To the one who stay to love me Thank you, thank you, thank you I know I’m not always easy to deal with I know my brand of crazy doesn’t always bring out the best of me I know that my anger makes me a monster sometimes But you’ve stayed and dealt with it the best way you could Either calling me out when I’m dramatic or expressing your concern when I’m salty or impulsive The sense of community you’ve given me feels like my life’s remedy You’ve never asked me to change and really love and accept me
I think the news of Heather Armstrong hit me hard because well, looking on the surface, her life seems almost idyllic. This is a rich white woman who has all of the resources at her disposal to help her get to a much healthier state with her mental health and I’m like WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED? WHAT THE FUCK WENT WRONG? While I could speculate why or how this happened, I won’t. What I will say is that nobody could possibly understand why she made that decision or how much suffering she was in. This made me reflect on my own journey with recovering from mental illness.
I have battled depression and anxiety since I was a teenager except I wasn’t formally diagnosed with it until after I had my third child in 2012. It’s been a not so well kept secret in my family that I continuously tried to mask to seem well, normal to everyone else. For years, I’ve mostly kept my depressive episodes to myself because more often than not when I’ve disclosed I’m depressed, I’m met with the comments: “You need to get over it , we have no time for this” or “Think about your kids” or “But you have SO MUCH to live for”. I know the people making those comments thought they were being helpful but all it did was drive me further into a spiral of shame for having no control over my brain chemistry and being depressed. It adds fire to the fuel of my inner critic who tells me during this episode, “let’s add being a failure as a mom to your thoughts about being a worthless and terrible human being”.
The sun is shining Everything is green and bright And yet winter feels eternal In my heart and my mind I feel a profound darkness that Seems to seep and ooze everywhere Inside of me Is this what true loneliness feels like? Will I ever get rid of what feels like my forever depression? Or do I just learn to live with the elephant that lives on my chest? That I try desperately not to wake it up Writing, exercise, friends, tv- Everything to keep it calm But no matter what The elephant always seems To wake up
In a lot of my poetry, I’ve talked about the impossible pressure I’ve had to deal with in being a mother but I don’t think I talk enough about how this was modeled for me growing up. Growing up, I saw my mother as this larger than life woman who constantly worked hard and sacrificed for her family. She worked countless hours to provide for us. She was this superwoman who at one point had 3 jobs and still managed to keep a clean house and cook dinner. I remember her sleeping a couple hours after she got home from an overnight shift at her job and waking up to walk me to school in the morning. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I never saw my mom breakdown or cry.
The message I received and perceived was one that in order to be a good mother, you have to be this superwoman who balances everything perfectly all the time. Being a good mother also meant being strong and resilient and if needed it was necessary to suppress emotions to continue to function. When I became a mother at 17, I had these unrealistic expectations of motherhood that I wanted to attain. And we wonder why I ended up with a diagnosis of BPD-lol. Honestly, while I’ve healed a lot from my past, I feel like it’s still necessary to share it because this isn’t just my story. It’s the story of other mothers who are still ashamed about having a mental illness and more often than not, don’t seek help and mask, mask, mask until they explode.
I’ve often talked about how my children are one of my greatest motivators for continuing to move forward with my life, to try to continue with my self improvement; but what I have failed to talk about is how my children are a major source of guilt while I’m in a major depressive episode. If I had to be honest with myself and everyone else, when I’ve been in that really dark place with my depression, I’ve had thoughts about how maybe my kids would be better off without me, how my kids deserve a better mother than me.I’m coming from a very vulnerable place talking about this. I also want to add that I haven’t been in this dark place with these thoughts since 2021. It is a fucking scary place to be in and it’s something I would never wish upon my worst enemy. Thankfully, I have always been able to pull myself out of this headspace and seek help if I need to. However, once I start to get out of this head space, guilt over how selfish I was for not thinking about kids hits me and ooof I’m off to a shame spiral that almost loops back around to another depressive episode but nowadays I’m able to get a better handle on it. In January of this year, when I had another major depressive episode, my worst thought was, “I don’t think I’m doing enough to improve the lives of me and children ” which is irrational for many reasons. Anyways, I decided then and there that I needed to go back to therapy. It was hard to make that decision but in order to prevent my depression from getting worse; it was necessary. Some part of me felt like a failure because of how many healthy coping mechanisms I have now, how much emotional support I have from family and friends, and how much therapy I’ve had; I felt like I should be able to get this on my own. However, I’d rather be safe than sorry and get the extra guidance and help I need so I can get through this depressive episode before it gets worse. It hasn’t always been this way for me. For several years, I thought that the brave thing to do was to suffer in silence and try to get through my depression on my own. Journaling consistently since 2019 has helped me get through the worst of it but looking back on those journal entries, I’m filled with grief for the version of me who thought strength and being brave meant keeping it all in. I’m filled with grief at the version of me holding it together trying to balance it all and functioning at work when inside all I wanted to do was die or disappear. However, I hold compassion for that woman because she was doing what she knew best to survive. And sure at times that looked messy and unhealthy but at the end of day what matters is that I’m still here. Here’s a poem I wrote about my depression in 2020:
