The Legend of Korra: Book 1

I’ve watched the sequel to “Avatar: the Last Airbender” in my first year of university when my mental turmoil began and really related to the messages in the series. Recently, I’ve introduced my boyfriend to “Avatar: The Legend of Korra” so he is watching for the first time, while I watch it for the second time. Watching it again allows me to analyze it instead of bawling my eyes out like I did when I first watched it. Hey, it gets pretty emotional okay? Unpopular opinion but, I like “The Legend of Korra” more than “The Last Avatar”. I feel as if the 17-19 year old Korra is more relatable than a 10-year old fun-loving kid. Sure I watched “The Last Airbender” when I was around Aang’s age, but I didn’t understand the complex plot, and focused on the funny stuff. After re-watching Aang’s story, I found that it lacked depth and was more about the shits and giggles. It was kid-audience oriented. I enjoy watching Korra more as it is relatable.

Korra is a sheltered young adult nearing her twenties and has somewhat literally the weight of the world on her shoulders. Her parents sheltered her and provided from her, and she has no idea what the real world is like and is trying to learn about society while gaining independence. I feel that the children who outgrew Aang and now come back to the series with Korra, a protagonist the same age as them, can relate to her. As a more adult oriented series, the series has become darker and contains hidden messages while maintaining the family oriented exterior.

I’d like to share some relatable quotes that stuck with me and may or may not have made me cry the first time I watched it. That being said from here on it is SPOILER ALERT FOR SEASON 1.

“You’re the smartest, funniest, toughest, buffest, talentedest, incrediblest girl in the world!” – Bolin

I was like: YES!!! When this was said. Bolin, a young male friend of Korra’s, was trying to win her over romantically. But instead of calling her beautiful and reducing her to appearance (which often happens in reality when a guy tries to win over a woman by using her appearance or falling in love based on appearance) he pointed out her other amazing traits. This wonderful make role model gave so many flattering compliments… none about appearance!!! It is so important for a TV show that has a child and family orientated audience to include that to demonstrate the need to look beyond appearance!!!

“Admitting your fears is the first and most difficult step in overcoming them.” – Tenzin

I cried when first seeing this scene. Korra was keeping her fears to herself all bottled up and struggling by herself. Until, at this scene, she finally broke down and spilled the truth to her mentor. She admitted her fears (which occurred through several episodes as we watched her suffer) and truely cried for the first time shown to the audience. Keep in mind she prided herself in being fearless and believed she was invincible because she is the Avatar, but at that moment she realized that being physically strong and appearing tough isn’t the way to go. She realizes mental fears must be discussed with others because bottling it up inside and fighting fears all alone will eventually weaken the physical state too as we can only bottle up so much.

I really related to that scene. And yes I cried the first time watching it. Because Korra had the same coping strategies as I did, and I knew how it felt to finally spillover and breakdown after pretending I was tough for so long. The scene felt so realistic and I couldn’t believe it is a family oriented show with amazing life messages. Korra finally opened up about her fears and got support and guidance. This is important. Opening up, admitting your issues and talking to people is the first step in recovery. For my mental issues too, talking to friends, writing about them, ect. helps me understand myself and receive help when needed. And yes, it is the most difficult step, as Tenzin said. Because I had to get over my pride and get rid of my self-image, and admit the shameful feeling of being weak. After admitting it (never again denying it or running away), one accepts the fact, and can work to get over it.

“When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change.” – Avatar Aang

Korra, stripped of her bending, is implied to be contemplating suicide (of course it wasn’t too obvious due to the family orientation, but it was hidden). She runs away from her loved ones and stood at the edge of a high clif as her teardrop falls over the edge. Then sits and cries. If she jumped and died, then the avatar cycle would allow the next avatar to be reincarnated with their full powers back. She feels worthless because her identity was removed. An avatar that can’t bend is no avatar. Then Aang appears (in spiritual form), says the above quote, and restored her powers.

When watching this scene for the second time yesterday, I was reminded of myself last year. I felt like shit during my lowest depression episode and didn’t want myself to do anything drastic (like hurt myself of contemplate the same as Korra) after a close call a few weeks ago. You could say I was at my lowest. I was desperate and reached out to a friend and admitted to them that I needed help. I just didn’t care anymore and was desperate to not feel like shit. An hour later I was safe in the Emergency and got connections to the help I needed and the medications I’m currently taking. Rewatching Korra at that scene really made me remember and relate to that quote that I was, in fact, most open to change when I was at my lowest.

“The morning is evil” – Korra

Need I say more? Let’s end on a happy, humorous quote.


Meet: Yuriko Kotani

Meet one of my favourite comedians! I found her on one of those YouTube sessions where one clicks on random videos. Freaking hilarious. She deals with issues like subtle racism in everyday life as well as a comparison between different cultural norms.

Link to Yuriko Kotani On Stand Up Central:

Her video has captions. 🙂

Spoiler alert!!! Below is the most satisfying part:

tumblr_o8m0f97yHb1qc8jh0o1_1280tumblr_o8m0f97yHb1qc8jh0o2_1280tumblr_o8m0f97yHb1qc8jh0o3_1280tumblr_o8m0f97yHb1qc8jh0o4_1280tumblr_o8m0f97yHb1qc8jh0o5_1280tumblr_o8m0f97yHb1qc8jh0o7_1280Me internally: (YASSSS GG GHET REKT *MIC DROP*) She is a gift to humankind!!

