journal/

on-going mostly unedited stream of thoughts

enough

Last Sunday after publishing a post, I had this irrepressible smile on my face. Just thinking about that moment now is bringing up the same smile. I cannot really articulate why, but I think it was a moment when I felt everything was aligned. I had put so much intention into writing that post, that it didn’t matter if nobody read it, because I had experienced so much fulfilment writing it, and that was enough.

Enough. Such a simple yet complex word. We never seem to have enough. But I have started to observe many more moments of enough for myself. It is a feeling where after so many years of running on empty, I am starting to feel like I have enough and I am enough. It comes and goes, but they are jarring enough to be observed because other times I just feel like I am broken into a thousand pieces and nothing is ever going to put me back together.

But maybe that is true too, that nothing is ever going to put myself back together, with the exception of myself. Only I get to decide whether I have enough or I am enough. And I have grown to be a person who is capable of coming to that conclusion, only sometimes, but sometimes is enough.

It hasn’t been easy, sifting through my complex feelings, some of them cutting deep or bringing up buried layers of shame. But I am starting to believe that processing my utmost vulnerable emotions is a muscle. I seem to be much better at inserting thoughts to redirect my chain of thinking, instead of sinking into despair.

I have found myself thinking, “omg I am so happy”, and I have this strong instinct to push away that thought, as if believing it is going to cause me to break into a thousand pieces again. But perhaps I had been mistaken into thinking I will break if I couldn’t achieve a persistent underlying state of joy, rather – I guess it is about being able to experience the full spectrum of my emotions, knowing that they all will pass, and yet be able to see them for what they are when they are present with me.

Longevity used to scare the shit out of me. When I was younger, I prayed really hard that I would die at 30. Now at 34, I still don’t wish for a lengthy life, just enough will do. But I no longer get scared at the idea of length, because at the end, whether long or short, it is still passing moments being strung together. I think I was afraid to be trapped in something I didn’t actively want, but now, I am slowly nurturing myself to be capable of surrendering myself to what I will come to experience, because it is through these experiences I am getting to know life itself. Maybe I will never actively want it, but I am curious enough to want to know something, even if I don’t want it.

Not wanting it, gives me the space to truly fall in love with it, because I am not driven by a instinctual desire for it. This evolving love, is guided by a genuine sense of curiosity, the willingness to endure and accept with growing grace, what it means to love something, even if it breaks me into a thousand pieces for me to painstakingly put myself together again, just to see how else it can break me. There is a certain profound joy that comes with growing the capacity to contain something so boundless and true, until it breaks me, over and over again.

And that is enough.

starting to breathe

I was writing my 750words the other day, and I found myself describing myself as a just-released vacuum sealed pillow. It feels like I am just starting to puff-up, starting to regain the original shape and fluffiness instead of being hard, tight, flat and compressed. But a pillow would never know its original destiny if it had stayed sealed. I know, I think of weird metaphors sometimes.

I spent my first month of unemployment basically packing up my life in the US and saying goodbyes, the second month or so just ignoring everything else and recovering. It was only somewhen in the middle of the third month that I had any semblance of a new direction, no matter how unformed it still seems to be at this moment. It took me three full months to decompress, and I don’t even know I am done yet.

I am still somewhat in the process of grieving over the life I have given up. Intellectually I know what I want and need, but emotionally it is difficult to let go of what I am used to. I have to be patient with myself, I have to keep reminding.

But in between fleeting moments – spending hours in the library just curled up and reading, taking a slow swim, sitting with my parents to watch TV – I have found myself being aware of a certain feeling I never quite had before. It is a feeling that is a result of not having to rush off to somewhere else, or that nagging thought that I need to be doing something else because there are multiple deadlines in front of me. It is a feeling of being hyperaware of myself, my surroundings and feeling connected to the moment.

