on mental illness and other rumination on life

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Sharp pangs of hunger hit me! I quickly checked the time on the phone, it was 8:30 pm. Shoot! I had not eaten the whole day, except for a couple of cups of coffee. It seemed a deliberated fast. Having just returned from an amazing trip of my life the other night, I was too tired to prepare myself a decent meal. All I wanted to do was sleep in late and lounge around with Netflix. But I was too devastated to watch Netflix after waking up to the news of the sudden death of Anthony Bourdain.

I first came to know of him through his book, Kitchen Confidential, which has been on my reading list for the longest time. It’s supposedly one of the best books written about screwing up and finding your footing a bit late in life.

It reminds one that it’s never too late to start- to find your passion, a hobby, to exercise, to find a partner/companion, to settle down, to start a family, to travel, to write a book, to do anything in life.

Deeply saddened by his sudden death, I stayed in bed all day watching his show Parts Unknown, grieving the loss of an incredible soul. May his soul rest in peace. Mental illness is for real. Depression is a disease. This article from Joanna Goddard highlights why depression is a disease, not a personality trait and why it’s so important to reach out for help.

 

I’ve had my fair share of fight with this disease. There have been so many dark thoughts and times that I’ve been through, where the meaning of life had seemed all vanity at a certain stage, where darkness and terror of the mind and soul had crisscrossed, where I had felt so hollow and desperately lonely even when I’ve had everything that I’ve ever wanted. A point where I’ve felt so sad and grief-stricken though I was loved and cared the most. Probably, this might be the reason why I’ve not been able to find a footing, all my life I’ve been a wanderer. I’ve never been able to stay in a place for too long, I’ve just moved on and on to never turn back else I shall turn to a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife. But my faith in God, the Almighty has have my heart filled with spirituality and made me realize how precious I am, as a human being, that there’s a purpose of life, of each and every one of us. You are precious and very special! Never hesitate to seek help.

Writing helps me to hold un-to my sanity. My mind is thinking and restless all the time. It’s at peace only when I bleed it down in papers. I’m taking a stroll or eating at a restaurant but my mind is thinking of stories and ideas all the time. Even at 3am, I wake up to write it down, just to take the weight off my shoulders. Reading helps me escape the reality. I feel it’s so important for one to develop a hobby which help us to pursue life meaningfully.

Speaking of thoughts and my restless mind, I quickly jump out of bed, wear a blue windbreaker matching it with my pair of shorts, grab my wallet and head out the door for a quick bite. New York weather can be so strange, it can be chilly all of a sudden in summer without a slight warning. The weather transcends from winter to summer with spring missing in between. The weather is the most talked about thing here, I guess. I’ve never been this obsessed with the weather. Planning a day out? Check the weather. Deciding your outfit? Check the weather. And it’s the most chilly when the sun is out and about. I’ve been duped several times, by this weather! I will never be able to figure out the estranged weather here.

As a new kid on the block, I’m still learning to navigate my ways around here. Craving for dumplings in one of the most diverse boroughs in the city, I look up for the best dumping place near me on the map only to find that it was closing soon for the night. Disappointed, I settle for a large slice of cheese pizza in a small pizza deli nearby my place.

Home to 8.5 million people, New York City is the most densely and diversely populated city in the world. Why have people left their homelands and families to come to the United States? The following picture in Museum of National Archives in Washington DC has the answer.

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As I take a huge bite of the dripping cheese pizza, I look outside the glass window and see a sea of people, mostly South Asian. It feels a lot like being in Jaigoan. This isn’t an exaggeration by any means. Studies show that when emigrants immigrate they opt for places where people of the same ethnicity form a community to feel more welcomed. I still cannot believe that I had the best and the largest sel-roti of my life here for a dollar. At first, I thought it was doughnut. In Boston, it’s just 4 and half Bhutanese, half being my friend’s two and a half year old toddler and we stick together all the time that we have been tagged the ‘Bhutanese delegation’ and our house ‘the Bhutanese house’ at school. It exudes an exotic feeling when someone new you meet say ‘wow! You’re the first Bhutanese I’ve ever met.’

As I munch on the pizza, a bizarre feeling of being an alien cross me – that no one knows me and I do not know anyone here in this concrete jungle. As I quickly down my last bite of the pizza with a sweet grape juice, I leave the $5 bill (Yes! I basically had a $5 dinner ’cause I’m a student on a budget) on the counter and exit the deli walking few blocks down the road, back to my room to ruminate on another episode of life. This long summer break is a start to the writing of my book, perhaps.

