Contradictions and Instagram

(minor cw: slurs and my typical swearing)

Right after I’ve posted my post 2 weeks ago about “Being Open and Instagram”, I went though some kind of mini existential crisis…. I could barely even sleep. Hoo man it was baaaaaaad.

Long story short, I immediately panicked and blocked around 50 people whom I know in reality, because I was afraid of them finding me. I also deleted any pictures that had my face in it on my IG. I got rid of my IG profile pic.  I removed my name and used a middle name that nobody knows instead. I removed any trace of my identity. I changed my IG username as well (from upsidedown_turtle to extinguishedcandle). All the above in one night.

Finally, I couldn’t take the pressure or fear of people finding me and removed the link to this blog (that was previously in my IG description) because I was scared of malicious people invading this safe space of mine. I mean there are people I trust that follow me on IG and those whom I trust will respect and help my mental health decisions. I know that and I really want to open up to them, or connect with them so we become closer. But I’m really scared of those with opposite intentions. No, I don’t mean haters, fuck them and I could care less…

It’s just… I don’t know. It’s really difficult. I don’t know why this fear arises. I was one step away from deactivating my IG but I didn’t want my loved ones to worry. Perhaps I am ashamed due to the stigma surrounding mental health. Part of me thinks that is bullshit… I am not someone who gives a shit about that as I’m all about breaking stigmas. I believe I’m a tough person but this fear is weird. I think the reason is that this is a safe haven for my thoughts and chronicles my thoughts during my mental health journey and I am afraid of people I know in reality thinking I am weak.

I hate being called cowardly or weak more than being called short. Call me a bitch, psychopath, slut… ect. I really don’t care. I can take racial slurs too, and it’s quite cathartic sometimes when I take my anger of the world out on them. Short jokes, honestly, how uncreative can you get? I’ve dealt with them my whole fucking life and I’ve heard them all. Bitch: sure, I really don’t care, plus it is an unoriginal insult coming from an uncreative mind. And yes I’m a bitch, a bad bitch ūüėČ Y’unno bitch isn’t even an insult. Tbh no one has even called me a slut before. I’ve got this whole facade going on ….¬†Ever made a condom flower? Fun stuff.

Being called weak by someone I know in reality just pisses me off. I feel like I wanna punch them. It makes me feel like I’m on the verge of violence because I want to prove them wrong and my mind believes beating them up will prove it. It’s embarrassing and a shameful thing to be called weak. It makes me feel terrible about myself. I have nothing to verbally counter it.

If in the case someone used my mental health against me and called me weak because of it, I’d be really hurt. Because I’m not weak. I’m brave because I swallowed my pride and reached out to loved ones for help. That was the hardest and scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I am sure nothing has beat that moment of telling a good friend and breaking down in front of them in a semi-public place… then the feeling of having the depression take over and being utterly useless as the mind blanks out and you feel nothing. I try not to be embarrassed. I’d say that was my lowest. Looking back, I am embarrassed to cry on the floor of a good and trusted friend’s apartment. But back them I was so dead it didn’t matter. At the same time I trust that person so why should I be embarrassed? (the internal struggle never ends) Whoops, where was I?

I don’t want to be called weak when I’ve been braver than they’ll ever be.

5:20 AM

Hello! As of June 10th, 2017, I’ve decided to start using “CW” content warnings, or “TW” trigger warnings in my posts. My blog description already has warnings but my posts have been varied lately from food to music to whatever I’m interested in. I think it would be a good idea to use them in individual posts as well, so when I occasionally change topics back to mental health so there are no sudden suprises. Better to use extra warnings than too little! 

I mean I can be talking about a cool movie then BAM! Something upsetting. For serious and upsetting topics I’ll make them bolded with stars (***) on the top of the post. For non-upsetting things like media spoilers or minor things (such as warnings or minor phobias that will not trigger memories) I will just warn beforehand. The format may change depending on the post. Eg. I have a picture of a real spider in my post = (CW: “arachnophobia”) which will be placed before the spider picture can be seen. Eg. I talk in depth about suicide = ***TW: Suicide*** at the top of the page or near it, with enough spacing for the content to be unseen. It will take a bit of experimentation with formatting until I find a stable one. 

