My depression is a part of me as any physical feature I have on my body. I’ve contemplated asking it for rent numerous times since it’s been living with me for 8 years now. The funny thing is that I have never actually been medically diagnosed with depression. I never received a proper diagnosis, nor have I been put on medication for it. But the severity of my depression isn’t something that should be taken lightly, although I do it myself all the time.
I grew up in a family with a loving mom, a hard-working dad, and a sweet little sister. My parents showed their love for me through a strict upbringing that included physical discipline. I wasn’t the nice traditional Chinese daughter that they wanted to have. I grew up in a western society, filled with highly liberal values and morals. It’s something that my parents don’t understand, nor were they willing to understand. Through the years of me growing up to reach adulthood, we had more days where we fought than we would get along. Almost every day I would be lectured about how I was doing things incorrectly, how I was lacking, or useless and stupid I was. These lectures would turn into fights, and these fights would lead to physical discipline. Now I would never physically discipline my kids, but I know that this was a deeply cultural issue and not something that I could change by reasoning with them.
I think that by grade 7, I was already in a state of depression. The fights that we would have and the constant verbal abuse and degrading of my person were too much for an 11-year-old to handle. In 8th grade, I started actively self-harming. It’s not something I’m proud of. My scars will forever be a reminder of my battle with myself and my lack of healthy coping mechanisms. That year, my mom saw my cuts. She asked what was going on. I told her that nothing was going on. She told me to stop it, that it was ugly, that a “young lady” like myself should be ashamed of destroying my body.
Ninth grade was when everything started to go downhill at a velocity that I could not control. I finally entered high school, but more than ever before, I struggled to find myself. Identity crisis after identity crisis. I was severely depressed, self-harmed almost every day, and constantly thought about suicide. The fighting continued, it worsened, some days I would have slightly visible marks from my discipline. I wanted to die. One night, I was so frustrated by everything, how I was constantly berated and I told my mom that I wanted to kill myself. She didn’t know the severity of my depression. On the night of May 13th in 2014, when I was 14 years old, I decided that I had enough and that I would take my own life. So I hung myself in my closet.
I don’t remember what happened after that. Apparently, I was taken to the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver by helicopter. I was in a coma for 4 days. The doctors told my parents that due to the extensive time that my brain was cut off from oxygen, that I was most likely not going to make it. If I did wake up, I would be severely disabled and unable to function independently for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t live a long life either. The odds were completely against me. I wasn’t supposed to live. But I did. I lived. When I woke up, I didn’t recognize anyone. They would tell me the date every day and I could not remember it to save my life. My memory was damaged, I didn’t remember much, but eventually, I was recovering. I was in the ICU for 2 weeks before they placed me in the psychiatry ward of the hospital. For 4 days I was monitored. My bedroom walls were padded. The pillow was attached the bed. Once they had deemed me to no longer to be a danger to myself and they discharged me from the hospital. After I was discharged from the hospital, my parents decided that enough was enough and that they would treat me better. But that didn’t last very long. We had our first fight two weeks after I was discharged. And everything went back to how it was before. I started counselling. It didn’t help. Or I didn’t come clean to everything. I acted like I was a new person, that I valued my life just so that I could get out of counselling.
I had several more suicide attempts, but none as severe as my first. Through the years, my depression was like an ocean. The waves of depression hitting me hard but then receding slowly. March of last year, it hit me again. I decided that I myself would willingly go to counselling. And it worked. I got much better and I was able to graduate from high school successfully and start attending McGill. I’ve always been vulnerable to depression, but then again I never fully recovered.
Last November and December were some of the roughest months of my life since May of 2014. I was in a state of severe depression, but I was also in denial that it had returned. My roommate saw how much of an utter mess I was. School was overwhelming, social dynamics gave me anxiety, and I simply could not function. I coped with my problems by drinking, partying, doing drugs, and hooking up with strangers. I needed to fill that void of loneliness that had grown so much in the last few months. But finally, I told myself that I didn’t want to live like this anymore. I didn’t want to live every day feeling like I was worthless like my life had no meaning. I decided to get help. I went back home for Christmas. It was actually terrifying to go back home because I wasn’t sure if anything had changed. Would I still get yelled at? Would I still get disciplined? When I arrived home, I realized that not much had changed. The family dynamic was still the same, but I survived those two weeks. My parents love me, and I know that. They just show it through ways that aren’t really beneficial to my well-being, but I know that they love me.
It’s 2018. They say “New Year, new me”. New Year, new Vi. I’m not “better”, but I’m doing a lot better than before. Recovery is a long process and to be honest, I don’t even know if I can ever fully recover, but I’ve learned new coping mechanisms. It’s so hard to heal. Healing hurts sometimes, and it is never easy. I moved away from home, and that’s already a big step forward. I’m forgiving myself more, telling myself that things are going to be okay. I don’t need to put myself under constant stress to succeed. I just want to live a long and happy life filled with self-fulfillment and love. Like I said, it’s not easy. I still have days where all I want to do is lay in my bed and not do anything. But it's getting easier to remind myself that it’s okay to take things slow. I’ll be okay. And you will too.