Learned Ignorance

As I understand more of what I’m studying, the more I feel the depths of which I have yet to learn.

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how badly do i want it?

really badly! i saw a preview of a movie with russell crowe where in 24 hr period he has to fight for everything worth living for in his life. likewise, more than anything in the world, i want to get into a philosophy of religion phd program for next fall. when i say more than anything in the world, i mean just that. could i live with myself if i don’t get in anywhere? yes. would i be happy? no. i don’t think i ever felt as sure and focused about what to do with my life as much as i feel about pursuing philosophy of religion degree! my life doesn’t depend on it. my sanity does. i really hope and pray and will do my best to get into a program for next fall. that’s the plan anyhow.

the other shoe

i’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. i’ve been going out with my bf for about 8 months now. and things are fine, more or less. i’m doing a lot better over all. successfully moved and starting to settle into new place in nyc. don’t really miss boston too much. but then was i waiting for something bad to happen? for a while everything was perfect, well almost perfect. then i started crying on consecutive days and not due to my reproductive cycle, thank you very much. and couldn’t stop crying even when my bf was with me.

so all that to say, is happiness really only a phantom of the imagination? maybe it’s something disney and hallmark and the marketing people at various places conjured up so they could sell movies, cards, chocolates, flowers, etc.

i was always unhappy. i was depressed. totally utterly in despair. that i can deal with. well, except when things got really worse then i couldn’t cope anymore. so then when i started feeling better after 5-6 years of really bad depression, i was skeptical at first. many changes took place that could explain why i was feeling better. i stopped working with the therapist i had for about 5 + years without miraculous improvement or anything. doctors on my treatment team tweaked with my medication. i started dating my current bf. i hadn’t dated anyone in over ten years before i started dating him. i mean, i dated. but i didn’t have a boyfriend for i don’t even know how long actually.

spring of 2002 to end of 2008 (my second depression episode) utterly sucked. only thing that was going to make it worse was to be treated with ECT (eletro convulsive therapy). my old psychiatrist recommended that and was banking that ECT was my only hope of coming out of deep deep depression. well, i wasn’t going to have my brain fried. so i fired her. moved on to a new therapist, new psycho-pharmacologist, and continued on with DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy). well, for about a good 8 months i had consecutive days of non-suicidal ideation or urges which had never happened before since the depression of 2002 started.

lately, however, after months and months of not wanting to die anymore, i can smell it in the air. the muse which beckons me to death, to take matters into my own hands, it is slowly but surely making her move on me. past couple weeks, i cried, overdosed mildly couple of times, drank, and thought about whether there is really a point to my life after all. yes. the question that i could not get out of my head for about 6 years, not even for a single day, it came back to me. and i started wondering, what’s the point? why work so hard at recovery? why try so hard to feel better? it’s not going to last anyway. life sucks, right? and being depressed and feeling pain and suffering in life sucks even more!

so today i told my psycho-pharmacologist that i’ve been thinking about what’s the point of my life. i told her i had been dancing with suicidal thoughts. maybe for now it’s enough just to admit that i’m unhappy. being happy for the 8 months or so, well, maybe absence of utter despair is like happiness. but now as i’m feeling better, it isn’t good enough just not to feel pain. i want to have a meaningful life. yes, i want to have a life worth living. a life worth staying alive for. not sure i’m there yet. or that i’ll ever get there.

is it time to give up again? i’m not sure. all i know for sure is that while in the past i was happy just to see my bf, now i cry even when he is there. i cry because i want more. i don’t just want to hang out, i want some kind of certainty that things mean something. i’m not happy just to read some articles here and there, or to just send applications out even on slim chance that someone might look at my resume. i want a job. i want to go back to school.

but wanting things, that’s what leads to disappointment and pain. so i decided i think, subconsciously, not to want any of it anymore. so again i am where i was before this bit of relief found me after years of stormy darkness. i don’t want to be here anymore if being here means i’ll be unhappy and if it means i live to testify to the happiness i don’t have.

it’s so uncool

it’s so uncool to cry in public places, especially a public place like starbucks where everyone is running from one place to another, sitting and chatting with friends or studying something because their entire life depends on that paper or exam or whatever.  i can’t help it though.  tears find their way out the corners of my eyes, rolling down my face.  how many days do i really have left to live?  no, i am not terminally ill, as in having cancer or HIV positive.  but i am deathly plagued by an illness, kind of like the illness where your white cells attack your own cells because they think their own cells are foreign antigens or something?  actually, it’s not exactly like that.  i know i am me.  i just don’t want to be.  i am not in favor of my physical well being if it is without psychological/mental/spiritual well being as well.

