Tag Archives: depression

To Live with High-Functioning Depression

Dysthymia – Dysthymia, also called dysthymic disorder, is a form of depression. It is less severe than major depression, but usually lasts longer. Many people with this type of depression describe having been depressed as long as they can remember, or they feel they are going in and out of depression all the time. (Harvard Health publications)

 

It’s fast-forwarding to the future, to better days, some possible, most of them fantastical, escaping the present, regretting the past, keeping up the façade that you’re a functioning adult who makes the right decisions. Life can be an exhausting performance, but no one tells you that early enough. Oh, they probably tried to in their own imperfect ways, but you didn’t know how to listen or refused to listen, thinking maybe you were unique, maybe life’s claws wouldn’t dig deep into your chest and strip bare your heart and soul. You thought maybe it would only sting you, not incinerate you to ashes.

Once you’re no longer shielded from the walls of college or some full-time graduate school program, you dive into life abruptly, sometimes shockingly, like someone dumping icy, cold water on your head, and you weren’t ready.

I wasn’t ready. I missed the class on how to cope successfully with the ongoing anxieties and despairs of adult life, its constant rejections, and failures. I didn’t learn the tricks of the trade or value the importance of networking and connections, all the necessary information delivered only after you’ve suffered through the beatings of your mistakes.

To choose the life of a creative is to invite great suffering. Every day you ask yourself if it’s worth it. I could’ve chosen something more practical, studied the markets, gone into computer science or any health-related field, and then maybe I wouldn’t be so dead broke. Over-educated with a degree from Tufts and Columbia, I stumbled into one ditch after another, asking why did I chase prestige thinking it mattered when it was useless, in my case anyway. Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. I’ve made so many mistakes while pursuing the great white whale of publishing success.

I shouldn’t complain. Every day these words flash in my head: don’t complain. I’ve lived in five different cities and towns in my twenties: Boston, New York, Seoul, Korea, Toyokawa, Japan, and now Atlanta with eyes set on a livable city or town in California. I’ve met and interacted with people from all over the world, diverse in thought, philosophies, religion, and race. I’ve had unforgettable experiences living in Korea and Japan. I shouldn’t complain. Don’t complain.

But depression doesn’t care about your desires to stay free from pessimistic outlooks, low self-esteem, fatigue and exhaustion, disinterest in social activities and people in general. It doesn’t care how much you repeatedly tell yourself to stay positive, be thankful, consider those more unfortunate than you, suffering from the lack of basic needs you easily take for granted.

Depression doesn’t care about your well-thought out arguments against feeling deprived of joy, happiness, fulfillment, and self-control. You can argue all day and night. Scribble in journals. Pray and cry out to God. Depression doesn’t care.

It claims you, attaching itself to your mind, like a dark blanket wrapped around your head, superglued to your skin. It latches onto its host and grows in a unique way where some are highly-functioning while others are unable to get out of bed. Whichever way it manifests, depression is depression.

And so, I turn to exercise, running. The pain reminds me of my life. The finish line, my goals. Running is never just running. Each time a foot hits the ground, it becomes a metaphor for enduring, fighting, choosing to be defiant to the internal, screaming calls to stop and give up. Each time I finish a run, it reminds me of each time I wake up in the morning, having survived the last day, despite the clamor in my head to give up and die.

My family and friends stop me from taking my life. I don’t want to inflict any pain on others, especially on those who have sacrificed so much for me already, whose love has saved me countless times before. But that doesn’t stop the suicidal thoughts. As I said before, depression doesn’t care, not even how much you love your family and friends. It devastates everything, even love.

But I don’t have to live this way. It doesn’t have to be part of my character or be some twisted aesthetic accentuating my life as a broke, unpublished writer. Romanticizing depression isn’t cute. Major depression is ugly, blood, burns, cuts, sticky, gross intoxication, a haze of impenetrable smoke, destructive, paralyzing, a leviathan swallowing you whole, a killer.

So I make lists. Too many. Crossing off. Not crossing off. Scheduling. Forgetting. Smiling. Recoiling. I have to remind myself to widen my eyes and focus my gaze when my lids droop in disinterest and my mind wanders off into a blank space. Conversations deplete my energy faster than oil guzzling out of a pipe in a disastrous spill.

Sometimes people want too much from you. And sometimes people want nothing from you. I don’t know which is worse. I live in extremes with balance always remaining elusive, like a mirage that disappears each time I approach it.

