What Would Happen If An INFP Was Chosen To Compete In The Hunger Games

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One of my greatest peeves regarding The Hunger Games, amongst a host of others—-I’m not too fond the series, in short (Where in the world are the Asians, seeing as this is meant to be a futuristic America? Why do all the African American characters–Rue, Cinna, and Thresh–end up dead?)—is how unrealistic the tributes’ reactions are to being thrown into an arena where they are forced to fight to the death.

There are no panic attacks, no breakdowns; the kids (yes, they’re only teenagers) segue instantly into warrior-mode, and are suddenly able to kill and evade those who want to kill them without blubbering or going crazy. If you or I were actually in a situation where we were forced to fight to the death, we would most likely lose our wits, not get a surge of adrenaline and jump right into getting our hands dirty. Despite the fact that grown men who have had years of training still freeze up in the midst of battle or go crazy from the pressure and the constant exposure to carnage, all the teenagers in the book, at least while in the arena, remain remarkably sane, even after killing others, or narrowly missing death themselves.

It doesn’t make any sense.

But nevermind that. Let’s consider, as the title of this post suggests, what would happen if an INFP were to be chosen as one of the twelve tributes in the next Hunger Games.

First, once the realisation hits, one can expect a great deal of crying, with perhaps a panic attack or two thrown in for good measure. When meeting with her family, most likely for the last time, the INFP will probably sob and beg for them not to take her away, though of course, her pleas will be disregarded.

On the train ride to the Capitol she (or he, but for the convenience of this piece I’ll just refer to the INFP in question in the feminine) will most likely become very, very quiet, and sink into a deep state of existential depression, spending lots of time in her cabin, lying in bed and staring up at the ceiling, or watching the scenery stream past outside the window, pondering over the meaninglessness of death

Eventually, two things will happen. Either the INFP will resign herself to her fate, simply because she has no choice, or she will attempt suicide and then resign herself to her fate after she is unsuccessful in ending her life, not because the knife didn’t penetrate deep enough, but because she found herself unable to stick it into herself in the first place. The attempt will be conducted so secretly, and with so little success, she won’t even kept on close watch by the Capitol authorities so she isn’t able to do it again.

The Capitol is certain to disgust the INFP to a greater extent than the other tributes in the way it flaunts wealth, consumerism and exploitation. Anger will grow in the INFP at the sight of the lavish lifestyles of Capitol citizens enjoy while those living in the districts are poor and starving, smoldering like an old flame beneath her soft exterior, which she will most likely release by eating herself sick, or entertaining private fantasies of revenge.

At the training centre, where she gets a good look at the other tributes for the first time, the INFP will be highly intimidated. If you think about it, being chosen to fight in the violent Hunger Games is kind of the worst situation for a peace-loving person like the INFP to be in. Therefore she is likely to make a wide berth of the dangerous weapons most useful for survival, as well as the other tributes, perhaps even give a little shudder at the keen sharpness of the knives, and spend the sessions keeping her head down and fiddling with ropes and memorizing edible plants.

If she is a little sociable, she might attempt to convince the other tributes to move towards harmony by promising to not to kill each other in the arena and letting the Gamekeepers pick them off one by one instead. As her reasoning will go, if they refuse to kill each other, they will be able to, in their own small way, rebel against the Capitol, as it denies its citizens a good show. Some will consider the idea, but others, the more realistic, will tell her, with a little pity in their voice, that once in the arena, all promises are nothing more than air. If just one person kills, then everyone will start to kill, and the prize, a life free from economic penury, is too tantalising for everyone to resist. No-one will approach her for an alliance in advance, or pay her much attention, because she is too weak to be considered a true threat. In that assumption, they will be correct.

Likewise, during the televised interviews, the INFP is likely to be unmemorable, very shy and awkward, too anxious to reveal any of her deep-seated anger in her answers to Caesar Flickerman’s questions. Her performance in front of the judges will likely involve tying a little fancy knot, and for that, she will receive a score of 1, or 2 if it was a particularly interesting knot and the judges were feeling particularly generous and tipsy by the time it was her turn.

At this point the other tributes will see her as nothing more than a flea, easily flicked out of the way, and if there is someone else also shy and scared amongst the tributes, the INFP is sure to have sensed them and befriended them by now, because in life the frightened and awkward usually have only each other for comfort.

The night before the tributes are released into the arena, the INFP is sure to have another breakdown, a serious one this time, bordering on psychosis, because her imagination will be very good at envisioning how the next day will play out. It will most likely not have a good ending. She will try and find a way to escape, running drunkenly everywhere through the building searching for hiding places or exits, and eventually be found by Capitol staff, weeping and hysterical, and be tranquilised.

When she next awakens, she will find herself in the glass tube traveling traveling slowly upwards into the light. Again, she will become hysterical, start beating at the glass, sobbing, crying out, the thought of composure and preparing herself for the battle ahead never crossing her mind. When the tube finally rises completely into the sunshine, and the countdown begins, the INFP might, if especially brave, deliberately step off the platform early and get blown up than be killed at the hand of someone else, or forced to kill another human being.

More likely, however, when the countdown ends, she will start running for her life towards the woods. Under no circumstances would an INFP ever risk visiting the Cornucopia, as that would mean willingly putting herself in conflict. Instead, if she is not killed in the initial bloodbath, she will keep on running through the woods, crying and panting and hysterical, until she can run not a step further.

It is then, lost and broken and frightened, that she will reach an epiphany, and resolve to win the Games for the sake of her family and her district, to use her victory as a way to rebel against the Capitol. As she made herself seem less of a threat in the beginning, she will go on to evade and slyly kill the other tributes without them ever knowing what hit them, win the Games, and return home traumatized but alive.

Just kidding.

She’ll probably just try climb a tree and conceal herself amongst the foliage, or find some other hiding place inside or under some bushes. There she will stay, in her hiding place, still and quiet, too afraid to expose herself and search for food and water, and if the Gamekeepers don’t interfere, the INFP will probably die, after trying to eat leaves or bark for several days, of thirst.

Because let’s face it, the chances of an INFP winning the Hunger Games are exactly nil.

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We All Sit On The Toilet: A Meditation On Life

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In my experience, one of the best ways to stop idealising a person, any person, is to remember, as you sit on the toilet, doing your no. 1s or no. 2s, is that everyone sits in the same undignified posture and completes the same undignified act around the world, throughout history—from the richest to the poorest, the beautiful to the ugly, the famous and the unknown—and often, mind you, multiple times in one day.

There’s something existentially lonely about sitting on the toilet, especially if you’re alone in the house, or doing your business in a public cubicle. Expelling waste is a private matter, reflecting the private nature of every aspect of our lives: no-one can urinate or excrete on your behalf, just as no-one can do the work needed to be done for you, or understand you, or make you happy, except, well, you. Private moments like these—others include lying in bed staring up at the ceiling or at the wall, or looking out the window and thinking to yourself—remind us of the one fact of life: that we are, no matter how many illusions we surround ourselves with, essentially, alone. Alone in our pain. In our efforts. Alone on the hospital table, when we are born, and alone on our deathbed.

Our joys, like our suffering, unfold in the privacy of our own hearts, holding meaning only for ourselves. No-one can live for you; no-one can die in your place; in life, there are many things, like going to the toilet, that you must do on your own. The reality is that for the entire duration of your life, it’s just you, inside the prison of your mind, looking out at the world and the people in it, who are trapped inside their own prisons, through bars.

For longer than I can remember, I used to hate this fact, revealing as it did another horrible fact—namely, that, really, none of us matter a great deal except to those within our social circle, and whose lives we have touched. The rest of the world, I guarantee you, would not give a fig if you or I died, and that is the way it should be, for there are simply too many people in the world for any of us to care about the suffering and deaths of each and everyone of them. Every couple of seconds, someone in the world dies. We don’t know them, we’re alive, we still have our life to live, so we don’t care. It’s not a bad thing, if you think about it, or a good thing. It just is. If anything, it can be utilized in a positive way, the knowledge of it reminding you just how important it is to pursue the things you want, not what society wants, or what you think you should want, because you might as well do what makes you feel happy (as long as it does not involve harming other people) seeing as no-one cares what you get up to or how you spend your time, anyway.

