Monthly Archives: May 2014

Moving On or Running Away?

Ever had those moments when you just instinctively feel that you’ve done what you were supposed to do in a certain place? It’s like a feeling of completion, and a compulsion to move on.

Ever had those moments when you start doubting the gut feeling you have about your decision right after you make it? You start taking in all the circumstances surrounding your choice, and all of a sudden you feel like a coward, as though you’re really running away.

If you’ve had either of those moments happen to you, you have the gist of what I’m feeling right now.

For a while I felt a sense of belonging; as if I were exactly where I was supposed to be and doing what I was meant to be doing. That feeling has since left, and I feel a pull to move forward with my endeavors, gravitating toward new opportunities. But even knowing that I’m meant to be walking ahead, I can’t help but shake off the uncertainty and doubt. It’s not unusual to feel doubt when making huge decisions, but it doesn’t quiet the question: are you moving on, or running away?
Regardless of how I feel, I can’t help but look the situation objectively as well. To any other person who is not myself, it seems as though I am taking the coward’s way out. It seems as though as soon as obstacles rise, I’m running for the hills. And it makes me wonder if that’s exactly what I’m doing?
I try not to let others’ opinions affect my decision, but it would be a lie to say that I didn’t put any stock into what my friends and family members’ advice. The future is unknown; what may or may not happen is as good a guess of mine as it is yours. So how do we really know what’s the right path for us? No matter what we choose, there’s going to be a moment in the future when we wonder what it would’ve been like had we walked the other path.

I guess that’s what Robert Frost was trying to say in his poem, “The Road Not Taken.” There will be moments when we have tough decisions and two roads if not more to go down. No matter which one, it leads to something, and people will have travelled all of them at one point or another. Unfortunately, we can’t take all the roads, and there’s always going to be a mystery of the other. So depending on perspective, I could be moving on or running away, I could be making the best change in my life or making the worst mistake. It’s something I’ll never know, something I’ll always think about, but in the end, what’s done is done. No matter how I feel about the decision, it’s a choice I have to make.

Here’s some advice for you, and for me: no matter what choices we make in life, we should stand firm in our decisions. Even if we live to regret it in the future, at some point in the past, it was what we thought was best.

– Ling


Understanding Depression

Understanding Depression

I want to start a non-profit organization to help people with mental illnesses, to help them move forward. It’s a personal interest of mine, so every Wednesday, I will share a post about different diseases. To start off my new Wellness Wednesday segments, I’m going to start with the mood disorder closest to me:depression.

Depression is probably one of the most prevalent mental illnesses out there. It affects 1 in 4 people in their lifetimes… That’s a lot of people. You could know someone who’s depressed, maybe that person is you, but he or she may never confirm it. There’s a shame associated with depression as there is with other mental illnesses. There are misconceptions, misinformation, and stigma attached to it that prevents people to come forward and seek help. People keep it hidden like a deep dark secret; and honestly, that’s what depression is, a deep dark secret. People would rather live a life of lies than to be recognized as abnormal in a negative light.

Everything I learned about writing comes down to one basic rule: show, don’t tell. That’s exactly what I’m going to do, to show you what depression feels like instead of telling you. Telling you would make no difference, you’ve heard stories before, you’ve witnessed people struggling, but you will never truly understand the experience until you’ve been through it.

You’ve seen those cliche scenes in movies where someone’s being bullied, he or she is surrounded by peers taunting, jeering at, and attacking them. The victim is always helpless on the floor while all he or she sees are the mocking faces of his or her attackers, that’s kind of what depression feels like. Except the bullies aren’t other people but yourself.

(Image from

Struggling with depression feels like you’re using your energy to charge pass these bullies only to be pushed down to the ground harder. You use all your energy reserves to fight and end up being exhausted. There are so many moments when you just want to give up. You just want to escape it all–that’s where self-medicating, hypersomnia, binge eating, self-harming come to play–you begin to depend on methods to help you leave it behind, hide it in the back of your mind. You end up fluctuating between feeling too much to feeling nothing at all. And while all of this is happening inside, you have to put up a front for everyone else so they don’t worry, so they don’t suspect anything. After all, there’s a shame to being a victim. It means you’re incapable and weak. Day in and day out, your completely drained, and anything else seems better. Wherever you look you see people happy and you just think, why cant that be me? Why does everyone else have it together while I’m breaking apart? You feel stagnant and there’s nothing you can do, you’re stuck in this rut. Some days you don’t even get out of bed, don’t eat, don’t take care of yourself because it’s all just pointless. In those moments death seems better than life, not because you want to die, but because you want the pain to stop. You want to stop facing these demons, your tormentors, that won’t let you have peace of mind.

And for those courageous enough to tell people that they are indeed depressed, they get these similar responses: “It’ll get better;” “Stop being so dramatic and get over it;” “You have too much free time on your hands;” You just have to change your perspective.”
Those words to the downtrodden don’t make them feel better, no, those words make them feel worse. It’s not that they don’t want to get better, it’s that they don’t know how or have the resources to do so. No one is taking their issues seriously and they feel alone. Depression is an isolating illness.