But, I keep paddling forward, writing stories I believe many people will enjoy reading. I keep moving along. I keep dancing. I keep singing. I keep trying and learning. I keep going. I keep keepin’ on, and that’s all I can do. Keep keepin’ on, hopefully not forgetting the present, clinging closer to loved ones, and staying woke in increasingly dark oppressive times. To make love my religion, kindness my creed, compassion for all (except Nazis) my motto. This is life. This is to live with high-functioning depression in 2017.

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Stay amazing,

Sammy

 

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DAY 3: Don’t Let “Positive Thinking” Hurt You

Hello!

This is 60 Seconds with Dasist Winter. 🙂

Positive thinking. Sigh.

Positive thinking has its role in your life but there are days when you try hard to get your mind to think constructive thoughts and you only feel worse.

Why? Because you’re told to put your brain in a box labeled “positive thinking”, but your brain’s more like an ocean, and you can’t put the ocean in a box.

Sometimes you need to take a break from mastering your mind and just do something:

  • Talk to a friend
  • Take a walk
  • Go to your self-healing cocoon 
  • Write in your journal
  • Watch a movie or read a book
  • LIVE!

Instead of hitting the pause button to figure out whether you can convince your mind to think positively, press play and live life in any way you can.

Before you know it, your mind will focus on the actions. And, surprise, you’ve changed your mindset!

So, although it’s good to harbor positive thoughts, life can be super shitty and you may find that thinking positively doesn’t help at all. But I find that actions always do.

And that’s 60 seconds.

Stay amazing. ❤

What’s your alternative to “positive thinking”? Leave a comment below! Would love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

Day 2: Your Self-Healing Cocoon

Hello!

This is 60 Seconds with Dasist Winter. 🙂

Everyone needs a self-healing cocoon. What’s a self-healing cocoon, you may ask? It’s that special space away from everyone where you heal yourself from life’s problems.

My self-healing cocoon consists of pillows on the floor, a huge blanket to wrap myself around with—like a cocoon—and meditating music.

Right now, I’m struggling with unemployment, a defeating job search, staying healthy, paying my bills, and so on.

Sometimes everything becomes too overwhelming, and I want to break or stop existing. When these dark feelings rise, I go to my self-healing cocoon…

  • to heal my soul, mind, and body.
  • to give myself some rest and self-comfort.
  • to tell myself that I’m a smart individual who will figure out the solutions to her problems.
  • to remind myself that I’m not my situation.

Sometimes, I don’t even think of anything. I let my mind go blank. Even positive-thinking.

It’s only me and the void. And strangely, it helps.

And that’s 60 seconds.

Stay amazing. ❤

What’s your self-healing cocoon? Leave a comment below! Would love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

Featured image from beautifulufitnessuniversity.com 

Warning: Inside the Mind of a Highly Functioning Depressive 1.0

Warning: Language

It’s 1:30 in the morning as I write this now with my mind unable to sleep thanks to the millions of thoughts flitting across my head at 240kmh (that’s 150mph for us non-metric folk).

I feel the pain of the world too easily with all the tragedies unfolding this year, this week, today, right now, threatening to tear my heart and mind apart. Hopelessness sets in along with my weakness and sense of powerlessness to change or stop the daily horrors. Forget our politicians. We’d have a better chance of asking a group of orangutans to draft new laws that could carry out lasting change.

I wish peace could be attainable for our planet, but it doesn’t feel like it will ever happen. Sometimes it feels like hate runs deeper than love. That violence is our code instead of helping and caring for our fellow neighbor. And that we would rather cheer for those who scream the loudest and throw verbal vomit the farthest.

But most of us are asking the same question: What the fuck is wrong with humanity?

It’s not like it’s anything new. Generally, humans have always sucked since the beginning. It’s just with the countless social media options of our modern society, we now have the wonderful pleasure of knowing exactly how much we suck, and this shit can be quite overwhelming.

I know we can’t have a perfect world, but could we at least have a world that can work on dialing down the shittiness factor of humanity, its greed, lust for hate, death, and destruction? What would it take? What would we have to do? How long would we be willing to wait for it to happen? Why am I thinking about these things? Why do I care so much when all I’m doing is exacerbating my depression with all of these thoughts?

And yet, I can’t escape them because it’s who I am; it’s pretty much engrained in my DNA to be heavily concerned about the state of the world and humanity. Lucky me.

I know there’s more good than bad out there. Unfortunately, our social media outlets have a high propensity for tragedies and crude humor and cats, always the damn freaking cats. Okay, can’t hate too much on the cats because those little bastards are too cute and entertaining. I mean, just look at this.