Letting this fact truly sink in also helps to make you feel more complete in yourself, and less afraid of loneliness. One of the things people chase and yearn for most in their lives is love, often in the paradigm of a loving relationship between two adult people. We all want the security and warmth of available in a loving family of our own. It’s a primal instinct, I think, to want to pair up and have children, seeing as it is an act replicated by the millions of species of organisms present on planet Earth.

But the problem is sometimes people believe that finding the perfect spouse, having the perfect family, is enough to complete and fulfill them, when nothing could be further from the truth. Starting a family can enhance your happiness, and reduce, not eliminate, your loneliness—but the core of your happiness comes down to you, your own personal efforts, and the meaning you create for yourself in life. It’s all internal.

One thing everyone begins to understand as they grow older is that reality has its limitations. In fact, the limitations are immense. In our imaginations, the perfect relationship is surrounded by a halo of golden light, promising days of endless love and happiness, but if you were to actually be in a relationship, after a while, you would grow accustomed to the person, and they would become as ordinary to be around as your family members and friends, your fantasy replaced by the monotonous reality that exists before your eyes right this moment.

Likewise, were you to have children, initially, especially in the hospital when you first hold the baby in your arms, the experience, like falling in love, would feel very wonderful and surreal. Gradually, however, you would be accustomed to having a beautiful, little person growing up in your home, and though it would still be wonderful, it will have become normal, and lost its “spark”.

That’s the way with everything, you see. For something to retain its “spark” some delusion is necessary on part of the person experiencing it. It’s why children take so much pleasure in things, why books and films you watched as kids seem sanctified in an aura of pure magic: back then, you weren’t aware reality had its limitations, so everything you saw shot millions of sparks like fireworks. As you grow older, you realise things. You watch a Behind-the-Scenes clip of your favourite movie, and discover how very unromantic and, to be honest, a little silly, the business of acting is (you have grown-ups running around on set, yelling like headless chickens, pretending they are being chased by fire-breathing monsters). You realise your parents are people, just like you. You realise no-one can save you, because they’re all just as scared and sometimes silly as you are.

Even books, if you think about it, are a little silly—they’re written by people sitting at their desks, alone, day after day, pretending certain people and worlds exist. Growing up, then, is about seeing how magicians do the tricks, peeping behind the curtains. The magic is still there, of course, but it’s not as vivid and wonderful as it was before, when you didn’t know any better and really thought a man had just been cut in half on stage.

That is what is at the heart of the melancholy of existence, I think, this disparity between fantasy and reality. We as human beings are very good at deluding ourselves. Delusion is a necessary tool of survival. If we constantly faced reality, were constantly aware of the speck of dust which we occupy relative to the rest of the universe and the shortness of our lives, the horrors and suffering in the world, we wouldn’t be able to function in our everyday lives. Depression, I believe, is often not so much a chemical imbalance in the brain as a period when the veil of illusions so many of us wrap around ourselves is momentarily broken or torn apart for an individual, exposing them to terrifying vacuity behind it.

Yet there is beauty in melancholy, excruciating beauty. If we were honest with ourselves, suffering, the cold, the cruel and the bittersweet, is what makes us feel most alive, and connected with each other. Humanity and life is made beautiful by its pain—without it, we wouldn’t have stories of people sacrificing themselves to save others, photographs of two people hugging each other on a bed, alone together in the universe, or find laughter so beautiful and sad at the same time, or treasure and love our pets to the extent that we do. One time, I read an article describing how two people, a man and a woman, who died within seconds of each other, were unearthed many years later with their skeletons entangled and their skulls tilted towards one another, and promptly started to cry, though I could not have told you, had you asked me at the time, if they were tears of joy or grief. That’s what I mean, you see: there’s just something excruciatingly beautiful about pain and joy we all share, the same awful predicament of being frightened, sentient beings living on a lump of rock spinning out its lonely life out in the middle of nowhere that we’re all in.

We all want love, and we’re all secretly slightly unsettled by the bones that shift and twist beneath our skin, the contours of our skull and jaw underneath our faces. We all face loneliness, the disappointing nature of reality, the long dark nights, the night sky, that awful restlessness when evening approaches and everything feels sad and empty, just as we all will one day come face-to-face with the immense, overwhelming mystery of life in that moment before we die and our minds and bodies are given up to the emptiness from whence we all came. In short, we all sit on the toilet—and that’s wonderful.

20 Tips For Depressed Loners

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1. Other people—namely, your family, because friends, at least in the flesh-and-blood, are a myth—will most likely not understand your depression, and after a while, your moaning and general languor will begin to irritate them. Therefore, it is best to be sad on your own, rather than seek company for your misery.

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2. Do not overeat, using food as a substitute for company and happiness. After the deed is done, this will only make you feel worse.

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3. Often, the catch-22 loners have to face is that while they are, deep down, extremely lonely, at the same time, social contact affords such a great degree of discomfort that it’s easier just to stay by themselves. You have two options for fixing this: one is to throw yourself into your work, and the other is to try and socialise in small doses.

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4. Socialising in small doses may not work for you. For me, I find that most people usually either do not understand me, or areon a “different wavelength”, so socialising tends to make me feel more lonely than being on my own. Therefore, it is best to find a hobby or a passion, preferably something that will allow you to build up a skill to create an income further down the line, in order to distract yourself from the loneliness.

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5. Remember, loneliness is just a feeling: and more often it is fear of loneliness than the loneliness itself that causes the most pain. Everyone is lonely, and millions of people right this moment, I guarantee, are feeling just as alone and miserable. You’re not alone in your loneliness.

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6. In the midst of a depressive episode, do not, under any circumstances, engage in any self-harm, and that includes tiny forms of self-sabotage like extensive procrastination. Hurting yourself, in any way, does not relieve the pain, it just increases it.

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7. Force yourself not to dwell on the suffering in the world and the meaninglessness of life by reminding yourself that thinking about it won’t change anything, or have any impact whatsoever except to make you miserable.

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8. Write out your feelings. People who are lonely and depressed usually suffered some sort of trauma in their past. If you write about it, it can be cathartic, and healing.

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9. The self, what you call “I”, is, at least I believe this to be the case, an illusion. We are all each other, only we can experience life on a time; we are the bees, the cats, we are every person who has lived, breathed, and died, and who still lives today. Thus, loneliness is an illusion also.

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10. For those of you who are imaginative loners, who tend to idealise people and fantasize a great deal, don’t think that finding the love of your life, someone who loves you and understands you, will fix anything. It won’t. Even in a relationship, you will still sometimes get depressed, and you will still sometimes feel lonely. Loneliness is a part of the human existence, and no amount of closeness to another person can change that fact.

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11. Death is the only certainty in life. Death and taxes, as they say. With this being the case, this means that the moment of your death is what you should spend your life preparing for. For depressed loners like yourself, it’s important to see what’s really important: dying on your deathbed without regrets. Friends, family, love—these things are good. But they are not enough to bring meaning to most people’s lives. Accomplishment gives people meaning. So always have your eye on the prize, which is to die knowing you did what you wanted to do, made and created what you wanted to exist in the world.

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12. Having children won’t make you feel less lonely. I used to daydream of having the perfect little boy, who I could treasure and love, and who would love me in return. I would take him to the library, read him bedtime stories, kiss him goodnight. I had no love in my life, so this fantasy was appealing because I have a deep capacity for love, and I believed if I loved a child, unconditionally, they would shower me with affection in return. But the truth is a child won’t heal you. A child is their own person, perhaps someone with a personality markedly different from your own. Maybe they might not like reading. And most of all, a child grows up. They will turn into a stranger. Everyone does. A child is not a panacea to your woes.

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13. I am stating this again because it is so important: find your passion, find your hobby. When I write, lost in the words, in worlds, I am not lonely. I may not necessarily be happy—writing can be excruciating—but I am not lonely. I am not lonely because I am absorbed and occupied. I am not lonely because I am grappling with many different characters, it’s like trying to see into the thoughts of a roomful of people chattering into your eyes all at once. Find an occupation to lose yourself in.

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14.  Read. Escape. Write. What I don’t recommend is watching films or videos, unless they’re work-related, because watching other humans laugh, have fun, kiss, have fun with their families and play with their children will only send you into a deeper depression.

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15. Start a blog. Starting this blog was one of the best things I did for my mental health. Through this blog, I found friends, I found kindness—and most of all, I found appreciation for who I was, received gratitude from people who read my words and related to them.

