Hello lovelies! How are you all today? Today, I’ll be talking about something that hasn’t ever been talked about on my blog before. Truth be told, I’m a little scared (so please be gentle), but I’m ready to share this part of myself with you all. Recently, TOMS has asked me to participate in their campaign and I think it’s a really great time for me to talk about my mental health journey. I say journey because it is definitely something I’m still working on. If you know me personally, you know I’m passionate about mental health. I welcome you to join me and TOMS as we #StandforTomorrow. Now, when you buy from TOMS.com, you can select a cause that you stand for and TOMS will donate to, including mental health. *Use the promo code: STANDFOR10 for $10 off your purchase!* They offer a variety of different causes such as: equality, safe water, ending homelessness, mental health, ending gun violence, and women’s rights. Which will you choose? I chose mental health because I strongly believe that it is not talked about enough in schools or on social media. I can’t stress it enough how detrimental it can be over time if you ignore your mental health and I’ll explain why. My story is rather long, and may seem repetitive in some sections, but I do think it would be good for me to share my experience with you all. DISCLAIMER: In writing this, I am NOT asking for attention, or trying to blame anyone in any way. I simply want to share something personal in hopes that in my own healing, I can help one person out there who may have been or is in my position, and help them feel less alone. If I can at least do that, I think the purpose of this post will be fulfilled!
My story goes back to (about) 12 years old, when I started struggle more in school. It just didn’t come easy to me. And I knew from a very young age the depth of sacrifices that my parents had made for my sister and I (they made sure I knew). Knowing so, it easily made me feel as though my life meant nothing if I couldn’t make them proud. I went through numerous tutors, which helped a little, but it still wasn’t enough. I continued to disappoint them. They would try to push me by saying things like, you’re friends with so and so, why aren’t you smarter, like her?”, or “you could have done better”, or “who got the highest grade in the class? You still didn’t do better than them.” On top of that, I was not allowed to make my own mistakes, nor was I allowed to go out on school days, or if I was, I would not be allowed to go out the following week because according to my parents, that was “too much”. I was not allowed to use the computer for non-academic reasons – except for weekends where I was allowed 1 hr a day. I felt so trapped, mentally and physically. — That’s classic Asian parenting for ya. It was really hard for me to constantly hear and be around that kind of negativity, but that was basically my upbringing.
I started bottling up all of my struggles, insecurities about self-image, self-worth, academic performance, social anxiety, and it became a heavy weight of negative energy that I carried throughout my adolescent life. I spent a lot of my “trapped” time in my room, sitting at my desk…not studying…and completely in engrossed in my head. I would think thoughts like: Why me? Am I ever going to be enough? I just want to be with my friends and live a happy life. Will I going to lose friends because I can’t hang out with them? Why this life? I don’t want it. I don’t want it. I don’t want it. I let the all the negativity define how I saw myself and obsessed over it for years. I became very depressed, and struggled with envy and self-image/self-worth. I always felt like I wasn’t good enough and even felt like my friends didn’t like me “enough”. Sometimes I would think to myself, “maybe if I looked this way, or acted like this, or had this thing, or went to this thing with this person, I would be more liked” and being more liked gave me the validation that I craved. It made me feel like my life meant something to someone. But it was hard to be any of that when you’re trapped.
When I was about 14 whatever relationship I did have with my parents basically depleted, hormones exploded, and my problems evolved. I remember the first time I truly felt like dying – a feeling I’ll never be able to erase. I was crying in my room after arguing with my parents – that’s a typical Friday for me. The pain in my chest was so heavy. I felt like a huge weight was pressed against my whole body and I was being suffocated. Without thinking, I pulled a pair of scissors from my desk and pressed it hard against my palm and cut myself for the first time. That was when I developed a habit for self-harm. At 14, I honestly had no idea what self-harm was or how to control/address all of my feelings. At that moment, I didn’t know what to do, but I did feel like what I did was wrong and I didn’t want to get in trouble, so I kept it a secret from my parents. Here I am at 27 years old, and I still have not told them. I did tell my best friend at the time of the first incident. I remember calling her on the phone and when she asked me why I did that I honestly didn’t know how to answer her. The next day I remember the school counselor calling me into the office over the speaker phone during break. She told me she received a call from a concerned friend and I instantly thought — Haley. She didn’t go to my school but I knew it was her way of trying to look out for me because she didn’t know how to help me. When the counselor called me in and asked me what happened, I lied. Like I said, I didn’t know how to address my feelings at all. She didn’t push. She gave me a card that had suicide hotlines on it and then excused me. I never did use the card, but I thought about it many times. When I think back to this memory, I only wish she tried harder because even though I pushed her away, I really needed someone.
