My life, my choices.
I have chosen to be real. I have chosen not to cover up my insecurities, my vanities, my fears, my thoughts.
This post is driven by conversations I have had with close friends and new friends both. Those who are supportive of my effort to drive awareness and treatment for mentally ill people in Beijing and eventually, in other cities in China.
Why have I chosen cities, as opposed to rural areas in China?
Loneliness and isolation is a dire issue in cities. You work, you play, you shop, you drink, you sleep. Many people go home, and they are alone. They may appear to be happy and secure, but oftentimes there is a mountain of pain and insecurity within them. They are local Chinese and expats both.
Here is my story, and here are my thoughts on these people. (Post is disjointed, apologies)
Humans are social animals.
Some humans enjoy isolation. Some feel safest and calmest when they are alone, shut out from the world. They feel in control, and at ease. Others enjoy being social. They enjoy the company of others and thrive in social situations.
Regardless of your personality type, you are human.
The definition of independence, whether it is financial, mental, or emotional, varies from person to person. But, as I stated in my last post Only love, the only thing that keeps people going is the feeling of loving others and being loved. You may pretend that being alone is the safest and most comfortable option, but even the strongest and most “independent” person needs someone to lean on. Someone to show that they care for them.
This “love” and the forms in which it manifests also varies from culture to culture.
I was born in New Jersey on May 3, 1988 to loving parents and a beautiful sister. I spent 18 years in Wayne, NJ and then attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts for 4 years. Promptly after, I moved to Shanghai and then Beijing for work purposes. I have spent varying amounts of months in England, New York, Sweden, and the Bay Area. But for the most part of my adult life, I have lived in Beijing, China.
China is exciting. Work opportunities and the pace in which things develop here is unparalleled to anything I have seen elsewhere. I stay here because I am happier here than I have been anywhere else. Life is comfortable for me in Beijing, and I am very fortunate for that.
And I have finally found purpose in my life.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 1 in 2007, at the age of 19. I have suffered from depression and mania since the age of 18. I was hospitalized for 3 weeks when I was diagnosed. I have been on medication since then.
Recently, I read an article about a 19 year old boy in Sichuan who published a series of grim posts followed by suicide note on his weibo account. The post picked up more than 130,000 clicks in a few hours before users reported it to the police. He was already dead by the time they got to him.
Recently, I watched the documentary, “The Bridge.” It covers stories of survivors that jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and family members talking about their loved ones who committed suicide by jumping. What struck me the most was one mother who noted that her son was in a better place now that he was dead. Many family members said that “there was nothing they could do to stop him.”
I read about suicide Instagrams. I read new stories about suicide everyday.
What is my opinion?
- People don’t know how to help depressed people
- There aren’t enough outlets for depressed people to talk and figure out why they are feeling suicidal
- Suicidal thoughts are a result of something concrete
- If you commit suicide, you are brave but selfish
- If you commit suicide, you haven’t figured out what the fuck is wrong with you. You’re confused, you’re helpless, and you are drowning in your own sadness.
- If you are suicidal, you need to make a big change in your life to see where your purpose lies.
The only thing that has cured my depressions and suicidal thoughts is moving continents. Moving across oceans, meeting new people, starting new jobs, and molding a new life.
I have the luxury of doing that.
Most people do not. But they can identify their triggers and make changes that ARE possible in their own lives.
I have the social responsibility to help people who are suffering because I can empathize with their pains. I also have the time and energy to make a real effort.
I am not afraid to tell them how I got through my depressions (and manias) and how they could try to do the same. Writing has been cathartic for me. So has talking at length to people I care about. When you cannot figure out the shitstorm going on in your head, the best way to wring it out is to write. To talk.
I am oftentimes a huge fucking mess.
People are born with different genes and in different cultural and financial situations. Here’s my understanding of life and what makes me happy:
Money buys freedom.
Money buys convenience.
Money does not buy mental happiness.
Mental security and stability = happiness.
Some time ago, I read this article:
BALTIMORE - WHEN the American artist Ralph Barton killed himself in 1931 he left behind a suicide note explaining why…www.nytimes.com
“I have run from wife to wife, from house to house, and from country to country, in a ridiculous effort to escape from myself,” he wrote. The reason he gave for his suicide was a lifelong “melancholia” worsening into “definite symptoms of manic-depressive insanity.
Suicidal depression is a state of cold, agitated horror and relentless despair. The things that you most love in life leach away. Everything is an effort, all day and throughout the night. There is no hope, no point, no nothing.
Mental illness is sometimes impossible to understand. Some people are so off the deep end that it is structurally impossible to help them.
But I think most people aren’t at that point.
Societies have made it difficult for people to open up about their true feelings. Their insecurities and pains, and why they feel lonely and sad. As you grow older, thoughts and anxieties build up. They boil and simmer inside of you, and sometimes you feel like you’re going insane.
In today’s societies, the internet and social media has opened a new world of pain and insecurity. Anxieties and depression are more prevalent than ever.
What can be done?
More times than not
People have described me as a “strange” girl.
Am I strange?
Or am I just real.
Why am I mean? Why am I so vocally judgmental? Why don’t I smile often? Because I have decided to not pretend. Sometimes I am fucking annoyed by people. Sometimes I think about when I was suicidal. Sometimes I am pissed that I have to take medication to control my moods. Sometimes I am angry about some of my relationships.
I have decided to just fucking be myself and have no shame for it. And it feels not bad at all.
Wearing a mask is an art.
So is baring your soul.
I am passionate about helping the people I love, about fine food, fine drink, fine fashion, consuming information, and my beautiful quirky hamsters.
I am passionate about telling people that life IS worth living.
Find what makes you happy. Someone is always willing to listen.