A Change in Attitude

Hey guys! It’s currently 6:16pm on this Saturday evening as I begin this post.

Before I begin, I’d like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support I received after my previous post, Rock Bottom, Yet Again. As you may know, I’ve been having a very rough transition out of college. The post-grad depression hit me like a truck, seemingly out of nowhere. But really, is it all that surprising? I sped through college in three years, hustling non-stop the entire time. Once college ended, all that momentum came to a sudden halt and knocked the wind out of me. At first, I was excited to channel my energy into dancing, writing, and other creative projects– things I couldn’t do while at UCLA. My sky-high expectations of post-grad life were dampened by the bitter reality. Depression. Loneliness. Burn-out. Lack of structure and direction. Zero social stimulation. I know that all life transitions are difficult, but I didn’t expect my transition out of college to be one of the hardest things I’ve faced in my life… and I almost didn’t make it out alive. Almost.

These past couple days were very rough. I wish I could say the dark cloud of depression has lifted, but unfortunately, it has not. I spent most of my days at home, laying in bed, watching Netflix and scrolling through social media, living vicariously through my friends’ Instagram stories, wishing more than anything that I could be back in LA with them. Of course, I know that it is not healthy to live in the past, for my life now is here in the Bay, whether I like it or not. I asked myself… why has it been so damn difficult for me to get my sh** together and climb out of this depressive rut?

After much thinking, I’ve come to the following conclusion. Much of my depression has been dictated by my circumstances, but at the end of the day, it is an attitude problem that has perpetuated my depressive state.

My decision to move back to the Bay was in large part influenced by parental pressure. My parents heavily pushed for me to leave behind my friends, my jobs, my life of three years in LA, to return to the Bay Area. Of course, their reasons seemed logical at the time. Living in LA was financially difficult, and if I moved home, I wouldn’t have to pay for rent, Uber, or food. At home, I’d get better and easier access to mental health care, especially with free acupuncture treatment courtesy of a close family friend, who is an acupuncturist.

Though moving home seemed like the logical thing to do, my decision was incredibly difficult. Emotionally, my heart was tied to LA. My entire social network was based in Los Angeles. I had two jobs I LOVED– teaching dance fitness at the UCLA gym, and working at a figure skating rink as an off-ice instructor. I had only started those two jobs over the summer, but I was eager to continue those jobs and see how far I could go with them. For dance fitness, I anticipated getting many many more students during the school year, which was exciting. At the rink, I started a rhythmic gymnastics program that the figure skaters absolutely loved. I grew to love my young students and got along very well with the parents. I was giving private lessons in stretching and conditioning, outside of my regular group classes. If I had stayed longer at the rink, I could have gained more traction and momentum, gotten more students, and maybe even ventured on to teaching ballroom dance to the ice dancers, or perhaps choreographed some skating programs. There was one figure skating instructor who I had befriended, and she offered to give me free skating lessons in exchange for stretching lessons from me. So there was an opportunity to pursue my passion for figure skating at essentially NO COST. Well, none of those dreams came to fruition, and it doesn’t do me any good to dwell on what could have been, because at the end of the day, I chose to leave LA. I ended up handing over my skating rink job to a fellow rhythmic gymnast friend who also goes to UCLA. I am sure she is doing an amazing job with taking over my role. But even now, as I am writing this, my eyes are welling up in tears because I am reminded of how much I miss my students and the amount of fulfillment and purpose I felt while teaching at the rink.

Another thing I sorely miss is my role as president of my dance club, Bruin Burlesque. I started this club in winter of 2018 as a way to share the sensual art of Burlesque and Femme dancing with the UCLA community. I taught free weekly dance workshops, and it was honestly the most fulfilling experience. I was brought out of my comfort zone and learned a great deal, not only about teaching and choreographing but also about digital/direct marketing and leadership. Moreover, I was truly amazed at how much confidence my students were building in exploring this style of dance, and I couldn’t believe that my club was doing so much good for people in my community. For the first time ever, I felt empowered. I was making a positive impact on my community in a direct way, and that fueled my passion and purpose and bolstered my own self confidence.

All of those things and more, I left behind when I returned home. My confidence, which was starting to truly blossom, went back to zero. My social anxiety is coming back, as I am not being constantly challenged and socially stimulated, like I was in LA. I essentially have to rebuild my entire life and network here in the Bay, and starting over is never easy. Especially when all of your closest friends are still in college, and you are elsewhere, starting a completely new life chapter. It’s one of the loneliest place to be in. So yeah. I am grateful I don’t have to worry about paying for rent, food, or transportation. All of my instrumental needs are met. But what of purpose, passion, structure, focus, confidence, fulfillment? I’d argue that those things are just as, if not more important than physical needs.

