Blogmas Day 14: Pushing Through the Suffocating Darkness

Hello, friends. How are you all doing?

Today was a tough day. Yes, my depression has come back, full force. It’s like the menstrual cycle– the first few days of your period are really really bad, then your condition slowly improves towards the end of the cycle. This is kind of what my depressive patterns are like. Today was a day darkness, lethargy and heaviness. I’ve been through it before, though, and thankfully, I was able to practice some of my coping mechanisms to lessen the blow of the depressive force.

It’s 5:12pm. I just finished a swim workout, and am sitting in the business center of the gym, typing away. I feel a lot better. The heaviness on my chest has lifted, giving me some room to breathe. I’m actually waiting for the 5:30pm zumba class to begin, so I’m passing the time with writing!

I woke up this morning at around 10:30am. From the minute I opened my eyes, I knew this was going to be one of those days… After scrolling through my phone for music to inspire me, I dragged myself out of bed– yes, very different from the girl who’d used to kick off the sheets at the first beep of the 5:00am alarm, eager to start the day. It’s okay. It’s the illness talking.

My mother, brothers and I headed to a Japanese restaurant for brunch. The whole time, I was wishing I were back in my room, curtains drawn, shutting out the outside world. I wish I valued my time with my family more, as pretty soon my brothers and I will be heading back to school… but I just couldn’t seem to bring myself back into the life of the present.

The thing I hate most about my depression is what it does to the people around me, especially my family. They all know I struggle with depression, and it hurts them so much to see me when I’m sinking. I hate being that gray cloud of negative energy wherever I go. I ruin the good vibes with my snappy, impatient attitude; withdrawn and distant manner. I just wish that I could lock myself in a room with my depression, just me and it, away from the world of light. When I’m depressed, I feel like a contagious virus, harming everything and everyone I touch. I don’t mean any harm. I don’t want to hurt anybody.

9:40pm

Hey guys! I’m feeling a lot better since last checking in. I think the swimming and zumba class really helped improve my mood. Seriously, exercise is one of the best self-care strategies for depression.

I just finished watching the movie “Falling for Christmas”. It’s about a figure skater, Claire, who gets injured during training and has to go up to the mountains for a four-week treatment program. There, she meets single dad and former professional hockey player, Luke, whom she falls in love with. She realizes that there IS a life beyond competing and winning medals. That you CAN find happiness without fame and glory.

As a former gymnast forced to retire early from an injury, I resonated so much with her story. Although I must say, watching the movie made me reminisce my life as a competitive athlete. I loved the structure, the discipline, the simplicity of it all. I am inspired to re-find that structure when I return to school. It is only through self-discipline that I can successfully balance school and competitive dancing.

The thing with me is, I’m not done competing. Not by a long shot. My gymnastics career was cut short by a physical injury, but my competitive spirit is still very much there, itching to see the light of day once more. And I have channeled my competitive nature into my studies, which is the only reason I was able to get into UCLA. But in dance, I see a means to fulfill the dream I held dear as a gymnast. I have to admit, I really do love the limelight. Performing is a means through which I transcend my day-to-day shyness. A way for me to break out of my shell. This is why I love dancing so much, and why I long to see how far I can go in the competitive circuit.

Alrighty, guys. Gonna end today’s post here. I’m grateful that my day ended on a high note. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

 

 

 

 

Love,

Belicia

Blogmas 2017 Day 13: I’m Sinking Once More

Guys, I feel myself sinking into the depths of the cold, dark waters of depression… I see it coming, and I’m scared. Despite the coping mechanisms I’ve developed, I’m scared of what the depression will do to me.

Tonight, I shed a few tears whilst roaming the dark, empty kitchen at midnight… just thinking, and wondering, why I must suffer from bipolar disorder. Why I was dealt such a hand at birth. That’s exactly it. I, Belicia Tang, have bipolar disorder. Man. I’m still getting used to that label. It’s strange– when I was younger, I never thought I’d be one to experience mental illness. I’ve always been an emotional person, experiencing moods to an atypical extreme. But never did I suspect that I had a disorder, until the mood swings began to affect my daily functioning. Until my I started to sink.