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16.  Imagine yourself as someone else, if you can. This is why writing is the perfect occupation for depressed loners. By writing through the eyes of other characters, you get to escape who you are, and your own life, if only for a little while. Some people might see this kind of escapism as unhealthy. It’s not. It’s one of the best and, if you’re a writer, most productive ways to cope with the temperament you were doled at birth.

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17.  Enjoy your peace and solitude. Let’s face it, if you’re a true loner, loneliness is a small price to pay for your beloved silence. Don’t forget, you’re a loner because you like being alone, because it makes you more creative, because being around people, except for your family, for longer than a minute makes you extremely uncomfortable. So embrace it, even when it gets lonely.

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18. Remind yourself of the cardinal rule of life, which is that at the end of day, you live for yourself, and you are all you have. No-one else can write that book for you. No-one else can make you work. No-one can understand completely and utterly except you. You are your own best friend. Everyone who existed throughout the history of humanity was, deep down, alone; that, however, didn’t stop them from helping to create the world you see around you today.

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19. If you are a loner and you have family, even when they rebuff you, even if you’re not particularly close to them, be grateful for their existence. In my case, without my family, I would be homeless. Be glad you have some people in the world by your side.

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20. There are worse things than loneliness. There are worse things than depression. Compared to other people in the world, you have it very, very good, and don’t really have any right to complain. Instead, put your head down, and get to work. Oh, and sing. Singing helps.

An Essay: One Tale Of Woe, One Woman’s Life

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It’s self-indulgent, to prattle on about yourself too much, but when you’re depressed, there’s very little to probe and dwell upon except your own pain.

Perhaps I just want someone to say, “I understand the pain you have gone through”.

Perhaps no-one will read it, or give up halfway through.

Perhaps I just want to get it out of my system.

Perhaps it’s just a shout into the void, like everything else.

I don’t really know, and I don’t think it really matters. So I’ll just start writing.

I’ve touched on my father quite a few times on this blog—even wrote an entire essay dedicated to him, in an attempt to flush him out of my system; and in case you’re wondering, no, it didn’t work—which gives you an idea of how immense an influence he has not only on my everyday thoughts, but my subconscious.

You see, so much of my self-esteem problems, my anxiety, my uncertainty, my fear of the world and the people in it, can be traced back to my father, and the kind of person he was. Yes, being odd, sensitive and shy wouldn’t have made life easy for me, but it was, I am certain, his actions that had the greatest influence on how much I love myself.

Which is very little. I don’t love myself. In fact, I blame myself and hate myself almost every second of the day, and any self-help articles only end up making me blame and hate myself for blaming and hating myself. I possess a self-loathing deep in my subconscious, cemented from my interactions with my father, from seeing the way he interacted with my mother, so powerful that sometimes the pain is excruciating enough for me to want to disembowel myself. I don’t, of course. Disembowel myself, that is. The very thought makes me want to throw up, and cringe until I shrink to the size of a postage stamp. But sometimes the pain is so great that I wish I could have the courage to do it, or at least do something the equivalent of shaking and tearing apart the world, to express the agony that lies deep in my heart.

Yes, he was abusive, as I have written before. In fits of rage, he would pounce on me, while I was sitting in my room and beat me, because he could hit no-one else. Strangely enough—and I know this sounds bad; I didn’t want anyone to get beaten by him—he never hit my mother, never laid a finger on her, no matter how angry he was, nor my brother and sister (granted, they were very young back then, while I was already entering my teen years).

He only abused my mother sexually. I’ve never spoken about this to anyone, but I feel must say it, I have to say it, the pain is crawling in my gut, I must say it. I would hear it from my room. I would get panic attacks, and cower under my blanket and try to block it out. It’s awful to say this, but he would forcibly penetrate her, even when she didn’t want him to. She let him, though, some part of her let him, in order to keep him. Later on, he would abuse her emotionally, engaging in masturbation over the Internet with someone he was having an affair with, right under my mother’s nose, as if she was too stupid to know what he was doing. I would hear him doing it, even when his door was locked. I wanted to die when I heard him.

Maybe that’s another reason why sex, and everything to do with it, disgusted me for so long.

Sometimes, he’d fight with my mother, then come downstairs and scream at me for a minor transgression and use that as an excuse to hit me. I would scream, I would cry, I would beg, I would try to escape. I once locked myself in the bathroom to escape, and he, after a few bangs on the door, left me alone, just that one time. In his eyes I would see cowardice and selfishness, a man taking out his anger on his own child to release it. Maybe he was angry at himself. Maybe he was ashamed, and he didn’t know how else to feel better. He knew I knew what he was up to. I really don’t know.

For someone as sensitive and easily hurt as myself, these beatings—he would either use a shoe, or his hand—killed my soul. I can’t begin to express the agony a young girl feels when her father hits her, endlessly, mercilessly, even after you cry out that you are sorry, that you’ll be good, that you hate him, that you’ll be good, that you hate him, that you’ll be good, that you’re sorry, that you hate him.

All I wanted was love. That was it. Just love. And I never got it. He never spent time with me, never touched or hugged me, never asked about my day, never cared. My siblings got it, at least for a brief period—he used to tickle them, in his good moods, ignore them during his bad—but I never did. I grew up at the wrong time, when my parent’s relationship grew thin. Maybe I was just in the wrong place, the perfect punching bag. I don’t think I’ll ever really know, and even now, as an adult, when I think about him, I still feel like a lost and confused and hurt child. I think some part of me will be screaming in pain until the day I die over this.

What was worse, much worse than the beatings, was the fact that I did not respect him. When you lose respect for your parents, the people you are meant to look up to, you lose respect for yourself, because as a child, you see yourself as being aligned with them, soul linked to soul.

I didn’t respect him. I didn’t respect him because of the way he scrounged money, upset even when my mother asked him for some cash to buy groceries. I didn’t respect him because he abused my mother sexually, found someone over the Internet more important than us. I didn’t respect him because he only sought short-term, sexual pleasure. I didn’t respect him because he hit me. I didn’t respect him because he was selfish. His room was decked out with a stereo system, he had an iPhone, he went on expensive holidays overseas by himself, dallying with god-knows-who, yet when his own wife asked for some money to buy some groceries—begged him, more like, which made me lose respect for my mother—he would be reluctant to fork over a cent. It makes my blood boil just to think about it. And yet, I still wanted his love. Sick, isn’t it?

Funnily enough, at the time, I didn’t even recognise it as selfishness. Isn’t that strange? I thought that was just the way he was. I accepted his miserly and selfish behaviour. In a way, I also accepted the beatings. I believed they were my due, not because I believed I had done something wrong—I knew I hadn’t—but because my father needed me to vent out his anger. I was helping him. Some part of me was glad to be of use, somehow, and that, in retrospect, is a sick way to see an abusive situation.

And he just wasn’t the kind of man a woman could respect, let alone a little girl. He was like a little boy, throwing tantrums whenever he felt like it. A very strong, very tall boy, who liked to use his money to buy his own toys and didn’t want to share, thank you very much. I never had a father, really. Just a great, big bully. You can’t respect a bully, and because I couldn’t respect him, scorned him, in fact, loathed him, as a consequence, subconsciously, I didn’t respect, scorned and hated myself, for I was his progeny, after all, and identified myself with my parents.

Looking back, I feel as though his development was arrested. I feel perhaps I might have, in some way, reminded him, or resembled, someone who had hurt him in the past. I don’t know who. I don’t even know if that was the case; it’s just speculation, he’s broken off all contact so I can’t exactly ask him, and I don’t think I’d want to. All I know is he didn’t love me. This meant that, apart from my frigid relationship with my mother, who I have never felt a connection to, and my siblings, not once, in my entire life—except for perhaps the people I have reached out to in this blog—has anyone seen, appreciated, or loved me for who I am.

My self-loathing is a tangled mess. It’s disgustingly multi-layered. At school, I received no affection because I was cold, odd and quiet. At home, I received only affection from my brother and sister, who, as they grew older, began to withdraw from their love-starved sister who begged for hugs and kisses so often it was smothering. Growing up, I was so starved for love I remember once trying to glean some from a cat on the side of the road, and feeling immensely happy and gratified when it responded to my petting. That cat seemed to love me, for a brief while, in a way no-one else had: unconditionally, without malice, or worse, irritation. It’s almost funny, isn’t it? It’s funny. I was so lonely and unloved a cat was able to comfort me.

