10 Reasons Why.

 

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Left: tattoo of heartbeat since 10.27.2016 ; Right: tattoo of breathing since 8.14.2017

10 Reasons Why I’d End My Life:

1. I’m sick of being sick.
2. I feel stupid for taking pills so difficultly every day and night.
3. I’m hurt having people tell me how much medicine harms while it clearly helps more.
4. I’m drown by an overwhelming amount of pressure that I don’t believe I can handle.
5. I’m a functionless and costly burden to friends and families.
6. I cannot sleep having racing thoughts 24/7, even with 8 freaking sleeping pills.
7. I’m so swelling, fat, and ugly now.
8. I cannot control my unpredictable feelings and fluctuating emotions.
9. I’ve gone crazy shifting between hypomania and depression.
10. I’m ashamed of myself for basically everything.

10 Reasons Why I Must Stay Alive:

1. I’m still young.
2. I haven’t gone back to Los Angeles, my favorite home and place in the Universe.
3. I haven’t seen aurora light and ice caves, and visited more national parks.
4. I haven’t learned how to swim and swum with dolphins in the ocean.
5. I haven’t become slim again like I used to be.
6. I haven’t got engaged and taken wedding photographs at UCLA.
7. I haven’t adopted a pug named after my nickname Bubu.
8. I haven’t had babies, hopefully a baby boy before a baby girl.
9. I haven’t had my dream home and car again.
10. I haven’t been to Germany, Italy, Vienna, etc, and revisited Hawaii and Las Vegas.

10 Reasons Why I’m Enough:

1. I’ve been through hell and come out alive.
2. I didn’t take those 130+ pills or stab to kill myself last year.
3. I know to seek for help when needed.
4. I can bear failing to swallow pills again and again.
5. I see beauty in many things and strike for perfection.
6. I’m kind, generous, empathetic, strong, and resilient.
7. I don’t like giving up.
8. I managed to graduate from a truly amazing college.
9. I’m talented in language, floristry, and art.
10. I do bake some devilish butter cookies and triple chocolate cookies.

10 Reasons Why I Should Be Grateful Today:

1. I’m surrounded by love.
2. I have a very kind-hearted and patient doctor to walk through the journey with me.
3. I have many friends who truly care about me, even though I always hide myself.
4. I have dreams to fulfill when I’ve gathered enough energy someday.
5. I have a good enough contact list to depend on when I need a good listener.
6. I always have luck meeting nice random people.
7. I have a nice bedroom filled with flowers, souvenirs, postcards, and books.
8. I’ve read many beautiful and inspiring books.
9. I have way too many lovely memories to be treasured in my heart.
10. I’m a beloved and lucky girl despite my mental illness after all.

Best,
Norelle
Almost Dawn, 8.15.2017

 

A Little Breakthrough

“Breakthrough”⛈☀️🌱 from Storybloom

Making flower cups almost every day, how can I not create one that tells my own story?

For all my life I’d prepared and seen myself as an English teacher only because of my passion for words and languages grown since childhood. And my days were awesome — living in glamorous la la land, graduating from a prestigious college, going on numerous breathtaking road trips, etc. Looking back I’d say my life was quite perfect. So many once-in-a-lifetime things were checked off, and so many irreplaceable memories and histories were made. Until one day all the overwhelming pressure put me in a black hole and kept me in a dreadful nightmare loop — I found out I was really sick. Ever since then, I haven’t taught a thing anymore and have been trying to discover alternative directions, which is very very hard. A voice in my head is still urging me to go back and teach English now.

Mental illness is a real tough battle, and mine is constantly changing between better and worse. Sometimes I’m really depressed; Sometimes I’m really hypomanic. And living here in Hong Kong, there’s so much stigma that costs fear and misunderstanding in the society. This place really needs more people of authority and organizations to speak up for us all.

I’m fortunate enough to have found a connection with flowers. Flowers always bring me serenity and boost my energy in times of darkness. My bedroom has soon become a flower sea, for there’re fresh blooms pretty much everywhere. And that’s when I started the Storybloom page on Instagram on impulse to share my flowers and hopefully bring other people some light whenever they need. Maybe others will see the happiness I see in the beautiful blooms too. I think this is a quite good compromise for me at the moment too, because in a way it satisfies both my infatuation with flowers and my love for English writing. It’s more time consuming than it seems to think of a name and description for each floral work that I make though, since there’re way too many options to choose.