The Darkness comes back with a fierce strength and takes over my mind I want to run I want to hide But most of all I want to die
The Darkness comes back like a hurricane and wrecks my body and mind and I don’t want to work and I don’t want to talk and I don’t want to breathe
The Darkness comes back and not even the promise of love keeps it away
Fortunately for me, I learned to work through my feelings of shame in getting the help I needed to get better. My mental health improved drastically after getting a BPD diagnosis and here’s the post about that:
I’m very fortunate that my meds, my therapy, and the strict routine and consistency I now have in my life has improved my mental health so much, my depressive episode and low moods are milder and my quality of life has gotten so much better. I know that even in 2023,there is still so much pressure on mothers to be superwomen, to be “brave” and fight their battles alone but it doesn’t have to be this way. I hope that any mother out there struggling with depression/mental illness who might happen upon my blog post understands that they don’t have to fight this battle alone. In this journey, it is important to understand that being brave can also be taking the first step to seeking out the help you need to get healthier. I’m lucky to have found my own village ( my support system, my therapists, my writing community) to improve the quality of my life; my hope is that other mothers find their own village as well to lead healthier and happier lives.
I want to end this post with a poem I wrote in February of this year:
The Finish Line
I have yet to cross the finish line of my uprising, my marathon of healing- Sometimes I stumble and fall for a few days, a few weeks. a month when life gets overwhelming I dissociate and drive around aimlessly Forget about all the progress I made- but always get up and do the best I can Sometimes I mask well enough to fool the people in my life Sometimes, it’s not enough and they start asking what’s wrong but somehow I always manage to get back to a place where I move forward and evolve- listen to my therapist- healing isn’t linear-healing is messy and just because I stumble sometimes, it doesn’t mean I can’t cross the finish line
Below are some resources that helped me along my journey:
Back from the Borderline podcast episodes that have really helped me
One thing I want to add about the above resources I have shared is that I take notes from the books/podcast episodes . I jot down certain phrases, concepts, or quotes that resonate with me and/or I find helpful. I take notes on sticky notes and have a notebook where I taped them later in a notebook where I write about it as to why I related to it or why it was helpful. This method of mine works for me in finding understanding the book better or validating my experience. You don’t have to do this at all, of course. It’s just what I found helpful. Also, if you want more books or resources, feel free to contact me:
The princess and the queen live within me And they each serve a purpose the princess cares about the men in her life She’s soft and submissive, kind and generous She’ll do anything for love, she’s loyal But sometimes the princess get taken advantage of And the queen steps in The queen is determined, she is strong and opinionated And ambitchous and bossy She’ll do anything to protect herself and her kids and gives zero fucks about anyone else And lately I’m trying to find a perfect balance of embracing these two beings who live within me
Some days I can’t deal with the boredom and restless It all leads to chronic feelings of emptiness And I asked myself Is it time for another depression spell? And I’m annoyed by me, by everything I attend to whatever I think my brain and my soul needs Sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s sunshine Sometimes it’s writing Sometimes nothing appeases the Gods of BPD And I just to deal with my emotional instability I wish for at least a week of tranquility within Instead of a pendulum of ever changing mood swings When will I finally get calm and peace?
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I wanted to honor it by sharing my spotify playlist from my favorite Asian American and Pacific Islander Artists. I have a special connection to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders because I grew up in Hawaii. Some of my favorite people are Asian American like my childhood friends and my oldest son. Growing up in Hawaii, I listened to various Asian American and Pacific Islander artists like Iz, Hawaiian Style Band, Fiji, Kai, etc. I had the pleasure of seeing Fiji in a concert in Hawaii in the 90s. Recently, I’ve discovered other artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Conan Gray and Joji.
I started listening to Olivia Rodrigo in the summer and fall of 2021. To say that I was obsessed with her music would be the understatement of the year. Alexa still wakes me up with “Good 4 U” every morning (I haven’t figured out how to change it to something else-tbh-lol). Rodrigo’s debut album “Sour” really resonated with me on every level when I was going through a rough time in my life. There’s even hilarious videos of me drunk singing some of these songs (I watch them sometimes if I ever need to laugh-haha). I listened to Sour so many times, two of my sons know the lyrics to “Traitor” and sometimes for fun, we sing it at Family Karaoke Night.