Having the space to be present is making a remarkable difference to the quality of my life. I was always too tired and stressed to turn up for other people and myself. After a typical work week, I don’t have the energy to do anything, much less hang out with other people. Now, I am no longer wrecked with guilt because I am not spending enough time with people I care about, or feeling like I was only barely present with people, because I had so much to worry about. I have the time and space to turn up for events I never would have gone if I had a full-time job, to foster unexpected connections to people in random places because now I have the time to be random.

It isn’t about having an entirely unstructured life, but the freedom to decide where I want my structure to be, where I want to give space to other areas of my life. I have been having structure where it matters – my health. I swim everyday, intermittently fast, eat better and visit my TCM doctor regularly. I wouldn’t say I am out of the woods yet, but there is definitely a marked improvement considering I felt barely alive three months ago.

The combination of better health and increased presence has created more mental space for me. I have more occurrences of spontaneous ideas bubbling up, when I am not consciously working. The phenomenon of epiphanies happening out of actual work is not new. It is not just about giving them space to occur, but to actually capture them and do something about them – that requires time and space too.

It isn’t all a bed of roses, in-between I am plagued with self-doubt, anxiety and existential loneliness. But maybe these will never go away, and what matters is what I’ll do in spite of them.

I know it is seems like a luxury to “have space” even though it didn’t come easy for me at all. I am not sure if this is sustainable in the long-term at all, but even if this period will eventually have to come to a close, what arises from it will be extremely valuable for me in the future. At least now I have experienced, the human being I can be, in these fleeting glimpses.

It is too early to tell, the actual impact of this experiment, but after being so used to feeling like I’m being compressed most of my life, I am grateful for those moments when it feels like I can breathe. Sometimes it is not about the length of time, but the observation that such moments do exist.

when the world hurts

I was in Paris just this summer, a city I deliberately chose for my first step into Europe. I met people who live in Paris, and they have now lost people in Paris. This is a time when no words suffice.

It is part of the human condition to have our hearts break more when it hits closer to us. We love what we know, we grieve over what we love. Perhaps it is more poignant because I know I could have been there. Anyone I know could have been there. Paris is a city where many of my people jet in and out of.

I hesitated on writing what comes next because I want to be sensitive to the grief taking place. But I want to be a person capable of asking honest questions, even if it hurts and it comes with fear.

We grieve over that we love, and we cannot love what we do not know. That makes the loss of human lives in other places, or the loss of human dignity and potential, more difficult for us to relate to. I cannot grieve for Paris alone.

As long as inequality exists, violence will exist. It may be Paris yesterday, somewhere else tomorrow, everyday in between, mass violence is taking place in many parts of the lesser known world. We blame it on religious wars or political greed, but when massive numbers of people are deprived of food, shelter, safety and knowledge, there can only be a few possible outcomes. We can annihilate one terrorist group, but it didn’t seem far away in history that we wiped out another. What is stopping one more from forming?

This is no longer a world where we can exist in silos anymore. The violence (and not only physical violence) taking place in some distant land will eventually find its way to us, be it hurting us directly, or indirectly through what we love. We are an interconnected world – someone else’s pain will become our pain, it is not at our own choosing.

It is difficult at this point in time to see how this retaliation cycle will end, how this world will one day be capable of healing together. If we really want to start pointing fingers, we have to go all the way back through thousands of years in history. How can we not feel powerless at an individual level?

This makes me want to participate in more conscious acts of love and grace, for that is my act of rebellion against a world that wants us to live in fear and separation. When some of us tries to make the world a darker place, we have to light it up more in return.

Today, I had plans to write something else, and it would have been easier to avoid a subject that provokes so much complexity. But it would have been hypocritical of me.

“later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered
everywhere
everywhere
everywhere.”
– Warsan Shire

further reading:

great to be back

It is that time of the week again. I have faithfully kept to writing at least one post a week for almost two years now and it has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It is also one of those weeks which I’m having such complex thoughts that I don’t even know where should I start.

