I’m Depressed

There. I’ve said it. It’s not the first time. But I don’t want to say it again.

I’m depressed.

Not your milennial kind. Sitting at a cafe, rolling my eyes at the girl I don’t like and complaining about singledom, “Ohmygod! I’m so depressed!” No. Not that kind.

The real one. The emotional kind that people tend to treat lightly because they don’t understand how serious it can possibly be. So, welcome to my world.

I’m not an actress. My life isn’t a Bollywood movie. I’m not sitting by the window, staring into space and nothingness. I don’t have a single tear running down my face as I lose sight of what’s happening around me. I’m not snapped back to reality. A hug isn’t going to heal me. A boyfriend cannot fix me.

This is real.

I’m right beside you. I’m not in hiding. I’m everywhere I need to be. I’m talking to you when you’re talking to me. I sound like I do everyday but I care a lot less. You just can’t tell. I show up to the event, dressed like a dream. You can’t tell it took me effort to put it all on. Not physical. Emotional. To get out of bed and prepare myself to smile with a world I can’t connect to anymore.

I can’t tell you I’d rather be at home. Not listening to you talk about problems that don’t affect me and having to give you comforting advice when I can’t even think. I can’t tell you I’m two seconds away from breaking apart even when I seem to be laughing.

You help me. Sitting across the table, as a best friend. You help me. Knocking on my door for a small conversation. You help me. A distraction for a few seconds. But you can’t take it away.

I want to confide. To tell you how I spiral. To tell you how this is all too much. I think I’ve taken on more than I can chew. My overthinking has taken me by my hand and led me back to my dark place. I was depressed a few years ago. I think it’s back for me. Or maybe it never stopped at all.

I wake up every morning. I walk out the door, that takes a lot of effort. I look through my checklist, ticking off things that pay my bills. I eat my lunch to Netflix. I come back home, turn the lights on, find my corner of the bed and suddenly I’m lost. I switch between streaming platforms. I grab my phone and get on Instagram. There’s nothing to watch. Nobody to see. I don’t care about any of it. But I have to. Because if I’m not watching Mike Ross fight with Harvey Specter or Lorelai and Rory Gilmore fast talk their way through Luke’s coffee, I’d want to slam my head against the wall, crying.

I ask myself everyday. Is it the end of my relationship? Is it the amount of work? Is it the personal woes? The inability to give back to the people who gave me everything? Is it the drowning debt? My answer is the same every time. No.

Someone once asked me what depression feels like. “Is it a state of mind? Can’t you change your state of mind?” I tried to tell her.

It’s like an empty room that hasn’t been lived in for decades. It’s hollow, your voice echoes multifold. So your worries echo multifold. It’s dirty, not the sexy kind. It’s broken windows and rusty doors. It’s haunting without the ghosts. It’s a feeling of sinking. Like something bad is always going to happen. But it’s not. You know it’s not. Yet you feel like it just did. You feel like you’ve lost. Maybe it’s the loss of life in that room. Or the loss of happiness. The loss of light. It’s a dark room. Maybe there’s light. All it takes is the flick of a switch. But you’re stuck. You can’t get up and turn it on.

She asked me why. I didn’t have an answer.

My depression doesn’t need a reason to cling on to. My emotions don’t have to explain themselves for sinking again. I can’t write down why I’m not okay. But it’s the truth. I’m not okay.

How do you ask for help when you don’t know what you need help with? What do I say?

“Hey, I’m depressed. I don’t know why. I don’t know the fix. But help me?”

What do they go on with? What solution do they give to a problem I can’t describe?

So I try what I always have. To smile. Maybe if I smile enough, the happiness will become real. I try to giggle. Perhaps the silliness will help lighten up my heart. I try to create. Art helped me once, so it should again? I try to live. But as I sat there at that boardwalk, staring at fireworks, my sister turned to me, “Are you crying?”

I had to say no because I didn’t want to explain myself. But the truth was… Yes. The fireworks made me cry. I don’t know why. They always make me happy. And I was happy. But something within me made me cry. Because I wasn’t really happy.

How do you explain that?

