Me and my depression- Part I
Many people know that I have tattoos but not many of them know how they came about. I have four tattoos in total on me and there are three of them related to my depressive episodes. I did not like to talk about my depression before. It was an extensive battle between personal shame, social taboo and public acceptance. It still is an on going exhausting journey to manage my life and my ways of thinking to live with my depression in peace.
I have been a goal-oriented person my whole life. But something happened in the first winter after I moved to the States and it shattered my belief in human will. I experienced panic attack very first time in my life. I would feel extremely anxious and hyperventilate for no reason, then passing out from out of breaths in my own apartment. It was really scary and I didn’t know what was going on. Living alone at the time made it extra hard to seek help. After winter break and some long conversations with my classmates, I finally made it to the student health center on campus. They prescribed something for me right away and set up therapy session. However, I resisted it and did not want to continue the treatment. I thought it would only be temporary and I could get thought it on my own. It seemed logical to me that after leaving home, facing culture shocks, and recovering from a heartbroken break up, my mind was exhausted and tried to shake these our of my system. After few weeks, life went back to normal, soon I left this incident behind.
We took a spring field trip to New York City that followed spring. Our costume teacher wanted to show us how broadway costume shops operates and visit FIT costume museum. But when we arrived at FIT, the museum was closed. All of a sudden, we had our afternoon freed up. Everyone went on their own adventure. I left the group, meeting up with a friend. After 4 hours, my first tattoo vividly inked on the back of my left shoulder. I wanted to remember that scary winter and how I survived. I thought it would be my one and only tattoo.
Shortly after the second winter came around. I didn’t notice anything wrong at first and went on about daily routines during winter break. But when school started again, I realized I could not leave my room. I had a lot of trouble getting up every morning and trying to go to class was impossible. I would sit on my bed and cry witching my roommate headed out the door. I was not able to do anything. It was like something els occupied my brain and my body was no longer under my command. Sitting one the edge of my bed for hours before I could really get up was the new normal. I knew I had to do something but it took me weeks of effort getting my butt to the health center again. This time, I was officially diagnosed with depression and the doctor put me on long term medication. It made me feel like a loser, one that can’t control her own will and fight with her own will. Being on medication only added another layer on to the shame building up in me. I was now someone that need chemicals’ help to be a “normal” person. It made no sense to me that this happened. I kept asking why me?! What did I do to deserve this?! No one could answer.
I don’t remember how I got through it. That is another symptom of depression that some people experience. It messes with your memories. I did almost got put on probation because I missed too many classes and had to have a meeting with our department chair and co-chair. They thought I should go home but I insisted staying and told they I didn’t fight this hard to be sent home. We came to an agreement that if I could catch up other classmates’ project progressions after spring break, they would let me finish my second year. Of course, I made it. No one from home knew what happened, not even my parents.
In the summer, I found a Taiwanese tattoo artist I liked. She designed and inked my second tattoo. Another mark on my journey with depression. I thought it would my last tattoo.