Monthly Archives: May 2018

Dear Younger Self

The Child Mind Institute started a campaign for Mental Health Awareness Month, May 2018, where celebrities who struggle with mental illness share a message to their younger selves. They share what they wish they’d known, or general advice while recounting their experiences with their mental illness at that time in their lives. In honor of that, I decided to do the same. This is my message to my younger self.

Dear Younger Self,

I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s going to get better and that this will all go away. It doesn’t. But, you can learn how to handle it better and you can open up to people without being afraid that they’ll leave you. I have friends now that I can depend on, and they know about the dark thoughts and awful feelings I experience.

You’re not the only one feeling this way, even if it feels like it. There’s nothing wrong with you and you shouldn’t feel ashamed. I know that you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, but take time to breathe deeply and know that there are bigger things out there. If you’re not doing well in school, it’s not going to be the end of the world.

I wish you could be prouder of yourself and your accomplishments. I wish you could see how beautiful and bright you are, Ling. You’re an amazing person and you’re so strong for going through this on your own. Don’t let others make you feel invalidated. What you’re feeling–the fear, the hopelessness–those are real emotions you’re feeling. You’re allowed to feel these things without feeling guilty and thinking that they need to be justified.

Finally, I want you to let you know how much I love you and how proud I am of you. I know there were so many times when you just wish it would end, times that you thought about doing it yourself, but you’ve shown such resilience and tenacity by pushing forward. There are going to be unexpected bumps in the road, but just because you trip it doesn’t mean you have to stay down. It’s a long process, but you’ll be able to get to the other side. There’s nothing wrong with going to therapy, nothing wrong with taking medication, nothing wrong with admitting that you’re sick. Mental illness doesn’t make you crazy or any less of a person, it just means that your brain, like any other organ, needs a little extra care.

You don’t have to constantly prove yourself. You are enough. You are amazing as you are, and people see it. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay, and you’ll be okay.

Love always,

Ling.

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Negative Emotions

I wanted to share my thoughts on this because my friend spoke about it in a Facebook post. She said she was feeling sad, and that it’s not something we talk about. We don’t know how to deal with sadness, we’re just told that it’ll pass and good things will come. This is one of the heartbreakingly true things I’ve witnessed.

As a culture, we ignore or shun negative thoughts and feelings. We’re shamed if we have them, and they’re left unacknowledged and unaddressed. All that means is that they get worse or we become more confused and guilty for feeling bad. But the thing is, emotions come on a spectrum. We’re supposed to have bad, medium, and good. We can’t function on always feeling positively, just like we can’t function on always feeling negatively.

“Cheer up!”

“Be happy!”

“You’ll be okay!”

“Feel better!”

Why are those the things we say to someone who’s feeling down? Why don’t we ever say, “Do you want to talk about it? It’s okay to feel the way that you do, you know.”

Personally, there are times when I DON’T want to feel better. Where I just want to feel and be mopey because it’s been a while. I don’t want to cheer up or feel happy, because there’s nothing going on at the moment to elicit that emotion. What I’m feeling is a response to what I’m going through right now, I just need to be validated that it’s cool to have a bad time.

Have you ever felt badly about yourself because you felt jealous or clingy? Felt awful because you just happened to stumble into an episode of depression?

Why can’t we be sad? Why can’t we cry? Why can’t we be jealous because we want what someone else has? All these things make us human!

We shouldn’t be told to ignore these feelings and just leap into positive ones. We shouldn’t be made to feel bad because we can’t smile or be happy for something we’re not feeling. We shouldn’t numb ourselves to the bad in life. We should be aware of these negative emotions.

We should know where they stem from, just like how we can figure out why we’re happy or conjure happy thoughts. We should be able to treat these feelings as they are, feelings. All of our range of emotions and feelings should be treated and respected in the same way. Sometimes it’s okay to just be burnt out and want to be a potato… we can’t be an energizer bunny.

We should be allowed to just be.