It is great to be back.

For people who have known me for years, having such a statement from me represents a complete turnaround from the person I was. Even with my deepest cynicism, if this statement only stays true temporarily, it would still have been a radical position for me to take.

The past few years have taught me to never say never. Things I had never imagined have happened, positions I thought I would never take have been taken. I met up with a dear friend of mine this past week, and he remarked that we seemed to have swopped positions. I am brimming with a ton of hope and optimism, and it is not backed by naive idealism, but it comes with a sort of cautious pragmatism, only because I have witnessed enough promise. Not for myself particularly, but for this little country.

I only managed to have a moment right now to catch a proper breath since I was back from Bali, not in a stressed out anxious way, but because I was keen to be acquainted with my past, present and future here. It was deeply comforting to be with people I knew, and hugely inspiring to discover people I don’t. I was never a person to deliberately seek out people, but there’s just so many amazing things going on that it would have been impossible to keep a lid on my curiosity.

My emotions have been the most stable for as long as I can remember in the past year. It is slightly ironic that I had so much catharsis writing a post on my emotional intensity that it released a lot of the anxiety I have been feeling. It was as though I have finally given myself permission to experience the full range of my emotions, and with that, I have freed up psychic space in my mind to start thinking about what I actually want to do henceforth.

I have a lot cooking up in my mind, and I am really enthusiastic about starting to share them progressively. I don’t know what the future entails, but that is the beautiful part of it, isn’t it? There is so much space in the unknown, that it is worth letting go of what I used to know just to explore where this space can bring me, and what I can make out of it.

It is great to be back, not only to this little country, but perhaps what is more significant, is that I am back to the core of my self.

growing roots

I had always been trying to run away from my country. I had found it limiting and suffocating. I thought that if I ever had the chance, I would plant my roots anywhere but here.

What I didn’t expect was, like people, countries evolve too.

What I didn’t know too, was as I evolved, I would be capable of looking at something with vastly different lenses.

I was so afraid to be rooted when I first left SF I told people I’ll be returning to Asia, and I would visit Singapore every month or so. It’ll be the best of both worlds, I’ll be still free and travelling, and I could still spend more time with my family and friends, compared to once or twice a year when I was living eight thousand miles away.

But freedom is complex. I can be geographically free, but as a nomad I’m always having to make cognitive decisions — where to go, where to stay, what to eat, how do I get there. I was not only a geographical nomad, in a lot of ways I was an emotional nomad, I never really allowed myself to form grounding relationships.

It was tiring being a geographical and emotional nomad. I realized being free in a certain way compromises on freedom in other ways. And perhaps like seasons, I don’t have to limit myself to a certain way of living. I can be grounded now, and perhaps I can return to my nomadic ways after.

Being free is very important to me. But what does freedom mean at this point to me? I want to feel free to create. To feel free to create, I have to nurture a baseline of health, I need to free up my cognitive energy from making mundane decisions in order to spend it on what matters most – my work. It wasn’t nomadic freedom I wanted now, much to my own surprise, no matter how tempting it seems, no matter how much I wanted it before.

I can’t truly be free when I’m always in chronic pain, or in cognitive limbo. I had to be really honest with myself. Am I so invested in my “freedom” that I am unable to see that I need certain factors in my life to be stable in order to facilitate the best conditions for healing? I need to have a loose routine, to be able to have an exercise regimen, to be near to treatment options, to have access to a clean, nourishing, healthy diet. I also want to be around people who understands what it means to grow up and be Singaporean, to consciously choose to live in Singapore even if we could have left, to be co-invested in the future of this country.

I have just been so busy running away, that I have never tried to romance my own country, to know her in her own entirety — both her pockets of darkness and light. I have admittedly never ventured out of 50% (generous estimate) of the country, never took walks around her natural reserves, never been to any of her museums since I became an adult (I know, I know, stop judging ;p). I never really knew what went on in her arts and literary scene, never bothered to find out (because like many people I assumed the worst). I have never truly explored my own little country.

