In 2020, just like how the pandemic disrupted the lives of most people without any forewarning, my life was nearly destroyed by an unexpected event. After constant sleep deprivation for almost a week, on my 25th birthday, I was rushed to hospital. When I awoke and was told that I might have mental health issues that required treatment, my initial reaction was, “that can’t be true. I’m perfectly normal.”
Soon after starting medication, I started to experience various symptoms, including difficulty reading, anxiety, palpitations, loss of control over my emotions and body. As a result, my boyfriend at the time — with whom I nearly got engaged — left me, and I struggled to complete my daily work.
I couldn’t stop questioning myself: Am I really a flawed person? Is it all my fault? Why should I go through all of this? What did I do wrong to lose my health, relationships, job — almost everything I had?
I struggled with the physical side effects of the medication. It was agonizing to realize that I felt nothing from the things that used to be my mental nourishment—books, music, or movies. I couldn’t even complete the work I once loved.
One day, while on my way to work, I experienced a panic attack on the street due to fear and resistance. I stood frozen in place, feeling dizzy, with my heart beating faster than ever before. I could only gently touch my chest, take deep breaths, and slowly crouch down to calm myself. Eventually, I had to quit the job that I had once believed I would dedicate my life to.
Not knowing how many times I had felt completely drained, I looked out the window and softly whispered to myself: “What should I do? Is this how my life will be from now on?” However, the desire to survive pushed me to the limits, hoping to find a glimmer of light to pull myself out of the nightmare.
I began searching for the keyword “depression” on various platforms to familiarize myself with the topic. One day, in a depression support group on Douban, I came across a running and chatting activity and contacted the organizers of the event to participate. That event eventually led to a job offer from the mental health company that I now work for.
Once I started my new job, I met a group of people who have experienced or are currently going through emotional struggles, and I felt that we are like a family that accepts and supports each other.
I also met my current husband there, and he constantly tells me that I’m genuine, kind, and beautiful. Whenever I struggled to believe in myself and thought I could never recover again, he encouraged and stayed by my side.
Then, I received another precious gift, my daughter. During pregnancy, my emotions became more positive. Although I was worried about whether the medications I had to take during the early stages of pregnancy might affect her, all my medical check-ups went smoothly. I remember when I went back to the hospital for a psychological review, the doctor said, “you and your baby are lucky. You are already a healthy person. Enjoy your life.”
One day, as I was reading “New Feminism Starting From Zero” by Ueno Chizuko, I was inspired to start a dialogue with myself. I realized that I had despised certain weaknesses and inadequacies within myself for a long time, just as the book mentioned that hating weakness is one manifestation of misogyny in women. As the reasons gradually became clear, I began to reaccept, acknowledge, and affirm myself as a woman, and I experienced a newfound sense of power and strength.
And to my surprise, after this three-year journey of self-healing, I finally regained the ability to enjoy reading through a whole book, or listening to a song, or watching a movie. In that moment when I closed the book, deep down in my soul for the first time, I felt responsible for my own life — not for anyone else, but for myself.
That night, I saw what I had been avoiding, the experience as a two year old who was sent to live with my grandfather by my mother, and feeling abandoned. Just like holding my daughter, I finally embraced my two-year-old self and told her, “I will never abandon you.”
I received the ultimate gift — the ability to love myself and find happiness.
Without this unexpected suffering, I wouldn’t have reached where I am today. I now have a cozy home filled with love, a stronger self and the ability to love, and I want to share it with others.
Perhaps in the future, I will once again find myself in a dark valley, but I know that the power of self-love within me will constantly accompany me as I cross one obstacle after another.