I think trigger warnings are important. It isn’t self- censoring or anything. It’s when a topic is upsetting or brings back unwanted memories that can make one unhappy. One should be able to choose their own happiness even in the form of reading.

This is my relaxing, safe space, and I want to make it yours as well. 

being open and instagram

My personal goal of starting this online journal was to be comfortable with being open. At the beginning, it meant sharing my struggles with mental health, and learning how to communicate my thoughts (from my depression diagnosis to my current bipolar diagnosis and everything in between!!). This was my form of shouting into the void, and getting everything negative out. I feel more comfortable doing that now, and I am able to discuss updates on my mental health with my mom, or make jokes about it with my family. I don’t get into the nitty-gritty with them, but overall summaries. Through the shadow people scare, I learned that telling people and reaching out ASAP meant my problems would be solved ASAP. In a way I guess it was also a test of me being able to get help when needed… which I succeeded.

That being said, I’ve distanced myself from my friends. I’ve never discussed my mental health with most of my friends. There are literally just 8 people, including my family, who knows about my current diagnosis because I told them. When I was in the hospital last year, some friends who had no idea I was having a major episode of depression, got a sudden text that I was in the hospital. They took the time and cleared last-minute schedules to visit me the next day. I felt like an asshole for seeing their concern and love, yet never opening up for these people whom I’ve known and trusted for years. It felt like I betrayed them and was a shitty friend, and they were a bit upset because it seemed like I didn’t trust them enough to share my personal struggles.

But I think in general I don’t like talking about my mental health. It doesn’t define me so why does it matter? I don’t want my mental health to define me, or people to say “Oh, there’s that bipolar girl”/ “OMG, that is Amanda, she has bipolar disorder”. I want my mental illness to be irrelevant like my favorite fruit, watermelon. No one says “Oh there’s that girl who likes watermelon”/ “OMG, that is Amanda, her favorite fruit is watermelon”. (On a tangent, I also hate being called short or referred to as the short girl. You’re just asking to be on my hit list. I am petty and will literally hold a grudge against you forever. I can still list the people who have made height jokes about me. Unless it is a professional environment I will not hesitate to let you know your jokes are not appropriate nor appreciated).

Anyways, I have an Instagram account ( upsidedown_turtle ) that is rarely in use, but connected to all my friends. Over the past month I’ve put the website to this blog up and down and up and down on Instagram because I was afraid. At first I was scared of being open about sharing my mental health struggles and having people define or judge me for it. But I’ve decided to let it stay for now. If people judge me for it in reality, so be it. I know who not to waste my precious time on. I have no time for people who won’t accept me and will not spend time convincing them to do so. I may take it back down in the future but for now it will stay.

That being said, those that do care can learn more about me, and choose to support if they want. I hope my friends understand that this is a gesture of me attempting to be more open/honest with them. I understand I can be distant and not good with conversations in person, but this is an honest view into what is going on in my life to make up for it. Life is busy, and I have little spare time, but catching up with me can be easier by this. Written communication is easier than verbal small talk. I hate small talk…. but this is a rant for another day. 

4:41 AM

I can’t sleep. I’m worried about my turtle, Popcorn. I’ve got 5 (yes, FIVE) turtles: Watermelon, Big Mac, Cheeseburger, Pizza, and Popcorn. The biggest is Watermelon (HUGE AND HEAVY, weighs god-knows-how-much, and requires two strong hands to hold, and picking her up involves the whole body) is the biggest followed by Big Mac, Cheeseburger, Pizza, and Popcorn is the smallest (slightly larger than a closed fist). Aggressive Pizza and flirty Popcorn are brothers. Always hungry Big Mac and cowardly Cheeseburger are a pair; gal pal BFFs. Watermelon… well I posted on here about her a year ago about how I found her. Fun fact, Popcorn likes to flirt with Watermelon…. whom is quite literally at least 10X (ten times) his weight and size. Popcorn is always rejected. Turtle interactions are entertaining. 

