Being Not Okay

I have been gratitude journaling for more than a month. Every day. It helps me to appreciate life in a whole different level. But lately, I couldn’t bring myself to it. 

Saying “it’s okay to not be okay” is unbelievably lame. In fact, I used it in my first blog. But sometimes, I couldn’t bring myself to believe it.

I know under all the gratitude, I am not okay.

My stomach feels terrible.

Activities that I always enjoyed have only bred insecurities. They bring me no joy but stress and anxiety which aggravate my performance. I wish one day I won’t feel like the most untalented person in the world. I wish one day I can be normal.

Seasonal depression—or maybe it isn’t about seasons after all—has returned. I have gotten nothing done after school (not that we got much done at school this interim). Trust me, as an overachiever in high school, this is like the end of the world. (Apparently, exaggeration does not make me feel better. I’ve tried being an edgy teenager.)

Suicidal thoughts came back, too. Though I haven’t told anyone, I’ll hand my keys to my host family and stop driving if I have them one more day. I don’t want to risk my life. I want to live. Every little thing could go wrong. If I simply close my eyes for three seconds. Please help me, dear universe. Please don’t let me hurt anybody.

I feel ugly and monstrous. Inside and out.

Is it the weather? The coldest winter was gone. We just had a gorgeous sunny day. But I guess monsters always come into sight at the least expected time. They hide in your shadows and attack when you’re laughing with your friends thinking everything will be fine. That maybe it’s different this time. 

I’d like to believe that it’s the darkest moment before dawn. Like when you write about the “Dark Night of The Soul” in a novel. It’s a mountain that I can, and will, conquer. Except that, no matter how much I love writing, real life is much more excruciating than any fiction. 

I have hope somewhere inside me, although I wish to disappear. The rock on my chest is so massive that I scarcely feel the pain in my stomach. I haven’t been studying. I haven’t been writing. I haven’t been petting my cats. I long to do the things that bring me joy, but I couldn’t bring myself to.

I hope no one who knows me is reading this. If you are, know that I’m terribly sorry for sharing and that I love you.

(This was written on February 6th, 2019. I suppose I am feeling a lot better when this is published. I’ll be okay. Maybe it will take a couple days, maybe it will take two weeks. But don’t worry, I’ll be okay.)

Dear fourteen-year-old self

Dear fourteen-year-old self,

I get it. 

Trust me.

Please, listen.

In three years, you’ll be living in another country all the way across the world. You will go to a new school and start a new life. It won’t be easy at first, but you’ll make friends who not only accept your weirdness but embrace it. As Rebecca Stead said in one of the Nanowrimo prep talks, your weirdness is your strength. 

By the way, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Yes, you write a novel in your second language in a month.

Being terrified of what others might do to you, you never had the courage to say your writer dream out loud. You were right, people who surround you now will probably belittle you. Don’t give up. I know you won’t. During the darkest days, you hold on to the pen, never let go. You write what you need to read. You treat it as a free therapy. You escape from reality to the imaginary world. It’s beautiful, you think, if I die, maybe I’ll be there forever.

You are depressed and suicidal without knowing it.

You look at the cuts on your roommate, whose birth parents abandoned her simply because of her sex. You look at the bullies who won’t leave you alone, calling you ugly and degenerate. You look at your loveless home and your parents who never seem to care or understand. You look at your best friend……who you seem to be in love with.

The feeling isn’t gone.

Three years later, there are still days when you come home from school and lock yourself in the room. Days that you can’t breathe, sob all day, and wish to be dead. But you’re too obstinate. You can’t die happy until you finish this novel. You can’t die happy if you are going to bring sadness and guilt to those who are alive. You can’t die happy without fighting for those who suffer the cruelty of the society. You can’t die happy without telling your story, telling those who struggle with what you have gone through: you are not alone.

You might think: who do I care? I just want to escape. It’s too much. It’s too hard. But the truth is you care. You survive out of love. The love for justice. The love for others. The love that raises above the hopelessness in your heart and overpowers the hate and indifference in the world. 

Seriously, it’s not a phrase. 

You are stubborn. You think “what if I don’t give up? what will happen?” and this is what happens. Three years later, you have family, friends, and a pen in your hand. You are loved.

I know you’re not okay, and it’s okay to not be okay. 

You didn’t do anything, and not doing anything is a huge victory.

You won the battle. You’re a true warrior.

Thank you.

I can’t imagine life without you. I can’t imagine not being able to see the beautiful things and beautiful people in the world.

You’re my hero.


Seventeen-year-old you