as i do sometimes when i’m not busy trying to end my life, i am sitting up in a coffee shop (instead of lying in my bed), and trying to read and write something that i find interesting and meaningful.  these are just one of the few moments, one of the few things, that i find worth while and would choose to do in my waking hours.  i don’t know what it is about working out, understanding, and creating complex ideas and theories that most people walking down the streets don’t think about for more than two seconds if they think about such things at all!

i find that i am blessed to be able to pick topics to read and write about that are of personal interest to me philosophically, theologically, or spiritually.  my current project is one in which i try to work out two different theories on value: one person argues that values are for the most part socially dependent and the other pereson argues that there are intrinsic values in things, like being human beings.  anyway i’ll see if/what/how i can contribute to the discussion. today so far is a great day!  with or without tears, even if i happen to be crying and feeling sad in a public place surrounded by christmas decorations, happy music and chatters of excitement, today is a day i am glad to have lived and looking forward to living.

quite an unusual day

since i got out of the hospital (basically since the last post), i have been traveling a lot. it’s good that i was traveling since i am not sure i would have done any better at home. i saw family and friends and was kept busy, meaning not contemplating or deliberating on how to gracefully exit my life. somehow after the last hospitalization, i came to terms with the fact that depression is something i have to live with, work around, and accept, for now at least, if not the rest of my life. then i started thinking that if the rest of my life is going to be like how it’s been in the past six years, that i would much rather not sign up for more. then recently, parts of the puzzle i’ve been thinking of when i was not feeling well started coming together. i decided that if there is a next time i attempt to end my life, that i will be more successful.

for a brief period during the hopelessness, i started looking forward to life like i had never done before as i was getting to know someone. i never met anyone that i wasn’t afraid of getting to know better, spending more time together and it was strange but really nice. anyway, it was a brief but lovely pause in my ongoing dark hopeless days.

so as i saw the end of my life approaching, sooner or later but probably sooner rather than later, i wanted to prepare for the end. and most of the time when i am alone, which also seems to be times when i’m not feeling good, i try to make progress on planning my last attempt. as i have been consumed with thinking and planning about the end, i told a couple of friends and my psychiatrist. yes i did.

incidentally, my psychiatrist is planning to retire sometime in the near future. so she wanted me to find another psychiatrist so i could start transitioning as smoothly as possible while she was still working. and now she hopes that the new therapist will be able to do something different, say something different than she was able to and hopefully facilitate my recovery. last time we talked, she mentioned ECT (electro convulsive therapy) for about the third or fourth time and seemed quite upset that i wasn’t even willing to talk to someone to gather more data about ECT. as far as i can tell, we’re going to try one more medicine. then as she sees it, ECT is the only thing we haven’t tried and would be the next on the treatment plan, so long as i was willing.

after i talked to her, i did some data gathering on the internet. for most people whose depression is medicine resistant, ECT treatments are pretty effective for relieving symptoms of depression. so i can see how ECT would be recommended for people when relieving them from depression seems urgent enough (like if a person is planning to commit suicide).

but at what cost? it seems like keeping someone alive would trumph any other considerations. most people just have short term memory loss and confusion for weeks or months. but some people lose long term memory and even some cognitive capacities. i agree that a lot of people would be protected from the grief of losing a loved one, if someone is kept alive by ECT treatments. but as for me, i don’t know if i would choose life over death if the quality of life wasn’t good physically, mentally and/or emotionally. if i had to choose, i would choose to live as me, with or without pain and suffering. so i figure ECT treatments are out, unless someone forces me, like a judge for instance.

everyday since i got out of the hospital, i think, breathe, obsess about finally exiting and being spared from depression. on some days, it’s painful to be conscious. but today, for some mysterious reason, i did not think about the end of my life. today, i thought about what i would do for the rest of the day and found myself hoping to accomplish things in my life which i thought i no longer cared about! i don’t know how long i will stay hopeful and free of pain. all i know is that today, even in this very moment, i am living life, not as i had done before when i was just waiting for the end of my life, but living life as though i will live tomorrow looking forward to the next day and the day after that and the day after that.