Popcorn hasn’t been eating for the past few days and spends all his time curled up out of water on his sunbathing rocks. As of yesterday, he has a bit of a runny nose on top of all that. He is quite sick. 

Today he has been transferred to his own isolated aquarium where the water is warmer and he has a warm UV light concentrated on him during the day. I really hope the warmth allows his immune system to get rid of his sickness. There are no turtle specialist animal hospitals nearby and I don’t want to travel far away to one with a distressed and sick turtle. The trip might do more harm than good. 

Also I feel very bad because I was entrusted by the first caretakers of Popcorn and Pizza to take care of them, twoish years ago. I don’t want to let them down. In addition, all my turtles are a big, happy family together and it wouldn’t feel right or happy if one passed away. I would look at Pizza every time and apologize that his brother passed away because of my incompetence. I don’t want that to happen. But I don’t know what else to do. I feel helpless, useless, and worried. All that has been done has been done. I hate this waiting and hoping. I love each and every one of them and I feel terrible because Popcorn is so sick and I don’t know what more to do. I wish I could help. I expected all my babies to outlive me, not die young. 

One of my life goals is to have an outdoor all-season garden greenhouse and build a large pond in that greenhouse. All my 5 turtles will swim and be free and warm and safe in the locked greenhouse. The greenhouse floor will be filled with edible greens, the pond will be gigantic, sparkling clean and filled with fish to hunt, and food to eat. There will be lots of rocks everywhere for them to climb. It will be called “Amanda’s Turtle Sanctuary”. Popcorn needs to hang on until I can build it. 

“What are You?”¬†

I’ve had this post as a draft for half a year ago….¬†but I thought: “Why not publish this now?” so here y’all go.

I feel like working in an Asian targeted retail store has made me more cynical and unhappy. As title of this post suggests, I often get the question “what are you?” by non-Chinese customers.¬†I’ve since quit my job because it is exhausting to deal with racist customers everyday. It does a number on the mind. It is upsetting as well, because I identify as both Canadian and “Chinese” (technically Hakka).

I get customers asking me the following…. BTW these are all real conversations:

  1. Customer holding up a bunch of ingredients: “Are you (insert ethnicity here)?”
    • Me: ” No”/”Yes
      • Them if I say “No”: “Oh but you look like it. Do you know anyone who is (insert ethnicity)? I’m trying to make a (insert ethnicity) food.” BITCH USE GOOGLE!! JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE IS (INSERT ETHNICITY) DOESN’T MEAN THEY KNOW HOW TO COOK THAT DISH
        • Me: “No, I don’t know anyone, but I am pretty sure there are some good online recipes.” ūüôā ¬†<– passive aggressive smile
      • Them if I say “Yes”: “Oh do you know how to make (insert food)?”
        • Me: “Nope, sorry.”
        • Them: “But aren’t you (insert ethnicity)? How come you can’t make (insert food)? Shouldn’t (insert ethnicity) know how to make (ethnic¬†dish)?” BECAUSE I CAN’T FUCKING COOK YOU ASSHOLE, AND RECIPES ARE NOT INNATE
  2. Customer: “Hey, can you read this for me?” *Shows me text on their phone*
    • Me: “Sir, I can’t read that. Sorry.”
    • Them: “But isn’t this Japanese?”
    • Me: “No, that is Korean and I am Chinese.”
    • Them: “But isn’t the langauge all the same?”
  3. Customer: “What are you?”
    • Me: “I’m born in Canada.”
    • Customer: “No, where are you realllyyyyy from.”
    • Me: “Well to be specific, I was born in Surrey Memorial Hospital in British Columbia.”
    • Customer: “No, I mean where are your parents from?”
    • Me: “Well my parents are in Vancouver too.”
    • Customer: “Okay, well you aren’t from here right? Where are your grandparents from?”
    • Me: “They’re in Hong Kong.”
    • Them: “Oh so you’re Chinese? I knew it.”
    • Me: *opening my mouth to correct them (I DO NOT like being identified as Chinese) and they walk away*
  4. *I stopped giving a fuck and decided to experiment how far customers would go sometimes* Customer: “What are you?”
    • Me: “I’m adopted.”
      • Customer: “Why are you working here then?”
      • Another possible response, Customer: “Who are your parents?”
        • Me: “They’re a super nice couple from Switzerland.”
        • Them: “What langauge do you speak”
        • Me: “English???” *Innocent confused head tilt to not appear passive aggressive*
        • Them: “What are you?”
        • Me: “I’m a Canadian citizen???” *pretending to be confused but boiling mad inside*
        • Them: “Do you know your parents? What are they?”
        • Me: “Umm… they passed away when I was young, I never knew them.” *feigning sadness and uncomfortable at their insensitive¬†question*
        • Them: “Oh, but then do you know what you are?”
        • Me: *looks them dead in the eye* “Sir, my parents are dead and trust me, I’ve love to know what I am.” SOME CUSTOMERS ARE COMPLETELY INSENSITIVE TO THE DEAD PARENTS THING IN THEIR QUEST TO DISCOVER “WHAT KIND OF ASIAN” I AM
  5. Them: “Why is your English so good?” ….???????????
  6. “Where are you from?”
  7. “WHAT ARE YOU?”