This messy flower cup represents my story — the sunshine and rainbow are completely drowned by the fierce ocean, as the silver blue hydrangeas completely cover those colorful pink, lime, and yellow petals. The white rosy ship in the middle was trying to head to somewhere, somewhere it can find peace and guidance, but now is stuck in the middle of the sea with no sight of a lighthouse. However, who knew greenery could actually break through and grow in the sea? Perhaps that’s what hope and resilience can do. Maybe the toughest times are the finest experiences after all. It sounds crazy and torturing, though.

It’s funny that my own version of Storybloom consists of ocean as it always gives me chills. I always wonder how deep the sea is and what that place looks like. It must be pitch black and freaking freezing there. I don’t know how to swim and am afraid of water, but at the same time I just love staring at the water, listening to the waves crashing the shore. The sound of waves can calm my soul effortlessly. I also love the dolphins so so much. Ocean seems to be a complication to me — it means fear, blindness, uncertainty, serenity, freedom, and liveliness all at once.

Anyway, I hope your Storybloom is always delightful and hopeful, and that no matter what happens, you’ll keep fighting and believe in the best of yourself. ☀️

Best,
Norelle
Midnight, 8.12.2017

HIGH HIGH HIGH!

 

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what I’ve crazily indulging in — the making of Storybloom

Written on Starbucks napkins in the cafe back in June:
I’ve never been this happy and alive for a very long time. Ever since April last year, I’ve been spinning inside of a black hole struggling to find a way out. After times of failure, experiments with medication, days and nights of hiding myself at home pretending that I don’t exist in others’ worlds, I now feel what happiness is like. The word ‘recovery’ is misleading and tricky; I think every single person in the society has different sorts of problems to solve, cure, strengthen, etc. I’ll always be on the road of recovery, or better said, improvement and reinforcement. It’s been a giant step forward now that I can finally sleep at 2ish and wake up around 11 instead up staying up all night, feeling numb in the afternoon, and then taking a nap and waking up at dinner time, although I give much of the credit to my sleeping pills. Two white plus two orange is the best thing in my life. The feeling of sleepiness at midnight feels human again. I couldn’t be more happier even though nightmares still knock on my door in my sleep, but I’m improving, and everything’s getting better, so what can I blame? However, there is a hint of guilt lingering in my heart as soon as I feel better. Am I blaming myself for feeling happy? These moments are real, when I watch a real good sitcom or a romance movie, when I pick up a bunch of fresh roses after doctor appointment. I smile every time I look the vase full of blooming flowers on my desk. I feel calm and relaxed, when I light the tiny bulbs above my bed, when I put on a fresh mask on the face, when I smell the aroma of my lemongrass and sweet orange essential oils. I haven’t felt in this way for so so long that I might possibly be guilty for feeling that sense of lightness and happiness. With a little improvement, I couldn’t help urging myself to improve more and more so that I can fully, fully feel normal. That being said, I wish to work like everyone does, meet friends anytime for a drink or a shopping date, but that is a little too soon to say still. One of the strangest and truest feeling that you’ll never get rid of is the past. I’m feeling alright now, but I remember so vividly how my days were back then. Those memories of suicide attempts, negative thoughts, and family issues are just in the back of my head, and they’ll just float by from the deepest database in my brain. I’ll have to learn to accept them and live with them. Because it’s those horrible breakdowns that make me resilient today.