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Catroll! Yeah!

But to get back on track, we need more good news to help balance out the bad. We’re not that starved for sensationalism and horrors that we would throw away the stories of humans not being shitty for once and actually accomplishing pretty amazing feats to help others and make the world a lot less horrible.

Maybe I’m simply talking to the wind, and we’ve long resigned to our fate to stay the same and not evolve into better versions of ourselves. I know that isn’t the case, but it certainly does feel that way.

We can’t stay stagnant and keep hoping someone else will the do the dirty work for us. The social upheaval our world needs today won’t come from one charismatic, uplifiting leader, but from everyone coming together to wake up and yell a resounding, “Enough is enough.” And then going there to do something about it.

Anyway, what about you? What keeps your mind running at night if it does?

Stay amazing

Samantha

Being Alone and Lonely in Japan: An Introvert’s Perspective

 

Listen, you’ll need bottles of cheap wine, 500+ tracks of good music, some of it mindless like 2000s pop, a deeper appreciation for introversion, a good activity to speed up time—mine is writing (thank God or else I would’ve jumped in front of a Shinkansen already)—Netflix playing in the background, a quick dismissal of whatever qualms you’ve had about talking to yourself in public, your Kindle to tackle all that reading you’ve long neglected, and a big healthy dose of IDGAF anymore because it’s that serious.

Loneliness and being alone.

Two different concepts but living in a small town in Japan, I can no longer tell the difference.

Being alone is loving your own company because you think you’re the coolest even when you’re not, but it doesn’t matter. You must believe you’re the coolest if you’re going to get onboard with being alone.

You relish the silence that comes once you’ve entered your place after work. You don’t want to bang your head over the deafening sound of your endlessly rolling thoughts.

You can relax, stretch your limbs, get stuff done, eat ugly, forget the pants, and curse loudly at the stupidity of whatever show you’re watching. Sleep late or early. Read or waste time on YouTube videos or scrolling through Facebook.

No one is there to nag you. No one is there to ask you for any favors. No one is there to annoy you. No one is there to judge you.

No. One. Is. There.

Back home, I enjoyed being alone. But here in Japan, it’s a different story because I’m alone every day even when I’m with people, sometimes especially when I’m with people.

Back home, I’m not alone every day because when I’m over being alone, I can go ahead and be with people I love and enjoy talking with. I can take a break from being alone. I have a choice.

But here, six thousand plus miles away from people who like hugging (I’m a hugger; people aren’t huggers here), who can keep me engaged in a good conversation, and who have a strong connection with the real me, I can’t take a break from being alone. Guess what happens? My time alone eventually turns into the beast called loneliness.

Hold on tight because I’m about to drop some bombs about loneliness in Japan, especially when you live in a rural town where the most exciting thing is an earthquake tremor.

First, let me get this one simple thought out of the way: being lonely in Japan sucks.

Okay, now we can go ahead and hit the deeper points.

1.) Communication:

If I ever plan to live in a foreign country where the people don’t speak either French, English, or Spanish, I’ll make sure to be enrolled in real, not online, language classes. My Japanese ability is enough to get me by and fulfill essential needs: shopping, eating out, traveling, and banking.

But a person needs more to maintain a healthy mind. A person needs conversations that go beyond likes and dislikes and what you think about Japan or why you’re here.

After answering these questions multiple times, you don’t want to talk to anyone anymore. You instead end up talking to yourself since you’re under the impression that you’re the most interesting person you know.

Just kidding, of course. Maybe.

There have been times when I didn’t make any attempt to start a conversation because I knew it wouldn’t lead anywhere significant. I chose to stay quiet and only talk when spoken to.

As an introvert, keeping up a superficial conversation drains so much energy out of me. It augments my depression and feelings of loneliness. In fact, relief  spreads all over me when the conversation ends.

Of course, I talk with my family and friends back home and it helps a great deal, sometimes even saves my life. But nothing can match the simple joy of talking to someone in person, seeing each other’s eyes, smiles, funny grimaces, and feeling each other’s energies.

Here, I am no better than a talking doll with a string you can pull on her back. A doll’s probably more alive, though.

2.) Weekends:

In a previous post, I wrote about how Japan has been great for my writing in term of getting the words down. Why? Because my weekends consist mostly of drinking white wine, cleaning my apartment, and writing.

I’ve written more than I’ve ever had here. It’s the result of not having my weekends booked with the laughter and joy of family and friends. Instead, it’s me, the laptop, and a fiery passion to get work done.

