I Was Depressed. Here’s My Come Out Story.
Emotional, Sensitive Kid
My mind and body was always the one. I remember getting bad stomachache and headache when I was a kid for no medical reasons behind. I was not sick or flu. A little later I found out that it always happened when my mom and dad are arguing.
I was depressed as far as I can remember. I was somehow depressed almost entire my life and it was coming from the feeling of being lonely and missing out on something.
I always felt I am not full, not whole, and so empty.
I always tried too hard to impress people around me so I can get attention and validation from those people I love. In that way, I feel less lonely and empty but this feeling did not last so long.
My first clinical depression
Though I am always very emotional and sentimental in general, there was a time or a few times I was really really depressed and these were what it so-called “clinical depression”.
The first time I was clinically depressed was when I was studying for the university entrance exam when I was in high school. I think I didn’t like the clamming school I used to go to. I can’t quite say what specifically I hated the most but I just didn’t like the vibe at all.
Since I was little, I see things through colors of atmosphere that space has and I am very good at sensing it when something is not for me. “I just didn’t like the vibe ” can explain everything in that situation I was at when I was in high school. In my language, Japanese, there’s a word “kuuki” means “air”. It literally means air but we use it often to explain the atmosphere, vibe, and surroundings. There’s a phrase in Japanese says “kuuki wo yomu” which means “read the air” or I would say “sense the air”. In Japanese culture, we value things, which aren’t unsaid, or something we can’t see. If it’s not for all the Japanese people, that’s at least how I raised up.
I really hated the air in the clamming school and I felt very suffocated just being there. After 10 years, I still get the feeling of un-breathable every time I pass near that building.
“I just didn’t like the vibe” can make a lot of sense to how I felt at that moment, however, this language is not common for everyone. In fact, I was even ignoring it because what I was supposed to do when I was at age 16 was to study hard so I can go to a good university and my future will be secured.
A lot of people often try to ignore it when they are feeling something is not right especially when they are facing the “justice” which society or people around given the value to or when they are expected to act “normal” as everyone else does.
This was also the time I was cutting all the connections from my family and friends as I was pushing myself so hard to get into my first choice. I was studying 18 hours of the day. Yes, 18 hours. The whole time I was awake I study, and sleep 6 hours. Every. Day.
I was also on the stupidest teenager diet to starve myself so I can look good and have those skinny legs. Not feeding myself and studying 18 hours did not work well and I did not get into the first choice.
Well, I was not too depressed about the result. Just the clamming school and the disconnection from my family were making me so depressed I had suicidal thoughts twice but I didn’t try to do it at all.
I was not sure if I was clinically depressed as a teenager or I never labeled myself as “depressed” back then, so I didn’t really seek for any help and I came out of it eventually.
Time had passed and the environment had changed and I started my not-a-first-choice-but-ok university and I was back to positive-self again.
The Second Time
The second time I felt hopeless, stuck and suffocated was when I lived in Cambodia. I was working as a model but modeling didn’t go well. Before I moved there I was promised a lot of opportunities, such as hosting TV shows, being a cover model, walking runways, and so on. Innocent young myself didn’t know anything about doubting others and just followed dreams. I believed in everything and everyone including myself and the next thing I did was to move to Cambodia with no fear and 2 suitcases full of clothes.
The night I had got into a really bad fight with my mom I booked a one-way ticket to Cambodia. Initially, my parents weren’t happy about the idea of me moving to the third country right after graduating university. They wanted me to have a “secure” job. I had been trying to talk to them what I want to achieve in Cambodia but our “talk” always went into “argument” and finished as the world ugliest “fight”.
I didn’t know the country and the culture well, and coming from Japan, my patience in work and life there did not fit into their standard. Maybe I was too young to deal with it or just it wasn’t for me.
Every single day I woke up feeling “I am not doing well”, “I am not enough”, “When am I going to be successful?”, “I need to work harder, but how!?”, “I can’t see my mom’s face until I make it”.