I bring up Sylvia Plath’s quote once more:

“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.”

Such is the essence of bipolar disorder. It’s hard to see the depressive lows coming… but I now have enough experience with them that I know, each time I’m on Cloud 9, I will very soon come crashing down into a deep depression.

Right now, the negative thoughts… they just consume my mind. I can’t stop them. They’re saying things like “You’re not enough”; “You won’t achieve success in life”; “You are socially inept”; “You’re lazy and worthless”. Scripts like that inundate my waking moments. This is what depression feels like. Just a big cloud of negativity floating above your head. It’s inescapable and all-consuming. It makes my heart hurt like hell.

I told my mother tonight that I feel the depression coming on, and that if I changed from my bubbly, happy character to a negative, impatient, lonely and withdrawn presence, I didn’t mean to, and I didn’t intend to hurt anyone around me. It is simply the illness talking.

As I write right now, my eyes are welling up in tears. Sometimes, this illness is just too much to bear. Even with the support of the mood stabilizers, it still hurts.

I want to be honest with you all. I want to share my story– not just the good parts, but the pitfalls as well. It’s all part of the journey… life is not always easy. I do not intend to elicit pity from you all. I just hope that my words can serve as a comforting hand to anyone struggling with mental illness. Please know that I stand by your side, and that no matter how dark your life is in this moment, things will get better. They will, trust me.

Blogmas 2017 Day 12: Sharing My Life Story

6:34am

Good morning, world! I hope you guys are doing well.

I woke up at 5:00am this morning (yes, finally it happened!). I proceeded downstairs, where I made myself a breakfast of oatmeal, Greek yogurt with Manukka honey, and hot chocolate.

After breakfast, I worked on an outline for the speech I will be giving in spring. Each spring quarter, UCLA’s Regents Scholar Society puts on a TED talk of sorts, for students. This event will be a great opportunity for me to share my story and life messages with my peers. It will also be the ultimate challenge to my social anxiety, and I know I will emerge from it with newfound confidence.

Honestly, though, when I think of giving this talk, I don’t feel much anxiety at all– only excitement and passion. It’s true when they say passion transcends all fear. Nervous as I may be, I know that my belief in my story will carry me through.

Reflecting on my life journey, I realized just how much I’ve grown during these past five years. It’s truly wondrous, the beautiful adventure called life. You never know where fate will take you, and what kind of people you will meet along the way.

8:30am

Just returned from the gym! Had a quick workout of elliptical and circuit training. Well on my way to my dream bod!

A part of me is eager to get back to school to start the quarter already. I find myself constantly checking my UCLA portal throughout the day, planning classes and evaluating my three/four-year plan (I still haven’t decided whether I want to graduate early or not). I must remember to live in the moment and not worry too much about the future. I do have a good feeling about this coming quarter, though. It’s gonna be a tough one, but I enjoy keeping busy and challenging myself.

Today, I will be hanging out with four friends: Leyla, Kelly, Callista and Cassandra. It’s important to make time for friends and relationship-building. Sometimes, I don’t feel like getting out of the house and socializing– especially during my depressive lows. Other times, I feel like an absolute social butterfly, floating from person-to-person and engaging in animated (oftentimes superficial) conversations. I call myself an ambivert– at once introverted and extroverted. Lately, I’ve been leaning more towards the introverted side, perhaps because the cold winter weather has been keeping me indoors more often.

I’m excited to immerse myself in new experiences this coming quarter. My friend and I are thinking of starting a “New Experiences / Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone” club next quarter. The premise behind it to promote self-growth in a supportive, collaborative setting.