Why is this upsetting? Don’t know what I mean? This video gives you a summary:

What Kind of Asian are You Video

It’s offensive to be asked “what are you” as it just implies you’re not human, you’re the “other”, an alien that doesn’t belong here. I’m born and raised in Canada and people assume I’m an immigrant whom should return to their place of origin (for me ironically it happens to be in Canada, jokes on you, racists!) Everyone in Canada has come from somewhere else unless you’re Aboriginal, yet why are only people of colour being targeted for the question “what are you?”???????

The question is often accompanied by an accusatory wagging finger and a tone of voice that is condescending. That, my friends, is called micro aggressions and casual racism (as I’ve learned in my Gender Race Sexuality Class 101 @UBC).

When people first started to ask me “What are you”, I responded “Hong Kong” because that is where my grandparents are currently living and I don’t want to explain what “Hakka” is for the millionth time. Then they will start saying “Oh yeah! That explains your __(insert physical aspect here__)”. OR “I’ve been there, I like your sushi”, at which I ask them exactly where in China they have been, at which they butcher the name, and the fact that sushi is Japanese. Most of the time their responses to me are fucking racist and stereotyping me.

For the record, I am actually Hakka. Just like how Canada has Aboriginal peoples such as the Haida peoples, China (specifically Hong Kong) has Aboriginal peoples too. In HK, there is a group of Aboriginals called “Hakka” whom make a living traditionally by the sea and fishing. My ancestors lived and died on boats. TBH I’ve grown tired of people wanting me to explain what Hakka is, or the responses “you don’t look Aboriginal” (Like bi*ch please… open your Eurocentric mind….). And Hakka peoples are recognized by Hong Kong, and China (possibly Taiwan as well, but I am not certain). Side note: we are respected and given certain grants and land permits because¬†Aboriginal peoples are treated with respect from the colonizers, unlike Canada. Canada needs to learn how to respect¬†Aboriginal peoples.

A better, and polite, way of phrasing the question to COMPLETE STRANGERS could be “what culture do you identify with?” Or “what is your ancestral background?”. Because the world is constantly¬†globalizing, people are moving and settling into different countries. EG. There are Chinese people moving to Korea and identifying as Korean. Also, it is just fucking R-U-D-E to ask strangers “what are you?”.

 

P.S.: One time while I was not at work, and being a private citizen and eating food, a complete stranger asked me “where are you from?”. To which I responded “I came from my mother’s uterus.” ūüėÄ He walked away.

Another time I got “What are you?” I said “Well last time I checked, which is this morning, I am a human.” *passive aggressive smile* They usually walk away.

Whenever I am not at work or school and get stopped/ inquired by complete fucking strangers, I take all the anger I bottled up from racist remarks at school, and project it onto them. And believe me, I can scream a string of long insults very, very loudly.

