- Mental Health
Journey Into and Out of Depression
Into and Out of Depression
I have always been an athlete. OK, that is not actually true. I was a fat kid before puberty gifted me talent I thought I never would have. The first time I did push-ups, I did it perfectly for 30 repetitions. It freaked me out in a good way. I was also very fast, prompting the kids to call me cheetah. Oh, did I mention that I was one of the popular kids and a geek at the same time. I had the ability to pick up any game I wanted and I would instantly be good at it. I was on cloud nine and to this day I miss the view from up there.
But there was only one problem, my body was not made for the abuse an athlete goes through. I had asthma when I was kid and this worried my mom to death. Having asthma also meant that I wouldn’t be able to run long distance. But that wasn’t the worst part. I started playing tennis at the age of 15. And just as I was getting really good at it, my right wrist started to hurt. I went to the doctor and he told me that there was a lot of stress on my ligaments because of a defect in my bone. They could try an fix it but a chance of full functionality was slim. And this is when I started a downward spiral.
The news that I wouldn’t ever be able to play tennis broke me. After I returned home from tennis camp, I started playing basketball like I used to in my school days. There again, my body let me down. I twisted my left ankle so bad that the ligaments took too much of the blow. I had to be a cast for months. My inability to control my own body and do the things I loved everything I did futile. Not being able to move around restricted my daily life and I started day dreaming a lot. Day dreaming about the time I had lost trying something and failing because of reasons that was not under my control. This thought of not being in control of my own life took me to the dark side. I became extremely lazy. I started eating all the time. I would just sit in my room and watch TV shows online. I would just binge watch shows at random. When there wasn’t anything online to watch, I would just turn on the TV and watch re-runs. I became a couch potato. And my body was just getting worse and worse. At the age of 18, I looked like a man who was married and had kids. I looked like I had lost the will to live and that my wife (fictional) had just settled for a fat old man. I knew I was fat and I was embarrassed by it. But I didn’t have the will power to do anything about it. Even if I did start working out, my mother would just tell me to eat more because I was working out. In the Asian culture, if you are not eating then, you are not a man (just an excuse really). This went on for years, until I graduated from college with a degree in economics. The odd part of that is that I started working as a photographer after that. During the second year of college, I realized that I need to just leave my home, even my country. I didn’t feel like I belonged and I needed to find myself. It was at that point that I spoke with my dad and I found a way to apply for a photographer position in the US. And as luck would have it, I got the call just I finished college. It was at that point of my life that I started to revert back to my old self. In the US I was not surrounded by people who would just go along with my depressive nature. They demanded more out of me. So there I was surrounded by people who lived a fast paced life. Excuses didn’t work there and I had many. This new world pushed me to be my best self. It was hard at first but eventually, the new environment helped me a lot. A change of scenery and people helped me pick up a more positive outlook in life. I started working out and I got leaner. My confidence slowly started coming back and I have not looked back since.
Depression can come to anyone and without warning. It is a subject people are still not sure of how to approach. The symptom are quite noticeably. Like I mentioned above, a lack on interest in their own day to day existence is one symptom. Another would be an out of the ordinary appetite or even a lack of appetite. In my case, I fueled my depression using food because I found comfort in it when I couldn’t find comfort in anything else.
My journey out of depression came unknowingly. My need for a change of scenery made all the change. Just getting out of the familiar and have an external stimulus to push me to do things made me more active. This was pivotal because it was my loss of physical activity that threw me into depression. People who are depressed are very reluctant to listen to people who are closest to them. The reason is that, to the people that are closest to them are just to close. By that I mean, we can chose to ignore you. We would always feel like the victim “they just do not understand my pain”. This is why we need an external stimulus, a stranger to push us out back into reality. Depression is not something that people can over come on their own. It took me another country and the realization that what I wanted to be was not what I was at that moment in my life. It take time to get to this realization but it is possible. Fighting depression is not easy but it is possible. I found my way out and so can anyone. You just need to start by stepping out the door. In my case, leaving the country.