And now, as an adult, all grown-up, though not a functional member of society by any means, crippled by her sensitivities, by her anxiety, literature and writing has become a ersatz substitute for the love I never received. In my stories, often women end up loved by her newfound friends. I can’t even write about romantic relationships much of the time because it’s too painful to include a male character when I envision myself as the female protagonist.

Whenever I was attracted to boys—okay, one boy—being around him, or even spotting him, set off panic attacks. I flee from love as if it were death itself, because I know if I try to seek it out, I’ll only get rejected, as I’ve been rejected in the past by my father, by mother, by my siblings, by my classmates, the wound so deep and intense it is somewhere beyond agony, wandering around in a no-man’s land of pain. I am approval-hungry. Terribly approval-hungry. If my doctor is having a bad day and speaks a curt word with me, such as he did last time I visited him, that small slight is enough to set off firecrackers of past rejections in my head and make me want to slit myself open like a fish and let all the blood leak out so I won’t have to feel anymore.

One of the worst moments in my life was when the boy I liked many years ago, because I had chased him, or given myself away in some fashion, hiked up my skirt slightly, I think it was, or something just as madly, wildly uncharacteristic—the memory is hazy, but the shame is not—gave me some advice, cold and condescending: he told me I needed to be “more confident”, implying my timid desperation was repellent. At the time, his words only tripled the shame and self-hate. Now, knowing what I do, I wish I could have slapped him across the face.

Because he didn’t know who I was. He didn’t know my life story. He didn’t know how much I had suffered, from the moment I attended school, which was when my father turned bad, his emerging cruelty synchronised with my growing discovery of just how mean children could be.

All he saw was a strange girl, trying to be attractive, to get his attention, and failing miserably. He scorned me, like I scorned my father, like I scorned my mother, like I scorned myself. Each time he ignored me after that, it was like my heart was being tugged out of my chest, the blood vessels strung tight as pulled elastic. I would feel physically weak from the rejection. I had no support, no struts to keep myself upright. I was just a starving animal, hoping for any scraps that would come my way, too thin and weak for own my skin and bones to hold me up.

Everyone wants you to be “confident”, to “love yourself”. It makes me want to throw up, this constant touting of self-confidence as the balm for all ills. What those self-help experts don’t realise is that sometimes, loving yourself is not just the hardest thing in the world, but impossible. Sometimes, a person’s wiring gets broken.

Even when any kindness does fall into my lap, any genuine love, untainted by scorn or rejection I reject it out of hand. Back in school, one boy was actually immensely nice to me. He was quiet and introverted like myself, kept to the fringes. He tried to talk to me. I think he might have even liked me. He was sweet, a little desperate. And I scorned him, because it felt good to be the one doing the rejecting for once. I felt a bitter pleasure in rejecting him. It made me feel better about myself, if only briefly, though I feel only guilt now. I wasn’t in the least attracted to him; my heart only yearns for young men with an abusive and selfish streak.

But this incident made me feel afraid. I don’t know my capacity for evil, how far I will go to hurt someone in the hopes that doing so will relieve my own pain. I am afraid of turning cold and cruel myself, just to cope, just to feel strong for once, to eternally reject people before they reject me.

I wonder if I am too broken to fix. I mean it. I really mean it. Behind the words you read on this blog is a very sad, introverted and neurotic young woman, who, if you were to meet in real life, most likely would not like very much. I’m very cold, outwardly, almost robotic, lifeless, especially around strangers. I’m quite pretty when I smile, but I hardly ever do, so therefore I know I must seem ugly to anyone I come across. And I can’t help it, the coldness. It’s just what I’ve become. And I don’t want to be that. But I think maybe sometimes there are some emotional wounds you can’t heal, just like there are physical wounds doctors shake their heads at after taking one look at them. I think maybe I’ve taken the mental equivalent of a bullet to a vital organ. I think I might die crying. I think I’ll die unloved.

Of course I am glad I am creative, my creativity is something I would never give up; but at the same time I can’t help but feel that it’s another lid hammered into the coffin of loneliness. I will get published, there is no uncertainty in regards to that, it’s just a matter of time, but even if I were to be showered with literary accolades, or simply able to make a living from my writing, receive emails from happy readers, it wouldn’t be enough to heal the hole inside me. Writing will bring me admiration and respect, but not love.

I guess in a way the act of writing, of telling stories involving imaginary people, often with the main protagonist finding love from other women than men is a way to compensate for the relationships I never had. For the acceptance and I loved I never received. Seen in that light, even my writing is a pathetic act, a young woman living in a world of dreams where everything is warm and loving, escaping from the world where real love lies, when in truth, she’s sitting alone in her room, typing away, enjoying the company of people who only exist inside her head, and whose warm touch she will never feel in actuality.

Through my writing, I can fool myself into thinking I am loved. I can pretend I am loved by retreating into my imagination. But the bed, when I climb into it at the end of day, is always cold and empty. I cry, but the tears do little to relieve me. It doesn’t matter, though. Suffering doesn’t have a point. Just ask the pigs at the slaughterhouse. Just ask the millions of people who have died horribly throughout history. There’s no home. No happiness. Only delusions.

Depression: What It’s Like

Today has been a terrible day, and, once again, I feel as though I am dying.

The depression makes me feel as though every cell in my body is shriveling up, each emitting a tiny, inaudible scream of expiration as they do so. It is all that exists, all that is. It is not darkness. It is just pure suffering, unalloyed, untarnished. It is a cry of agony, frozen, forever trapped in the body.

I feel as though if I breathe the wrong way, I will die.

At times like this, I can understand why otherwise intelligent people might decide to kill themselves. It is agony. Each word I type right now is an immensity of effort, one more step made my Sisyphus as he pushes the boulder up the great slope.

I don’t want to die, but I want to die.

I don’t want to live. The happiness of other people is a constant source of confusion for me, because never in my everyday life am I happy. Should I be loved, wealthy, celebrated, have my every wish and dream granted, when the sun sets, and the night encroaches, the depression will still return to grin at me from the shadows. It reeks of petroleum. It is warm, and dark. It likes me. Oh, it likes me. It likes me so much it kisses my face, invades my every orifice. Even when the writing is going well—which is, let’s face it, only the case once in a blue moon—it’s still there, whispering to me about loneliness, about women who are found dead in their homes with their faces half-chewed by their cats, about manuscripts languishing in drawers unpublished, about the love I will never receive, the comfort I will never have, the children I will never bring up.

You see, I’ve always felt as though I’ve been looking through a glass-paned window at other people, pressing my fingertips to the cold glass in mute yearning for their joy. Other people have structures to base their lives around: marriage, children, work, family, friends; and that seems enough to satisfy them. Yet I have never felt more lonely in the past than amongst so-called friends, never more dissatisfied while spending time with family. Were I to have children, I am afraid they would be boisterous and cold, unable to see into the depths of my heart, so it would be like bringing up a stranger’s offspring. Besides, the chances of my entering a relationship with someone whose glance pierces my soul is as likely as the moon unhinging from the sky tonight. I’m an alien, trying to glean love from humans, an impossibility because they are not the species to which I belong to.

Writing did not go well today. That has contributed to this sudden, severe bout of depression. I saw my dreams evaporate in front of my very eyes. I wanted to scream, tear down the skies like ragged curtains to condemn the world to the same darkness residing within me. Instead, I grit my teeth, struggling through my own private world of pain and suffering, as we all do. People often scratch their heads and wonder, “Why did they kill themselves? How could someone be miserable enough to take their own life? Did they just do it for attention?”

No, dingbat. Death is not a theatrical affair; instead, it is cold, and it is empty. It is very meaningless. People die, new people are born—so the world goes. They kill themselves because their emotional pain is as excruciating as someone cutting them to pieces slowly, softly, lovingly, plucking out an eyeball here, carving off a square of flesh there, yanking out a tongue, slicing off a toe. The pain is immense. The pain is self-hatred. The pain is knowing you will never be worth anything. The pain is thinking you are not talented enough, don’t have the grit, the “magic” ingredient, to achieve and succeed. The pain is loneliness. The pain is the knowledge of emptiness of existence, life a brief flicker of light that winks out in less than second. The pain is loneliness, not just that no-one loves you and you perhaps don’t love anyone yourself, but that no-one will ever understand you, your heart an eternal mystery begging to be opened and explored.

