Childhood, Self-Development, Social Media

You are only honest with yourself at 2 am.

It is 2 am. This is the time when you are most introspective and free. This is when you have the darkest thoughts, but also the most profound, the ones with the most clarity. This is the time you feel the courage to click the send on an overdue love letter/email. It is the time you can hear your thoughts without bias or judgement. It is when all of the noise finally quietens.

Robin Williams and his choice to end his life has gone completely viral since it happened. It became the most blogged, tweeted about topic of the week and became every online blog’s wet dream. Countless repeated conversations combined with personal anectodes of fans who grew up watching his work. I was near a Starbucks when I saw it on Facebook, talking to my parents. I read the sentence out loud before realizing who it was. “Robin Williams dead, alleged suicide.”

Canadian suburbia 30 minutes from home.

Canadian suburbia 30 minutes from home.

In the day time, even despite the shock, I didn’t really process. My dad said, “This is going to upset a lot of people. This isn’t… good, the suicide part.”

Even then, I could predict the issue being viral gold. I got lost in the noise. It bothered me — the way it happened, I wanted answers. The detail about his belt, Zelda William’s tweet followed by her desicion to go offline during mourning, the “you’re free” from Aladdin; all just emotional porn which I obsessively consumed on all online medium channels.

My mother didn’t understand depression and I had to explain that it was a chemical imbalance that was as serious as any other disease. I compared it to anemia and other popular diseases which people have no control over. She argued that he had everything — fame, fortune, wealth, success, family. How could anybody be sad? I tried to explain, desperately needing her to understand. I explained how depression is a void of emptiness which must have been dark enough for him to have ended his life, despite his percieved perfect life. I explained that it was all physiological and molecular, people didn’t choose to be depressed. It isn’t a choice people make because they were bored or restless. It isn’t a choice people make because they want attention. It isn’t a choice people make because it seems glamorous or popular. It is misunderstood, isolating, lonely and victim-blaming.

Chinese market at Vancouver’s Downtown eastside


I wondered if she remembered her best friend, also with everything one could want in life, being diagnosed with depression. I wondered if she remembered that in 8th grade, my guidance counsellor had explained how I may have mild clinical depression. My counsellor had tried to get me help but I, since then, adopted my parent’s attitude of denial. After all, I had been mourning a friend’s passing then — mourning basically has all the same physical symptoms.

It worked. Like a placebo effect, you truly believe there’s nothing wrong with you. Sometimes, you’ll catch yourself saying out loud, “I don’t want to do this anymore” when reffering to life. Sometimes, you’ll think it and go on, without a second thought. A good friend will stop and make you realize what you just said so nonchalantly. Deep down, you know there is an emptiness that will never be cured — but you call it human existence and move on. You try to understand this demon of yours, but like your shadow, it is engrained within you that you can’t imagine it not being there — but you claim that everyone has defining moments that shape their entire life. You are certain that everybody feels a genre of this.

You wonder why there is no depth or complexity in some of the conversations, some of the people you encounter. You argue that you prefer this, the bleakness gives your personality, allows you to enjoy humour, makes you empathetic — your life is richer. You pity those who can’t view life in the same grey shades of you.

And besides, you’re so functional. You wake up and do things and have goals and socialize and you have such a huge support system. There’s no way you could be this functional if you truly had a problem. You remember the things that make up your identity — student of ___, volunteers at ___, works at ____. All of these names and organizations and centers to legitimize your existence and make you appear functional. 

Summer 2014 with the brother.

You’re also so funny — or you think so, anyway. You have such a positive attitude towards like, anything — you don’t think so, but have been told numerous times. For god’s sake, you actively promote self-care and attempt it yourself every now and then. You’ve fooled everyone you know, but still have to tackle the art of fooling yourself.

