In light of the recent passing of @lauralemons, I've been seeing a lot of posts on how to get over depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.
I'd like to offer my own piece on it.
Some notes for the record:
- I have never suffered from depression, but I've been dealing with anger issues my whole life.
- This post is super in-your-face and straight to the point. Do not expect any coddling and yes, there're profanities.
- Notice the headline says "start healing" and not "get over."
- Please read the entire story for it to make sense.
- I write this with the intention to help. Should I offend anyone, please know that it's not intentional.
My story, wherein anger was rooted, ate me up inside and manifested itself
My name is Alden Tan and I am currently 32 years old.
I've been dealing with anger issues my entire life. I can honestly say that I spent the bulk of my 20s being miserable.
I hit points where I never wanted to get out of bed.
I'd go out and be triggered all over and it could be as simple as a kid getting in my way.
I always had trouble letting go of the past, especially knowing that my bullies, wrongdoers and just plain annoying people got away with it. It'd feel like they "won" and walked all over.
I'd ruminate over and over in my head about how I'd kick my wrongdoer's ass as I indulged in revenge fantasies.
Check this out: I went out on a date with a girl I met abroad once. She was a nice girl. We just went out, got to know each other and walked around town and all.
A year later, while catching up, she told me, "When we went out that day, I could see in your eyes that you were not a happy person."
So for real, it was extremely easy to tell that I was unhappy.
The root cause
When I was young, I always felt my parents were extremely strict on me. I remember being scolded, punished and even slapped in public over minor shit.
And then, in my perspective, they'd always let my brother get away with said minor shit.
This was the first act. Our formative years are mostly during our childhood.
Society's expectations breeding a major lack of support
When I was unhappy, I literally had nobody to talk to. I've come to realize today that I'm a highly empathetic, hence sensitive person, something that is rather unheard of in a straight guy. Heck, my gay friend once remarked that I am a gay guy in a straight person's body.
Whenever I tried to talk to someone about my problems, I was always dismissed as petty and overly sensitive. It really bothered me, but I repressed my voice for fear of being judged and further being called a sissy or not a real man.
I can honestly say that I've grown up with zero male role models in my life. Did I mention that my dad was an aloof guy who didn't really talk to me?
This was the second act.
Death in the family
On June 11th 2006, my dad died as he finally succumbed to dreadful disease that is ALS.
I literally had a glimpse of his lifeless body on his bed.
And it struck me, "I've been angry and unhappy my whole life, and yet this happened! Why so angry Alden? Why?"
I made it a point there and then to never waste my time with toxic friends anymore, if they indeed, can be called friends in the first place.
With my father's death, I guess you could say I was left with no answers as I will never hear from him again.
This isn't even the final act...
A major paradox in manifestations
And so, for the rest of my life since my dad's death, I lived life according to my own terms.
I absolutely do not waste time with toxic people. I've fallen out and dumped over ten friendships, just like that. It has been very liberating to be rid of them.
I do what I love everyday now, which is writing and breakdancing.
Yet... I was still motherfucking angry.
And the last couple of years was really bad for reasons unknown to me then.
I was destroying shit all over the house. I broke chairs. I shattered fans. I threw glasses. I punched the table and the cupboard. I screamed randomly. I made my mom cry a couple of times too.
It was so bad that I made it a point to isolate myself from most people. I didn't want to go out for fear of being triggered. I distanced myself in relationships because I didn't want my girlfriends to see me angry. I stopped believing that I was a good person. I called myself a monster.
And I grew to really hate life.
That was the climax.
The start of healing
My healing started this year, 2017 when I went to sought professional help. I finally saw a psychiatrist and am now seeing a psychologist for psychotherapy treatment.
And I've been feeling a lot better since I started my medication (fluvoxatine) and therapy.
That's it. That's how I started healing and actually started to feel better about myself and my life.
That's all I have for you.
What? No step-by-step solutions? No instructions? No bullet points? No before-and-after pictures of me showing my grand transformation?
That's my fucking point.
If you want to start healing from depression or other mental illnesses, please, for fuck's sake, seek PROFESSIONAL help.
Ready for another ass-kicking, in-your-face point? Here goes:
You must be fucking dreaming if you think your life's problems and mental issues can be solved overnight with a motivational quote over a flowery picture you found on Instagram or because you read some article from a blog.
I firmly and strongly believe in this.
The internet has made it WAY too easy for anyone to get information today. It has also made it extremely easy for one to be introspective to a blind fault.
How are you getting the information? Surfing the web at the comforts of your own home? Lying on your bed while using the phone? Sitting on your ass all day?
That's too easy. That's not scary at all. You are not really doing anything real man. You're just using the internet or watching Netflix.
I tried all of this before going for professional help. I read blogs. I meditated. I put quotes in my phone. I talked to life coaches. I went for seminars.
They provided a temporary reprieve at most. Soon after, I'd continue to be angry again and I couldn't understand why. Life would just suck again.
Finally I went for therapy.
And I know it is working because I got really uncomfortable and also I face the hard times and my fucked up emotions with my therapist.
Yes, get this in your head: You'd know it's working for real when it feels hard.
If it's not hard... you're just sitting at home using the internet.
I am only able to share my story here clearly and distinctly because I went for professional help
Before that, I would never be able to do it because I was a fucking mess!
I had so much conflict in my head:
"Why am I so pissed off all the time?!"
"I think I should stand up for myself and make him apologize, but the last time I did that, I felt so guilty! Maybe I shouldn't do anything then."
"My anger is my parents' fault. No wait, it's my brother's. No wait, it's that stranger from long ago who looked at me weird. No wait..."
"I feel like it's my father's fault for passing me these genes. I hate him."
The last one is a bit heavy, but real.
I don't have conflict with these questions anymore because I understand myself better today. Through long-term (yes, it's a long-term battle. You can't be cured overnight like the internet makes some of us believe) therapy, my medication and better understanding of myself, I can honestly say I feel a lot happier as compared to any point in time during the last decade.
And it's all thanks to professional therapy. This is how today that I get to live as my act goes on.
That's how you should start healing. If you can't even understand yourself enough to properly articulate your story, and your pain to others, you can't start healing. Trust me.
So please... just seek professional help
Of course, this is my story and this is my opinion.
But, I really don't want to waste words here and get all diplomatic for that would ironically reinforce the idea that I, and you can find a safe space online.
I just want to drive my point across.
I know I have been a real hard ass throughout this post, but I just think that a lot of people are trying to avoid what really matters and instead, think that their answers are all online.
Seriously, healing from mental illness takes long-term work and a professional voice educated in science and psychology would help a lot. Please don't replace it with some Instagram quote, blog article or some annoying life coach who thinks he can heal you with his cheerleading routine.
Also, I am saying, there is an alternative to healing beyond the internet.
And it consists of a large world where people really DO WANT TO HELP.
Fuck the stigma of mental illness. This is you. Your life. Get professional help. You'll be good hands as you realize people out there do give a shit about you.
Things will also be clear, and by clear, I mean fully understanding yourself and not simply replacing it with a cliched mantra you found online to repeat over and over in your head.
Please, just seek help. Ask. People really, really, do want to help.
Then, you will start healing. And one day, you can share your story too. I am certain of it.
I hope this helps. If anyone wants to chat about your problems or about life, don't hesitate to comment or drop me an email if you want it to be private: email@example.com