*Content Warning: suicide*
On my first day of second grade, I sat alone, criss-cross applesauce on the playground floor, plucking at the fake plastic grass beneath me. My back was pressed against the plastic walls underneath the slide, and I observed as all the kids around me yelled and shrieked and laughed and played tag. I looked longingly towards them and turned my face back down towards the ground. With my small finger, I thought about what it would be like to not exist as I traced a Korean word into the ground. “희망.” “Hope.”
I have always been a shy, sad kid, and I still am. I can never seem to shake away the feeling I had when I ate my lunch alone at school, shoulders slouching, eyes averted, and fingers tapping away the seconds until the bell would ring for class. As I grew up and entered college, I came to realize a very important fact: everywhere is essentially the same, just a different background. College is an older playground, and in my mind, I am the same kid with her back against the yellow slides, waiting for lunch to be over, only this time, the playground is much bigger. Now, if you fall off the slide, you’re going to get more than a couple of small rocks embedded into your knees, and after a lifetime of watching tag alone on the sidelines, I decided to quit the game that I was never even truly a part of. On November 16, 2019, I tried to kill myself.
I have dealt with suicidal tendencies, severe depression, and mental illness for most of my life, and I remember how these overwhelming aches in my chest felt long before I even knew how to put a label on them. College is already an extremely difficult environment to adapt to, and traversing through this rigorous academic domain where everybody except you seems to be doing great seems practically insurmountable. Quarantining alone with your thoughts while still maintaining academic responsibilities is even more challenging. For the hour-long gaps in between my smiley Quarantine Chronicles videos where I baked cookies, cleaned my room, did work, and played my kalimba at the park, I slept. I was sleeping and curled up into a small shaking ball in the center of my bed, lights turned off, curtains closed, door locked, phone off, mind numb. And I was proud of myself for doing so. Because every minute I was asleep was a minute where I wasn’t thinking about, or actually, hurting myself.
Staying at home everyday has almost given me the excuse to push people away from me. I took the term social isolation to a whole new level and turned off my phone for a week. It took all of my strength to do normal activities, and I would be lying if I said that I am adjusted to this new life in quarantine. Despite all of this, I am trying my hardest every single day to regain some sense of normalcy. I try to do at least three things a day: one thing I enjoy, one thing I need to do, and one self-care activity. Sometimes, I can do all three. Other days, I cannot find it in myself to do one. The point is not if I am able to be productive in my goals. The point is if I try, and, with all the love in the world, I encourage you all to try too.
Depression is not a romantic sadness that can be packaged with a satin bow. It is a legitimate health issue that deeply impacts millions of people. It is not pretty. It is not cute. But it exists. I acknowledge that my own personal experience with dealing with depression in quarantine may be completely different from the next person, and would like to thank Annika, Lara, and Jacob for lending their own perspectives in their Quarantine Chronicles that have opened the door for more conversation regarding heavy subjects intertwined with personal privileges. I do not have housing worries or food insecurities to cause me further distress, and I acknowledge that many do not share the same privileges I have. Although my words on a page are not enough, from the bottom of my heart, I wish everybody strength and peace to get through this time. We will come out of this together.
This week, I baked cookies. Today, I took a shower and felt proud of myself. Next week, I think I might take another walk down to the park at dusk; I plan on watching the sky turn purple. It’s the little things. Always, I will have “희망.” “Hope.”
**If you or someone you know is struggling, please know that there is hope and help available for you:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741
UCSD Counseling and Psychological Services Hotline: 858-534-3755