Hi again friends and friendos,
I really, really, really hate doing this.
I’ve never wanted to ever do this, and I’m so incredibly apologetic. I’m ashamed that I’m doing this more than once, and I’m filled with such overwhelming melancholy and anxiety knowing that I’m so incapable of expressing gratitude and response to messages of support from everyone.
You all make me feel so loved— so wanted, needed. I see your words, and it’s just I’m overwhelmed each time, and that’s a Me problem. I can be vulnerable on paper, but actually responding to validation and the entire concept of me being called “resilient” petrifies me, like I’m actually in Harry Potter, staring straight into the eyes of the Basilisk.
Resilience—in my skewed way of thinking—implies that I should be able to bounce back quickly. That returning to my own sense of normalcy—the Me that could keep up the happy charade for almost my entire life—should happen in a sensible span of time. I’m trying my best, but it’s a lot of pressure. Like, a dubstep remix of “Under Pressure” set to max intercom volume, with the same track layered over one another with different start delays playing while you exit a Hudson’s Bay and the store alarm starts ringing, type of pressure.
Over the last two months or so, I have been too panicked to leave my room, nor walk around my home, or leave my phone on anything, but airplane mode. I’m so sorry for not responding to your love. I want to learn how to accept that I’m worthy of it. Dropping a lifetime of armour combined with me rushing back into real life without properly getting help broke me.
I was and am in a really dark place. I had a noose prepared for the end of the year, and the scariest part about it was that, that rope was the only thing that I wasn’t afraid of. I’ve had 25 years now; it was a good round-off point.
Luckily, I was pushed by people who I can’t thank enough, to seek proper help. I don’t know if it’ll work, but it really does feel like my last chance. It’s not a want, but a need. I need to get better.
And so, I have voluntarily put myself into the hospital to go through ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatments, balancing my medication for the umpteenth time, and go through intensive trauma therapy that’ll (hopefully) help bring me back to a place where I can maintain genuine relationships and still find joy in the presence of adversity.
I am going to have to stay here for a long while, Girl, Interrupted-style (1999), maybe with some Beautiful Boy (2018) Chalamet aesthetics. Unfortunately, that means I can't work for a while because of, well, being in the hospital, and just how physically and mentally exhausting ECT (I'm doing three a week) procedures are. and will have to rely on waiting for social security to finally show its elusive face to me. Until then the -$2 on my chequing account will continue to prance around myself and the bare necessities I need to survive.
I’m asking one last time, I’m so sorry for this, for any help. Whether that be monetarily, sharing, messaging kind words. And this time, I’ll try get back to everyone at my own pace… which may be slow, but will happen because I’m in a safe place. I need to allow myself to have friends in my world again because without you all, I’m just not a person.
I don’t want to completely give up at life without trying to do it right. It’s so difficult to want to see that future where I’m okay, and I can just be normal, and catch up with froyo right now. I want it to end. But not knowing what it’d be like to grow and share experiences alongside my friends and family if I hold the power button on myself… that’s keeping myself going.
If you didn’t know my story, here it goes. Apologies for not being able to type it up and rephrase it again, and I’m copying and pasting, but it’s really, really difficult for me to type it out again. I’ve mentally blocked it out for my entire life.
Growing up was incredibly difficult. My immediate family of two engineers were well-off until I was six and my sister was three, when my mother decided to abandon us to return to Taiwan, after living with me and my sister there for two years beforehand and not knowing how to handle the shame associated with us being half-Black. I still remember that night, she left us in our house alone for about 4 hours to hop on the plane because my father wasn’t home for, what I understand now, as ultimatum reasons. She was an older mom who wanted kids fast, but ultimately decided it wasn’t for her and left us at the figurative pound.
In the years after, I had to deal with not truly understanding the situation, being the messenger for my mother over the phone, defending her, becoming the lightening-rod for my dad’s anger, and the purveyor of my dad’s actions. He tried his best for a while, worked at night, while we were raised by babysitters at other functioning families. Eventually, it began to crumble fast, we lived cheque-to-cheque, cash advances after cash advances, and credit on everyone’s name.