Things that bring me an abundance of joy cannot lift me out of this dark hole I find myself stuck in over and over again. Maybe we’re all depressed and we just don’t admit it to each other. Maybe as you’re reading this, you’re relating. But you can’t tell anyone either because when they ask, “Your life is amazing. What do you have to be depressed about?” what do you say?

What do I say?

So I shrug my shoulders, look down in guilt and swallow my tears. I look at them, a lump in my throat and softly say,

“I’m not okay.”

 

A Year That Was

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I wrapped up my 2018 on an emotional note. I am struggling with the resurfacing of suppressed emotions. I’m grieving a loss eight months after it happened. Or maybe, it’s just the feeling of such an overwhelming year coming to an end. But I’ve been emotional and always two minutes from tears.

This year has been all over the place. When I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. When I thought it couldn’t get better, it did. Sometimes, I can’t believe it all happened in 365 days. But it was filled with lessons for a lifetime.

I started my year with a job offer. The people around me looked excited, but I knew it wasn’t the right one. I knew there was something better waiting for me. I still took it. I traveled 3000 miles for it. I sat in a hotel room with my mother who was there to help me settle in and I knew in my gut I wasn’t supposed to be there. I cried, sobbed and came back home like a kid on the first day of kindergarten. With that, I learnt to trust my instincts and tune out other voices because I was right.

But making that choice meant living off of my father’s money again. I know a lot of people who don’t mind this part. But I do. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY do. My need to live on my money is high. And so I sank. Deeper and deeper into depression. The kind I haven’t known before. The kind where I volunteered to get help against the wishes of the ones near and dear to me. I was prescribed medication. Yet, on a dull afternoon, I picked up a pencil and started to draw anything that made sense. When I finally put the pencil down, a weight had lifted off of me. I was free. I can’t express why. I can’t tell you how. But it was like my emotions had poured itself out and a light had found me. With that, I learnt the importance of art for my mental wellbeing.

And I thought to myself, Well, the worst is behind me. Life sat in a corner and laughed knowingly.

For the first time in my life, I learnt loss. I learnt how to know and love someone and have them be taken away. I learnt pain like nobody can ever teach you. I watched as the light went out from my fur baby’s eyes. The young one. The sweet one. The one I didn’t fear losing because I had another four years older. And I never understood how to process that pain. I never truly felt that loss wash over me. I find myself unable to say her name without breaking inside today. The therapist tells me it’s because I didn’t grieve. But I don’t know how to. I’m so used to not letting myself feel this pain, I don’t know how to just let it take over. This year, I learnt to love and lose, never to see again. I learnt the importance of grieving as I continue to struggle today.

They said she took the evil away. That worse things needed to happen but she took it so we could have it better. I don’t find myself enjoying the better when someone adds that spin to it. Because if I had to be at home depressed out of my mind to still have her with me, I’d do it in a heartbeat. And that is how I learnt that I’m not going to be the hard-ass, heartless and cold entrepreneur that I hoped to be. Because I can’t walk over people I love to get what I want. I need the ones I love around me, always.

A few weeks after my fur baby passed away, I landed the job I knew I would get. The one that feels like a dream.

And so began the better part of the year. We adopted a stray dog. I identified my real friends. I announced my second book. I wrote the first draft of the second book. I ticked off two new countries on my list. I met global leaders, I shook hands with people I hope to one day be and most importantly, I found myself surrounded by women doing all the things the world I came from told me was absolutely impossible. I found myself inspired everyday and after endless months of not knowing why I’m here, I found my reason again. I found the need to move forward. And for the first time in a long time, I found hope.

My job makes me travel. And in October, I went to Paris. I saw the Eiffel Tower in shivering cold! It was magical. I remember standing there with four women who were way high up on the food chain at work laughing with me and teasing me. It was… perfect. Life laughed again. I spent two weeks in France unable to really experience my surrounding, faking laughter and fighting tears. Wanting to leave, knowing I should stay. I can’t ever explain what happened. But those two weeks taught me – I’m stronger than I think I am.

Because now I know. I know how tangible happiness is. How fleeting perfection is. And no, I won’t hide. I won’t be afraid to take bold and bright steps forward. But I’m going to be prepared. I have the ability to say, “I’ll make my plans, you do your worst. I’ll find my way again. I promise.” That was the biggest lesson 2018 taught me.