The pain is going to sleep hoping this will be the last time you see the world, and the pain is when you wake up the next morning, forced to face another day. The pain is the present, the future, the past. When depression hits, the pain is everything, from the first explosion of matter and energy to the tiny squiggles of light at the edges of the universe.

There’s no hand I can hold except my own, and I’m not dumb enough to fool myself thinking it’s someone else’s hand.

Time: My Mortal Enemy

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I have a big problem with Time.

Time and I do not get along.

For one thing, it always insists on going much too fast, even when I scream at it to slow down, which generally only makes it go even more quickly, because Time, like an irritated toddler, is vindictive like that.

It also has a habit of making the days blur together, into a shapeless, unending dream, without a tail or an end. It makes it feel as though nothing is real, our lives just memories inside our heads, moments leaping over one another like a colony frogs, always forging ahead before you can catch one of them.

I want to put my head out of the train hurtling down the tracks, and say “Stop! Stop! Stop now, or I shall tear out my own liver!” just to jolt Time into letting me have a moment to breathe, a little temporal nullity where I can just do nothing, just hang there, in some white, glowing emptiness, breathing in, breathing out, safe in the knowledge that life will only start when I return to it.

There’s no “pause” button to life, is what I’m saying. In real life, you can’t take breaks—at least not without suffering for it. In real life, taking breaks, procrastinating, putting off the things that truly matter, lead to guilt, despair, self-hatred, and the overwhelming fear of not accomplishing the things you must before you die. At least, it does for me, and my anxious brain.

I’m so frightened all the time. My heart is exhausted from the constant, high-tension anxiety flittering through it all day, and often all night, too, as the agitation often invades my dreams. That’s one of the joys of being neurotic: there’s always something to be deathly afraid of, always something to be worried about, death, destruction, loneliness, your health, your family, your future, the world, the suffering. And the knowledge of time multiplies all suffering, because it reminds us we have only so long to heal or rectify them, to soothe our souls and put balms to our wounds.

Even as I write this, I am frightened to death at how quickly Time is passing. All we have is the present moment, as they say, which means life is nothing more than unending series of different “presents”, which means that one day, I will look around at the room I’m standing in, or up at the sky, and I’ll be old, and I will have lived a life, nevermind whether it was a good one or not, and that will be my present, my new ordinary, an old body, an old mind—that is, if I’m lucky enough to reach that age (the thought of dying young also keeps me awake at night; the world is full of dangers, after all, and you can’t predict what may happen).

As a five-year-old, I remember, very clearly, trying to imagine myself as an adult, one of those great galumphing giants waltzing around the place who seemed to know everything, and failing miserably. And yet, well, here I am, and being an adult feels just as ordinary as being a kid. And that’s frightening, how easily the years creep up on us, how quickly we grow accustomed to new situations, new states, that supplant our old “normal”. I moved quite recently, but already it is beginning to feel as though I’ve lived here, in my new home, for all eternity, the old place just a distant memory. The present is a tiny eternity, life is eternities within eternities, and it’s scary, because it’s hard to wrap your head around, and it means one day your tiny eternity will be (again, if you’re lucky) lying old and aged in a bed, on the brink of leaving this kind of forever for a different one.

I think my all-encompassing anxiety, every little squirm and wriggle of my neuroses, from the fear of anything unsanitary to the fear of Time, comes down to, as it does for most humans, my fear of death. Why do I cringe hard enough to fold myself into myself whenever the toilet is flushed because I read somewhere that the flushing motion expels thousands of tiny particles of liquid waste from the toilet bowl up into the air, for instance? Apart from the fact that ingesting excrement isn’t a pleasant thought, I fear it because it is dirty, and I subconsciously fear dirt and uncleanliness because it has the potential to lead to disease and sickness, which can kill you. I fear Time because it will kill us all, in time. Our minds hate being alone and without affection because in the past, if we were by ourselves for too long, it meant we had been abandoned or banished by our tribe, and therefore would most likely die. Even my visceral disgust at eating meat is, in a certain way, related to my fear of death: I don’t want to eat flesh from a dead body, flesh that would be very similar to mine if I were to die and chunks of me placed into an oven to be cooked.

Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about death; it will arrive whether we scream or beg or cry or sigh or laugh or smile or bargain (unless your Voldemort, that is, but even he kicked the bucket eventually), which means, again unfortunately, at least for myself, that one must experience panic attacks and breakdowns until one is dead. However it also reminds us of how we need to concentrate on what we can control—how we spend our time when we are living—so as to die without the anxiety of knowing we did not do the things we wanted to do while we lived. You’ll be frightened out of your wits when you’re on your deathbed (if your faculties still remain sharp and strong enough to feel or understand anything, that is–I know, always the optimist, I am), I can guarantee you that, but accomplishing what you want and need to do in this lifetime will mean one tiny satisfaction to hold onto for comfort when the time comes to leave.

Nevertheless, if anyone by chance discovers how to stop Time like Molly Moon, I would be much appreciated if you dropped me a line. It needs a good telling-off, in my opinion, for running around without a care for anyone except himself.

 

 

Your Feelings of Inadequacy Are Legitimate, and Often Not Your Fault–But Remember, You Are Already Very Blessed

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For years, I blamed myself for having excruciatingly low self-esteem. Everyone else was happy, capable, confident, self-assured—why not me? Something was wrong with me. I had done something wrong.

Now, I know better.

Reasons for my low self-esteem:

  1. An unaffectionate and father abusive both towards his wife, my mother, and myself, who abandoned me just as I was entering the last phase of adolescence. He never told me I was beautiful or worthy, never touched me, never showed any interest in my life, and only interacted with me to hit me as punishment for transgressions, or because he was upset himself and wanted to take it out on someone. Because of him, I feel a constant, deep-seated sense of uncertainty, insecurity and fear in regards to men, other people, and the world.

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2.  was born extremely introverted and awkward, and rejected, more times than I remember, for being too quiet, too shy, bullied, shunned, excluded at every turn. I was also born a very highly sensitive person which multiplied any pain that came my way a thousandfold.

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3. I was born creative. In order to be creative, you have to be different, have a “caterpillar in your brain”, see the world from an odd slant, be idiosyncratic. To be creative is to be deeply, deeply lonely. It is the price you pay. And if you’re weird, you experience more rejection, which, need I say, does nothing for your self-esteem.

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4. I was born Asian in a society dominated by Caucasian faces in the media, in books, in positions of power, resulting in my struggling with identity and self-hate issues for many years.

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5. I was born a woman, with traditionally “womanly” traits, like empathy and a highly-developed intuition, downplayed in the world based on logic and efficiency around us today. And of course, women, because of the pressure to be intelligent and beautiful, often suffer from higher levels of low self-esteem than men.

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6. I suffer with anxiety and depression, and relate to Female Asperger’s traits.

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7. All my life, I have struggled with money issues—namely, there not being enough of it. The situation worsened after my father left, as he didn’t leave any money for my mother, who had worked as a housewife. This has had far-reaching effects on my self-esteem because I was always ashamed to tell friends what my parents did for work, and often the social standing of your parents and the respect they are given in society mold how you feel about yourself. Having well-off, kind, and emotionally mature parents gives you an immense advantage in life—instead, I had an abusive father, a mother who catered to her husband’s every whim, and constant problems with paying the rent, the insecurity of moving from place to place.

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So. It’s quite a list. From now on, I will try to remember the circumstances of my life before I start mentally whipping myself mercilessly until my heart cries out in agony for being uncertain, unsure, not confident, so stupid, so unlovable. But these disadvantages do not determine my life. They can be advantages, as well.

Reasons to feel good about myself and my life:

  1. Creativity is a valuable skill, immensely necessary for success as a true, original artist.

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2. Being introverted, anxious and mostly housebound means I have more time and energy, at least when I’m not depressed, to devote to my passions, and to learn, grow and work hard on my own terms.

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3. I am proud of my Asian identity. I believe I am beautiful, inside and out, even when I sometimes don’t, regardless of my ethnicity, just like everyone else is. Straddling two different cultures allows me to see the world in a different way, and broadens my mind and experience.