and then there were none

i wish i could say i had no more papers to write.  wait, do i really wish for that?  anyway i turned in the paper on nihilism earlier this week.  i kept thinking of more and more things i could work on.  so at some point i just called it “finished!”  someone told me that paper that is done is better than a perfect paper (which is not finished and may never be finished).

i go on line obsessively to check for the grade.  but it’s only been two or three days.  maybe on tuesday the grade for the paper will be up.

so after writing a paper on nietzsche when i knew virtually nothing about him before writing this paper, i’m writing about plato.  i read the books easily enough.  but man it’s really hard to tease out the arguments in the dialogues!

all in all, i’d rather be working on papers than not.  i know.  it’s sick.  my friend seems to amuse herself by saying that she’s a nerd whenever she’s studying for an exam (especially if she’s studying over the weekend).  but if she’s a nerd then i am off the charts.  but not only do i study on weekends, i actually enjoy it and would choose to do it even if i had the choice to do something else!  of course i don’t always feel this way.  there are “bad” days when i want to and do sleep the entire day.  but then there are days like today when i love that i am thinking.  yes.  i am happy just to be thinking.  and that i am thinking about philosophical and religious ideas is a huge huge bonus.

i’m loving life – with the aid of cocktail of drugs of course.  my latest love: ativan!

christmas eve in seoul – immanuel

my mom and i had a quiet dinner because my dad, brother and sister here in korea had other plans.  i thought to myself, christmas in korea isn’t so different.  in boston, i expect to spend it alone but end up spending it with lots of friedns.  here in korea, i expect to spend christmas eve with family but end up spending it practically alone, at least christmas eve dinner. 

after dinner, my mom and i went to coex to look for some books.  when we got there we saw a huge crowd of people trying to get down to the subway station!  they weren’t in line to get on thet train or to get through the gates.  they were simply trying to get into the station!  wow.  as we were walking towards the bookstore, i noticed that people, practically everyone, were wearing red, just kidding, they were all wearing black.  i guess wearing black happens in any city?  anyway my mom and i bought a book.  grabbed some coffee at starbucks (yes starbucks is everywhere!).  then we tried to get out of coex mall and we did successfully.  but we went out the wrong exit so we had to walk for more than 30 minutes to get to where we wanted to be!

so no, i wasn’t able to check out redmango tonight to be able to compare it to pinkberry, or yoberry or berryline (both in boston area).  sorry folks.  the review of redmango is going to have to come after christmas.  i did send a fax to their main office to complain about how much trouble i had on their internet site. 

as expected, our entire family (those who are in korea) went to church today.  there was a music part – complete with little kids singing, which i unfortunately missed – and then a short service and then a performance by the choir.  the choir was great.  the solos in one part almost moved me.  🙂  it was weird, however, how we were practically the only ones standing up during the handel’s messiah – hallelujah part.  later, more people stood up.  i guess i just feel like you can’t listen to it without standing up, not because of tradition (ok maybe a little bit due to tradition) but out of reverence for the creator.

the title of the sermon was immanuel.  and the pastor preached that we are not alone, god is with us.  he said, don’t go through life as if you are alone because god is with you.  and when god is with you, all things are possible.  believe in the power of god.  believe in miracles.  have hope because god is with us.  god is with you.

what i haven’t said in my last blog was that my dad is the pastor of the church we go to.  so of course i felt like he was tailoring the sermon just to me.  i mean, sometimes i feel like a pastor is talking directly at me during a sermon, but i know that can’t be the case because they don’t know what i’m going through.  but this pastor, my dad, he knows what i’m going through.  so who knows?  maybe he did in part speak to me, directly to me.  i liked what my dad said – that we are not alone and that god is with us.  more than liking it, i want to believe it.  i want to believe it because i think it’s true.  here i think it’s appropriate to mention william james’ will to believe essay and his phrase “leap of faith.” 

i want to believe that god is with us and i think it’s true.  but i don’t know if i have the religious experience that warrants me to say i know that god is with us.  i know it in my head that god is with us.  whether a personal god or an impersonal god, god who created us and everything else, god is with us.  i’m sure of that.  so why can’t i believe it in the depths of my soul???

it felt so awkwards today to say merry christmas to the few people i said it to.  it’s too warm in seoul.  we’re not going to have a white christmas.  if we get any precipitation, we’re going to get rain.  anyway, it’s close to midnight here in korea.  so merry christmas!