As of the present day:
It’s almost 7 in the morning now, and I’m still awake having my brain numbly sort out so many different things. The head is SPINNING! I’ve been refreshing my Instagram page like crazy, editing the profile there and on Facebook again and again, and thinking about why I’m doing all these while I have to wake up just in a few hours for the doctor appointment. I don’t have that ‘over the moon’ feeling like a month ago anymore, but I still have the burning motivation to do an impossible amount of errands every day. I’m on four sleeping pills that are intended to put me into sleep and give me back a normal resting cycle, but I don’t take them until 5 or 6 in the morning to make sure I don’t get uncontrollably sleepy and have to give up what I’ve been doing all night. Honestly, I am very exhausted and numb in many ways. Last morning I didn’t know why but I cried so badly for not being able to relax a bit and sleep at like 8 in the morning, and to my fear I had a glimpse of thought thinking I’m better off dead. I haven’t had this kind of thoughts for a long time already! I’m hoping that I can be a robot that can be recharged over and over again without sleep. I’m sensing some repetitive phrases now and there might be typos because I’m really tired, and hungry at this moment. How can a person be so tired yet so hyper? Although I’m not working, I feel like my so-called working hours can be comparable to other people. I insist to take care of my flowers every day (currently having five vases of fresh flowers in my bedroom and four empty vases); I’m like a flower addict, a flower hoarder, but I cannot help that. It feels like my ‘responsibility’ to experiment with different kinds of flowers and make some nice flower arrangements since I’ve opened up a page. It’s completely taken over my time and attention. It’ll probably sound luxurious, but I insist to watch many many tv episodes or movies online every day; By ‘many’, I mean finishing a season within a day. I’m also so freaking sensitive to dirt that I insist to wipe and clean my bedroom area and bathroom every day no matter what. The unbelievable part is that I’d had two times of fever in the past two weeks and I still managed to do all these. In the scale of 1 to 10, my daily average is 5, which is pretty good actually for I had 0’s before. I can handle many social events such as going out for flower shopping, doing yum cha with my gran and gramp, chatting with my dad, briefly running into my best friend and having a short conversation. I couldn’t have done all these months ago.

I’d admit that I love hypomania a lot. It’s like I have everything in control and nothing to worry about really. However sadly hypomanic isn’t my original personality, and if not treated it can turn into mania, which will be a catastrophe. I don’t want to be on this roller coaster anymore. It’s unpredictable. I’m unpredictable. Even I myself don’t even know when I’m going to be hyper or depressed or neutral/ normal.

It wouldn’t be possible if I don’t mention my Storybloom page because it’s really the work of my heart, mind, and soul. “[ˈstɔːɹibluːm] is somewhere flowers and stories meet.
Everything here is bloomingly made as you wish. And the story in the storybook is all yours to create, based on your background, purpose, memories, and imagination! 
You can have your very own unique storybloom made.” I’m glad I’ve made this happen as it gives me the opportunity of combining my love of flowers and passion for words together. 
I’d really appreciate if you can check out the Facebook page Storybloom | 花說故事 by Norelle  as well as Instagram page, where I post my flower picture every single night. I’m really hoping that one day it’ll become my business that really earns money. I don’t know if this is about me being hypomanic or this is really my direction to go though.

I should probably go get some sleep now, despite the fact that I’ve been having many bizarre dreams, or maybe I should at least be glad that the dreams don’t consist of my being killed anymore.

I’m glad to make an update on this page because I haven’t typed a word for so long, anyway.

Best,
Norelle
Morning, 8.3.2017

The High and Guarded Walls

stone-wall-texture-1080x675Sometimes I wonder how I’m trapped inside these walls of prison. It turns out that I’m the one who keeps building and reinforcing the walls for the sake of security. However, the more invincible the shell is made, the more vulnerable the heart becomes.

I keep counting how much longer until I can finally become my normal self again, but all I can do is counting the days I’ve been desiring. And then, I begin to question about the definition of normality. What’s normal? How was I before? How am I now? How will I be?

It’s like roaring in the infinity of silence. It’s living in a dilemma.

Now that my bipolar disorder is in control, I don’t have manic behaviors anymore. I don’t rush around doing errands, I don’t have racing thoughts on my mind, I don’t feel like running out of time every day. It also means that my motivation and energy are gone. Sometimes I have to admit that I miss being maniac because I can be fully functioning all day and feel alive with it. All I’m left now is some depression that won’t seem to go away as I’m not ready to tear down the walls at all. I’m currently trying out Lithium to see if it helps. Adjusting medication is frustrating though. It can work wonders once and suddenly become useless.