Writing is great. I love it to death. You all know that already. But my sanity needs more than writing. In fact, too much writing has made me colder, more introverted (yes, that can be a bad thing; balance is key, people), and a tad more obsessed with writing itself, which I didn’t think was even possible considering how passionate I am already.

I’m sad to say that I’ve also lost a good chunk of interest in traveling to other cities here. Depression does that to you. Robs you of things you once enjoyed like traveling and exploring new places (thank goodness it hasn’t taken writing yet; the universe knows I’d end it if I lost that). So I prefer to stay in and write at my desk or sit in the corner of my favorite café in town and spend hours writing there.

Another culprit behind my not traveling so much is having to do it alone. This is hard for me to admit, but I don’t like traveling alone.

Kudos to those who can do it, but it’s not for me. I can live alone, no problem, but traveling alone pushes me further into my head and thoughts, which makes me talk out loud more than I’m comfortable with before I can check myself.

If I do have to travel alone, it needs to be in nature with a sparse sprinkling of folks. I can’t stay in crowded places or else I’ll suffocate. So it’s hard to explore a new city because those have lots of people, right? What can I do except run away back to my room where—spoiler alert—no people.

But if I’m with someone, my mind takes a break from the crowds and inner thoughts to focus on the person beside me. I feel better and can endure a trip for quite a long time. I become a happy traveler.

3.) Daily Life:

No. I don’t exist in my daily life. Reality doesn’t exist in my daily life. Nothing exists in my daily life. Monday morning through Friday night is known as THE VOID, the zenith of my loneliness. I escape it somewhat unscathed on Friday nights with lots of wine.

They say life is what you make it. Yeah, well, I’m hanging by my teeth on the highest ledge of the Burj Khalifa to make it through the rest of my stay here in Japan. But the key to surviving this great leviathan called loneliness is not giving in to it.

Never give in, just keep pushing and another day will come one after the other until it’s all over, and you can go back and ask yourself, “What the hell was I doing with my life then?”

Living. You were living and you keep doing it, except way smarter this time around.

So, what are your experiences with being alone and lonely? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Samantha

Living in Japan as a Creative

Coming to Japan helped my writing. It helped me understand what I needed to do as a writer in terms of meeting my reader and her needs. Now that I’ve taken what I’ve needed from Japan, I want to leave. Without a doubt, this country is beautiful. The people kind and hospitable. The food delicious. The culture poised and steady. Like a perfect square glass sitting on four pillars. I definitely feel the old meeting the new here, hundreds of years of history meshed with crazy modern beats. As a visitor from the West, I’ve experienced a strange and magnificent world that never ceases to astound me.

But my soul struggles to hold it together now that I’ve passed the sixth month mark of my stay here. Japan is beautiful, that’s true. But depression, sadness, repression, and brokenness choke the air here. Sometimes I feel like I’ve stepped back into 1950s America with the old fashioned uniforms of the train conductors, sea of black suits, and housewives doing laundry every early morning.

The conformity is strong here. Even the hipsters have their own rules. And the rules are hardly broken. Now, I don’t live in Tokyo, but a small town in the Aichi prefecture and that could be why I feel so out of place here. But even when I visit the big cities, I can’t shake off the pain from my shoulders or brush aside the tears soaking my sleeves.

The people here need a hug. Someone to say, “It’s okay, be yourself and release everything you’ve got bottled up inside your chest. ”

Before, I sometimes thought that maybe I was an empath. Coming to Japan has convinced me that I am. The people here want more out of life but they can’t or won’t do anything about it. So shouganai (しょうがない) prevails (the philosophy that a current situation can’t be helped; nothing can be done) and it allows everyone here to get through their dreary work routine until retirement when they can finally enjoy life. It’s what helps them live so long, too. It works for them.

But I find the scheme, the script, all of it, so constricting. Like being in a jail cell. My spirit can’t stand it any longer and I wish more and more to leave as the days go by. Sometimes I don’t feel this way. As I enjoy the peaceful landscapes and the sounds of carefree children playing by the river banks, safe and adventurous, I smile, a wave of bliss washing all over me, and think: Japan is beautiful. But that’s all I think. I can’t seem to find the words to say more, which is disturbing for this writer.

I should’ve probably visited this country instead of moving here to teach ESL, which will be my last year of doing so. I’m done supporting myself and my dream to become a published writer through teaching English. Five years is enough.