The next morning…

Good morning, world! I apologize for not having finished yesterday’s Blogmas! A quick rundown of what happened since I last wrote:

At around 1:00pm, I headed to the gym, where I met with a high school friend, Kelly. We danced and did a lot of catching up in the hot tub and sauna. Afterwards, we got some Jamba Juice to commemorate our reunion. Once Kelly left, I planned on meeting up with Leyla, but she unfortunately had to cancel. So I killed some time at the local Nob Hill, buying presents for my TA’s who had written me recommendation letters. At around 6:45pm, I drove to my friends Callista and Cassandra’s house, where the three of us baked until 10:30pm. We made these really delicious cake pops, cupcakes and regular yellow cake. A grand old time we had together! Once I arrived home, I immediately went into essay-editing mode. I’m getting paid to help several high school seniors with their college essays, and many have deadlines coming up, with the Common Application. These students are international students, so one could imagine that their English is not the greatest. It can be very frustrating, then, to edit a piece where the most basic grammatical rules are not abided by. Sometimes, I feel as if I must create something out of nothing, which is no easy task, to say the least. Anyway, editing essays composed the remainder of my night. I’ve just woken up, and am ready to start a new day! Stay tuned for today’s Blogmas!

 

 

 

 

 

Best,

Belicia

Blogmas 2017 Day 11: Gettin’ Back on the Horse

Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s Blogmas!

I woke up this morning to the sound of Chris’s loud piano playing. It was about 10:30am. I’m definitely not sticking to my plans of waking up at 5:30am each morning. That’s the thing with me, though– I’m see things in black and white. It’s either wake up super early, or stay in bed ’till super late. How about a happy medium, like 8:00am? That sounds like a more realistic goal. Yes, tomorrow morning, I will wake up at 8:00am. Will let you guys know if that actually happens, haha.

After finishing my morning routine, I headed downstairs for a brunch of sushi, tempura, leftover baked chicken wings, smoothie and persimmons.

At 12:00pm, my brothers and I had an appointment at the post office to renew our passports. We will be headed to Hong Kong for ten days this summer, so now is the time to update those documents.

My former contortion teacher, Serchmaa, texted me this morning, asking me if I could perform ballroom this Saturday, December 30th. My partner is in LA right now, but I asked him if he could come up to San Francisco for the weekend to perform. I have yet to hear back from him. I really hope he can make it though, since I love performing. I always feel freshly inspired after I compete or perform.

Update: partner cannot make it up here this weekend, because of work. Oh well, I’m sure there will be plenty more performance opportunities down the line.

3:02pm

Hey guys! Just took a shower, and now I smell like coconut! After returning from the passport place, I strapped on my dance shoes and practiced in my living room. I then proceeded to do some ab exercises– really gotta cut down on that belly fat! I was inspired to do a 30-day challenge, in which I work out every day for 30 days, and hopefully see results by the end of the challenge. I’m actually recording the process, so I can do a time-lapse before-and-after video and post it on YouTube. I feeling hopeful about this. It’s just the beginning, and it’ll take a while before I see progress, but I know that with discipline and consistency, I WILL achieve the body I desire.

At around 3:30pm, I will have a meeting with my financial planner. I’ll also meet up with her high school senior son, who is in the process of writing college essays, and give him some advice on how to approach the essays.

How have my moods been today, you may ask? Well, they were actually pretty steady. I feel neither depressed nor especially happy. When I was a kid and was having a “meh” day, I’d describe it as feeling like a “potato”. Today was a potato kind of day. More rearing on the end of dysthymia (minor depressive symptoms). I don’t know if this sentiment is attributed to my stopping Prozac (I ran out a few days ago), or if it’s just the natural ebb and flow of my mercurial moods talking. Either way, I am doing just fine. Just have a lot of goals on my plate, and not enough motivation today to tackle all of them.

One thing I will say, though, is that exercise undoubtedly boosts moods. So, next time my depression rears its ugly head, I will have one weapon in my arsenal to fight it.

Alrighty guys, I should be getting ready to head out. I’ll talk to you all soon! Oh, one more thing– I recently became obsessed with the Eminem ft. Evanescence song, “Someone to Talk To”. If you’re an Eminem fan, I highly urge you to check it out– catchy, dark, mysterious and heartbreaking.