My doctor’s once mentioned that there are open and closed systems in recovery process. Closed system is apparently my scheduled appointment and medication that probably help up to 60% of my condition. I still have to work with the 40% in open system on my own, which suggests a healthy lifestyle, a supportive circle, engaging social activities, and anything that boosts up my attitude and leads me out of the prison. The trickiest part is that I’m scared of living a life. I’m tired from the inside out. I’m stuffed with nightmares every day. My weekly routine is all about meeting my doctor and buying groceries only, and I can already fill myself with many uncomfortable feelings en route. Nothing yet seems to be able to alter the fact that I’m still holding myself back, lacking the courage to meet my best friends again, leaving home once alone without fear. Even the tiniest, simplest job can appear to be frightening or threatening to me, even though my logic tells me not. My emotions beat my logic sense and my wishes.

It’s taken more courage than I thought to be writing again even it’s only like babbling random, organized thoughts and updates to myself. It sounds foolish, but it kinda feels like I’m talking to someone as I type. Lonely, isn’t it.

I can see myself so much improved because I no longer have suicidal thoughts and plans now. The darkest times have gone. I got through them even though they keep haunting me every day, and I’m still finding a way to live calmly with those dreadful memories.

It can be a lifelong battle, but anyone can become a warrior, right?

Best,
Norelle
Late Night, 4.16.2017

 

Let’s Talk about Medication

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My current prescription on top of my eccentric collection of empty pill bags and extras since Day 1 of treatment

Ever since my first day of psychiatric therapy and prescribed medication, I’ve received so much advice that my medicines are poisoning me more than helping me. Many people have suggested that I stop taking those harmful medicines and seek psychological counseling services instead. At some point, everyone around me seems to become like a doctor who knows my medical record well. I’m not saying that the friends and family members who have advised me out of kindness are not appreciated, but I really want to stress that I know what I’m doing, and only I know how much my psychiatrist and the medicines have helped me all along. Also, it’s indeed very very frustrating to hear people asking me to stop my treatment because it is possible for me to take medication for the rest of my life with bipolar disorder.

It really has taken a long exhausting journey for me to find the best prescription so far as my condition always changes and my body reactions are very unpredictable — I’ve gone from Generalized Anxiety Disorder to Depression with many relapses to Bipolar Disorder I now. So unsurprisingly, my prescriptions have been quite diverse and ample:
– Tranquilizers (for my anxiety)
– Antidepressants (for my depression)
– Antipsychotics (used its side effect to help me fall asleep)
– Mood Stabilizers (for my bipolar highs and lows)

Each category has its wide range of brands and drugs. The most appropriate one is prescribed depending on the patient’s condition and reaction to the chemicals. I can easily name five different antidepressants that didn’t work or no longer work for me: Ixel, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Pristiq, and Mirtazapine. Honestly, I’ve never felt so ‘knowledgeable’ about medicine before trying out so many different drugs of the same family, as I’m very loyal to one single brand that works best for me whenever I’m sick. I always stick to Pepto-Bismol when I have an upset stomach and Advil when I have a fever or any pain issue. However, this practice of loyalty doesn’t work well for my mental illness.

Psychiatric medication is all about testing, waiting, and testing again, since I don’t know whether it’ll work on me, and if it works, how long the magical effect will last. Unlike physical illness on which we can apparently see the treatment’s progress, mental illness treatment requires a lot of time to wait for the maybe slight improvement, a lot of patience to create the best combination of drugs for the most desirable result, plus a lot of tolerance of pain and a lot of willingness to hope while the illness hasn’t been cured completely.

I won’t say that my prescription is doing 100% good to me because all drugs have side effects. Friends and families might see my freaking swelling face and body only, but there’s way more than that and I’m still willing to be on medication because I know I really need it. Fatigue, drowsiness, weight gain, headache nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors are all common side effects that I might experience as well. People without mental illness often focus only on the harm of medication rather than the help of it. I’d dare to say that I couldn’t be able to have made this far without having the medicines fix the unbalanced chemicals in my brain. Although I never know when I’ll have to adjust my prescription again, I’m more than excited to see how the newly added mood stabilizer has worked wonders on me so far. It really does balance out my manic behaviors in particular my impulsive excessive spending habit, which is extremely unbelievable for a signature shopaholic person. My urge to read and write unstoppably due to the fear of having no time left has also been eased significantly.