I was in a rush but didn’t know which direction to go. I wanted to do so much but I didn’t know where to begin. I had no patience.
After a few months, these thoughts in my head beat me up completely. I wasn’t able to get up from bed anymore. I was so scared to go into public.
My job was a model and I lived in a small town. Everyone knows me and looks at me in a good way and a bad way. I became too self-conscious about other people’s eyes. I was told over and over again, by my boyfriend back then, “you have to behave yourself when you go out because people are watching you”.
I still don’t know what my ex-boyfriend’s intention is by saying that, but it was very manipulative comment when I think about it after a while. I am not saying all of his intentions was bad during the relationship and he did have a sweet side of him but the relationship I was in was very abusive and I was hurt.
My heart started telling me I have to leave Cambodia before it gets really, really bad. But I wasn’t sure how to come out to my parents, because I was the one pushed them away and left Japan.
Still, my mom would message me and ask how I am doing and I just replied every time “I am fine”. I felt so bad lying to her. In reality, I was not doing well in my job, also physically and mentally. I only wanted to tell her the truth when I make it. Make it to the billboard in the country and feel succeeded.
My sister helped me out well in this situation and finally, I was welcomed back home and ended the toxic relationship.
I didn’t really go for medical option or therapist at that time but I spent a lot of time resting home. After a few months, I slowly started being myself again. I applied for jobs, I became a freelance writer and contents creator, and joined a beauty pageant. After a year and a half passed, I’ve got an opportunity to work in Singapore and this time moved away from Japan happily.
The Third Time (and Hopefully It’s the Last)
Hopefully, it will be the last time I need to be dealing with depression but the good news is I have managed to (almost) come out of it.
The title of this post is “My Come Out Story” and I gave 2 meanings to it. One is coming out from depression and the second is coming out “as” I have depression. The latter one is more important because my purpose of writing about my experience is to reach out to people who are also suffering and seeking for help, hope, cure, and a company. I am still on an on-going process of coming out of depression. Other people’s story about coping with depression always gave me hope to the situation I was dealing with and it has been helping me so much. So, I want to do the same to others.
I moved to Singapore and things started to get worse after the first year. The first year, I was working full time as an editor in an IT company but the role wasn’t that creative and I was extremely bored sitting in front of the screen every day doing the tasks which don’t necessarily have to be “me” to do it.
Though, the first year was fine because instead of focusing on a boring job, I was fulfilled with my life outside of work. I worked hard to win Miss Japan and prepped for an international beauty pageant contest. I enjoyed the process of preparation and being on stage representing my country! I truly embraced the once-in-a-lifetime type of experience.
After the pageant, I felt like I lost my purpose in life. What to live for every day. I didn’t know what else to do in my free time. I was also emotionally tired from competing.
I’ve started practicing to become a DJ right after the pageant show because that was something I’ve been wanting to try. I’ve started dating a guy and he became my boyfriend. I started making new friends because my good friends in Singapore had left. I started taking work very seriously to make more sales and make more money.
But the fulfillment I can get from my life was not the same anymore.
More and more I focused on work and the sales I am making, I became less and less of myself.
More and more I tried keeping myself busy with hobbies and friends, I started to feel numb and it got worse and worse.
I started suffering from the sever stomachache western doctors can’t figure it out the cause. Next thing happened was, I became very very depressed.
I have tried everything I could do to help myself. I searched for the cure and look for help every day. But after a while, I reached the point where I started thinking, “If life is always gonna be just like this, I don’t want it anymore”.
I was tired of getting up every day and picking up the battle with depression. Each day or every hour was a battle with the depression who is choking me and stubbing me right at my heart. I was sitting in the office filled with negative emotions or crying in my bed being not so sure how longer I could do this because I could not see the end of it. I felt like, I was in a long long dark tunnel running forever without seeing any lighting of the exit.