Reasons for switching faculties (and why I am happier!)

I think we still have some catching up to do! Sorry for the boring business matters. I am not sure if I mentioned this before, but I have decided to switch faculties from Arts to Sciences. This choice was difficult. Honestly at first I felt like I wasted 3 years of education, effort, and money for this whim that I had. I am still not sure if I even made the right choice …. but all I know is I feel happier now and more passionate about what I study.

When my whole chaotic depression downward spiral began, I was studying Political Science. It was fun, and¬†writing essay after essay is something to be expected in university. But what wore me down was the fact all the essays were something like “discuss how to solve this political issue” or “discuss why (this vague political problem) happens”. I didn’t like how we all sat in class and discussed a serious issues (like homelessness), talked about ways to solve it, then moved on with our lives and on to another class. We. Didn’t. Do. A. Single. Action. It felt so wrong to me. It makes no sense to simply talk about how people in other countries desperately needed healthcare, and how to solve these issues while sitting in $200+ price tag clothes (well for me it was a hoodie LOL ) and sipping Starbucks!!! Most of the¬†issues we discussed are issues that 18-year-old middle class students would never have experienced … though there were many students in the upper middle-class to¬†high-class range.

They don’t understand the fear of walking home alone at night and being mugged (or worse). They have never heard a gunshot outside their house. They don’t care about wasting food because they will always have their endless allowance from their parents to buy more food. But I do. I know the fear. My parents both came to Canada with nothing. My family once all slept in the same room in a tiny apartment in an unsafe neighborhood. Cheese was a luxury, and I’ve never had real cheese in my childhood. Even today, I have the habit of keeping old leftovers. I feel overwhelming guilt if I cannot finish my food and feel the need to finish it all.¬†My voice was overridden by those that did not understand the very issues that I’ve experienced. I was tired of screaming in a room full of people who plugged their ears at the truth. It is not worth sacrificing myself for people who will not bring political change. No one would listen to the insight of a tiny Asian girl who didn’t¬†have a Michael Kors handbag, a Prada suit, and designer heels.

I continued to push myself in Political Science…. “Maybe things will get more interesting”…. “This is just a hump, I can get over it”…. But as we got more and more specialized, I began to lose interest. It wasn’t something I could see myself doing forever. In fact, I realized, I couldn’t see myself doing this as a career to the extent I didn’t even care to plan out my future. One of the few options that a Political Science future held was law school. As I kid, I though law was cool. Now, since I know what it is about (after attending many seminars) I knew it was not for me. I suppose that is when my depression worsened because I thought “this was all for nothing, I wasted my life, what will I do now?”

I am a woman of action. I believe actions will change people’s lives for the better, not writing essays. Personally, I can only put my heart into something when I truly believe it will benefit people. In my high school music days, I was extremely dedicated and successful in helping my peers, because I truly believed music is a magical thing that connects people of all backgrounds. It was a positive feedback look: the more I helped my peers, the better they got, which made me happy and motivated me to help more. I needed to rediscover my passion. I heard of “Doctors without Borders” or something along the lines of that one day in a Political Science lecture. Then I guess that is where my inspiration began. (Actually the story goes, I heard about “Doctors without Borders” that day at school but didn’t really think of it much, went to my boyfriend’s house and had a long depression cry because I felt so lost and unsure about my future, then the inspiration struck me…. I swore that it would be my goal). Judging from my high school musician days, I liked to help people, and felt rewarded when I see people improve. So why not be a nurse? I like biology and science, so why not? I didn’t want to be a doctor because I would like time to be able to live a separate private life and take care of my 5 turtle children. So I decided, “screw it, I have nothing else left to lose“, and set my heart on nursing, and just focus on it with my blinders on.