I once read that inflicting pain cancels out the emotional pain as the physical pain peaks, which I understand now. It makes sense because in those moments, it numbed me. it was temporary relief. It was my answer to many difficult nights spent on my bedroom floor, all out of tears, questioning why I was still alive. I couldn’t focus on my school work because I was overwhelmed with all of the negative thoughts and pain I felt in my body. There were many days where I wish I would somehow die so that I wouldn’t have to feel anything ever again. I felt like a failure to my family, and that my life was worth nothing because I truly had nothing to offer the world. Dying just seemed like an easy fix to everything I was feeling. I carried those feelings with me through many years. High school was truly the peak of my darkest time. There were some good days sprinkled in here and there, but the bad definitely outweighed the good, and it was very difficult for me to see the purpose of living. I didn’t acknowledge my mental health at all. It was hard pretending to be okay when I truly wasn’t. It was hard existing. There was only one thing keeping me going, I wanted to see my sister grow up. She was the sun in my world.
It wasn’t until my college years that I started to really prioritize my mental health. It didn’t happen over night, but over time, I started recognized how far I’ve come, how many times I’ve been close to the edge and still made it to the other side. Each day was like a mini-victory. I no longer let self-harm and all the negative energy I had define who I am but rather who I used to be. I started acknowledging my choice of life and doing more things that would help me see value it more. I spent a lot of my college years self-reflecting and accepting. I fed my soul with things I loved – and I watched lots of anime (s/o to Naruto for getting me through some really hard times). Later down the line, it felt like the stars aligned for me. In a close proximity of time, I met some of my dearest friends, and the love of my life. Some had similar stories, some can only listen, but they all showed me love and support. I had people in my life who accepted me for everything that I am. They reminded me just how precious my life was. And for the first time, I started seeing myself in a new light. It was like a moment of self-realization. I saw the value in my own life. Because of them, I found more reasons to continue to choose life. A quote I often think about is that you “grow through what you go through”. When I feel like giving up, I revisit my past self and remember how much I’ve grown since then. Some days are still not great, but now I can look back and say “your very existence is proof: you are more than what happened to you. You are more than what you left behind. The past did not define you.” We are only human, and we will naturally find comfort in companionship. So I want to encourage you to start the conversation and talk to people you trust, or people who you can relate to. Support the people around you because you never know who could need it the most. Surround yourself with people who uplift you and make you feel good. The people who matter you will only want to see you t h r i v e and live your best life! Do things that feed your soul. It will be hard at first, but I promise you’ll thank yourself later. I think in doing all of these things, you will eventually see the value in your own life – as I did.
Even though I never did seek professional help, I will always encourage it. Anyone can benefit from it, and it’s nice to get confirmation from someone; better yet, someone who can help you conquer your demons. I do plan on seeking professional help one day – when I’m ready. Up until today, I’ve only shared my story with certain people in my life. And now, I’m taking the next step in my journey of healing and I’m sharing my story with all of you. ♡ I’m just taking it day by day. I want you to know that some days may be incredibly difficult to get through, but you can get through it. You’re stronger than you think and I’m thinking of you when you think no one else is. You’re worth it and someday you’ll realize that too. All you can do is show up for yourself, do the best you can, and that’s always going to be enough.
We’re all fighting our own battles and each day we wake again is a victory. A victory that we can all celebrate together!
Here are some of my favorite self-love/healing advocates and writers:
Thank you so so much for reading until the end! I hope you now have a better sense of why mental health is so important, and why it’s important to me. It is difficult to know or understand the struggle of other people, unless you reach out. It’s so easy to open your heart out to others and just be there for them, so please do. You might be saving someone’s life. I still struggle with self-harm and depression from time to time, but I’ve really enriched my life with many reasons to live. I hope that in sharing my story, I’ve helped someone out there realize that they. If you’ve enjoyed this post, like it, share it, and let me know if you’d like to see more personal content like this.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | Befrienders: Worldwide emotional support | National Network of Depression Centers