8:13pm

Hello again, lovelies! I just returned from dinner at a French restaurant called “Bistro Vida”. I stepped out of my comfort zone by trying escargot– the taste is a little too sharp for comfort, but I’m glad I at least mustered the courage to try it. Joining us for dinner were my financial planner/mother’s old friend, Auntie Tracy, and her husband and two boys. Austin and Chris arrived 30 minutes late for dinner, as they were both at the gym, working out. But no matter.

One thing I noticed about Austin is that he’s really growing more confident in social situations. I was pleasantly surprised at hearing him crack jokes and start dinner table conversations with the adults. It’s fascinating to watch someone you’ve (literally) known since day one grow and mature into a confident person. No longer is Austin merely “Belicia’s shadow”, or “the shy one”. Really great job, Austin. Tonight, you made me proud.

I think I will conclude today’s entry here. I’m feeling a little bit drowsy, and I want to wake up early tomorrow to go to the gym. Gonna work on my book, read, then head to bed. I’ll talk to you all soon!

 

 

 

Best,

Belicia

 

 

 

Blogmas Day 10: One More Christmas Down!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all who celebrate!!! I wish you all a day of joyous cheer and precious time spent with loved ones. Enjoy the gift of giving, the good food, and the celebration of love and union.

I woke up at 11:00am after sleeping at around 2am. I suppose it wasn’t the best idea to spontaneously decide to practice dance in my living room at midnight. I didn’t see Santa Claus this year, but I suppose I missed him. He’s a busy guy, so he must’ve made it to our house after I’d fallen asleep.

We opened present at around 1:00pm. For my parents, my brothers and I chipped in to give each of them these cool hydroflask water bottles. My dad could bring it to work, instead of drinking bottled water, while my mother could use hers during her long nature walks. I got Austin the basketball he wanted– unfortunately, even with express delivery, the basketball did not arrive in time for Christmas. So I showed Austin the Amazon receipt as proof that I’d indeed gotten him a present. For Chris, I got… oh wait. I didn’t get Chris anything. I know, I am a terrible sister. I am actually still brainstorming ideas for what to get him; once I decide, I will get him a “belated” Christmas present. Thankfully, Chris is not one to care much for material items, so he didn’t even comment on my not getting him anything. As for myself, I received this really cute workout outfit from my Uncle Richard and Auntie Ruth– black leggings, a mesh tank and white crop top. My grandmother gave each of her children red envelopes filled with money. It’s a Chinese tradition to hand out red envelopes during holidays. The envelopes are supposed to symbolize good fortune. My mother is not really one to give her children presents on Christmas day. Rather, she buys us things throughout the year, and calls each item our “Christmas present”. So I suppose you could say that we received a boatload of presents from Mom, just spread out throughout the course of 12 months, instead of on a single day. Lol.

My favorite part of the present-opening ritual is what happened when my grandmother opened the present Austin had given her. It was a contraption that helped you put on socks! You slide the sock onto the plastic “foot”, insert your foot inside, then pull the sock on using the two ropes attached to the device. Austin had seen my grandmother struggling to put on her socks one morning, and thoughtfully decided to make the process easier by getting her this device. When grandma tried it out, she was laughing so hard, while we all laughed along at the interesting spectacle.

After present-opening, I put on my new workout clothes and went out for a run. I made had to take multiple breaks along the way, but hey– doing SOMETHING is better than doing nothing. I may be out of shape, but going out on a run today is the first (most difficult) step towards reaching my goal of regaining my figure. What’s that quote?

“Just showing up is half the battle.”

-Woody Allen

After running, I came back home and had lunch. I then headed upstairs to my room, where I did some writing– worked on today’s post, edited my book, wrote in my private diary.

My parents and I then headed out for a long nature stroll. The walk was peaceful– no fights about life decisions arose, thankfully.

After the walk, I returned to my room and did some more writing. You see, guys, my dream is to become a professional writer one day. Now is the time when I must train, through consistent writing and reading. I plan on tacking on an English major, so I can further perfect my craft.