I ran away from a place I didn’t truly know, and that’s not the only entity I’ve been running away from that blinded me so much with resentment that I was unable to see that love exists too, even in darkness.

A tree’s branches spread out wider when her roots grow deeper, and I want to experience how it is like to consciously choose to be grounded, out of my own free will, without any real forcing circumstances, without having anything to run away from.

I signed a one year lease today. It was the first place I saw, and I was surprised by my own willingness to commit so soon, so quickly. It is a five minute walk away from my parents’ and I’m looking forward to a staple of home-cooked food everyday.

keep on being

I got encouraged by my discovery that Charles Darwin had severe anxiety, had to lie in bed almost every day for hours, and yet he still made a huge contribution to the world.

“Darwin had spent most of the past three decades — during which time he’d struggled heroically to write On the Origin of Species housebound by general invalidism. Based on his diaries and letters, it’s fair to say he spent a full third of his daytime hours since the age of twenty-eight either vomiting or lying in bed.”

I have come to a point where I stopped having any buried messianic tendencies in myself – I don’t need to make a huge contribution to the world, I just want to be capable of being unapologetically myself.

When I have the space to be myself, my natural tendency is to keep on creating, connecting and loving. Being in Bali for almost a month has taught me that given all the space and time in the world – being unable to work (I don’t mean in a job) is akin to living hell. There’s only so much of staring into space I can do.

My eyes are still in a terrible state, and Darwin above has given me the idea that as long as I don’t go blind, I could put up with the pain and still carve out a couple of hours to do some intense work, and curl up incapacitated the rest of the day. So, I did the right thing this week by booking an appointment with an eye specialist. I am doubtful it will help – western medicine is still ineffective at anything chronic – but it will give me a peace of mind that I am not going blind.

I am brimming with a ton of ideas in my head, probably mostly bad ones, but I have learned that as long as I keep expressing myself, keep birthing things into existence from my imagination, I am doing a respectable job (at least to myself) of honouring my own humanity.

Age has taught me it doesn’t matter how others perceive me, even though sometimes it may still inflict pain or joy on me, ultimately it is my perception of myself that will define whether I am willing to look at myself in the mirror or not. I just have to keep on reminding myself that, because my conditioned instinct is still to look to others for acceptance.

I am getting better at it though. I am so used to being alone and coping with everything alone, that sometimes I forget I do have a small but growing tribe of people surrounding me. Being able to see myself in their eyes, is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.

Yet the irony and the moral of the story is – I had to be willing to be myself first, in order to be capable of seeing myself in their eyes.

the slow descent

When I first arrived in Bali I could only describe myself as high-strung. I was constantly in state of anxiety, and I didn’t know what to do with myself.

The past few years I’ve steadily ascended a peak that I thought I wanted – to be fair I think it was what my previous self has wanted – but after getting to the peak I had altitude sickness.

Being in Bali is like trying to make a slow descent. I keep looking back, wondering if I could have stayed at the peak, but I knew the decision to descend has been set in motion much earlier than I knew.

It is a painful process, the attempt to murder one’s former existence. I thought breaking up with people was hard, but it seems harder breaking up with my former self. There was so much I’d invested, there was so much other people had invested. I don’t know what to do with my former dreams – disown them, deny them, honor them? Do I process my former self as a farce, as evidence that I didn’t know myself well enough, or do I accept that it is simply one cycle that has ended and I must start a new one, no matter how much I actually miss being on my old one?

Sometimes, love is just not enough, the song goes. It is not enough, be it people, cities or careers. One’s calling, or one’s natural self is difficult not to heed. My new self started cannibalizing my old self before I even knew what was happening.

