July 13, 2021

A letter to Myself: Thank you for Showing Up.


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You deserve a standing ovation for all the days you pulled yourself out of bed.

Even on the nights when you lie awake until early dawn, yearning to sleep but your mind refusing to rest. All the while, present with the awareness of the 12-hour shift awaiting you.

Your body’s resting, and the traffic of thoughts is still racing from a distant memory; you’re listening to the echoes of how you resented not saying no—even when you wanted to.

Some nights, it’s about wanting to have more downtime to rest, the desire to just be able to do whatever you want of your own free will. While some other nights, it’s about contemplating on the environment at work. The longer it takes you to fall asleep, the fear of not being able to wake up on time holds you back from calling it a night.

Just when the noises begin to fade and you drift into full sleep, your alarm goes off at 05:30 a.m. Unwilling to wake up, you hit the snooze button, and it rings for a second time at 05:45 a.m., then a third time, and a fourth time, then you look at your phone: it is 06:30 a.m.

As you stand in the shower, you notice your upper back and arms are sore from the day before. The sound of the water boiling in the kitchen indicates that it’s ready for the black cup of coffee. You select whichever clean clothes are within reach, and you look at the time: you missed the bus again. While waiting for the taxi, you slosh the coffee down your throat. You deserve a standing ovation for showing up to work, sustaining your self-sufficiency.

You deserve a celebration for never hiding away.

Even on the days when you are unable to focus. Your phone rings—someone needs an immediate response to an email. Every request needs an urgent answer. Your cheeks warm up as you suppress your agitation—your workflow is being intruded with subordinates seeking quick fixes.

Your fingertips are cold; your heart is pounding rapidly. The fear of not being able to deliver in a timely manner engulfs your consciousness. You skip your meals because you fear that it is a waste of time. Because you haven’t paused, your thinking power declines, and your colleagues judge it as incapability to multitask. Even after 12 hours, you refuse to call it a day—until you complete all your follow-ups. You deserve to be celebrated for delivering at your own pace—every day.

You are a survivor for not giving up.

When you made the choice to stop numbing yourself from feeling, it was brave of you to let in the feelings of shame and unworthiness, entwined with the subconscious belief of having to do it all alone. Besides your circle of friends and aunt, you did not have a support system you could rely on.

You grew up parenting your primary caregivers. So you made the choice to remain as far away from them as possible.

The moment you learnt there was no joy without pain, you opened up the gates of the untouched chambers of your heart. Before you reached the sweetness of joy, out spurred the condensation of the murky past.

Because you had hid the emotions so well from the world and even from your own self, you did not know how to regulate them. Like water flowing from a broken tap, your heart choked on your emotions. You gasped for air, with tears streaming down your face, as you sobbed in the bathroom at work. You are a survivor for not giving up and choosing to reach out for support when you did not know how to unclog the choke by yourself.

You are an inspiration for seeking professional help.

One night, while walking home from the train station, visions of you stopping in front of a moving vehicle brought you to a halt from crossing the road. As you built the courage to cross the road, your mind contemplated on the most painless way of pulling a trigger on your thoughts.

You did not have the courage to decide. You observed your mind’s continuous attempts to convince you to end the downward spiraling emotions, which then you did not know how to regulate on your own. Instead of waiting for it to stop, you decided that it was time for you to seek professional help.

Since the world forced you to slow down in a global pandemic, getting a plane ticket to venture off to an unknown destination rested in your bank account. So you chose to invest in your mental health.

You did the research.
You picked a private hospital.
You chose the psychiatrist.
You showed up for your appointment.

It was costly, but it was better than the cost of choosing to risk your own life. You are an inspiration for confirming your diagnosis and then claiming it as your superpower.



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