We all slip and fall. A number change in the date doesn’t change that. Sometimes, we fall harder than ever before. It doesn’t matter as long as you find the courage to rise again.

In 2018, I learnt the meaning of the words, “This too shall pass.” Because the good and the bad, they pass. And every morning is a fresh start. Every minute is a new one. Ride the waves as they come but be prepared to fall off the board. You’re the only one who can get back on it again.

I spent my last week of 2018 in Dubai. With people I love, doing things I enjoy. I created, I worked, I toured and of course, I fell more in love with life again.

2019 will change many things for me. Personally and professionally. For better or for worse. I’m going to tell myself what I hope you’ll tell yourself, too, when life gets the better of you – Keep moving. Life doesn’t stagnate, you shouldn’t either.

Have a fantastic 2019! Happy New Year from me and mine to you and yours!!

With lots of love, bright smiles and bear hugs,

Me

In memory of Mika (2016 – 2018)
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What You Leave Behind..

Andy Warhol

We all want to do something significant. We want to leave a part of us behind for everyone else to remember us by. We buy all these things and then we write a will about who’ll get what. That’s the part of us we leave behind for them and they’ll leave behind to their kids and for generations this will be passed around and you will be known as the person to whom it belonged. You will be remembered through that object.

I was at an Andy Warhol exhibit in Singapore a few years ago. I loved the art, the creativity, the small facts I got to learn about him. Spread across many different walls were quotes. His quotes. As a writer, I love reading quotes and thinking about what it might have meant to that person when they said it but when I read this particular quote, I didn’t care. I didn’t care what it meant to him or what he was thinking when he said it because this quote was all about me. It spoke to me in a way that I can’t explain. It was every thought I had ever had about death – My death. Andy Warhol had read my mind before I even existed.

Death is one of the most commonly occuring thought processes in my mind. Last night, right before I drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about the number of people that would be affected should I die that very second. My close family is a given and I can’t stop them from feeling miserable about it but the outsiders. The friends I’ve made and the people I affect. The ones that choose to love me and the ones I presume our affectionate towards me, though I may be wrong. How many of them will actually have a day when they pick up their phones just to realize I’m not alive for them to call? How many will miss me? This was the best thought I have had in a very long time.

I hate to admit this to anyone because it always rubs off the wrong way – I’m a control freak. If something is a certain way, it has to be that way. If you make a plan to meet me, you better show up. Do not call me in the very last minute and say “I can’t make it.” I’ll understand. But I will also be so so annoyed because that just completely wrecked my day. A few years ago my brother and I were supposed to go birthday shopping. He ditched me last minute. Even today, I always call him ten minutes before I leave to ensure he’s going to make it. And it’s difficult to find a friend that is not annoyed by this. Someone who understands and accepts this part of you.

They say a friend is the only person who doesn’t judge you for your choices and sticks with you no matter what and I got to realize exactly who they were in my life last night and I felt bad. Because when I die, I affect some of the kindest people I’ve known. Is that really what I want?

This is why I think suicide is selfish. It’s not cowardly. It’s not stupid. It’s selfish. When a person decides to take his own life, he is only thinking about himself. He is only thinking about ending his misery. He doesn’t stop to think just how many people around him, how many loved ones will suffer for the rest of their lives because he chose not to care about anyone but himself. They will live forever wondering why they didn’t see. Why they didn’t help. Don’t you think Robin Williams’ daughter wonders that? His friends? His family? His colleagues?

A long time ago, I had this plan – When I’m old and done with all my responsibilities, I want to throw a party. A big one to invite everyone that’s ever known me. And if any of them ever wanted to write a euology, they can write one and read it to me at that party because seriously, what’s the point of saying nice things to me once I’m dead? So I just want them to read it. And I’ll say goodbye and I’ll take a little bit of the money I’ve earned in my life, pack my bags, erase or throw away any object that could remind the people that love me that I’m no longer there and just leave. They won’t know where I am. They won’t know if I’m alive or dead. I’d have vanished. Like Andy Warhol said he’d like to do.