After more than 3 weeks in Bali I have settled into some strange, foreign rhythm. I stopped looking for things to do, I am now able to endure an entire afternoon on the beach without feeling fidgety. My emotions have stablized after scraping the depths of my darkness last week. I am no longer psychosomatically anxious about the future because at this point, I don’t really see one, to be honest. Chronic pain forces one to be present in the moment.

I am resigned. That it is not really within my control what happens. In some ways resignation has liberated me. I am beyond despair because it doesn’t change anything.

That said, it has just been 3 weeks. I admit that it is unrealistic to expect myself to be jumping with life (I was never jumping with life anyway) after 9 months of dysfunctional health. My eyes are still dry, pain and red, but I think my heart has stopped swinging from 50 to 120 beats per second. I was forced to quit coffee after a spate of nauseating migraine last week, and I am inclined to continue without it, because there is only so much I can self-sabotage my adrenals. I miss the mental aliveness after a cup of good coffee, but I can throw that into that growing bucket of all the things I have missed about my former life.

It is like missing former long-term romantic relationships. Sometimes it is just nobody’s fault except it is not the right fit and we know we have to end it, but it doesn’t remove what we miss, and may continue to miss, for as long as our existences last.

I am still moving downward, and perhaps when I finally hit the bottom, I may finally find the mobility to move sideways, instead of constantly looking upward or downward. Being among the clouds may be beautiful, but I miss being able to freely seek more ground.

writing honestly about pain

I came across this post, titled “Depressiongrams” and there was an observation:

There is plenty of space in the cultural conversation for stories about what it was like to have been depressed, but there isn’t much space or tolerance for narrating the experience in live time.

It occurred to me that I tend to write most of my experiences after the fact, and there is a reason for that – during depressive episodes, the last thing I want to do is anything, because it feels like all the life has been sucked out of me.

But perhaps right now I think it is worth writing about when I am in the throes but not at the deep end yet. It feels like limbo: I am still unwell, but I have mustered enough energy to write.

I really want to be more real. I have been real enough, but there is still a lot of self-censorship going on. I was afraid that if I am to be more honest than I am already, it would make a lot of people uncomfortable. But this discomfort contributes to a lot of stigma, a lot of misrepresentation and misunderstanding. I cannot direct the narrative of the world, but I have full license over mine. It is entirely up to me how much, how little I want to share.

And I think, do people really want to read how I experience my own demons? I was honestly afraid like most other people out there, to be labelled an over-sharer, or whatever else people say about other people who publish their entire lives online.

Then I realised, have I ever felt that way about another person? A person who shares both her pain and her joy publicly? I have only felt a deep sense of connection and gratitude – thanks for doing this, so it makes it easier for people like us. That is when I knew, we choose the tribes we want to belong to.

So for today, I am going to write about what it feels like for me when things get bad, as well as I can articulate in words:

I have been in Bali for more than two weeks now, and I naively thought by now I would have felt a lot better. But I don’t. I do feel less high strung, which is better than nothing, but the chronic pain is still there.

Today, I woke up with my eyes feeling like they have been secretly punched while I was sleeping. I looked into the mirror and it seems like there are more visible vessels growing over the whites of my eyes. I felt that fear in my stomach. What if I am slowly going blind?

I googled my symptoms, but of course. Obviously googling didn’t make me feel better. It could be anything from computer eye strain to diabetes to eye cancer. I remembered that I had experienced some anxiety before I slept, so suddenly it occurred to me to google for anxiety and dry eyes. It turns out that there is a ton of research done and also a plausible explanation:

Reduced lubrication in the eyes are caused by body fluids being diverted elsewhere in the body during anxiety causing the eyes to feel sore, dry and painful. source

That did make me feel better, because I rather have anxiety-driven dry eyes than eye cancer. But as the afternoon dragged on, the pain in my eyes radiated outwards, and it became a full-blown migraine. (It did provide additional comfort that my painful eyes seems related to an old foe of mine, migraines, instead of being some mysterious isolated symptom.)

