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therapy, tantrums, and tunes
In the past week or so, I’ve referenced the first 20 seconds of this scene from High School Musical maybe a dozen times. I’ve got “summer, summer, summer” chanting in my head. Ofcourse I can’t look forward to an actual summer vacation or a break in life but I’ve been embracing the same attitude that we all had on the last day of school. That giddy feeling you get on the last day of school when all your final exams are over, your yearbook has a bunch of signatures in it, all the teachers are giving out hugs, everyone’s in summer outfits, and you barely even brought a backpack to school. Something about the anticipatory sensation of something new and exciting and unknown is so good for the soul.
I’ve been embracing the same sentiment, as though I’m anticipating something marvelous coming soon - be it sunny weather, lazy weekends, luscious plants or good company. It’s helping me keep spirits up and move forward with productive optimism! Here’s to a beautiful May, you beautiful people.
i’m feeling lucky
Sooooooo… Can we all agree that April’s ChatGPT-created-playlist was a bit… flat? I’m all for ChatGPT and its millions of uses but I think I’ll stick to making the playlists for now. This month, we’ve got tunes from Jungle, ZHU, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and more. I really like this new collection of 40 songs, and I’ll bet a sno-cone that y’all will love it too!
it’s mental health awareness month
Welcome to May - aka Mental Health Awareness Month! I’ve been itching to write about this for a few months now and I’m glad I can use this month as my excuse. Let’s cut to the chase with a simple one-liner:
I started therapy at the beginning of this year and it’s been incredibly helpful!
At the beginning of the year I struggled to leap over certain hurdles and I had this creeping idea of therapy being a positive option to look out for. I suggested it to many close folks, but never fully considered it for myself. I saw others in my inner circle take the big step and find a therapist for themselves and it really inspired me to do the same! So, I sent little intro messages to dozens of therapists on psychologytoday.com and went through a handful of 15-minute consultations. This was all so foreign and new to me. As a kid, I struggled with my fair share of battles but was never put in a room with a counselor or therapist; so seeking this out for myself was an act of self-awareness, growth, and independence. I think half the battle was won there.
As I talked to folks, I made little notes of what I liked and what I didn’t like about them. Did I want an older person? Maybe a younger person would relate better? Or maybe a woman would have more sympathy? But maybe a man would be more honest with me? Maybe a south asian would really understand me? With so many options, it became overwhelming. The website I used even prompted me to select my ailments in order to select therapists that were specialists with those issues. But that made it even harder for me because I’d never learned to label my issues! It was all just “I feel like shit” type emotions.
In brevity, I chose a therapist and moved on from that daunting checkpoint. While I was definitely picky in my decision, I think I made the right choice. Nearly 10 sessions in the books and I can confidently say that my therapist has made an overwhelming impact on my life. He has helped me build a regimen of thought and introspection that allows me to extract meaning from my emotions and understand them better. We’ve been working on determining the origins of some of deeper-rooted issues and how they may relate to my surrounding environments and upbringings. I’ve also gotten noticeably better at communicating through my hurdles and keeping myself in priority through it all.
I wanted to share this because it feels like a win for me. I haven’t solved any big mystery or gotten over any big ailment, but it’s been a huge step in the right direction. These stigmas of negating mental health issues and therapy exist(ed) somewhere within or around me, and I felt the need to break out of that shell. I felt the need to prove to myself that going through this experience would be a positive thing and not a waste of money/time. I had all the proof I needed with just 1 session. I understand that this may not be the case for everyone, as therapists and issues vary greatly, but at least it’s proof that it CAN work.
Here a few simple takeaways from my first few months in therapy:
Trust the professional. I have to leave my stigmas and dogmas at the door; keep a malleable mindset with the intention of better understanding myself. My therapist will not give me a magical lamp but he might just show me the way.
Therapy happens outside of session too. Showing up to a session with a malleable mindset is one thing, but taking the rest of the week to reevaluate and understand my decisions/thoughts/feelings is where the real progress happens.
Not every session is a win. I’ve had sessions that aren’t extremely fulfilling and don’t seem to answer my questions, but that’s part of the process. My body registers and recognizes my efforts to do better and dig deeper.
Labels are not important. I try not to label my issues as anxiety, depression, stress, etc. because it confuses me. I don’t fully understand the difference between these categorical mental health issues and I don’t care to. Rather I try to understand how I feel and why.
Therapy pairs well with physical movement. I’ve seen a spike in my physical activities since I began therapy and that’s always a positive thing. And inversely, getting the blood flowing and the muscles moving realllllly helps the mind work better.
Part of this segment is meant to shed light on the positive effects that therapy has had on me, and the other is to encourage y’all to take better care of yourselves and each other. Mental health is no joke and y’all hear it enough from random ads on social media. It seems pastiche to promote it here too but it can’t be stressed enough.