At around 6:30pm, my family and I headed out to Moonstar Buffet for a Christmas dinner. There, I stuffed myself silly, and definitely splurged on my fair share of fat and sugar. Don’t worry, though– today is my last cheat day. Starting tomorrow, I’m cutting back on the sweets and carbs and fatty foods, and will restart my swimming and dancing regimen.

After dinner, we returned home, where I worked on editing high school seniors’ college essays. I’ve just finished my work. Now, I’m wrapping up today’s Blogmas. It’s been a productive, joyous Christmas, indeed. Feeling very grateful for family.

Much love to you all.

 

 

 

Belicia

 

 

 

 

Blogmas Day 9: Merry Christmas Eve!

Hi everyone! Merry Christmas Eve to you all. I hope you all are enjoying some quality time with loved ones whilst stuffing your tummies with delectable delights!

Today was a pretty ordinary day. I woke up at 11:00am after a very long day yesterday. Shortly after awakening, my dad, brothers and I headed to Costco, where Austin and Chris got their passport pictures taken, while I bought a chicken bake for lunch. I love Costco food, it’s so affordable– the chicken bake, which was nearly a foot long, cost only $3.25!

After our Costco run, my dad dropped me off at Ice Oasis ice rink, where I met up with my friend Louise for an afternoon of ice skating. Louise and I hadn’t seen each other for one year– she studies bioengineering and cognitive science at UC Santa Cruz– so our reunion was a long-awaited one.

I told you guys that I’ve always wanted to learn how to figure skate. Today, Louise taught me how to do a “cross-over” and a “lunge”. My favorite part of the day was skating with these two little girls, Anna and Zlada, who were INCREDIBLE skaters! They enjoyed showing off their insanely cool skating moves to me and Louise, and I tried to imitate them, but kept on falling down! Zlada spoke Russian, so I got to show off my very limited Russian vocabulary to her. I said “Hello”, “How are you”, and “Good Job” when she showed me one of her skating elements. Little did I know that, upon hearing me speak some broken Russian, she’d start speaking full-on Russian to me, to which I had no idea how to respond!

Louise and I skated for a couple hour, with me holding her hand most of the time. I think ice skating would make for a great first date. as it immediately breaks the “handholding” ice (hah, pun intended).

I returned home to a house full of guests– Dr. Wang and her husband, and Uncle Qi. They all came over to share the Christmas festivities with our family! Laid out of the extended dinner table were sliced turkey, roasted duck, salad, Vietnamese style noodles, thin-sliced potato wedges, and string beans. For dessert, we had a fruit platter of purple grapes, bananas and persimmons. What a Christmas feast it was! Props to my mother for getting this meal ready– it was a full-day’s work, but oh-so worth it in the end.

After dinner, I was overcome with a wave of exhaustion. Probably the food coma talking, along with the residual exhaustion of yesterday’s overexertion. I took a nap until 9:00pm. When I woke up, I headed downstairs, where the adults were chatting away. Dr. Wang, a Chinese medicine doctor, felt my pulse, and concluded that I need to sleep earlier and stay away from spicy foods. I am sometimes skeptical of the validity of Eastern medicine, as I find it dubious how one can reach medical conclusions simply by feeling the pulse or examining the color of the tongue. Smells a little bit like quackery, if you ask me…

I then returned upstairs, where I edited some high school seniors’ college essays and began today’s Blogmas. The remainder of the night will be spent writing last-minute Christmas letters, editing my book, and finishing reading “The Stranger”.

I’ll now conclude today’s post with wishing you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS / HAPPY HANUKKAH / JOYOUS HOLIDAYS!

 

 

 

Love,

Belicia

 

 

Blogmas Day 8: Fun with Friends

Hello friends! Welcome to Blogmas day 8!!! It’s currently 6:26pm on this Saturday evening. I’m sitting inside the Bay Club (local fitness center) conference room, listening to Elton John’s “Your Song” while writing this post. Sometimes, I enjoy playing music whilst writing or doing mechanical homework assignments. While music may at times pose as a distraction to the task at hand, especially brainwork that requires critical thinking, sometimes I find music to be a source of inspiration for my work.