My migraines make me feel nauseous, so I had to curl up in bed for a few hours before I could feel remotely better, but for a split-second I remembered why I used to feel so suicidal.

This sort of chronic pain makes me feel like I am dying a slow death. I have no idea when I will get better, how I will get better, what is the true damned cause of my symptoms. Everything is guesswork, anything I do is an experiment. It feels incredibly frustrating that just when I thought I was getting better, my eyes decided to prove me otherwise. Migraines I can live with, because they do eventually go away. Just the mere fact that my eyes are chronically painful is enough to send me into depression – how am I going to live if I can no longer do the things I love?

It makes me understand why people make that choice, because in that moment, that pain is greater than any rational thinking or any possible empathy for the people we are leaving behind.

It is not just physical, but an indescribable emotional and psychic pain.

I have repeatedly assured everybody including myself that I will not do it, because I don’t have it in me to cause my loved ones that much pain for the rest of their lives – but it doesn’t make the actual deep-rooted desire and pain go away.

Being able to write about it, is at least the one thing I can still hold on to.

at my core

I’ve been keeping journals and blogs for a long time now, and sometimes I still get upset with myself for not doing it religiously. I only have records of my life from the early 2000s, which may explain why my life prior to that has existed as a continuum of misery and pain.

I realised some time ago that I was predisposed to only remembering sadness, so henceforth I was obsessed about keeping records – even if I didn’t have time to journal, I still kept notes of my thoughts, feelings and observations through other channels, mostly social media.

I don’t go through my old blogs often, because I am often embarrassed at my own naivety and idealism in my younger days. Yesterday, while I was having a particularly difficult moment, my consciousness surfaced a thought, that I had been through this before. I went through some of my older blog entries, picking them by intuition (or some deep filing cabinet in my subconscious) and I was surprised by my younger self.

These are some snippets from a entry about power (2010):

Power struggles are everywhere. It exists between spouses (honey, please do the housework), between colleagues, of course the ones between economic/political parties. Artists fight for the power to create, advocates fight for the power to change. Don’t misunderstand that Gandhi was giving up his power when he gave up his riches and went on his peaceful protest. That’s demonstration of true power – power that doesn’t require brute force or making others fear.

I realised that the most important one I have to win, is the one that exists within myself. The power struggle between my mind and my soul.

People depend on external sources of power (authority, money) because of human insecurity. If you ever find that unwavering belief of who you are and what you’re meant to do, the power comes from within. Money becomes your tool and not your master. Power becomes a form of energy and not gratification.

The above surprised me because I thought I had formed these realisations in recently, not five long years ago. For someone that undergoes through a deep transformation every quarter, five years are like eons to me. I started to question if I actually forgot myself in the process of the past few years.

Then I re-read this entry regarding the power of my choice (2011):

There and then, I asked myself. If right at this moment, I could choose to stop ‘suffering’ and exchange my current life for a life that is full of peace, stability and comfort, how would I make that choice?

I realised that I would still choose this life. No matter how tiring, how difficult things can get, how broken it has made me feel sometimes. I still want my life.

At that very split-second, it all returned to me. The power of my choice.

And most tellingly, in two separate entries from 2011 and 2013, I wrote about what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. Both entries had the same overlap:

  1. Education reform
  2. Mental health awareness
  3. Support people in their journeys to be themselves

I completely forgot about the entry in 2011, and it astounded me to see the overlap in both entries. That I knew this in 2011, still cared about it in 2013, and I still feel and think the same way in 2015. They look like three separate areas, but they are intrinsically interconnected. That if we raise our kids to be capable of critical thought and to have empathy – for themselves, their peers and all living species – all other issues will resolve by themselves (if we do not implode the planet meanwhile). I really, truly, believe in a fairer distribution of the world.

I have no idea how am I going to do all of that, especially with my broken body now, but I want to build that faith that if I continued to make choices that honor the core of myself, I will figure it out as I go along. But at the very least, I can keep on doing what I have done for years – to keep on sharing my despair and joy in my own journey to become myself, in hope that somehow it will create the space for some others to become themselves.