Problem? I didn’t take Chemistry 12 or Physics 12. In high school I thought that I’d always stay in arts and become a lawyer, and that there was NO WAY I’d switch….. well jokes on the future me…. thanks for screwing future me up, past me. Also nursing has a long waitlist, and I’m not getting any younger. I’d like to move out soon and have a stable income (to spoil my turtles with fresh yummy fish everyday ~ teehee~). Also I want to start working as a nurse¬†sooner so my mom can quit her shitty non-unionized, minimum wage, shady job that she hates. But I’m trying to be optimistic in the time I have before I get in the program and pursue a biology degree/ more science related credentials that will benefit me once I am in healthcare. I do feel quite happy now, not just because of my medications. I am passionate about what I am pursuing, to the point that I’ve been planning out my future…. which is something I never did as a Political Science student.

I see potential in this path, and think it will feel rewarding to save lives instead of writing/ reading essays. I have no regrets.

April 2, 2017- Updates

Hello, long time no post! My apologies.

It has been over 1 year since January 25/26th. I didn’t want to post on that day because I was afraid of relieving my memories of that day. I tend to struggle more around that period, but come April, I usually feel better like I currently do. But over ONE YEAR has passed since I was in the hospital for suicidal tendencies and depression. Wow. It seems so distant and weird. I am glad though, because without it, I would not be currently in contact with a psychiatrist whom has given me the correct (bipolar) medication. I learned that my friends love and support me. Also it let my parents understand me better, and they have supported me much more than I expected. I don’t want to be sappy but things have gotten so much better; I’ve never imagined things to improve too much. Though little improvements still need to be made.

In the meantime I have been:

  • dealing with a malfunctioning laptop (WordPress was not working on that piece of crap and I got lazy of dealing with the slowness)
  • learning how to schedule my life using an agenda (10/10 recommend)
  • Cleaning out my closet, reorganizing my room (I donated 5 garbage bags of clothes/stuffs)
  • Focusing on school, learning how to force myself to study
  • Repairing my relationship with my mom, which was severely damaged due to me cutting myself off from everything in Fall 2014 – the start of my depression.
    • I try to talk to her everyday now, and send her text messages of cute animals. We talk more now and I feel more willing to discuss mental health stuffs with her
    • Now I need to repair my relationship with my dad, which will be more difficult since he is antisocial (as in he likes to garden and take care of his fish rather than gossip)
  • Spending time with my friends
  • dealing with work, quitting my first job
  • Gaining new life experiences…. I went to my first concert!! (I saw Hayley Kioko).
    • It was loud, so many lights, so much people but amazing to sing along with a bunch of friendly strangers
  • Going out of my comfort zone and making new friends, meeting new people and spending time with them
  • Giving my neglected birds and turtles some love
    • During the time I did not feel well, I spent most of my time sleeping rather than give my birds attention and taming them. My parents had to clean my birds and turtles because I couldn’t do it.
  • Trying to not skip classes unless I need to. I have succeeded.
    • I let myself skip one day per month. That is my relaxation day.
  • Soooo many doctor and psychiatry appointments!!!
  • Experimenting with new ways to de-stress!
    • taking a nice warm (scented and bubbly) bath with candles lit is an amazing way to relax. I feel so refreshed and relaxed afterwards!
  • Learning how to cook different recipes! I think this is evident,¬†from my past posts, but I’ve been doing this at a more regular schedule now, rather than randomly.
    • I cook dinner for my boyfriend and myself, usually 1-2 times a week (I am over there 4 days a week. Tuesdays is our lazy grilled cheese sandwich day, where my bf makes grilled cheese. One of the days we sometimes head out for dinner or eat leftovers…. hence I cook 1-2 days a week, and he cooks the other days)
  • Much more but I can’t think of them right now

 

I’ll try to post more often. It is fun and relaxing to get all my thoughts out…. like keeping an online diary. Also it serves as a reminder to myself how far I’ve come and to encourage myself. Although I couldn’t complete my goal of posting once every day, I did manage to improve my mental well-being thus the need to post everyday to get my thoughts out reduced. With that being said, I am NOT starting to post again due to feeling unwell, but this time I am hoping to continue so I can encourage other people who struggle with mental disorders and demonstrate that things can get better. I am working to express myself more and be more social…. I hope being social online counts!