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A Reflection on 2017

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Frozen river in the middle of the city

The year 2017 has been extraordinarily different. It has been a year of a lot of things for me. As I write this, I’m sitting on a kitchen table while it’s sunny outside with temperature at -14 degrees Celsius. The snow has been piling up and it’s here to stay. More snow is predicted in the weather forecast. The freshly brewed Colombian coffee on on the table by the right smells great. The living room is still invigorated from the coffee aroma. It intoxicates me as I sit back and type away on my computer. This is not a typical new year eve from the cozy living room of my two-bedroom apartment in Thimphu like the many new year eves I’ve had in the past, bored to go outside in the dreary cold and instead snuggled in by the heater with a book. Sounds boring, right? Yeah it was. The year 2017 was a pretty shitty year!  Both psychologically and physically. It was a year of loss, disappointments, frustration, betrayals, rejection and wild decisions. A year which I’m glad that it’s over, FINALLY!

Actually, the year took off from a great start with lots of travel both abroad and inside Bhutan. I trekked to Phajoding with the sister and a friend and it was a memorable overnight trip. Then came the travel to my maternal grand parents’ place for a cousin’s wedding. It was a great family get-together and a perfect time to escape Thimphu’s cold. I was doing great with my fitness regime, eating healthy and was on track with my reading goals. Then came along the official trip to Philippines and the family vacation at Thailand. We met the brother after eighteen long months. Everything was going great.

Suddenly, the evil cast its shadows. I lost my younger cousin in an accident. He was too young, too good and super talented to have gone too soon. His absence left a huge gap in our life. Grief-stricken, we tried to seek support and comfort from each other in the family. What aches me most is to see his mother’s inability to accept the fact that her son is gone forever. That he won’t be standing at the front door next holiday season, smiling slyly, calling me to ask for pocket money. Even today, after seven months of his departure I feel the fresh pain as if it happened yesterday. My heart goes out to all the mothers who lost their child early in life. After his funeral, I immersed myself in my work like a mad woman and completed all his post-funeral paper works. I lost my interest in fitness and reading. I lost my appetite. Instead, copious amount of coffee was what I survived on and my poor eating habits got me to gastritis. I had no friends around to share my pain and sorrow. Everyone was busy with life. Losing a brother almost my age was hard for me. At times, it felt like giving everything up, run to the jungle and live in a cave because civilization was too torturous, psychologically. Two more deaths followed. I felt suffocated with life.

In July, my best friend returned home after completing her masters. It was a happy reunion. We went on a picnic, long drives, café hopping and lots of eating out happened. I regained my appetite. Gifts were exchanged and too many conversations on books and life happened over coffees and cocktail. Arundhati Roy’s book, The Ministry of utmost happiness was released after 20 long years. We compared her other book and applauded her bold and inspiring work. Life continued. More disappointments and betrayals followed. In the midst of all the heartache and tensions, I received a scholarship to pursue my Master’s degree in the United States. Oh God! My dream of traveling abroad for study was going to be fulfilled finally. In a month’s time, I packed up everything and came to Boston to pursue my study. Traveling across the continent alone, jet-lagged and excessive baggage on the heart wasn’t an easy thing. Soon after arriving here, getting back to school was another roller coaster ride. Trying to fit in, navigating a new continent and returning to the school mood became stressful. Disillusionment continued and the purpose of my life lost its luster. I got entangled in more issues which left me emotionally drained to the extent where counseling support was recommended. I denied it and the support from my bunch of kind and good friends pulled me back.  Just talking to my doctor made me teary eyed and breaking down was the easiest thing for me. I shed tears when someone became kind and said words of encouragement. I cried on sunday mornings listening to the word of God at the church. It pierced me. I cried when some random stranger said how brave I am and that I’ve come this far on my own in a new country. The pain and hurt was too much that crying became the most easiest thing for me.

Notwithstanding, I slugged to cope with my studies and struggled to get good grades. My academic sense rejuvenated and the feeling of slowing immersing back to the world of academic became enthralling.  I got back to reading and completed 5 books. Unfortunately, I couldn’t complete my reading challenge of 30 books, I lost by two. In between school, I explored the city and beyond. I survived the first semester!

There are still some loose strings that needs to be tied early in the year 2018 which will end my emotional rollercoaster ride. Everything will be dusted off. It still hurts to know that human beings are worse than monsters. How can people ever think of taking advantage of people at the cost of somebody’s innocence and privilege? It shudders me just to think of it. But I also know that karma is a BITCH and I don’t have to wait long to witness the consequences. Looking back, I’m super glad that this year is over, seriously! Thanks to my family and friends and my Almighty God, I was able to conquer it. Without you guys, I would have been lost. Without the strength of the Lord in my weakest time, I would have perished and wouldn’t have stood the test of time to write this post. It made me stronger and wiser. 2018, please be kind. Happy New Year to you for reading this. Wishing you a healthy, joyous and a prosperous new year!