I’m writing this intro at 2pm on July 14, 2019 while eating a baked ham sandwich and drinking an iced kopi in the BreadTalk/Nanyang in the basement level of SM Aura. I’m noting this because I don’t think I’ll make this post for a while. At least, not for a couple of months.
But what exactly am I writing an introduction to? While drinking my coffee and thinking about the future (loans, starting law school, packing for my trip to Seoul, etc.), I remembered something I read a year ago: “Self care isn’t using a sheet mask or going on a vacation. Self care is taking the steps required to create a life you do not have to escape from.” That might not be the exact phrasing, but the meaning is the same at the core.
Self care is hard. It’s especially hard for me, a person who lives with mental illness. I’ve been open about this on social media, but I haven’t really discussed this on my blog. And I won’t go into detail now because I’m not quite equipped to put my exact experience in words. Long story short, I’ve had depression since I have been in elementary school (along with some other issues I’m also not going to get into). At this point in my life, I’ve had mental illnesses for more than half my life. So for me self care is /really/ fucking hard.
Right now, I’m using healthy coping mechanisms and I’m at a point in my life where I don’t actively want to die anymore. I’ve gone through a lot in order to get to this point, and I’m proud of where I am. However, I don’t just want to live a life where I don’t try to kill myself every other month. I want to live a life where I enthusiastically want to get up in the morning. I want to live a life where I am joyful. I want to live a life where, despite bad days and the negative emotions that comes with being human, I have sustainable happiness. I want to live a life that I do not feel like running away from.
But how am I going to do this?
One of the most difficult things I’ve had to come to terms with is that no, I probably won’t be “fixed.” I won’t wake up one day and realize my depression is gone. I’m never going to be neurotypical. I can pretend I am and joke about my depression being cured every time I clean my bedroom, but it’s not the reality. After all, some weeks I don’t even have the energy to shower.
When I realized I would be depressed for the rest of my life, I had a meltdown. I took it out on the people closest to me, and in the process sabotaged the relationship I was in at the time. But after the fallout and after dealing with (some of) the other problems in my life, I stopped trying to hide from the truth. I began taking through my problems. I started reaching out to my friends when I felt hopeless. I actively searched for solutions to my problems instead of spiraling into a cycle of self loathing. (Side note, I feel like after every break up, I end up a stronger person. Maybe I should break up with more men. lol) If my depression wouldn’t get better, I would. I would be the person I need to be in order to survive.
So in this cafe, while Downtown is playing, I’m thinking to myself: now that I’m out of survival mode, how am I going to thrive?
I don’t know exactly how I’m going to get there, but I know there are some steps I need to take. I know a schedule and proactive measures work better than to-do lists and reactive measures. I know that I need to reach out and show up. I know I need to be kinder to myself and more appreciative of my friends. I know that I need to find a therapist in DC before, not after, classes start and things become hard. I know that I need to be okay with being selfish at times.
I don’t know where I’ll be in a year. I don’t even know where I’ll be living in a month. But I’m excited to grow and learn. I know that the me of the past would be proud of the me now, and I know that I’ll only get better from here. I’m going to have bad days. I’m going to have bad weeks. I know I’m really going to be stressed out during L1 (and L2 and L3 and even more so while studying for the bar). But I hope that during those times I’ll be better at coping. After all, I didn’t think I would live long enough to graduate high school. Then I didn’t think I would make it to my college graduation. Now I’ve made it all the way to law school, and I can imagine a future where I am a lawyer. If I got this far not believing in myself, how far can I go when I actually do?
Now that I’m done writing this, I think that I’ll queue this to post a year from now. I’m not going to edit anything, not even the typos, because I want to be able to read this in the future. I want to see my thoughts raw and unfiltered. Writing this was incredibly therapeutic, and I think that I should write out my thoughts more. If you see any other thoughts posted to my blog before this has gone “live” just know that this was the first.