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4. How some people treat me, with rejection and scorn, is not indicative of how everyone in the world might treat me.

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5. I will always have writing, and I will always have books, and I will always have the power and beauty of the imagination—those things, unlike my father, can never leave me. All the pain in the world is worth one day holding my published books in my hands. For the sake of writing, and one day being an established writer, I can endure any agony under the sun.

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6. I am lucky enough to have food, shelter and clean, drinking water, as well as Internet access. I have been educated, I can read and write. I am, compared to millions in the world, very, very privileged, and very, very wealthy.

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If you suffer from low-self esteem, and blame yourself for it, I encourage you to make a list like this one. The next time I feel bad for feeling bad about myself, I’ll just remember that the reasons why I feel bad, the combination of everything listed above, dosed with extreme sensitivity, are legitimate. If you dig deep, you’ll find there are true, very legitimate reasons behind your feelings of inadequacy, even if you are privileged in certain respects. The world is full of abuse, cruelty, standards, and very few of us emerge from it unharmed, but one must not forget that, in a world of seven billion people, we are often already very, very blessed.

My Experience As An Asian-Australian Woman

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No. The person in the picture is not me, in case you’re wondering. It just happened to be the best picture I could find for this article which was not copyrighted, and I’d rather not reveal my identity by putting my face, beautiful though it may be, up on the Internet for all to see. Besides, look at his shirt–a kangaroo! It was synchronicity, it was fate, I tell you.

I am Asian. Specifically, Asian-Australian, though if anyone were to ask for my nationality, I would simply say, “Australian”.

Race is important in this world, because people judge others based on what they look like. The greatest tragedy of the world, in my opinion, is that who we are on the outside does not have any bearing on who we are on the inside. You are your mind, your soul—not your body, not your looks, not your skin. Yet, either because of the media, or the way society is set up, we consciously or unconsciously judge each other based on outward appearances. What’s more, different appearances carry different judgments. Someone who is black, and buff, might be construed as threatening. Someone thin and of average height like myself, wearing glasses, might be considered a “nerd”.

This part of my identity has led to much suffering. Growing up in Australia, back when immigrants were just starting to flow into the country, I attended a school where each class was perhaps 85% Caucasian, and 15% other ethnicities, ranging from Asian, to Indian, to Aboriginal. In primary school, I experienced no discrimination due to my race, except for when I was mistakenly placed in ESL English in my first year because they thought I couldn’t speak English. That all changed when I moved to a different state, and started attending a school where the level of minority groups was much higher, as it was an area with a greater immigrant population—each class was perhaps 75% Various Ethnicities, and % Caucasian. Mind you, every single person in these classes was Australian, born in the country, spoke the language, grew up watching Playschool on television, regardless of what they looked like. Yet in this new state, things were different. It was almost as though the increase in the “minority” population had started to make some Caucasian Australians nervous, afraid of being “taken over”. In Australia, there’s this secret desire, amongst certain Caucasians, to keep Australia true-blue Aussie—in other words, white, despite the fact that the colour of your skin or whether you use chopsticks or fingers or your hands or a knife and spoon when you eat dinner determine whether you are a “true” Australian or not. Legally, you are an Australian if you were born in the country. Unfortunately the image of the proper Australian as being sun-kissed, blonde, and blue-eyed still persists, in Australia and overseas.

Towards this end—that is, maintaining the “whiteness” of the country, which is, do I have to say it, an extremely racist thing to do, especially considering we are all immigrants, except for perhaps the Aboriginal Australians, who lived on this land for thousands of years before the first settlers arrived—people have been very creative. For instance, everywhere, in increasing numbers, I see Australian flags being flown, from flagpoles, gardens, cars. In some countries, this might seem patriotic. Not necessarily here. The Aboriginal Australians have a flag, but you don’t see it flying from anywhere. No. The Australian flag, with its blue colour, its union jack, sends a very clear message: this is our turf, unless you’re Caucasian, or born in Australia and therefore properly assimilated (and even then, you’re only perhaps halfway Australian, at best), get off our territory. On Australia day young men have been known to wear it like capes and hurl racial insults at passers-by. Every time I see one—I saw one just yesterday, while sitting in the car; it was flapping beside a front door—I feel a quiet jolt, and not a nice jolt. I wondered how it would feel if I were Aboriginal Australian, and saw that flag, flying everywhere, staking out the territory.

But this silent racism extends to more than just flags. Australian TV is dominated by Caucasian faces, everything from advertisements to the News; should you turn the television on here in Down Under, you would most likely be surprised to be told that we are, in fact, a multicultural society. Representation, on television, in the media, is crucial for affirming one’s racial identity. If you don’t see yourself represented, then the implicit message, sent to your subconscious, is that people who look like you are not beautiful and do not matter. This is one of the reasons why I stopped watching Australian television years ago.

I have also been subject to instances of racism as I got older, which, for someone who desperately wanted to belong, was highly anxious, and hurt by the slightest bit of rejection from anyone, were searingly painful. A boy in a class, many years ago, once told me he ate yesterday’s dinner, pizza, the next morning, for breakfast. I expressed some mild shock at this—after all, for someone health-conscious like me, pizza for breakfast was the equivalent of pouring engine oil down one’s throat and calling it milk. I was anxious about coming up with the answer, as I had rarely spoken to him before. He then replied, “Well, it’s what Australians do,” before asking another Caucasian student to affirm that she also often ate last night’s dinner for breakfast a lot of the time. This implied two things, particularly due to his accusatory tone: 1) He was more “Australian” than me because he did this supposedly “Australian” thing and 2) I was less of an Australian, because I was Asian. If I had been Caucasian, I doubt he would have even made such a comment.

I wish I could have told him, though I was too stung at the time to say a word (repressed resentment is big problem for social anxiety suffers; we often can’t stand up for ourselves verbally) that 1) There is no such thing as an “Australian” habit, because Australians come from all walks of life and are all different; it’s just as Australian to use chopsticks as to eat meat pies and 2) Really, eating pizza for breakfast isn’t healthy. But at the time, I just let it go, sitting there, stunned and rejected after my attempt at social interaction.

My aunt once told me I was lucky that, as an Asian, I had large and “pretty” eyes. It would give me an advantage in society. Only later did I realise it was because large eyes are considered a stereotypically Caucasian feature, and therefore valued. Having “small” eyes would mark you out even further as an outsider. And it’s true. Dami Im, Korean-Australian pop singer, winner of Australian idol some time ago, on her recent album, had her eyes photoshopped to appear preternaturally large compared to her real ones. She has gained little popularity in Australia because she is Asian; after winning, many racists tweets darted her way. This preference for larger eyes is ingrained in the subconscious of anyone who has grown up in a Western society, consuming Western media. Large eyes are beautiful. Small eyes are not. This is racist, and it’s even worse because sometimes the racism can become internalized, causing Asian-Australians to dislike their features.

Little things add up. The way a person behind the counter—this was before my mental health worsened—would cheerily greet a tall Caucasian woman when she came through the door, but ignore me, or say “Thank you, come again” to everyone except me, thrusting the bag containing my purchase over the counter as though it were something to be got rid of. The way a man at a store kept correcting my words, even though what I was saying was perfectly fine. How a woman on a street stopped me to ask, while I was wearing my school uniform, if I spoke English—she was an American tourist, I believe—before inquiring for directions. The way certain people would downplay any of my literary achievements, both students and teachers, trying to “keep me down”.

Remember, throughout all this, I was, underneath, an anxious, hysterical, exhausted, and depressed mess. I was suicidal, because I was sensitive, because I was introverted, and had been pretending, pretending for so long, that I was normal and that I was okay. The racial rejections just made it worse. All these micro-aggressions, piled up over the years, did nothing to help improve my confidence or self-esteem or my mood.

The problem of race even extends over to what I consider my last bastion of hope in the world: books and films. Art. My favourite movies as a child were the Barbie movies: Barbie and the Princess and the Pauper, Barbie as Rapunzel, Barbie as Nutcracker. They are—and I kid you not—works of art, masterpieces, as genius as Studio Ghibli films. They were beautiful, and I loved them, and I watched them, over and over again, almost obsessively. Even today, I can still song the songs, still remember the lines of the characters, every scene etched deep into my mind. I was wonderstruck by them. They shaped my imagination.