Because we can’t live in fear. We can’t keep away from the ones we love, the ones who love us just because we’re afraid of the scar we’ll leave behind. We can’t not make memories in fear of those incredible moments turning into nightmares someday. But there is something we can do :

We can stop spending our times accumulating materialistic things and instead just care and be compassionate. We can learn to be kind and show others what living can truly mean. We can save something that five generations wouldn’t just pass around but would talk about. Would want to live upto.

Because the things you leave may rot and fade but the memories and life lessons – they’re here to stay.

Memories Made vs. Selfies Snapped

Recently, my family and I went out for dinner with one of my cousins who was visiting. We had so much fun and we were laughing like a bunch of idiots when for a second there I wanted to pick out my phone and take a selfie of us to remember this moment. But then I stopped and I am so glad I did.

Selfies are a rage. The word was temporarily termed as a “mental disorder” by a few websites. Everywhere you go, everything you do, it’s “Selfie time !” My sister’s biggest regret is that her phone does not have a front facing camera. The need to look perfect for every occasion has gone up by a million. Kids that used to say “Ugh ! Family gatherings ! Boorinnnggg,” now eagerly dress up because “We can take lots of selfies!” 

I am just as self-obsessed as the next girl, so I am not going to point fingers and act like I’m any different. But on that particular day, I learnt something. It might not change me permanently, but it did make a dent in how I reacted at circumstances like that.

Someone I know was talking to me about weddings recently. She said “We have to get married early in life. Late marriage isn’t always the best choice.” I agreed. Some times, some people get used to being alone so much, that the later they get married, the more difficult it becomes for them to re-adjust to living with someone. This person is quite independent. So I presumed that’s what she meant and I admired that she had noticed that about herself. Until, less than a minute later, she said, “Yeah. The older you get the more old your face looks. It won’t look good in photographs.” 

*Abruptly screeching to a stop sound in my brains*

Wait, what ?! Have we really gotten to that now? That you would get married early not because it’s better for the relationship but because it’s better for the photos? I even asked her this and she just nodded. 

When I stopped myself from picking up my phone to click a selfie with my cousin, the jokes continued and the night ended up being one of the best times we’ve ever spent. Had I picked up that phone, the topic would’ve changed and become all about “Oh wait. I have to fix my hair” or “I’m smiling weird. Let’s take one more.” 

When I thought about it, almost all my memories over the past year have been “OMG, so we tried to take selfies, it was so funny. It was the best time ever !!” It makes me feel extremely lame. It was sad enough when I realized that none of my friends from school, that I now call “best friends,” would’ve stayed so close to me without social media. And now, I have been sucked into a world of needing approval from a third person by posting the “perfect selfie” for “as many likes as possible.” 

Some day, I’m going to exchange that phone or this computer. I’m going to want to move the data from it. How am I going to make space for 20 selfies a day over the past three years in addition to an extra 100 on every special occasion and still have enough space for important data and other new things that I might add in the future?!

Surely we all have more things to worry about than “I look like crap today selfies” and if you don’t have anything to worry about, I advise you to turn on the news and worry about things like Gaza & Palestine or the missing flights. 

Make memories by having fun in a no-technology kind of way. Go out and reminisce about childhood memories. How many of us have whined about wanting to go back in time and be a kid again? Maybe it’s time to realize that the reason we had so much fun was because it was board games, cards, video games (I realize that IS technology but it was just different) or spending time outdoors with hide and go seek, hopscotch and statue. And no, you’re never too old for games like that. Giggle, throw your head back and laugh until there’s no sound and just tears.

Because here’s the life lesson I’ve learnt this month..

Sometimes, the best memories are made not in pictures, but in your heart. 

 

Life goes on..

Today, May 4, is the birthday of someone very very close to me. “Happy Birthday bro..” It’s been a while since I met him and when he saw me he said, “You look bright. Full of hope. It’s nice to see you like this again.”

Last year I had to give up almost everything I had. My plans changed, my life changed. I spent the entire year in depression. Everything made me cry. There was a point when I believed things will never change. That my life was over and all I have to do is sit and just let the end come when it may. Now when I say it, I realize how over-dramatic that sounds. But at that point in my life it seemed like the most logical thought process one can ever have at a time like that.

