Major depressive disorder with anxiety as a symptom.
Sounds like a Panic! at the Disco song, or something intimidating, right?
I was diagnosed in 2013, after spending a summer interning in Taiwan. I was living with my best friend (in fact, all my closest friends lived in the same building!)
Life was fine and dandy, until the fire nation attacked — panic attack after attack. The physical manifestations increasingly worsened. My friend once out it aptly: “People worry, but worrying literally hurts for people with generalized anxiety.”
I would sit in the bathroom hugging my knees, rocking myself back and forth to calm down, because even a hot shower is too much for me.
I would splash water on my face to keep myself from crying. Quite literally almost waterboarded myself just to look or feel “normal.”
Drinking water too quickly made me throw it right back up. It always felt my heart would leap right out my throat.
And afterwards? I would feel absolutely numb. My body felt the static, as if there was a poor signal from my brain to my nerve endings. I would be exhausted.
When I learned more about my diagnosis, it took me four additional opinions to accept it’s time for me to take action. I was in denial for over a decade at that point.
My suicidal ideations, or thoughts about killing myself, began when I was only 9.
I was regularly locked out of my “house” when my parents fought. Begging at the door didn’t help, I would get dragged by the arm for “being a nuisance” and “embarrassment to the neighbors.”
My stepmom would coerce me into doing things by withholding food or sobbing. When my dad would come home, she would point at me, rambling, while I’d just sit and watch my dad grow furious and prepare myself for his wrath.
When I asked to see a psychiatrist at the age of 12, my parents laughed in my face and said “we are not crazy people.”
People joke about this being the “Asian” way, but it is not. Culturally, we do have higher pressures to succeed, especially as first generation American immigrants. As a part of the “model minority,” we were so insulated in privileged communities, my friends never saw or noticed the bruises.
Like they say, the emotional scars take the longest to cauterize.
I do not blame my parents for who they are. They gave me the best they could, despite it being often an emotional dearth. My dad and I have since then made peace. He has shaped me into the strong person I am today and I am sorry there was so much darkness in his life.
As for my friends, I am so grateful. There have been so many kindnesses I’ve been given from my Monroe Hunt crew and their parents, classmates, teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, and more.
Just a small act of generosity reminded me it was okay for me to be on this Earth; that I was wanted and I was needed.
So, thank you for anyone and everyone that has even offered a smile when I was probably emo-Batman-like inside.
A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.