I need her saying “Get it right, motherfucker” as my ringtone…. unfortunately I have an iPhone. But I would’ve in a heartbeat. Go Yuriko Kotani!!!

 

How stressed are you?

I’m taking a psychology course because what the hey…. it never hurts to learn more. We’re currently on the mental health unit, which I am doing suspiciously well (hahaha). It was quite comforting when the professor started the unit off sharing his own struggles with depression during university undergrad. It took a lot of effort to not cry tears of gratefulness in class, or cry when remembering my own struggles as the professor talked about his own. I am so glad he did that because I felt less alone. If only I took this class two years earlier, and heard about his story and noted down the links for help he provided. Yes, he provided links and possible sources of accessible help/counselling!!! What an amazing and truly caring professor 😀 It goes to show, everyone, including professors, suffer from mental health disorders.

The previous unit we learned that there are legit methods for measuring stress. There are different stress scales for different age groups, because buying a house is probably not a stressor for college students, and getting good grades is not on the minds of adults in the workforce.

The first stress scale is for adults. It is called the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.
Link : https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_82.htm

This one is for college students. It is simply called the College Stress Test.
Link : http://highered.mheducation.com/sites/0073382736/student_view0/health_psychology/college_stress_test__/index.html

Holmes and Rahe is the main and most famous stress scale. It was made by Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, whom were both psychiatrists. They asked patients to self-report stressful events (stress scale) and compared their scores on stress scales to actual medical records to determine the average stress scale points per issues. This is accurate and has been tested for validity in multiple populations, they also accounted on the fact that some life events are more/less stressful on some cultures than others (such as weddings, some cultures have week/month long weddings; childbirth in a developed vs non-developed; entering university, and entrance exams; and divorce stigma).

Both measurement quizzes are pretty self-explanatory. Both quizzes measure how stressed you are at the moment. Levels of stress will always change, so the next time you take the tests, it may change. There is an average score, if you get below the score, you’re less stressed. And if you’re higher, you’re very stressed, and please take care of yourself! When you’re stressed you’re more likely to get the flu.

(Why does stress make you sick?)
Going on a scientific tangent, getting super stressed all the time and not relaxing makes you sick because repeated long term stress changes the way body deals with stress, in a negative way! Stress is an evolved human response from threat. Normally when we are stressed, our adrenal glands are activated which: 1) increase heart and respiration rate which then causes more oxygen in blood stream; 2) increase in cortisol which then causes more glucose in the blood stream. This repeated chronic stress cycle causes a constant stress response that the body must keep up which is called general adaptation syndrome. 

Why is general adaptation syndrome bad? There are 3 phases to this.

  1. Alarm Phase – the initial healthy response to stress as I mentioned above (increase in heart rate which cases oxygen in bloodstream; and an increase in cortisol causing more glucose in blood)
  2. Resistance phase – the body adapts to the high stress “alarm phase”; this constant state of alarm takes a lot of energy to maintain so to compenstate, non-stress related processes are shut down (like digestion, cognitive abilities, reproduction)
  3. Exhaustion phase – the body cannot cope anymore because all your other processes were shut down. The result is feeling burnout, illness, injury, and possibly death (eg. people being overworked to death, known as “Karōshi” in Japan).

Btw: I am not a professional, I’m just sharing interesting things I’ve learned in class because learning more doesn’t hurt! And now you’re learned why you tend to get sick after a stressful event, or why we catch a terrible bug at the end of exam seasons. Treat yo’self when you feel stressed; it is an investment for your physical health ❤

“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.” 🙂  <– 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.” 😀 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!

 

2:49 PM

I forgot my bus pass for the first time. I only realized I left it when I got on the bus. I didn’t have enough spare change either to pay for the bus fare. It was so embarassing holding up the whole bus. The bus driver kinda ignored the fact and started the bus, then continued along the route. I asked if he would like me to leave the bus but got ignored. Perhaps ignorance is bliss to him or he was being passionate aggressive. He was quite rude to my polite questions but I didn’t do anything to stick up for myself because he already let me on and I didn’t want to get kicked off the bus and be late for work. 

A kind stranger on the bus had spare change and bought me a bus ticket after glaring at the driver. I thanked him for helping me. He said it wasn’t worth gambling a bus ticket for a $200 fine, and that I seemed to be a responsible and reliable person having an unlucky day. I get so shocked by random acts of kindess that it makes me a bit emotional. It’s so rare to encounter a stranger whom has no bad intentions towards you and only truly wants to help. 

Most times a stranger talks to me is when I’m being disgustingly catcalled (which I scream back at them profanities. I have zero tolerance for catcalling and am more than happy by taking my anger of partriachy out on them verbally). In reponse, I’ve developed a self defense mechanism for being suspicious of all strangers when they approach me. My heart pounds and adrenaline rushes in and I am ready to instantly scream loudly when approached. That is why when a stranger with no bad intentions talks to me, I am overwhelmed and think I need to repay their kindness by thanking them profusely. The kind person really made my day and kindness really goes a long way. I feel slightly less distrusting of strangers on transit and more willing to do the same for other strangers whom forgot their bus pass. Sadly my bad encounters with strangers have vastly outnumbered the good…