I can’t regret coming to Japan. My brain says I do, but my heart doesn’t because deep down I am grateful. In some ways, I had to come here to make my dream of visiting the country come true and to fully understand who I am as a person. Some of what I’ve discovered isn’t pretty at all. Some parts are more encouraging though.

At this moment, I really don’t feel anything. Japan’s shouganai attitude is rubbing off on me, but I don’t want it to. Screw shouganai. I don’t want to be resigned to my fate even though doing so would ensure I’d live a longer life. I’ve spent too much time already fighting against fate, conventions, restrictions, and so on to shrug my shoulders and let life happen. I make life happen. That’s how I’ve decided to live even if doing so is hard as hell.

I’m reminded of the lyrics to a DJ Okawari song featuring Brittany Campbell called Brown Eyes:

“Save me from this place. I’m so empty like my heart has been erased.”

Although the song is about a broken heart and betrayal, these lines resonate the most with me about my current situation in Japan.

Hear the full song here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOIaEbm4vgs

Have you ever lived somewhere and felt something was wrong despite all the beauty surrounding you? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Samantha

 

From College to Today: How I Fought and Won against Self-Doubt, Disappointment, and Negativity. Part I

Life stopped holding my hand when I turned twelve. I developed antagonistic feelings toward life and decided it was an enemy I needed to conquer. I moved from a predominately Black and Hispanic urban Catholic school to a predominately white public school in a suburb of Boston. I started the eighth grade in this new middle school with great excitement and anticipation, but my excitement turned to dust in my mouth after the first several weeks.

I felt isolated, different, and incredibly unhappy. I missed my old friends and making new friends was harder than I thought. Sometimes, I locked myself in a bathroom stall to cry or find some escape from my present reality. I despised my situation and cursed life for it, unable to find the kernels of joys placed all around me. I saw only demons dancing in hell, pointing at my sadness and laughing at my supposed helplessness.

The years moved along and I went to the high school of that same town. High school was only slightly better and I longed to reach the end. I graduated sixth in my class of about 200 students with honors and scholarships. Tufts University was my destination.

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College was hell. And this surprised me because I had hoped it would be worlds better than high school. I couldn’t believe it turned out to be worse than my childhood nightmares.

I blamed myself because I was painfully shy and more self-isolating than I was in high school. I suffered from a bad form of introversion. The result? I experienced the minimum of college life and my social circle never reached beyond 3 members. And forget romantic interests. A unicorn had a higher chance of existence than my love life. I didn’t think I was desirable in any way so I never took a chance to step out or reach out.

However, I was supremely thankful to the handful of people who chose to hang out and talk with me, especially since I was convinced that I wasn’t as interesting or captivating as my fellow classmates. I made little impact at Tufts and it took a lot of work to scrape off that big piece of profound regret from my mind.

Writing was my savior during that time. I majored in English. And then majored in Biology because my parents and I already decided that I would become a doctor when I was in middle school. When you’re the child of Haitian parents, you have three career paths to choose from: doctor, nurse, or lawyer.

The sciences at Tufts kicked my ass and dragged me down into the worst depression of my life. I would fail again and again in my exams. Insecurities chained my every limb, self-hatred multiplied, and negativity was my home and prison. I saw no way out, so I contemplated suicide often, especially during my third year. It was on my mind every day. But my faith in God stopped me from going through with it. I found solace in the Bible and in the love I felt from Jesus. I never sought a therapist, which was one of my biggest mistakes. I probably would have been able to unpack a whole lot of stuff weighing me down.

College graduation came and it was the happiest day of my life because I was finally leaving hell. I had mustered enough courage to tell my parents that I no longer desired to be a doctor and that I wanted to study about education. Best part: I had been accepted to a Masters Program at Columbia University’s Teachers College. I was going to live in New York freaking City. I floated higher than I ever thought possible and let a roaring loud wave of relief, excitement, and happiness wash over me.

My two years living in New York would be the best two years of my life.

teachers college
Teachers College, Columbia University

***

 

In college I walked in a haze of negativity and self-doubt obscuring my vision and crippling my hopes for a future. I longed to hang out with friends on weekends, laugh for no reason, and work hard on a dream motivated by passion. I desired these things because somewhere deep inside I knew that life couldn’t only be the flames and the aches. Although small and fragile, there was some awareness that I wasn’t meant to live this cramped, self-hating existence I was living. I was meant for something more fulfilling, rich, and beautiful. And that small hope pushed me to apply to graduate school in NYC, a city that stole my imagination and heart after a three-day visit with my family. I wanted to live in New York and it came true.

