This is a short story on my experience dealing with depression. Please take care of yourself if you’re feeling down before you implode, or explode.
I have a childhood trauma and problem that’s been holding me back for a long time. I have been choosing to ignore it for the past years. I was so good at hiding this, I have maintained a front of being a goody-two-shoes throughout. Persevering, suppressing my emotions, were the ideal solution to me at that time. While I hate to use the term toxic masculinity, I acknowledge that there were notion in traditional masculinity where showing emotion = showing weakness, and this is definitely not true.
One of the reasons that my depression doesn’t seem to affect me in larger part of my student life was because one of my coping mechanism is learning a new hobby, or studying subjects that I love. It may be weird to mention that I may find deriving formulas to be a good way to unwind, a good challenge as an escape from harsh reality. I am not necessarily good at this but I do see this as a fun thing to do, just like how I was very bad at Counter Strike (the online game), but kept on doing it until I was half-decent.
In a traditional Batak culture, I would’ve been the one who would receive all the attention, spoiled rotten, and all that you would expect from a patriarchal culture. However, that was not the case for me and I’ve felt like I wasn’t so loved, unless I’m sick. Although, I would say that I’m probably not necessarily smarter than my sister, but my coping mechanism and my timid personality did help me go through the childhood trauma way better. I could see my sister crumbling in her teenage years, but I had no such breakdown, or so I thought.
Growing up, I was more of like a black sheep, but in another perspective, I was somehow considered the exemplary sibling. Truth was, I’ve never felt loved as I mentioned, except my sick days. Long story short, I graduated from college, started working, I love what I do, but it would’ve been a lie if I said it was an easy work. I could learn a lot from my job and I was able to eventually got admitted to study abroad. Now, I admit, this doesn’t sound like a story of someone who claimed had suffered from depression.
The childhood trauma of not being loved, being abandoned, was actually never healed during my teenage years. I have considered myself to be a helpful person, but when depression starts seeping, I’ve felt so down that I was unable to do anything productive and in times, became destructive to myself, and maybe to others. I imploded from all the pressure that I had to go through, preparation to move to Finland, family drama, and finishing up my work before I leave. I imploded.
My sister was very helpful during my rock bottom, I was able to talk to a therapist, and I was able to pin-point my issue. I was glad in the end that I have addressed my mental health, I was stretching myself way too thin, trying to help everyone and do everything in my power, but I forgot to take care of myself. Fueled by the deep-rooted trauma, feeling unloved, unappreciated, it got the best of me. Although there are still circumstances that I still regret and despise to this day, I am glad that I was able to get help sooner than later.
I had a big responsibility in my head before I go, but I find it okay to admit that I weren’t up to it. However, I find some joy that while I was suffering under this depression, I find solace in learning something new: remote sensing and GIS. I don’t know if I will ever use this thing I did as a hobby that helped me through the depression phase. But, last week I received a notification that my paper, a result of my work throughout the process, was accepted and I can do a small revision for the figure, but otherwise it’s fine. This paper will forever be a monument of how I tried to overcome my depression and it’s okay to have your own coping mechanism.
I know that this will be an on-going process, I will learn to forgive and I think my time away from the problems have given me a chance to re-think and plenty to work with myself. Time will heal everything, and I am certain that living alone will be a good part of my healing process. First and foremost, I will make sure that I am in a good mental health, going forward with my study and research.
This blog post was not written as a motivation of some sort, but was to tell a story of how I am fighting back against my depression, feeling of inadequacies, and how I plan on going forward. If you feel down and it’s not going away, please seek help, it would be a very good idea.