Today was a really great day! I fell asleep at 2:00am in the morning, and woke up at 7:00am. Had a breakfast of Greek yogurt with Manuka honey, then drove to the gym, where I went for my morning swim. It was one of those mornings where I really didn’t feel like working out, but mentally pushed through, and emerged victorious. I came back home at around 9:00am.

At 10:00am, my friends Rachel, Aloisa and Ana picked me up from my house, and we made the hour-long drive to Martinez, CA, where we met up with another friend, Casey, for lunch and karaoke. We were having our annual “Friendsmas” get-together and gift exchange.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with laughter and cheer amongst the five of us girls. For lunch, I had spaghetti and meatballs. Rachel treated us to a dessert of BJ’s’ famous Pizzooki Trio– three flavors of giant deep-dish cookies, topped with ice cream. Definitely took one of my cheat days; but then again, Christmas week is always a cheat week, so no hard feelings on my part.

After lunch, the five of us gathered ’round Ana’s car, where we did the fastest gift exchange in human history, right in the middle of the parking lot! It was a pretty funny spectacle, in retrospect.

We went to Round 1 for two hours of karaoke, and by the time we finished, my voice was hoarse from all the (terrible) singing I did! As you might have guessed, I sang the song “Your Song” by Mr. John, and am now officially obsessed with it. The first time I heard the song was in one of my favorite movies, Moulin Rouge, in which Ewan Mcgregor sang a cover of this beauty. Sometimes, when I listen to the song, my eyes well up with tears at the sheer purity of the lyrics and beauty of the melody.

After karaoke was finished, we parted ways with Casey, who was being picked up by her mother. The four of us then piled back in Ana’s car, and were dropped off at our respective houses.

I really enjoyed spending time with my friends today. Sometimes, in life, the simplest joys are the most meaningful. Happiness needn’t necessarily stem from glory or fame or money, as many so falsely believe… as I, used to believe. I cannot believe there used to be a time when I’d spurn the idea of “wasting time” with “trivial” activities as going shopping with friends, or having a girls’ night out. In the past, everything in my life revolved around my goals. I didn’t understand the concept of doing things for the mere fun of it. I remember, during my first day of group therapy at age 16, I remarked to the therapist, “I don’t see the point in doing things just for fun… if nothing conducive is to come of it, then why do it?” The therapist then proceeded to ask me whether I thought this was a rational way of thinking. At the time, I thought I was being absolutely reasonable, in spurning leisure and embracing the all-work-no-play mentality.

Now I realize that I couldn’t have been more wrong in my thinking, at the time. Working hard is important. But where’s the joy in life, if one doesn’t make time for enjoyment?

Today, I enjoyed myself. I took time out of my schedule to reunite with old friends and have a great time. It’s these special memories that will stand out in my mind, several years from now… not the countless hours spent alone in my room, studying, or alone in the dance studio, training.

After I returned home, I packed my things and headed to the gym, where I went for a quick swim #2 of the day. I’m so happy I’m getting back into swimming– it’s my favorite form of cardio, as it is a non-impact activity, and thus easier on my knees.

And now, here I am, writing about my day! Dinner will be served at home soon, so I’d better be headed back home within the next 15 minutes.

After dinner, Austin, Chris and I will be watching the movie Coco, along with our good friend, Roy. Roy is really great– he also goes to UCLA, majoring in computer science. We went to high school together, and he’s like a brother to us (making us quadruplets, I suppose).

I definitely feel really great, emotionally. If only my moods would remain at a stable high, like it is in this moment. But, I shan’t fret. Next time my depression hits, I will have a strong set of coping mechanisms as a first line of defense against the illness. Such strategies could only be developed through multiple encounters with the beast of depression… it’s called experience. I need to suffer before I can get better. This maxim is one that applies to many things in life. When overcoming fears, one must necessarily take the initial, terrifying plunge into the sea of inundating anxiety, before one can transcend the beast.

Anyway, I’d better get going! Talk to you all soon!

 

 

 

 

Love,

Belicia