You go out with your friends because it’s a social obigation. While you’re there you laugh and smile and joke around. Everybody believes that you’re okay, that you’re fine and you’re enjoying being there. The reality is much deifferent, you sit there going through the practiced motions while on the inside you feel so distant. Even though you’re physically present and laughing, you don’t feel anything. Then someone says something wrong, a trigger word, and gone is your happy-go-lucky facade, no instead you’re bawling your eyes out. It’s like someone flipped a switch and you can’t stop the sobs wracking through your body. You realize your friends are looking at you, so you run. You find some deserted location like the bathroom and lock the door. You continue to cry and you don’t know when it’ll stop. You’re plagued by memories or feelings that those words brought up, and you’re back to square one. When you’ve finally calmed down, you return to your group. The atmosphere is tense and they look at you, expecting you to explain your outburst. Instead you smile and say that you’re fine, that it was no big deal. They look at you uncertain, but they shrug it off and decide not to push. Everything returns to before, but there is a tension in the air and you catch them sending you glances. You return home later and you cry yourself to sleep because you feel like a mutant.

As I mentioned before, people who suffer from depression often look for ways to take away the pain. What they’re feeling isn’t physical pain, but emotional pain, a pain that they can’t describe in words but know that it’s killing them on the inside. Sometimes these methods are healthy: drawing, painting, excercising, writing, etc. And other times, these escape methods are dangerous: self-medicating, self-harming, engaging in reckless behaviors, over-excessive eating or spending. All of the above are considered coping mechanisms, but people don’t realize that. There’s a stigma on those who follow the more dangerous route of escaping.

There are an insurmountable misconceptions about self-harm, and particularly, cutting. For the record, cutting is not the only method of self-harm but it is the one that garners the most attention. Other self-injurious behavior include scratching, burning, picking at scabs, pulling hair, etc. Basicaly, anything that you do purposely to feel pain would be considered self-harm. As I was saying, self-harm comes with a lot of negative stereotyping. Common beliefs about self-harm are:
1. It’s for attention.
2. It’s only a problem within teens.
3. All self-harmers are suicidal.
4. It’s a habit that can easily be stopped.
These statements are false. I will go through each of them individually and explain why these statements are not the reality.

1. It’s for attention.
Many people believe that cutting or other self-injurious behaviors are attention-seeking behaviors. This is untrue. More often than not, people who engage in self harm try to hide their scars, and are embarrassed by it. In fact, they’re afraid of what people will think of them if the scars are revealed. Self-harmers go to great lengths to cover their scars and hide them, and some even injure themselves in locations people will not see (the inner thigh for example). I am not saying that there aren’t people who may confess to self-harming as a way to seek attention, but that is definitely not the majority. Keep in mind that depression to the person suffering is shameful, and anything associated with it is shameful–especially self-harm.

2. It’s only a problem within teens.
False. Absolutely false. Self-harm, like depression, does not choose its victims based on age, gender, race, etc. Self-harm is a coping mechanism, it’s a way to stop all the craziness inside their heads. So it doesn’t matter if your fifteen or fifty-eight, the chances that you’ll engage in self-ham do not dwindle. Just because you know that’s it’s illogical and that it’s dangerous doesn’t prevent you from engaging in the behavior. It’s the desperation of the moment that takes over, and all rational though flies out the window.

3. All self-harmers are suicidal.
Some self-harmers may have suicidal intent or thoughts, but do not generalize those few to encompass everyone else. Most self-harmers are not suicidal. Sometimes self-harming is their way of staying alive. I like to believe that scars from self-injury are battle scars–physical manifestations of the inner struggle.

4. It’s a habit that can easily be stopped.
You would think so. Unfortunately, self-harm is not completely all voluntary, and like any other addiction, it’s hard to quit. Self-harm is addictive. It may seem bizarre to think hurting yourself would be something you’d be attached to, but it’s true. Humans are creatures of habit, and we often continue to engage in things that make us feel good. Self-harm for someone who struggles with depression does exactly that. As I said before, self-harm is an escape, and that relief that comes with it becomes ingrained. So, when things get tough, engaging in something that makes you feel better is the no-brainer.

I don’t encourage self-harm and I don’t romanticize it. I’m just trying to explain the reality of it. I don’t want people to judge someone who is already criticizing him or herself much more harshly than others could. When it comes to mental illness, we have to be understanding. I hope reading this post helps you understand a little bit of what it’s like to suffer from depression.

Depression is sometimes a precursor to suicide, so if you think someone may be going through depression, or is suicidal talk to him or her. Sometimes they just need someone there for them, because depression makes you feel a great deal of loneliness, so knowing they have someone can make a huge difference. There are also many resources available. Here is a link to the National Institute of Mental Health for more information about depression and resources you can seek or share:

A New Journey

I should be graduating, but I’m not. I should be getting a diploma from SUNY Geneseo, but I won’t be.