I have found so much shared strength in people, living or dead, who have persisted on their life paths, no matter how seemingly obscure they are to society, and unfortunately, for many of them, value is not being realized until posthumously. But value creation should not be the driver still – does a flower or a bee know its value to the ecosystem?

In a period where I am going through so much change, I find tremendous comfort that the core of myself has been the same: that I believe true power comes from within, that I am still willing to make difficult choices, that I still cared deeply about the same issues.

I see myself as a longitudinal experiment, that since I am not typically invested in living some time ago I have already committed metaphorical suicide (I am in great company I realised), that apart from trying to assure my family I am really not insane and they shouldn’t worry about me I have no other commitments to fulfill (for now) – hence I am free to live the way I believe I should, and all the more I feel morally obligated to do this, to at least try to be a living example of the values and philosophy I espouse.

a lifetime of questioning

These days, every morning I wake up, I am tired. I touch the top of my eyelids to see if my eyes have gotten better – nope, still sore. I look into the mirror – yup, still enlarged vessels.

I go through the motions everyday, trying my very best to not do anything strenuous to make things worse, and that includes limiting time to do what I love to do: write and read.

I am impatient, a lot of my strengths come from my impatience. I am good at solving problems because I cannot stand to have something unsolved. I lose sleep over answers I am trying to find.

That becomes terrible when the problem is me.

I am trying really hard not to see myself as a problem, but as a person who just needs a little nurturing, recovery and love. I go through my past scenarios every day, wondering if there was any point in time I could have done better, to have prevented this slow slide into forced paralysis. I think about what I have given up, and I still question if there was any chance in hell I could have not given them up.

I swing between blaming myself and being proud of myself, to be capable of taking this step.

But the swings are getting more infrequent, and I find myself in that place of pride a little more. I am actually grateful that my body has just simply given up, because I was forced to revaluate the life I was leading. The issue was the life I was leading was such a great life, I never had the opportunity to think whether it was what I truly wanted. It was hard to slowly discover that the life I really wanted to lead is a life that will be full of trials and tribulations, not a life that would give me enough to be left alone.

By left alone, I mean a life that would stop people and myself from questioning what the hell I was doing, if I was doing the right thing, if I was successful. Now, I am choosing a life that will be a lifetime of questioning, possibly starting with if I am sane.

Living at the edge, when sometimes it feels like death, ironically feels the most alive. Routine and comfort was paramount to stabilising my mental health, and yet it was also slowly killing me inside. How can I possibly find that delicate balance?

A lot of things are like muscles. The more we do it, the less difficult it becomes. People tell me I must be brave for talking about my depression openly, and it was terrifying when I started seven years ago, but now I am pretty comfortable about it. What is more terrifying to me now, is the realisation that to lead the life I truly want to lead, is that it will slowly diverge me from everything I am familiar with. I need to cross a chasm into a new world, letting go of everything that served and supported me. I will need to let go of any desire to be seen.

But that is what it will take to break new ground, to seek new territory. To live a life that only I myself am capable of creating. That means not giving a shit to the external world, and it also means having to endure concerned, quizzical looks in the eyes of people who care about me, because there wouldn’t be a framework of evaluation known to them, or even to myself. I can only know that I am on the right path by trusting my inner voice, my gut.

Someone once told me that if I continue to follow my gut, I will do amazing things. I am barely alive right now, so I find it tremendously challenging to believe that, but perhaps it is not amazing things that I want to do, but simply, authentic things. Things that I truly, deeply, care about, even if nobody else cares.

Maybe I just want to light a candle in a corner of darkness, even if that darkness is me.

That is what that will give myself the will to live again, to be painfully honest about who I am, even if it comes at the price of never, ever, being seen by anyone else again, in exchange for my capacity to see myself.