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

Through My Un-filtered Eyes

 

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same tattoo, different filters

I’ve never thought I’d have gotten a tattoo, but I did;
I got my first tattoo on 10.27.2016, completely spontaneously.
Looking at it now, I’m still mesmerized.

There’s one famous tattoo place located right next to my apartment building which I never noticed, and one day I just walked in and asked if I’d get a tattoo right away.

This past October, my 23th birthday month was one of the most painful periods to remember in this journey. One night I scratched my wrist madly with a pair of (unfortunately rough) scissors as if I lost my mind and cautiously planned on taking all of my antidepressants and sleeping pills at once in my second suicide attempt out of four so far. I decided to kill myself. The whole suicidal thought was actually only triggered by a ‘casual’ conversation with my mom, who always speaks about silly things and comments unintentionally. I couldn’t stop crying, feeling suffocated with a sharp pain in the chest, and kept hearing the voice “I must kill myself, I must kill myself…” in my head. Otherwise I didn’t think I’d have that courage and impulse to go by myself and bare the pain and stigma of getting a tattoo earlier in October. At that time I didn’t even think about how to explain to my family about me having a tattoo later because traditionally most Chinese parents tend to think of individuals with tattoos as gangsters, or at least indecent people. I just did it. Anyway, I’m glad I made it, with no single regret but a little pride. I still can see the light scars left on my left wrist now but with a beautiful tattoo alongside.

“What does your tattoo mean?” probably everyone around me has asked this question. It was all inspired by Project Semicolon which i found on Facebook accidentally. It is “a global non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire” accordingly.

A semicolon is used when an author could’ve ended a sentence but chose not to.

You are the author and the sentence is your life.” – Project Semicolon

Not gonna lie as a huge word and grammar lover, the idea of tattooing a punctuation makes the whole act even cooler. I also love that the semicolon is followed by a heartbeat ending with a heart shape, which represents that your heart’s still beating, and you’re still alive continuing your story wholeheartedly. This is my own interpretation of my own tattoo.

From time to time I can’t help thinking that I’ve changed too much and am no longer myself anymore. I’ve found myself much less fond of watching beauty videos on YouTube and dramas but reading different kinds of books. I’ve been more into ‘sophisticated’ conversations than ‘stupid’ daily chitchats. I’ve been taking things real seriously. I didn’t realize that I had’t smiled and laughed from within for so long until an old best family-friend of mine described me as a girl who smiles a lot.

I cannot believe that I started conversations with complete strangers in the bookstore and hand-passed my handmade cards to them just to promote my personal blog these two days. How brave was that. It doesn’t sound like what I’d normally dare to do.

Am I still me with all these changes?
But one of my best friends reminded me that everyone of us is changing every day, and my personality might be shaped a little differently now due to what I’ve been going through. So I guess I’ve grown to become a stronger, maturer, and experienced person.

One of the biggest changes/ realizations is that I’m getting rid of the ‘filters’ in my eyes. By filters I mean stigma, discrimination, indifference, disrespect, and so on. I was once a person with no knowledge of mental health and would associate mental illness with rude labels like weird, dangerous, insane, which was apparently inappropriate and was only reflecting how ignorant, self-centered, and uncaring about others I was.

But now I’m learning to become a kinder person because somewhere deep in my heart has an strong eager for others’ kindness and understanding as I’m fighting the battle, and I finally feel the pain and disappointment of not being understood. I’m learning to put myself into other’s shoes before acting anything that would possibly hurt others.

Thank you so much to ICE music hk, a street music band I encountered en route to home tonight. Your passion for music has truly inspired me. And now an even crazier idea has popped up. I’m thinking about setting up a small area on the street side giving free books together with my handmade cards. I have piles of re-read books and old books that I’ll no longer read. So why not make a second-hand book stall? I also do keep extra copies of my most favorite books as I’m wishing and waiting to share them with the ‘right people’. I guess this is how butterfly effect works. I was inspired by other’s music and then now I wish to inspire others. I might be a small and unimportant person compared to the whole universe, but I do believe that if I do one good act that inspires one single person, that butterfly effect can already be passed on and on. 

It’s true that most of the people with depression including I tend to have suicidal thoughts at times. I’m so extremely hypersensitive that even the tiniest thing can steal my consciousness and drag me into the forever sinking black hole. I think I’ve truly experienced death from the moment I decided to kill myself, the moment I no longer found myself feeling alive, the moment I only wanted to escape. But what I want to stress is that, even though I still don’t feel happiness, I still don’t have a job, I still don’t want to exist, I’m seriously treating every day as if I’m dying tomorrow, to a point that I think 24 hours a day is NOT enough despite my poor and little sleep, contradictorily I have passion in finding meaning in life, I desperately eager to help people learn about the importance of mental health, I wish to make people understand how the world of mental illness really is without making presumptions.

I’m still depressed.
I still don’t have enough self-compassion.
But I do have passion for life.

Let’s take off the filtered glasses and view the world from another better perspective.

Note: Please also CHECK OUT and LIKE my Facebook page if you’re interested in more of my other sharing. Thank you.

Best,
Norelle
Nearly Dawn, 12.8.2016

Kindness Does Work Magic

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This post is dedicated to every single person who’s supported me, especially to this whoever person named Hello who has left a beautiful comment on this blog. Came home exhausted, receiving such a long and warm comment has completely made my day. Thank you very much, Hello.

I’m genuinely more than moved by all the kind and supportive words I’ve received from many unexpected/ unknown people ever since I started my blog and then the Facebook page.

Everything’s happened so fast that I myself cannot even believe it.

I’m still struggling with that freaking mental illness in me, but I’ll always remember and treasure these beautiful words which lift me up a little no matter what.

I’d say ‘thank you’ sincerely for a million times.

First Things First – A Thank You Note

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the notebook I carry 24/7 to write down my bits and pieces

If you’re reading this, I’m sending a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to you for coming to my little world and reading my messy words. You’re now then one of the reasons to encourage me to continue this journey.

I didn’t quite know how I gathered the courage and determination to start a blog, although I’ve been planning on writing a book; I simply googled ‘how to write a book’ as soon as I woke up from nightmares per usual today. And here is it — my very first personal blog, featuring my drafted book title “I Messed Up My Color Plate,” and the idea of living in different shades of the mixture of black and white.

Knowing that I have anxiety and depression is cruel.

Not knowing when the demons’ll hit me is terrifying.
And when they do hit me, I feel devastated.

But hey, I’m still here typing these words as they pop up on my mind now. I’ll continue to share more of my thoughts very soon.

Again, thank you very much.

Best,
Norelle
Afternoon 11.26.2016