A Challenging Acceptance
By Sarah Kim
I guess my friendship with Connor (the curator of Project Pilgrim) started when he messaged me to tell me he was proud of me for opening up about my anxiety in a Facebook post. This Facebook post was possibly the most vulnerable thing I have every done in my life but I don’t have an ounce of regret from doing so.
So this Facebook post… I’ve been journaling on a password protected Tumblr account for the past seven months as a part of my therapy for anxiety and depression. I write random thoughts and how my day went and how I was feeling in that moment - I try to do this everyday. One evening after I got back to school from winter break, I had a really bad episode of an anxiety attack. After suffering through this episode that lasted about two days, I wrote about it on my Tumblr account. Something about this one attack got me to post it on Facebook to share with all my friends and family. So I did. But 30 seconds later, I deleted it. Within those 30 seconds, a friend from high school whom I have not spoken to in a very long time saw it. She messaged me telling me that she saw it, read it and that she’s suffering through the same thing and that she was there for me. This simple, yet powerful message gave me enough courage to write a little blurb explaining my anxiety and I made another Tumblr account with that one post of my recent anxiety attack and made it public – you can read it here. I received an overwhelming response from my friends, family and even from individuals I have not spoken to in a long time. In a lot of these messages, the general theme was: “Hey, I know what you’re going through”, “I can totally relate”, “I hope you’re doing ok”, “I’m always here if you need to talk”.
I can totally relate. More people are suffering from anxiety and depression than we know of. It’s not talked about and people are ashamed. That’s something I struggled with. I’ve had anxiety throughout my life, but when it started affect my life in every way possible, that’s when I got scared and started to be ashamed. I hit rock bottom in first year of university when I didn’t handle the big transition well. On top of moving across the country to a small town, my family moved across the world to Singapore that same summer. I was completely uprooted and felt very uncomfortable and vulnerable for sure. Throughout the year, I started to feel less and less motivated to go to class, to socialize and pursue the things I loved to do such as playing my violin. I started to feel uninterested in basically everything and I knew something was definitely up, but I ignored it and pretended it wasn’t happening because I’m Sarah Kim, and of course there was nothing wrong with me let alone be depressed or suffer through anxiety – that would mess up my 10 year plan and that would just be my ultimate nightmare.
Well, things got really bad. If you know me at all, I’m very much a school orientated individual. I live for school, I love school and hate breaks (I still think summer breaks are way too long) and I live to get good grades. I hated being in Kingston, I regretted every single day for choosing Queen’s over McGill, and I hated myself for making that decision. I started hating school, I hated pretty much all my classes, I thought about dropping out everyday, and eventually I ended up failing a course because I simply did not attend and I ended up not taking enough courses in first year to officially transition into second year (a big shot to my heart but I'm over it now - it happened whatever). That was the ultimate rock bottom for me. I was basically failing out of school because my crumbling mind was taking over my life. So, this past summer I made a promise to myself that I’d start getting better, go back to Queen’s for second year, get my GPA up, and get the hell out of Kingston and transfer to a different school/McGill.
This past summer, I started seeing a psychiatrist whom I have developed a really great relationship with. After the second appointment, my doctor diagnosed me with depression and anxiety. To have that written on paper and to have a professional say it to me was when I really realized I needed to continue seek help or this was going to end up really bad. Every week, sometimes twice a week depending on how I was feeling, we practiced mindfulness, talked about my week, and I eventually started my first round of anti-depressants. I can’t exactly pinpoint the day I felt better because there wasn’t this magical day where all my problems went away and I felt normal again. I realized and understood that this was a gradual and long and sometimes a painful process. I am and will always have to work through this. To this day, I still have my bad days where I have no motivation to do anything and feel like staying in bed all day. But the difference now compared to 7 months ago is that I know how to cope with it and I know how to acknowledge my feelings. I’m not ashamed to tell my parents or my friends that I’m having shitty day and that I’m in this funk again. I try my best to surround myself with people and not fall in to that deep dark hole again.
This battle with anxiety and depression will be a constant one. I’ve acknowledged that and I’m ok with it because I know I will never lose. I know I’m not alone, there are so many people who know exactly what I’m going through and how I’m feeling. I’m thankful for people who love me and care for my well being and who can just lay beside me in silence until that anxiety attack is over.
I’ve become more mindful, more calm in a way, and I know to understand my feelings better. I’m not ashamed anymore, I’m proud of how I’m dealing with this everyday and I can happily and confidently say that I’m good. It feels so refreshing to say that. I don’t have any plans of transferring schools, I have fallen in love with Queen’s and I think Kingston is starting to grow on me… I am really good, I’m happy, and I’m so excited for Connor’s campaign. I’m so excited for him to share other’s stories, inspire more people, and make a difference and a change. I’m so honoured to be a part of this.
If you’re suffering from anxiety and/or depression, you’re really not alone. During those bad days, I know how bad it gets, and it’s so easy to be stuck on those bad days but know that that’s not forever! If you really work towards recovery and start to seek help and be more open minded, you will get better sooner or later.
About the Author:
Hi, my name is Sarah Kim and I’m a second year student at Queen’s University. Although I was born and raised in Vancouver, B.C., Singapore is my current home where my family is living right now. As an aspiring teacher, my main goal is to reach and inspire marginalized students. I am a lover of pizza and men.