Ignorance works; you dissolve in the noise of life until that next time it’s 2 am.


a coloured brick path.

i remember being less than ten years old, and wanting all of us to reach our full potential during playtime. i remember asking what kind of play-pretend people felt like that given evening, collecting answers, and making a firm decisions on whether it’d be “family” or “neighbours” or “having a restaurant” or if we’d be doing something completely different like hide-n-seek, a hop-skotch tournament, and other very specific games that we invented that were unique to our block. i took on that role because i was amongst the oldest, but i think i’ve always had that “calling” towards getting things organized and structured, so that we wouldn’t waste all of playtime just deciding what to do. i remember i made someone cry once because i chose something that they didn’t want to do and i tried to convince him that it was what everyone wanted, but he was so upset, he didn’t listen and cried and called his mom, who adored me. he and i are still close friends to this day.

i remember there was a time we were obsessed with colouring this brick street. i would have a “schedule” for who would be bringing the clay based crayons or pastels. i would get very upset if someone forgot their day, because nobody would be able to colour, and would make them go home and get it. it was around 40 meters long and a meter wide. we coloured for months, not every day, but periodically. i remember people joking around too much, and getting annoyed that they wouldn’t be taking this project seriously, because i wanted to look at something everyday and get reminded of how good friends we were. except that we were, and i didn’t need a coloured brick street to prove anything.

i remember that after she died, i didn’t want to go anywhere near that street because it was tainted with sadness now, and memories of her. i remember that the colour stayed for a long, long time – even after we’d switched schools and had celebrated her death anniversary. i remember we finally went back to colouring, but only because the path looked even sadder with mere remnants of colour.

i started writing after that, and withdrew in my role of being the self-appointed leader of playtime. i don’t know if anybody had noticed i’d gotten much quieter and withdrawn and was more comfortable being in the background. i wonder if they noticed that i slowly lost my self-cofidence when kids started to pick on me for days on end in my new school, where i had pale coloured skin, and was obviously not as cool.

the gradient towards becoming detached started around there. i started reading a book a day, literally. i would eat very quickly by myself, then go to the library where all the librarians were nice and i felt safe. i’d pick a book after careful thought, and start it then. i’d read on the way home, and read instead of doing homework. i think i confused my parents because they’d have to tell me to stop reading so much. but those characters in those books loved me, and i loved them. they understood me and i understood them. in the world of fiction and writing, i wasn’t strange or weird – my feelings and thoughts were valid, and were valuable.

although i had always been sensitive and empathetic before then, those events only led to me developing an exaggerated version of those traits to this day. and that’s why i hated my school, even though it was literally a dream for kids anywhere, because it was a constant reminder of how i didn’t really belong, of sadness and pain, and being the kid that was weird and picked on, even after everyone who bullied me apologized in some way or other.

i remember making an constant effort to appear okay and happy and bubbly, as if that was as important as just telling someone i wasn’t – another trait i exercise today. it was mostly towards my parents, my brother whom i wanted to be a role model for, whom i wanted to teach small things like riding a bike, or the games and stories i’d created. it was my for my oldest friends, who had accepted me when i wore really ugly glasses and had the horrible mushroom haircut that my mom had insisted on and had kept me grounded when everything had happened – because i wanted to be seen as the same child i used to be, not the sad mopey and withdrawn one i’d become. they’d accepted the younger me and the older me that now took life so seriously, because it was serious, because it ended and it needed to be treated with care.

i remember feeling everything, every little emotion, not just mine, but everyone’s, in an amplified version – so much so that i couldn’t do anything till i had felt it completely and it had finally passed – another thing i do today. i remember being amazed at people who could put their feelings aside for a time being, and started practising that, because life had to continue to happen and i needed to be on the train instead of drowning in a sea of feelings, both good and bad and ugly.

and so, today – almost a decade and a half later, i realize i’m still the same person.

i realize i had slowly, and am still, removing the skin of ugliness that had grown over me because i had let other people influence what i thought of myself.  i let the layer of sadness and grief, not just as a child the first time, but as an adult the second time, develop into maturity and a way of looking at life, that wasn’t positive or negative, but was what it was.