Okay, so going back to my main point– this crippling depression stems from many things, but at the end of the day, it is largely an attitude problem. I have so much anger, bitterness and hostility inside me right now, I find the need to project all these negative emotions onto something beyond myself. As much as I hate to say this, the easiest targets are my parents, because they are the ones who twisted my arm to return to the Bay Area, “for my own good”. I know that at the end of the day, I was the one who conceded to their wishes, and it was my autonomous decision to come home. But I also know that, if my parents had just let me do what I wanted, instead of butting heads with me and pushing me to do something I didn’t want to do, I 100% would have stayed in LA and continued building my life there. Do you know how many nights I cried myself to sleep, because my heart didn’t want to leave LA, though logically, my parents made a good case for me to return home? It was a difficult decision till the end, and I remember crying like a baby on the drive home to the Bay Area. I held on to this hope and reassurance that my parents knew what was best for me, which is why I chose to listen to them, rather than trust my own intuition. I regret it so much now. I am disillusioned, hurt, nostalgic, bitter, and oh so angry. Angry at my parents for convincing me to move home, which, for the past two months, has not been working out for me AT ALL.

I am stubborn. I am determined to make my parents feel the pain that they “caused” me. Which is why I continue to wallow in my own self-pity and depression, instead of making a conscious effort to rebuild my life and community here. I want them to see me suffer, so that they in turn will suffer. Think of it as “payback”. Even though they thought I would be better off living at home, they ended up hurting me more than helping me. Call me immature and ungrateful, but up until now, I have blamed my parents for all the depression and negativity that has consumed my life for the past two months.

Today, I realized something. What good is it doing me, holding on to all this resentment and anger and hostility? I seek retribution for what my parents have done to me, and I want them to regret convincing me to return home. At the end of the day, though, I am only hurting myself in the process. Every second I spend suffocating in the darkness of my room is a second wasted away. You always hear people say, “When life throws you lemons, make lemonade”. Well, what I’m going through right now is just one big, fat, juicy lemon. It is up to me and only me to turn a difficult situation into something positive. Blaming my parents isn’t going to help me at all. In fact, it’ll just perpetuate the negative state I am in and prevent me from moving forward with my life.

I can still be mad at my parents. But I won’t let that anger hinder me from moving forward with my life. I won’t give my parents the satisfaction of ruining my life. Well-intentioned they may be, they still hurt me at the end of the day. But I won’t let their actions paralyze me from, well, LIVING. You know what? Right now, I see my parents as the ultimate enemy. In reality, I am my own worst enemy. To even stand a fighting chance of moving forward and digging myself out of this depression, I need to change my attitude, first and foremost. I must be open to the idea of rebuilding a life in the Bay, before I can actually start to rebuild. A big part of my heart still lies in LA, especially because my boyfriend lives there. But I need to be willing to let go of that old life to make room for a new one. Me going back to LA every weekend is only going to slow the process of adapting to my new life in the Bay. I can’t have one foot there, and one foot here. If I intend to get out of this rut, I need to commit myself to change. And for the love of god, stop fighting with my mother every second of every day. It will only add to the frustration and negativity and make me even less willing to adapt to my new life.

So, here’s to turning a new leaf. Wish me luck, guys. I will certainly need it.

 

 

 

Rock Bottom, Yet Again

Life has been so hard lately. I believe I am clinically depressed. I haven’t felt this low in a very very long time… close to rock bottom. This whole transition of moving back home after college was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. I hate it when my mom tells me that I have no reason to be depressed, that I should be grateful that I can live at home and not have to pay for rent, food, or ubers, and that I’m getting free acupuncture treatment and better access to mental health care. Yes, I am so grateful for all those things. But that doesn’t mean this transition isn’t difficult, for so many reasons.

For one, I left behind my entire social circle when I uprooted my life in LA and moved back to my childhood home. I left behind my college friends, my boyfriend, my students from the dance fitness class I taught at the school gym, my dear students and coworkers from the figure skating rink I worked at. My social life completely imploded when I moved. I went from being a social butterfly in college to having virtually no social stimulation in the Bay Area. There’s no one my age here, and I have never felt lonelier in my life. What hurts me more than not having friends in the Bay Area is the realization that the friends I made in college were not truly my friends. How do I know this? I was in LA a few weeks back, and I made a group chat where I messaged my “close friends”, asking if they wanted to go to karaoke and spend time together. Not a single person replied my message, despite having read the message. They didn’t even have the common courtesy to say, “Sorry Belicia, I can’t go tonight but thank you for the invite, and let us know next time you’re in LA!” It’s like, wtf? That is NOT a way to treat a person, let alone a friend.