I encourage you all to be mindful of how you use your emotions and how it affects your loved ones. Allow yourself to evaluate your decisions and be uncomfortably introspective at times, I promise you’ll see growth. Communicate as kindly and as efficiently as you can, making sure that empathy comes first. And we’re not perfect humans by any means, so give yourself twice as many concessions as you think you deserve. If help is what you seek, don’t let stigmas or excuses get in your way - truly seek all and any help!
If I can help nudge you in the right direction or provide two attentive ears at any point, don’t hesitate to reach out.
through my eyes
I loved this scene from the moment I happened upon it. I shared a black and white version of the photo last week but after staring at it for hours, I’m somewhat alright with this color grade. My favorite part of the photo: the angle of the swinging legs on the right. What’s your favorite part? Also, what would you name this piece?
A couple weeks ago, I really wanted to watch Life of Pi. But I quickly realized that it’s not on any of the streaming platforms that are available to me. I’m subscribed to Netflix and Prime Video, I borrow Hulu from one friend and bum off of another friend for HBO Max. But no Peacock. And I wanted to watch Life of Pi so freaking bad. In that moment, if someone offered me a bucket of gold and the Life of Pi on Blu-ray and told me to pick one, I would’ve picked the DVD. (a stretch, but stay with me) I just wanted to watch that one particular movie and it felt like it would turn my whole week around. It felt like the medicine I needed to feel truly happy and to forget my sorrows - equivalent to a night’s heavy drinking and also the strongest painkiller that doctors can prescribe. The only thing standing in the way of my immediate potential happiness was subscription fee of $5.
Being the penny-pincher I am, this $5 was a huge barrier to entry. Not necessarily because eight dollars is a lot in the grand scheme of things… but I didn’t quite feel I deserved to watch Life of Pi at a fee. I don’t think I could justify paying $8 just to watch one movie, especially if it was for the sake of fulfillment. I could justify a movie ticket price of $15 because of the viewing experience, the company, the recliner seat, etc etc. But all that didn’t matter because I specifically wanted to watch the 2012 hit movie, Life of Pi. I’d be more than happy to torrent the film and watch in 480p, but we all know it just doesn’t hit the same way. Can you imagine seeing the reflection scene all pixelated??? Blegh. This whole back and forth felt like I was throwing a tantrum with myself and somehow playing the role of incessant child AND stubborn parent. But guess who won?
I did. Yes, I paid the damn subscription fee for Peacock and I happily watched the whole 2 hour 7 minute film on a Thursday night, in one sitting. I had a bag of rye chips with me and I was cozy in my own bed. It felt like pure bliss. And I thought about this silly-internal-melodrama for a while because it seemed trivial and almost embarrassing. Why did I feel the need to concede and allow myself to watch this movie for $5? On the other hand, why is it such a big deal to “allow” myself to watch the movie, if all it cost is $5?
I feel like we often deprive ourselves of micro-pleasures and discard small victories because we feel embarrassed to prematurely enjoy the positives of something before the supposed ‘grand finale’. If you’re anything like me, you’ll understand that celebrating smaller checkpoints isn’t easy because we’re wired to keep our noses down and work harder until the final celebration is earned. But in this way, I could easily burn out and even cause that trajectory to fall further than expected. Sometimes we need to give ourselves all the love, care and support just to be happy in the moment. A moment is all it takes to reset the burnout clock and resume mental equilibrium. Sometimes that moment of love can manifest as a movie and other times it could be a cookie cake, big hug, impulsive weekend trip or just a cold shower.
I’m sure I’ll have more internal tantrums and I’m sure I’ll lose many more to the realism of my parentally-wired mind. But winning a few sure does feel good. Anywho, I’m off to make use of the few days left in my Peacock subscription…
if you ever visit tokyo, make sure to rent a friend
learning from world cup penalty shootouts
the specific color of heinz ketchup
your body killed cancer 5 minutes ago
the end of free returns?
I know you just blew right past all those links and can’t wait to be done with this thing but maybe you should go click on just one of them. Who knows what you might learn or what that might spark?
It’s a bit wild to think that I’m going into the 3rd year of these newsletters. I’m not even sure who it brings value to anymore but I believe in the consistency and that’s why I keep it up. I love the small bits that I’ve added over the years and how my writing voice has changed too. I look forward to iterating it more but also keeping this rhythm going for years to come. Here are some concepts you could look forward to in the upcoming letters:
the power of accountability
wtf is success?
defining the opposite of imposter syndrome
“increasing your search radius” - a metaphor on self
I hope these all seem like gibberish and in some way entice you to keep reading. I invite you to share this newsletter with someone new and introduce them to the chaos I push through the screen. May the tunes be with you this month!
have a lovely May, folks.
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