I thought 2016 was a tough enough year, but there’re certainly more challenges to face this year. It’s only the very first month of 2017, I’m just beginning to fight bipolar disorder, with many other unexpected incidents happened lately. And I’ve already almost killed myself using a sharp piece of glass and put myself back in another depressive episode again. 2017 wouldn’t be an easy journey, but every single time I survive, I gain a little more courage.

Best,
Norelle
Early Evening, 1.12.2017

 

How Mental Illness Hijacked My 2016

 

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Sadness from Inside Out | “None of the other Emotions really understand what Sadness’s role is. Sadness would love to be more optimistic and helpful in keeping Riley happy, but she finds it so hard to be positive. Sometimes it seems like the best thing to do is just lie on the floor and have a good cry. – Disney•Pixar’s Official Character Description

These two week have been extremely fluctuating and torturing. It feels like my heart’s being stabbed over and over again. I’ve been drenched in intense depression and uncontrollable irritation, which makes me and my psychiatrist really puzzled whether there’s a possibility that I’m now bipolar, which is quite possible and really SUCKS. It’s really hard to not hate myself and think of myself as a burden especially at this particular period of time. I’m not even counting how many suicidal thoughts I’ve had already anymore because there’re way too many. Racing thoughts, suicide attempts, and the feeling of suffocation are no longer strangers to me now.

2017 is approaching. And this is crazy. I didn’t expect myself to witness this.
By the end of every year people including I’d normally say something cliché like “Oh, how time flies, and a year’s silently slipped away“; I wouldn’t say it this year, however, because 2016 didn’t slip away. It realistically passed minute after minute, day after day, with me desperately counting how many days until I meet my doctor again, counting how many pills I have to take each night, counting how much longer I’ll have to avoid seeing my loved ones, and so on.

This list can sum up my significant ‘accomplishments in 2o16 (as far as I can recall as I’m very forgetful now):
Leaving the United States.
Part-time English teaching job, soon quitted due to mental illness.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certificate.
First tattoo, oh yeah.
A personal blog.
A Facebook page.
Unique handmade cards to promote my page.
Initiatively talking to strangers in bookstores and elsewhere.
An unexpected new friend who is always caring and considerate, and leads me to think from different perspectives.
Swallowing ten pills at a time (sometimes I fail, though).
A great psychiatrist who fights the battle with me.
Ongoing weekly psychiatric therapy and medication.

These words can sum up how fucked up I’ve been feeling all the time throughout 2016:
Insomnia.
Nightmares.
Fatigue.
Hyper.
Sharp Pain.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Depression.
Agitated Depression.
Worsening Depression.
Relapses.
Bipolar.
Fear.
Guilt.
Avoidance.
Uncertainty.
Disguise, etc.

I really understand that everything I possess now including that intangible air is a blessing. I know that there’re numerous people whose sufferings are way beyond mine, whose lives are way worse than mine, but I must confess that, I’ve never suffered like this before in my entire life, and I’m feeling very very weak and vulnerable. 2016 has been a freaking painful year, so I’d never simply say it’s just gone and gone because there’s too much to remember for a lifetime. I’m blessed to be still alive because I could have long killed myself six months ago, but I’m incredibly in pain pretty much most of the time every single day. The more I tell myself to pull myself together, the more easily I’d worsen the whole situation, but sometimes I just can’t help it.

When I’m feeling OKAY, I’d always try my best to stay positive. I wouldn’t look back at this 2016 focusing on the Sadness side only, but I’ll NEVER exclude Sadness in my life. Although depression sucks and tortures me to a point that DEATH’s been a real temptation for many times, maybe my dear friends are right, maybe my doctor is right, that my presence can be a blessing to the others. 