One may well ask, why don’t you try to rebuild your social circle in the Bay Area? Join a church group or be proactive about attending alumni mixers and things like that. Honestly, I don’t know what is stopping me from rebuilding. Maybe I’m still bitter about having to leave my life in LA, and a part of me still wants to cling to the past, instead of moving forward. I’m going to try harder to make friends in the Bay Area. Maybe join the Stanford LDS ward and meet new people. Either way, I can’t stay like this—a homebody and social recluse. It’s not me, and this lack of social stimulation is definitely contributing to my depression.

When I’m not binge-watching American Horror Story, I find myself either stuffing my face with junk food or wallowing in self-pity. Cooped up in my room, door locked and curtains drawn. It’s a miserable existence, and I hate every second of it. I never imagined the transition into post-grad life would be so freaking difficult. In fact, I thought it would be quite the opposite. I was excited to graduate college, to finally have the time and resources to focus on my creative passions and projects. I was excited to finally be able to pursue my dancing and writing and see how far I could go. I had so many goals—fix my mental health, get back my physical shape, throw myself into dance training, build my website, write my book, the list goes on. But alas… my only goal now is to survive and get out of the hole I dug myself into. I know that if I don’t change something in my life, I won’t be able to go on. That’s how bad my depression is right now.

I just feel… trapped. Hopeless. I wanted to travel and enrich myself during my gap year. Visit a foreign country. Dance in NYC. But because of my intensive acupuncture treatment every Wednesday and Saturday, group therapy every Tuesday and Thursday, and work every Sunday, I can’t go anywhere. I am completely and utterly stuck in the Bay Area with no friends. My mother loves me, but she is insufferable at times. She can’t seem to get it through her head that I am no longer the same person I was three years ago. I am not a kid anymore– I am 21 years old and just graduated from UCLA. I need my freedom and space, and I can’t stand it when she yells up the stairwell every five minutes to tell me to do something, or expresses her disapproval of my long-distance relationship, or explodes at me when I refuse to drink the tea she made because it doesn’t suit my taste. To top it off, I have this irrational fear of driving (especially on the freeway), so I am very limited in the places I’m able to transport myself to. Hell, I can’t even drive myself to the movie theaters because I don’t want to drive on the freeway. I know I need to get over this fear, but it’s just another item on my growing list of things I can’t do, because of my crippling depression. Honestly, depression is such a bitch. You are depressed, so you can’t bring yourself to get out of bed. The do-nothingness makes the depression even worse. And so, the vicious cycle continues.

The only thing that’s keeping me alive right now is my boyfriend, who has been the biggest emotional support during this dark time. We talk on the phone and Facetime every day, and our conversations are all I look forward to when I wake up each morning. He’s been through depression before, so he understands what I’m going through. He comforts me in a way that my parents cannot. I’ve recently started reaching out to my brothers as well, who have been surprisingly supportive and non-judgmental about everything I’m going through. Austin kindly offered to talk to my mom about how I need to be treated with compassion in my current vulnerable state. Chris told me that the path to recovery takes time, and I need to be patient with myself.

At this moment, I am totally regretting moving back home to the Bay. I know that living in LA was expensive, and that I wasn’t receiving adequate mental health care there. My parents heavily pushed for me to come home. They say it was for my mental health, but honestly, I think they didn’t approve of my friends or lifestyle, and wanted me to return to the safety of their nest. I wish I had the courage to stand up to them and fight for what I wanted, which was to stay in LA and make it work down there. But alas, I cannot go back in time. I renounced my spot in the apartment lease. I quit both my dance fitness and skating rink job. Even if I were to move back to LA, I wouldn’t have anything to go back to. My only option now is to make do with my current situation, change my perspective, and focus on the good that has come from moving back home.

  • no need to pay for rent, food, uber
  • free acupuncture treatment (courtesy of our family friend, who is an acupuncturist)
  • better mental health care (group therapy twice a week, a good-fit therapist and psychiatrist)
  • work (mostly tutoring and college essay editing)
  • time and resources to pursue dancing
  • family support

Alright guys, that’s all I have to say at the moment. I think once I start exercising gratitude and turning off the negative self-judging voice in my head, I will start feeling a little bit better. Easier said than done, but the least I can do for myself is try.