Perhaps when you receive this letter, you might still be in a gloomy mood. Ever since you had a stroke, half of your body was suddenly paralysed, even though it was 10 years ago it seems like yesterday. As You laid on the bed all day in the hospital, thinking that death was coming and thinking if life would end this way as you listened to your mother sobbing by your bedside. But you lived, your body survived rehabilitation, yet a bottomless pit is left in your heart. You can jump and walk, but you only wanted to lie in bed. Not knowing how to live, you locked yourself in your own 90-foot universe, only you and your computer left in your world. There seems to be no one who accepted you or understood you. I forgot where I heard about mental health, maybe liberal studies at school. What I experience seems to overlap with the symptoms, am I allowed to seek help? You were afraid. You were really afraid. Even though you didn’t dare to order in a fast-food restaurant, that day you gathered the courage and went to a government clinic next to your secondary school without telling your parents. You met a doctor there. The doctor was a young woman, maybe she looked trustworthy with the white coat. As soon as you went in you spoke your heart for the first time. I still remember, although our faces were covered by masks, her eyes were expressing empathy and concern. To be honest, you were very afraid. I was afraid I was a psych patient, I didn’t want to accept that I might be different. Aren’t psych patients on the TV all “crazy” and “loopy”, hated and excluded by society, unable to do anything about their own situation? When I looked at myself, contempt grew in me, driving my sight away from the mirror. I couldn’t raise my head, I couldn’t accept myself as mentally ill. In the end, I decided not to go to a psychiatrist and stayed in my doctor's care. The ancestors said that “hiding your illness and avoiding going to a doctor is the same logic as covering your own ears to steal a bell”. For this exact reason, I avoided my doctor appointments and self-medicated.
Time flew when I was in university. Students lacked financial income and didn’t want their parents to know they were struggling. Fortunately, the university provided us with full medical services. At the clinic my doctor supported me through my bachelor and postgraduate studies. He spent time talking to me, expressing his care. Although medications alone couldn’t solve the problem, his sincere care warmed me up for quite a while. Yet in the highly competitive environment of the university, due to the academic stress and the pressures of the future, I struggled to let go of the depressive thoughts, and self-hatred in my heart. The black hole in my heart was sometimes small, and at times big, cycling through the unknowns. Because of this puncturing ache and insecurity, I couldn’t see anyone or anything but my pain. It swallowed me and everyone around me. I learned about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) through the university counselling service. Through therapy, I slowly processed my emotions and cleared my thoughts. Hidden inside this huge pile of emotions that felt like black dirt, were intertwined complex feelings. In therapy, I walk through the black dirt, re-organizing every single grain. Eventually, I caught a glimpse of peace deep in my heart.
People always search for value in their own experiences. It is because we believe in values, we discover our insights. The past was difficult, but I am still living, what else do I fear? What else do I worry about? It is also because of this experience, that I am able to empathise with other people’s struggles and pain, and I realised that too many people experience emotional problems have never spoken out. Asian men are stereotypically expected to be tough. But only after all this, I found that there is not much we can control, even though we put all our effort into it, we can barely decide our values, emotions and thoughts. I treasure the chance to walk through life from a different perspective, I have seen sceneries that you probably can not yet imagine.