A lot of times, in mornings, I was awake in bed but not being able to get up for work so I was just stuck crying thinking whether I should go to work or not. I was at work sitting in front of the screen for 8-9 hours every day feeling dead inside and needed to run to the toilet a few times to cry silently and hide inside the cubicle from everybody. Food I used to enjoy a lot of taste nothing anymore. I started feeling panicked and cried on the train when I commute. When I got home from work, I was hiding in my bedroom to ignore all the text from my boyfriend. In evenings, I was counting the hours till I go back to the office again the next morning. I stopped calling my family on Facetime. I avoided making plans with friends because I was not sure how I was going to feel on that day and I might cancel on them again. I wanted to just stop trying and living anymore.
I didn’t want people to see me depressed. I didn’t want to be a negative influence on our relationship with my boyfriend. I didn’t want to disappoint my family.
But having these thoughts, even I myself was not understanding depression properly. Depression is scary. My personality isn’t anything like I don’t appreciate people around me nor be grateful for things I have, depression tricks my mind to think I am a bad person who is always negative and not thankful.
I have started online counseling and went through 4 different counselors. I learned meditation. I started journaling. I have decided to see a physiatrist and prescribed an antidepressant. My boyfriend helped me come out to my family about my depression. I let my boyfriend, family, and friends help me when they offer help. And finally, I have decided to leave the job, which wasn’t making me happy.
The day I’ve told my manager I want to resign, I came alive again.
Maybe it was the result of counseling I’ve been doing. Maybe it was the meds finally started working. Maybe it was the help of the loved ones. Maybe I just needed to quite the job.
I started to feel like myself again little by little.
All I can say from this is, everything I’ve tried to help myself has come together in the end. But I needed to take initiative to do all the steps. I looked for counseling options and signed up for it. I found a meditation center and went there to practice. I brought my journal everywhere with me to write down all the thoughts in my head. I called up a few physiatrists and went for a consultation. I took my time to explain to my loved ones what I was going through and let them help. These are all little effort I had been making. And, I can confidently say, I have done the most difficult one – to me, quite a job – by myself with the emotional support from the loved ones.
Depression is nothing like you can snap out of it or decide to be positive so it will be gone.
To me, depression felt like cancer in my mind because I can’t see the ending of it and people can die from it. But people might not take you seriously. People won’t tell patients with cancer, “you know, you just have to get over it” but people do say that to a person who is depressed. Depression is not a choice. Depression is not one bad moody day. It’s a continuous hour, days, weeks, and months of feeling down, sad, upset, angry, guilty, suicidal, worthless, and hopeless. It is a medical condition harm people’s life. It is an illness.
One reason stopping me from leaving the job was, I was so scared of the judgment. I wanted to prove to my boss that I was able to handle all the projects I had in my hand and wanted to do better to get validation from him.
Coming out as depression and telling them depression was the reason why I want to leave the job was the last thing I’ve wanted to do. But after I’ve told them everything, I don’t care anymore. What I needed to care was not the judgment from others but myself. I’m glad I have told them the truth.
I was scared because I know there are a lot of people don’t know what depression actually is and I don’ t want people to think I am crazy, weak, lazy, not independent, etc.
The reason why there still are these misconceptions about depression is people don’t talk about it often. Depression is so common nowadays but still, it’s kind of almost taboo to talk about it I feel like.
So I want to change that.
I am really hoping that by me writing this post will help someone out there, even one person on the planet, and change the way people see depression.
Depression is an illness and it is not fun being ill at all.
But through this experience of having clinical depression, I learned a lot about myself. I’ve disconnected from the world I was living and reconnected to myself again. The journey showed me my true purpose and I am one step closer to my dream. I came out stronger than ever. I am finally kind to myself and more compassionate to others.
Whoever is in this situation, I really feel your pain and it is painful for me to think about your pain. However, if you are reading this, I know you want to get better deep down and you are so strong to do so.
If you have that “will”, you are already in the process of coming out. Even you can’t believe in yourself right now, I believe in you.