Yet, beautiful as these films were, I didn’t know the damage I was doing to myself. Like any little girl who watched the films, I wanted to be Barbie. She was well-spoken, elegant; she got the Prince, so she was desirable; she was beautiful, flawless, intelligent. But she didn’t look like me. Other girls at school looked like Barbie, with their bright blue eyes, and flowing blonde hair, and at least some of them had brown hair, like other female characters in the films. I didn’t. I had black eyes, and wavy black hair, not even straight like Barbie’s, and though I’m not ugly, at the time, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I didn’t look like Barbie.

In fact, none of the characters I read or watched were Asian. Anne of Green Gables, Mary from The Secret Garden, Polyanna, Little Women, Peter Pan, Beatrix Potter books, Roald Dahl books, Enid Blyton books, Felicity Wishes—and on and on it went. The damage, for a long time, was deep. I still haven’t fully recovered. Through films and books, I learned that only Caucasian men were handsome and desirable. Therefore, subconsciously, to be more like “Barbie”, more like Anne of Green Gables, more like all my favourite characters, more like the women on television, in Hollywood movies, the strong and the beautiful, I only had crushes on Caucasian males (and once an Indian boy, because, well, he was cute), shunning Asian males because they did not affirm my subconscious beautiful, elegant and intelligent young lady—you could only be a princess if you had the right prince, after all, and, as an INFP, I was ridiculously idealistic about that sort of thing. Boys, however, no matter the race, never paid me any attention, probably because I faded into the background while the other girls swished their hair and laughed all the time, so that, on top of my already internalized self-hate, tore down my self-esteem even more.

The healing process has been, in the last few years, as I grew aware of how I had been brainwashed, has been remarkably fast. If you want to reduce your racism, whether directed at yourself, or at others, the best way to do this is to watch films from other countries, or movies with diverse casts. Asian actresses Gong Li, Zhang Ziyi, Arden Cho, Jamie Chung, Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, as well as their supporting Asian male cast members, all helped me to learn to take pride in my Asian identity, the ethnicity given to me at birth. I watched Indian films, films starring African Americans. I watched Aboriginal films. I started to watch Youtubers from all different backgrounds.

I started to change my view of the world, and my ideas of beauty., and therefore my ideas regarding myself. Today, I am not attracted to anyone purely based on their race. Any man from any race can be attractive, and the same goes for women. My own brother is living proof of that—he’s quite good-looking, especially as he’s growing into a young man, though I would never admit it to his face, and I’m sure he, as someone without anxiety or any social problems, will do just fine with the ladies. And I fully embrace my ethnicity–really, if I’m not reminded about it in the form of any mistreatment, I often forget what I look like to others, my gender, my ethnicity, my face: I’m just me.

Minority groups, in terms of representation in media, especially Asians, still have a long, long way to go. Most Hollywood movies do not have diverse casts. Most children television shows in Australia do not have a diverse cast. Australian TV is still deeply, deeply racist. Most Disney movies showcase Caucasian characters. Most books features Caucasian protagonists and characters. I don’t have anything against any particular race whatsoever—what I dislike is unequal representation, exclusion, stereotyping, sidelining. People from all different races deserve to be represented as lead characters. They deserve to be shown characters that look like them through the entertainment they consume, or are encouraged to consume. They deserve to be represented in a positive light—and not just Asian people, but all races, especially African American men and women, and Aboriginal men and women, who are, arguably, even more marginalised than marginalised groups. If homosexual people can gain such progress—think Ellen DeGeneres (though if she were not Caucasian, would she have achieved such success, as an openly gay TV presenter?) in society, then so can all racial groups. It’s getting quite old, this business of pretending some people, just because they were born with particular features at birth, are more important, more beautiful, more worthy or better than others.

Hey, I know this is a serious topic. At the same time, it’s also quite a silly one, because we’re all human, and it’s so silly, to differentiate people like this. But I’d be lying if I said my identity, as an Asian woman—you know, like I said, sometimes I even forget I’m Asian, and what I look like, but the world has a habit of reminding me; just a week ago, the lady at the doctor’s who was drawing my blood asked me where I was born, even though I was anxious and I didn’t want to talk—hasn’t coloured my life, my experiences, and my view of the world. I wish I could just sit in my little cave, wrapped up in a dreamer’s ignorance, but I can’t. This is one facet of the real world I must face. I want to live in a world where saying you are “Chinese” or “Korean” creates just as nice of an impression as saying you are “French” or “Russian”. Yes, it’s just skin, in the end, but it’s very important skin because of the value people place on it.

Of course, as a writer, I will doing my own bit to inject diversity into literature by featuring characters from all races and backgrounds in my stories. Oh, it’s just so silly, don’t you think? We are our insides, not our outsides. It’s so very silly. But frankly, compared to my mental health issues, being Asian in the modern world is a piece of cake—that, however, is a topic for another time. In some later posts, I will be writing about the discrimination you will face if you are an extreme introvert, a creative, or highly sensitive. INFPs, for instance, who are introverted, sensitive, and creative, are often mistreated by other people, and discriminated against due to their personality (I think it’s because we’re soft and shy and easily flustered, and that makes us an easy target, or some people just find us childish, strange, or immature and don’t respect who are). The more we talk about issues, and get our voices out there, the better it will be. The more we heal, the more others will.

 

On Writing, Breakdowns and Psychologists

 

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On some days, the writing flows. It’s easy, it comes out of your pen as freely as water, forming a lagoon of creative joy on the page. You sit down, and you write, and the world is a good place.

Then there are the other days. It’s like a desert inside your skull, without even vultures to sway, old and leathery, in and out of your ears. The ink in your pen seems to have clotted like blood. Nothing comes out. Nothing.

For those without anxiety, or hideously high standards for themselves, they might sigh a little, then shrug it off as simply a bad day and go take drink, with the intention of returning some time later to see if things have improved. Or they might plow on forwards, even when nothing good is appearing on the page, to keep their butt in the chair and maintain good habits.

On the other hand, if you do have anxiety, or high standards, or are perfectionistic to the point of excruciation, or all three (because they’re linked to one another, after all, like conjoined triplets) you won’t be able to do those things.

Nope.

Instead, you will proceed, almost systematically, to rip yourself apart as mercilessly as hungry wolves.

First, the panic sets in. Panic, however, is too small a word for what such agitation feels like. It’s as though your entire body transforms into this tremendous itch you must scratch, but cannot. This flustered state is extreme enough to make you contemplate skinning yourself alive, or bashing yourself against the wall until you are nothing but lumps of jellied flesh and broken, blood-splashed bone. You want to tear off your own face. Pluck out your eyeballs like fruit. Scream until your intestines come flooding out from your mouth in a tangled, steamy mess.

Instead, you just moan and groan, cradling your head in your arms, like a wounded animal.

Actually, sometimes, you don’t even do that. You don’t do anything. You just sit there, in stupefied agony, as the lava surges up through the channels within you, hot and burning.

Two things can happen after this, as it does deep beneath us, in the earth’s crust. One is that, well, you erupt. This is bad. People around you get buried in the falling ash and pyrotechnic flow of your breakdown. For me, this is rare, because I have learned to bottle in my emotions at home, even when I feel like blood will begin spurting from my eyes if I keep anything in for a second longer, because if I don’t, I will most likely get kicked out of the house. There’s nothing like the threat of homelessness to make your daughter behave.

Two, I start crying. It’s best, in my home, to do this secretly, and silently. Also, I don’t like crying in front of people in general, family members included. My psychologist saw me cry once after some emotional probing on her part, and I still resent her a little for it. Outwardly, I am a very closed-off, private person, which is why writing is such a wonderful outlet for me. But, yes, back to the weeping. Places to go to conceal my crying are limited when my family are at home. Generally I just end up locking myself in the bathroom, or planting my face into the pillow so it soaks up all my misery. In this case, they’re not tears of sorrow. They’re not tears of anger. They are literally tears of sheer anxiety, agitation and thwarted perfectionism. My emotions are so strong and unfettered—no, I don’t have bipolar disorder, I checked, just “emotional regulation problems”, you’d be surprised how at how much crying in bathrooms this has led to in the past—that long periods of crying is often the only way to release them. I can’t control it. And it’s not only when I’m anxious. If I’m lonely, I cry, if I’m depressed, I cry, if I’m angry, I cry, very hard indeed, and if my anxiety reached a crescendo, you guessed it—waterworks. I can make myself crying just by imagining tragic scenarios. Even joy, though it doesn’t bring on tears, has in the past made me feel as though my chest would explode. By now, I’m so accustomed to this reaction my body has to mid-to-extreme emotions that it’s almost as mundane as washing my hands, except much more unpleasant.

