OPINION | You are (not) alone


Shereen Lee/The Blue & Gold

July 29, 2017: I may have had moments of sudden joy, but all it was sudden. Just minutes. If I were to cherish my best memory, then I don’t have one.
I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder in my junior year of Upper School. It was not
surprising, however. I believed that I didn’t exist in the world, because that was how I lived. I never bothered anyone, unless there was a reason to do so. I accepted the state of my mind as it was, though unwillingly. Such was the saying by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer: “Man can do what he wills but cannot will what he wills.” I could not take control of my desires. I knew I wanted to do something, but I stopped approaching it, like a distant star in the sky. I could see it, but I couldn’t reach it.
The problem was, I did not communicate because I preferred not to. I was locked in the fallacy that school functions only as an academic institution. Later, I found out that school was also a hub for socializing. I thought that I could live without the assistance of others. I was arrogant, foolishly arrogant. I overlooked that school provided an environment where I could socialize. But my only excuse I made was that I did not wanted to be controlled by my own desires, one of which was to communicate and interact with others.
But if I kept relying on myself, as my father angrily said, “I’ll guarantee that you’ll be living a hard life.” He was, indeed, correct. No one can survive without the help of others. You learn to control your life independently, but also learn to depend on others. By doing so, you could satisfy yourself by filling yourself with happiness, and ease yourself by emptying yourself from distress.
At an early age, I was enlisted in the Taipei American School support services program. I had to learn to speak. I took daily speech therapy lessons in Lower School and middle school. I was quiet and shy, and even worse, couldn’t express myself. I was too verbose. I was constantly bullied, which lowered my confidence. I was upset. But I withheld these feelings for such a long time that I became frustrated. I also didn’t want to hurt others by my words, which were then full of fury.
I just needed someone. And that could have been you.
As a student who attended TAS for over a decade, I ask the school community to put a spotlight on mental illnesses, but not immediately. There are students who have gone through a similar process as me. I do not want to compel them to speak. I also want to tell that only you could defeat your depression. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Don’t take that option. Reach out to someone and ask: I need your help. Can you hear me out?