In the fall of 2022, I discovered Conan Gray. Well, it’s more like I became obsessed with his song “People Watching” and then I listened to the rest of the album “Superache” and every single song resonated with me. Gray songwriting resonates to that angsty and angry side of me that feels so jaded when it comes to love. His songs “Family Line” and “Jigsaw” also resonate with me because like him, I’ve also had to deal with my own share of family trauma and feeling kind of an outcast. His personal style is also dramatic and I love that. In a way, he’s inspired to really embrace that side of me that tends to be dramatic. Other songs of his that I became way too obsessed with were “Astronomy” and “Heather”. “Heather” also served as inspiration for a long poem I wrote in January. This might be cringe but the video for “Heather” even inspired a couple of poses for a couple of pictures. Also, IMHO, Conan Gray is the most beautiful person in the world to me. My kids hate it when I tell them, “you’re almost as beautiful as Conan Gray”. They tell me it’s wrong for some reason but it’s the truth. Speaking of my kids, my middle son kind of lowkey hates him. Maybe it’s because either “Heather” or “People Watching” has woken him up one too many times.Idk. My oldest son thinks that my obsession with Conan Gray is just creepy because they’re both the same age. However, I can’t control what makes my moody heart happy and gets obsessed with. Maybe one day, I’ll find this post cringe and be like wtf was I thinking but let it be a day far, far away into the future. Now let’s move on, to my next obsession, Joji.
Okay, so my oldest son introduced me to Joji sometime in early 2022 with the song “Glimpse of Us”. I remember telling him, “this song is too sad, it’s the kind of song that’s perfect for unaliving yourself ” (I know that might seem a bit extreme but that was my gut reaction to the song). Anyways, I didn’t start listening again to Joji until the winter of 2022 when the weather was cold and I was in a low mood. Something about his voice and his songwriting really struck a chord with the angst and sadness I was feeling at the time. Then, I had a major depression episode in January of this year and Joji became the soundtrack to that depression. I remember wearing my beanie every single day because I was too lazy to style my bangs and listening to “Die for You” on repeat . Joji’s music really got me through that episode and in this weird way gave me hope. Of course, I made the choice to go back to therapy during that episode. When I listen to “Glimpse of Us” and “Die for You” I think back to the earlier versions of myself I’m still trying to find compassion for and make peace with. I know that might sound weird but to me it makes sense. I also love the song, “Sanctuary” so much so, it’s been an inspiration for a few of my most recent poems. Joji’s style is also kind of dramatic which I really love.
Below is my AAPI Appreciation Playlist, I hope y’all enjoy it.
In therapy I’m supposed to write about the last thing that cause me grief and I think it’s funny considering the tons of poetry and journal entries I’ve written about it I’m tired of writing about it, I’m tired of talking about it I’m tired of thinking about it and I want to tell my therapist I don’t have homework for this week but this is part of therapy this is what I need to address the unhealed trauma within so I’ll write for the 1000th time about the last thing that caused trauma and grief hoping my therapist will provide valuable insight on how to let go of it
your wretched goodbye brought a radical change within me left behind was the naive girl who fell in love with you left behind was the stupid bitch who made a home in you left behind was the insecure woman who made you her world the woman who stands before you made a 360 turn the woman who stands before lives life according to her own terms without apologizing, without accommodation, without toning herself down the woman you left behind no longer exists she turned into ashes and out of the ashes turned into a brave and powerful queen who learned that her love is the rarest type of jewel that she reserves only for those who love her and accept her exactly as she is
My heart blooms like a flower in the spring taking in the beauty of everything I’m no longer so angry and feel a freedom to just be I take things in stride and no longer feel the need to fight Is this what healing looks like?
Hope lies in the next minute, the next hour, the next day,the next week Hope makes us believe there is something to look forward to even in our darkest hour Hope gives us the strength to continue on when we don’t want to
Faith found me one day and told me to keep going when I didn’t want to Faith made me believe in GOD when I wanted to fall into the abyss of depression Faith held me as I cried endless tears of my about my latest life’s catastrophe Faith loved me when I couldn’t love myself Faith brought me people who believed in me When I couldn’t believe in myself Faith decided to one day bring it’s accomplice HOPE
The first and last time I tried to die I tried to get everything right I wrote letters to my loved ones and swallow each pill one by one All that was easy enough but really dying was tough Something inside me was too stubborn And sent one last text out to a friend who alerted my husband Between her and him, I never reached my end but in that moment I understood the suicidal writers and poets Living is exhausting,living is agonizing I yearned for the sweetness of death to take away my mediocre breath But the universe or God had other plans And today I finally understand Living is painful,living is terrible But living is also beautiful and really living is admirable