My time at Geneseo could be considered an odyssey. It’s an epic tale of tragedies and triumphs marked by battle scars and memories. It took me four years away from home to realize that I’ve been cowering in fear and running from my true desires. I still believe that I attended Geneseo for a reason, and I think a big part of that reason is creating an independent identity.

Who we are is ultimately dependent on the people in our lives, our environment, and the things we’ve learned. A large part of us is formed through our families and the other part society and the education system. If you were to ask me who I am, I would only be able to answer based on those elements. However, I’m working on figuring out who I am away from family and school influence.

My self-worth was tied to others’ approval and grades. I took for granted all the other things in my life, and could not bring myself out of deep depression because of all my insecurities. Only recently was I reassured by my sister that school is just school, that I am more important, that my happiness comes first. Her little speech changed my perspective on a lot of things, and there were little building blocks along the way as well. I had supportive friends that kept pushing me to do what I thought would help me, I had professors who believed in me and urged me to do my best. After many repetitive conversations and reassurances, I finally made a life-changing decision.

I don’t mean to make it sound dramatic, but it’s a drastic change for me. I had an image in my head since I was ten of what my future would be, where I would be at 30 — detailing my education to the very end — but all those dreams came crashing by the end of my freshman year of college. It took me a while, but I managed to re-form a picture, something not so far ahead… but as life would have it, that too fell through. And when I finally settled with finality in my junior year of college what I wanted to do with my life, BAM another obstacle. And I kept trudging through senior year and not much improved. I’m not sure if this shows resilience or just plain stubbornness at my refusal to change my plans even when I knew they weren’t working. Nevertheless, I finally came to accept the reality of my situation–bringing us to the reason for this post–my new adventure.

I want to start off with the one thing I haven’t mentioned, but was the first thing I decided to do for myself.
On Sunday, May 18th, I am getting baptized. I won’t lie, during these few years I wavered in my faith. I didn’t foster my relationship with God because I was adamant about getting through these trials on my own. In taking this step, I am finally asking and accepting help. I want to show and prove my love for my Heavenly Father.
Moreover, the act of baptism makes me anxious. I have a huge phobia of public speaking, but it is almost abysmal to my fear of being submerged in water. I asked about alternatives, but I was told by the pastor that this particular church only baptized through submersion. Now my baptism won’t only be the physical act of giving my life to Jesus, it’ll also be a way of facing my fears, confronting them. I saw a quote that said

F-E-A-R has two meanings: “Forget a Everything And Run” or “Face Everything And Rise.” The choice is yours.

I choose to face everything because I’m not giving up. Not after all that I’ve done to get to this point. The quote definitely eased some of my anxiety of going through with baptism.

As I mentioned earlier, I will not be graduating as part of Geneseo’s Class of 2014. Instead, I am withdrawing from the college and taking some time for myself, finding a job, and applying to CUNY Hunter next year.
Ironically, the gap year and Hunter College were actually my plans after senior year of high school, but I was too afraid to act on them. So it took me four years to come full circle, and finally give me the opportunity to do what I intended. Now have the courage to go through with it, and for that I am grateful.
It would be a lie to say that the academics at Geneseo wasn’t vigorous, but it would also be a lie to say that that’s the reason I didn’t do well. I never found my courses incredibly hard, in fact, on my good days I excelled in them. I’ve learned a lot in classes and outside of classes, but there were many other circumstances that came into play. Things that were beyond my control, but that doesn’t make me bitter anymore, the obstacles I went through brought me to the place I am now. And it’s undoubtedly a great place to be.
The biggest challenge in making the decision to leave Geneseo was my preoccupation with what my family would say. My parents immigrated from Hainan, China to make a better life for my siblings. I was born via Cesarean section not too long after my family got to America. I became the first U.S citizen and since my birth, my parents and siblings tried their best to push me to my full potential. I was constantly reminded of the care my mom and sister provided, how much they sacrificed for my well-being. I watched and experienced the stress and strain my dad and brother caused to the family, and the hurt within everyone. I believed that it was my responsibility to keep everything together, my responsibility to be as perfect as I could. That being said, withdrawing (or in the more callous term, dropping out) seemed disgraceful, disappointing, and selfish.
But after struggles with depression and anxiety, I finally came to accept that I need to do things for myself too. How was I supposed to keep my family together if I couldn’t keep myself together? This became a motivator for me to pursue the course of action of changing my plan all-together. Originally I planned appealing my pending dismissal, but I figured there was no reason to subject myself to the the repetitions of previous semesters. My brother and my sister support me, I have yet to tell my parents, but they all want what’s best for me. That’s all that matters in the end–my happiness.

So I start this adventure with one goal in mind: learn to be happy with who I am and what I have.


God Is Bigger.

Have Faith ❤