It’s funny how when something bad happens, we believe that it’s the end. I’m not talking about a fatal sickness or an accident but rather just incidents. When you quit / get expelled from university, when you get fired, when you break up with your loved one, when someone close to you passes away or even when you fail an exam or miss your dream university by 2 points. It seems like a life or death situation. I mean, I get that it possibly is very life altering but it’s never the end.

It took me one and half years of moping around before I decided that I have to change things. ONE AND HALF YEARS ! You know how much I could’ve done in one day? Let alone 500 days ! 500 days before I realized it’s not the end because it’s not happy. That in fact, all I had to do was accept that things have changed. Because the only thing constant in our lives is change and the best I can do is to make use of all that I’ve got. I mean, I’m sure I could’ve sat around another year and half dreaming of what could’ve been but that’s just another 500 days that I won’t get back.

In my life, I’ve learnt that there’s nothing better than dreaming big. Dream what nobody dares to dream of. Dream to fly. Like Peter Pan. To just take off to Neverland. But that’s impossible if you never put your feet on the ground. Even a flight has to hit the runway, move forward and only then can it fly. Sitting idle and wondering about would-be’s and could-have-been’s will never get you anywhere. You have to put one foot in front of the other and walk forward.

I’m not a settler. I’ve missed what many would call “incredible opportunities.” When my previous dream crashed, I had to get a new one. I wasn’t, and I’m still not, mentally prepared to create a big dream again. I’m afraid that it’ll crash too. So I set my goals a little lower. Instead of a big future plan, I set my eyes on simpler things. Things that are more NOW than five to ten years from now – A company that’s not really easy to get into. A publisher that probably won’t even take a second look at my manuscript. I told myself that I won’t take anything besides this. I will get into that company if it’s the last thing I did. I will send the publisher every story I will ever write and at some point, I’m going to write something they will publish.

Think back the years you’ve lived through. How many moments have you had where you thought it’s the end of the world and it wasn’t? No, I’m not talking about December 22, 2012. I mean, you’ve lived through tough times. You’ve moved forward when you thought you wouldn’t. You’re alive and present. When you think about it you’ll realize that all those bad experiences have only made you stronger. Brave. Never weak.

Two years ago, I had it all. I didn’t work as hard as I could have. I didn’t make use of the opportunities. Now I can’t go back. I have to look ahead and I feel stronger than I ever did. Positive that if I could live through that, then I’m sure I can live through the next disaster and the next and the next. Because.. Have you ever sat in front of the ocean and stared at it? You know how beautiful and mentally soothing a view like that is? The way the waves move and hit the shore. The salty smell that comes from it.. Now, imagine sitting in front of the same ocean but this time, it’s still. No waves, no sea salt smell. Just still water. It’s not as beautiful, is it?! That’s life too. It has to have its ups and downs. I promise every wave has something incredible to give to you. A life lesson, a person, a memory.. And when you look at it as a whole, it’s beautiful.

No matter sunny or rainy, draught or storms, the waves in the ocean never stops.. The way, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how many times you tell yourself it’s over, life goes on..

Cleaning Out My Closet..

I just moved to a new house. Which, of course, meant finding things you hid away for reasons you’ve forgotten and along with it, the memories you’ve either cherished or tried to kill.

I found a lot of memories that made me laugh and when I thought I was almost done, I found a picture.

You know those moments when you tell yourself “Someday I’m going to find someone better and that person will make me fall so head over heels in love and give me all the happiness in the world that all these memories of the past will no longer matter” ? Here’s the fact we know but refuse to utter – “But until then..”

I spent two years getting over one person. Someone I believed was a dream come true, who by the end of our relationship made me want to pull my hair out and run screaming for the hills. But the bad memories never outshone the good ones. When I look back, I miss those days of sweet nothings. I miss those stupid conversation and useless text messages. I miss the person who brought out the best in me but loved me at my worst.

It’s been a little over two and half years since I last saw him. Two and half years since I swore I wouldn’t think of him. Two and half years since I told myself that I will not let the memories of him haunt me ever again. Yet, here I was.