Let me share one of my favorite quotes that gives me slight encouragement when I’m lost:
Do not go where the path may lead.
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’d be willing to scream ‘FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOU MENTAL ILLNESS!’ for a million times, but I’m not willing to let this demon called mental illness take away my life so damn easily. Perhaps waking up feeling painful every day should represent that I’m still alive, paving my own trail little by little even if I cannot walk and have to crawl someday.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, to whoever has said even just one supportive word or shown a tiny act of kindness to me. I’m learning to become a kinder, tougher, and better person as I fight the battle and strive to stay alive each moment. By the way, I’m sending sincere blessings to you and wishing you a fruitful new year with happiness and health ahead.

Very Early Morning,
With Much Love,
Norelle
12.27.2016

 

How Many Happy Birthdays Can You Have?

 

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a unique birthday card on the withered blue rose petals in a glass box, along with other wilting flowers in the vases

Some days are better; some days are worse.
You must accept and confront this truth.

 

“Agitated Depression”.
What? What is that? So this is the reason why I’m having mixed feelings of extreme depression and extreme irritation at the same time, and my brain is forever spinning huh. The answer is YES.

I’d been testing out a new antidepressant called Pristiq for almost a month because the “miracle pill” Effexor no longer worked as effectively as in the previous months. However over the past weeks, my personality, emotions, reactions, and behaviors have changed dramatically:
I have had many mood swings.
I have avoided speaking with my closest friends and family.
I have started a blog.
I have opened a Facebook page.
I have sent private messages to all of my friends on Facebook that I’ve been blocked from sending new messages for three times.
I have made many different postcards to promote my Facebook page.
I have initiatively started numerous conversations with strangers at the bookstore asking if they’d be interested in checking out my sharing on fighting mental illness.
I have been chatting with strangers actively and carefreely.

Since I was way overly energetic (on the outside ONLY) and productive (forever writing posts, reading books, and watching videos) while on Pristiq, my heart and mind were really exhausted to a point that racing thoughts reappeared and reappeared. But every time the word suicide came into my ears, something must always happen and make me burst into tears uncontrollably, and most importantly, pull me back to this reality aka hell.

My doctor and I are still unsure whether if my sudden changes are due to the strong effects of Pristiq, or that my depression has been worsened and evolved a little bit to Hypomania. I don’t quite understand this term either, but I’m sure this is NOT good. Anyway, I don’t like Pristiq and am painfully trying out another new antidepressant now.

OKAY. Why is this post related to Happy Birthdays anyway?
I’ve recently read a book called《有人因你活著而幸福嗎?》, in English the title means ‘if there’s anyone blessed because of your presence/ you being alive’. One of my favorite chapters is about imagining that you’re now dead and write your own obituary. By thinking about how you’d want people to remember you and write about your obituary, you’ll find your own lost-yet-desired meaning and right path in life. I wish people’ll describe me as “a kind-hearted girl who spends her life enlightening and inspiring others” when I die someday. Another favorite of mine in the book is about aging. We’re all aging right NOW. Time never stops. Nothing on earth can make it cease. We’re all losing a little bit of our lives every moment we breathe, every moment we laugh, every moment we cry. So, how many more moments can we be able to truly experience the feeling of being alive? How many more birthdays can we celebrate? If we wish we’d pass away without regrets gracefully one day, then we must first face and contemplate death before it comes. What’s more, no one actually knows how much time he/she’s left with. Every year we blow off the candle on the birthday cake, we’ve already lost or hopefully well-spent a year in the whole life, we’ve already missed the wild opportunity of being curious and adventurous which should be done earlier. Death isn’t scary; not being prepared for it is. Since anything can happen all in a sudden, we all should be prepared to live our lives to the fullest.

I’ve found myself really into buying flowers lately. I love seeing them bloom and blossom so so much. But unfortunately they all eventually will wilt and wither, just like all of us. We really don’t know how many numbers we can cross out on this birthday card. That’s why we should seize the moments to bloom and blossom while we still can.

Yes I’m really fatigued, but many kind people consider my babbled words inspirational. How unbelievable and sarcastic that the person who inspires others with positive energy is a person full of negativity. I’m in huge pain, and I really really want to give up. But at the same time, I still want to write down as many thoughtful words as possible while I can still barely keep holding on and on.

Best,
Norelle
Around Midnight, 12.12.2016