After all the water possible has been squeezed out of my eyes, I am drained. I often feel as though I have less energy reserves than most people do. They were born with great, fat batteries inside them, each one filled to the brim with liquid green goodness, while I was born with a tiny one that depletes in seconds, and takes hours to refill—hence my zero tolerance for socialising. At this point, I am too tired to even worry about what triggered the breakdown in the first place, and end up rolling over to rest.

So. That’s what happens when The Writing is going horribly. It is, in fact, what happens when anything is going horribly. Now that you are all aware that this blog is being written by a madwoman, I won’t blame you if you choose to seek out reading material from more sane and sanitary sources. Funnily enough, my post on sex, giving birth and excretion received no likes and very few views (usually I don’t check Stats, but for this one, out of curiosity, I did). I have yet to determine whether this is a reflection of the prevalent social repulsion I wrote about, or simply because the subject material was too “filthy” to have been written by a dreamer like myself. I don’t regret writing it, though—for me, it was important to get it out of my system, and understand my own thought process and reaction to the basic facts of life.

As for any other recent news, apart from my small breakdown this morning, well, I am beginning to dig in my heels when it comes to seeing the psychologist. The sessions are one-hour long, often with plenty of homework to complete afterwards, pages and pages of useless and mind-numbing “fill-in-the-bubble” questions and childish mind-maps. There’s even a well-placed smiley face on every second page. My mother, as you might expect, is not happy.

But it’s just getting to the point where it’s too draining, especially since I feel no emotional connection when I’m with the woman. She’s cold and bright as ice. The psychological exhaustion I feel after returning home is bone-deep. Their services are government funded and free, though, so I can’t use the desire to save money as an excuse. Since they’ve been established to cater to 12-25 year olds, and I’m not 25 yet, I can’t use age as an excuse, either. I might have to resort to hanging myself to get out of going to the sessions and to escape my mother’s fury. In effect, my psychologist is making me suicidal—O, the irony.

Loneliness Makes Me Procrastinate

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Loneliness often makes me procrastinate, as it did today.

Usually I keep quite a strict schedule, mostly to beat back depression and to make the neurotic, orderly part of my brain happy, but today, I did not.
Part of the “aim” of my blog, the true motivation behind it, is not only to feel less alone myself, but help others feel less alone in their pain, in their suffering and their thoughts by writing things people might be able to relate to. So let me tell you, then, about my ordinary, little day, as little me—one human, in a sea of seven billion.

I woke up this morning, in the room I share with the rest of my family—they were, as usual, still asleep—feeling bad. I hadn’t slept well, which happens often. I felt as though I hadn’t slept at all, even though I had. It was the dreams. I dream so much sometimes I wake up tired instead of refreshed. When you have anxiety, deep, restful sleep is almost an impossibility. So I lay there, feeling desperately anxious about something I could not pinpoint, desperately lonely and miserable for no exact reason. It was the world, it was me. It was the imperfection, the blood, the dirtiness, inside and out. It was Time, the way it passes so quickly, carrying life on its back, dream-like. It was an awfulness tucked underneath another awfulness, metal slipped beneath skin. I often wake up feeling as though I want to die. It’s what my psychologist calls depression; I believe it to be a natural reaction to being alive, and aware.

I knew, however, that if I did not get up, I would most likely lie there for hours in a stew of misery, wasting the very time I wished to hold onto. Besides, I had therapy to undertake, a word count to hit. So I dragged what felt like my disintegrating, rotting carcass out of bed, across the bedroom, and into the bathroom. I brushed my teeth, staring at my reflection in the mirror with the cracks in the left corner. Then I went to the toilet, pulled the metal chain in this new place of ours dangling from a white compartment above the actual toilet itself—old as it is, I like it much better than the buttons on the toilet in our old home—hearing the rushing noise as levers activated, sending the water whirling away down the bowl in a gurgling rush.

Then I had breakfast, milk and cereal. It tasted of nothing, mere wet mush in my mouth, but, as with dragging myself out of bed, if I did not do it, I would not be able to have energy to get through the day. Anxiety and panic attacks consumes calories like nobody’s business.

Then the rest of my family woke up, my mother went out to buy groceries, without saying much to anyone. Then I went out, too. This was a lengthy process. I had to arm myself with earplugs, sunglasses to protect myself against the world’s glare, put on a jacket with a hood, just for the extra possible protection it affords. I had to arm my mind, even though I can never feel completely prepared. And then I went out. Alone. My brother watched me go. Later on that day my mother would most likely interrogate me, and then my sister and brother, to confirm I gone out and continued my ongoing therapy.

I walked around the neighbourhood, down the streets, where there were quite a few people passing through, quite a few cars. Each time it happened, anxiety tightened my body. I walked for around ten minutes, which is my limit, before returning home. Just that small frame of time spent outside had drained me tremendously. I felt like the skin on my face had grown old and withered from the strain, like I wanted to blot the world out, to huddle in the darkness, deep inside my own mind, for eternity.

Instead, I just lay on my bed, and rested.

That was when the loneliness began. The seed was planted while outside, when I passed a family on the sidewalk. They seemed so happy. The father was acting like a goof to make the kid laugh, almost as adorable as the child himself. The tableau—mother, father, child no older than three toddling between them—struck inside me first a high, sharp note of joy, then a deep, discordant, long note of envy and despair at the thought that such a happiness was most likely closed to me. Apart from my family, who, amongst all the people I had met over the course of my life, had loved me, liked me, even? No-one. I remembered school, and how alienated and isolated I had felt. The bathrooms I hid in, to cry, and to think. Suddenly, looking back on my life, all I saw was a constant steady stream of rejection, loneliness, isolated, self-hatred, excruciating sensitivity, the accumulated agony of it blinding me from the ceiling in front of my eyes for several seconds. No-one knew me, no-one understood. Rumination, my psychologist tells me, is something to be avoided. If I started dwelling on the past, I was to distract myself.

So I did. I didn’t write, because to sit down at my desk, I knew, with only the blank page staring back at me, would only further accentuate my loneliness. Instead, I procrastinated. I turned on the computer, waited for it to finish starting-up, then watched a movie, a comforting one I have watched several times before, called Hating Alison Ashley. It’s a funny Australian movie for teenagers—the book is excellent—though all the main characters are, as usual, Caucasian. Nevertheless, I like it a lot. The main character is imaginative, hilarious, prone to supplanting reality with fantasy and idealizing herself. Yet after the final scene ended and the credits began to roll, I started to cry. Again, the same reel played before my eyes, the social ostracism I experienced from people, the loneliness I felt even when no-one chose to torment me or exclude me but simply let me be, the way the other students may have respected me sometimes but never liked me. I have never known what it was like to feel a sense of belonging in a group of people like the ones I see often in photographs, a class of students huddled together, laughing and smiling. I have never known a hand holding mine in love and reassurance. I have never known for someone to stare into my eyes in kinship.

And the reason behind all this is not only because I suffer from anxiety, or Asperger’s, or am too introverted, too quiet, too lost in my own head. The true reason is, as I  wrote in an earlier post, as I realised, lying there on my bed, was that I was born with a creative mind, an ability to see the world differently, a quirkiness, a brain slightly morphed out of its customary shape. Loneliness is almost indivisible from creativity; the two go hand in hand. I may not have been gifted with much of an intellect, but I sure can connect the dots between disparate objects, twist and turn and distort them into something new, into outlandish worlds and strange plots, make goldfish explode with a sound like breaking vases and send tiny moons skipping across waters like pebbles. For the artist, loneliness is the price one pays for originality, and detachment from society and the usual frameworks of life is arguably as essential for nurturing creativity as food is for our bodies and brains.

I slept, then, because I was tired from going outside, and tired from the sadness. When I awoke, I went to my desk, picked up my pen, and lost myself in silent misery and happiness. And tomorrow, the day will begin again, as it does for everyone.