When you clean out your closet, you will find things you don’t want to see or think about anymore. It will bring back memories you believed to have let go of. And when you have to throw that object away, it’ll make you realize that no matter how hard you try to convince yourself of how brave and strong you are and how you’re totally over that phase of your life, the truth is always a whole other story.

I sat and stared at that picture of him. I remembered that day. I remembered the exact moment that picture was taken. The reason for the frown on my face. The way he mocked my frown by grinning like an idiot. I don’t even know for how long I just sat there staring at it before I finally told myself, I’m going to tear this up. I’m going to put an end to this so I can never find it again. But somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. My hands shivered and my eyes teared up. My heart longed to re-live that moment one last time. I simply put the picture aside and continued cleaning up the rest of my closet.

A few hours later, as I was throwing away the last bits and pieces of unwanted things, I turned back to that picture and realization hit me. My heart did this too. Instead of just letting go of memories, it simply pushed them to a corner and moved on with other things. My heart was a hoarder and now I was turning into one too.

So I braced myself and picked up that picture again. I ignored the tug inside me and swallowed my tears. I tore that picture into half and over and over again until I couldn’t anymore. I was sobbing like a baby but I knew it was the right thing to do. Goodbyes are difficult but they’re said for a reason. And this was me taking the first step towards letting go.

Ever have those moments when you’re throwing out clothes and you find that one old, dirty shirt hidden away in the back of your closet that you know you’ll never wear but don’t want to throw away ?! Certain memories are like that too. And the longer you hold on, the more space it starts to occupy. Space you can certainly use for something more useful and meaningful.

So don’t think about it. Just pick it up and throw it out. It might be the most difficult thing you’ll ever do but someday you’ll be glad you did.

Letting go..

Do you ever have a problem with this? Be it a friend, a crush, a boyfriend, an ex, a family member, a pet or even an object? Do you ever sit in a corner and think of a million reasons that convince you to walk away but hold on to the one thing that makes you stay? Do you ever mentally curse yourself for not having the ability to just say “goodbye” and mean it?

Welcome to my world.

It sounds so simple when people say it. “Let go.” All I can think of replying to them is, “Trust me, if I could I would. But I can’t.” Then my best friend asked me “Why not?”

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it ? Why not ?!

Why can the father not let go of his 21-year-old daughter? Why can the mother not let go of her toddler’s hand on the first day of pre-school? Why can you not let go of that little dog/cat you’ve had for ten years now? Why can she not let go of the guy who broke her heart? Why can you not let go of your favorite doll you’ve cuddled with since you were a child?

I don’t have answers for this. I don’t even have a  theory. I like knowing that I have an answer, any answer even if it’s not the right one. But I can’t find one for this question.

Now I have this guy. Or rather, had. Actually, scratch that. Let me rephrase that sentence. There was this guy I fell for. He was the most imperfect human being I have ever met. I can find a million things wrong with him, starting with, he made me cry once a week. I know, what was I thinking?! But somehow I couldn’t let go. I’d tell myself, and him, every other week – “I can’t do this anymore. I have to let go. This is killing me. We can’t talk. We can’t be friends.” He eventually stopped caring about it because he knows, the very next morning, I’d call him and tell him I was being stupid. That we should, of course, keep talking. That I’m totally fine. I wasn’t. I still am not. I actually said the exact same thing to him for the hundredth time last night. I’m struggling now.  All I want to do is to pick up the phone and call him. But why?!

Why is it so difficult to let go? I had a chair when I was a kid. A yellow chair. A yellow plastic chair. It was my favorite place to sit for the first eight years of my life and then one fine day, it broke. I duct-taped it. Painted it black (didn’t really look good). I kept it that way for another 6 years before my mom forced me into throwing it away. I cried and cried for days. Made no sense because I hadn’t used it in 4 years. But I couldn’t let go. It was like kissing my childhood goodbye.

That’s why letting go is difficult. When you look at something or someone, it’s not just that person or just that particular thing. It’s not simply a broken chair. It’s a memory. It’s something that’s been a part of our lives and letting go feels like we’re not just saying goodbye to that object or person but to the memory that comes along with them. To that part of our life. It means accepting change.

And change, as we all know, might be inevitable but is possibly the most difficult thing to deal with.