My face once I opened up my letter of acceptance to Columbia University

I didn’t know it back then, but I was slowly releasing myself from the throes of negative thinking before moving to New York for school. I was fed up with feeling down, fed up with feeling like I had zero control of my life and where I wanted it to go. Suddenly, it really didn’t matter so much what people thought of me or whether this or that person could perform this task better than I could. I had a desire to truly focus on me without taking the outside world into consideration.

It took going beyond the superficial desires manufactured by my upbringing and society to better understand and be in touch with who I really was and what I could do. I was approaching the edge of this new and liberating mindset, but doubt and negativity kept pulling me back. It would take some great friends to give me the shove I needed into a pool of healing and self-love.

Freedom begins in the mind

When I first stepped out of the moving van to head up to my room, I instantly felt the rhythm of the city humming beneath the soles of my feet and tingling my skin and senses. The beat matched the excitement of my heartbeat and never stopped drumming until I left two years later. The air had something contagious in it: possibility, hope, uniqueness, coolness, and discovery among many things. I couldn’t help but get caught up in the potential for what things in my life could be. It was a great feeling. Like I said before, I was riding on an amazing high. But I would soon find out that the best thing about living in the city was the people.

New York would have been nothing without the incredible bunch of individuals I met from different walks of life. For some strange reason, the shyness that held me hostage in college dissipated in the city. I was outgoing, confident, and supremely cheerful, and it attracted so many cool people my way. Something about being outside of my comfort zone energized me in a way I never thought possible. I wanted to forge new friendships and connections so I dove right in without an ounce of fear. Doing so allowed me to meet one special friend who helped me confront my negativity straight on and embark on a new path: affirmative thinking.

 

My Stop!
My Stop!

***

I jumped into life in New York with my eyes closed and my faith and confidence level high. I relished the beauty of the present and looked forward to the promise of the future. Every day was new and guaranteed surprises and laughter.

I exuded a great beam of light wherever I went. My friends would sometimes comment on how my eyes shone bright or how I gave off a glow. The joy swelling in my chest simply overflowed.

My love for my new friends and desire to meet new people knew no boundaries. I sought them and made plans, something I hardly ever did back in Boston. I went out with friends for dinners, movies, Broadway shows, rooftop parties, social justice events, intimate gatherings, and seminars with keynote speakers. I experienced fun study sessions that lasted until 4 in the morning, bonding with my study buddies. I wanted people to be joyful and safe around me. My bubble was a no-judgment zone full acceptance and love.

And yet, despite all this positive energy, negativity held on to a portion of my mind, opening it up to fears of rejection and emotional pain. I knew I suffered from depression but dragged my feet on seeing a therapist. As a Haitian American, it wasn’t part of my culture growing up to seek mental health services. Praying was our therapy.

But sometimes prayer honestly isn’t enough and one needs physical medical attention or assistance.

My depression wasn’t crippling enough to stop me from attending classes and functioning in day-to-day activities. Therefore, I didn’t think it was necessary to seek help. I thought I could handle the pain myself and overcome the pressure behind my eyes, the creeping thoughts of loneliness, and occasional aches from unexplained sadness. I couldn’t visualize speaking to a person about my problems so I would write down my thoughts in a journal instead.

It helped to be surrounded by a group of caring, wonderful people. Most of the time I wasn’t even aware of my negativity, only when I was alone. And then one day I had an interesting exchange of text messages with a very good friend, someone I would eventually fall in love with. She was a Buddhist and exposed me to Buddhist philosophy and teachings. I’ll never forget an analogy of life she gave me.

vis www.vizant.com
via http://www.vizant.com

She told me to imagine my mind as a tall building. If I wanted to turn all the lights in each floor, it would take a lot of time and effort. But if I brought out the sun, then the whole building would be illuminated all at once. She told me to bring out the sun. Back then I wasn’t exactly sure how to do that, but her words comforted me and helped pull me further out of my quicksand of negativity. She led me to become more aware of my thoughts and feelings, and to catch negativity at its root.

Little did she know, she was  shifting my life towards a new, liberating direction. I would take this new perspective with me to my next destination after New York.

My graduation from Columbia was bittersweet. I knew I would miss my friends, the City, the great food, and the simple joy of walking down Riverside and Central Park. But I had to move on.

I made the wild decision of leaving the U.S. and spending a year in another country with a completely different culture.

I was going to Seoul, South Korea.

Oh Korea!
Oh Korea!

To be continued…

Stay amazing,

Sammy

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Feature image:  @AntsMagazine