breaking up with a boy, or something bigger like school or job stress or a death of any kind.

So I started blogging. I'd always written in journals or diaries and I had the typical Xanga/Myspace blogs in high school all of my friends and I flocked to to pour out our teenage angst. I started blogging quietly and in private spaces, and not sharing it with anyone. I started sharing, and then I would delete everything, then I'd keep writing and share it all again. I look back now at the start of this blog and I can remember where I wrote those first entries, and the mindset I was in. Those were the first posts I wrote that I convinced myself not to delete. Pour out your heart, I told myself, and don't care who sees the mess. It's not theirs to judge when they have messes of their own.

Judgement was always a big concern of mine because I never wanted to be pitied. I didn't want any of that sympathetic bullshit, people saying, "Aww" and trying to reaffirm how awesome they thought I was. When you're not feeling like yourself, the last thing you want is for someone to tell you how to feel. I'm not writing this for sympathy. I'm writing this because writing, to me, is like breathing. I have to do it or I'll just...fall. Fast.

And I'm writing because, right now, I'm feeling the pull to fall--more than I've felt it in a really long time. This acknowledgement and realization that pretending to be happy for so long has clouded my perspective of what "being happy" really means. Some days, it's fine and I don't think about it. Other days, it's suffocating. I'm not really sure if putting these thoughts out into the world will do anything but make people say  "aww" or make others look at me like I'm crazy. Or maybe it'll do nothing, but I think if writing is like breathing and I feel like I can't breathe, then I need to put this somewhere so I can feel a little less heavy.

And putting this out there is my way of telling myself: you might not be OK right now, but you will be because you've been there before. And you've made it--look at yourself: you're alive.

Does anyone know what this feeling is like?

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