My dad progressively became worse not being able to deal with his trauma. Alcoholism, depression, emotional projecting. He had girlfriends, and they replaced our babysitters when we moved around. They were verbally and physically abusive. One particularly juvenile girlfriend had a child that we loved—I loved. Ramogi. And after years of domestic and inner-house abuse, my brother was taken away from CAS when he was 4, and the last time I got to see him was when he was 5, right before we abandoned all our possessions to came back to Toronto so I can attend university. I miss him a lot.
I spent my first year trekking back and forth between a family homeless shelter in Scarborough and the university. Trinity College truly became a second home for me, and I am so grateful that I was accepted by the community with open arms, and that friends allowed me to stay with them whenever I needed it. It helped me keep going, especially with so much of my student loans going to sustain my family rather than my education.
We had a rocky relationship with my father, who lost his job in 2010 due to ongoing issues with alcoholism, depression, and problems managing his anger, and it only continued after we all moved. Me and my sister had to become our own parents in the most impossibly difficult way possible. We had to go to school, work near full-time hours, keep up with extra-curriculars (and I had a lot of those), and give back the majority of the money we made through those jobs, bursaries, loans, and grants to the household because “that’s what family does.” We lived our own lives in slow-motion, and even then, living our lives was tinged with every ounce of guilt imaginable. We were being frivolous by having friends, by wanting to go out, by wanting to have time to study.
That saga came to a sad stop in April 2018 when we were evicted out of our apartment, police and all, when we found out my dad was behind in payments amounting to $10,000. Almost all our possessions were once again taken and/or left behind, and that became the third time I’ve tried to end myself, and I had to stay, once again, in-patient at Mount Sinai and CAMH for two weeks. Leaving just in time for my birthday.
It was the last straw unfortunately, and we decided that we had to save ourselves before saving our father, who we love despite his faults. I can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved, and I can’t save anyone if I’m not willing to live with my own future in mind. I haven’t talked to him since, but he’s still without a home.
My mother just stopped contacting us when I started university, after we realized she lied the entire time about saving for us (she used out entire tuition savings in two-year trip to Taiwan when were younger, a trip that was only supposed to last a month, “amber alert realness” one would say) and made sure that we had absolutely no contact with that side of the family. I only found out this year that my grandpa died, and I never got to know him.
As a result, of my upbringing—or lack-there-of—I’ve been diagnosed and suffer with C-PTSD, depression, anxiety, adhd (inattentive), and ed-nos. It’s still terrifying to live every day, and I still feel like a shadow of my former self. Your demons truly manifest in your 20s in just a blink. I have attempted suicide on 4 or 5 (not funny, but I am losing count) separate occasions because of the stress of having to deal with everything that not has just happened, but is happening in my life.
The last year, particularly, has been immensely difficult. My job at a restaurant I loved with co-workers I considered family ended because of its closing. I caught pneumonia right towards the end, worked through it, made it even worse, and had it last over three months. I couldn’t do anything but cough up blood and stay mute until I got better… It was very Les Mis, but like mashed up with The Wiz.
I had to deal with a violent subletter who made me feel the need to hide a knife under my pillow for two months. Got hired at a high-profile, fine-dining restaurant belonging to a conglomerate. It focused on lunch meetings (mainly for business meetings, but had dinner services) and was let go in the most “polite” way for not meshing with their Bay St business men crowd, but doing excellent at dinner with their more diverse and liberal, but still, wealthy crowd. Got a refund on my uniform, letter of recommendations, and the most glaring looks of pity in the world. I got fired because I was too queer and ethnically Black for their liking even though I practiced respectability politics and shut myself up. It happened once again, right after my birthday, and I really thought I was going to end myself.
I was on and off, decreasing and increasing meds, my side-effects made it 34432432x worse to be alive, and had to shut down for a long, long time. Just sitting in my room not communicating with anyone, even the people that lived with me. I was afraid of being seen, because I would be seen for what I was— a failure. Someone who didn’t live up to my peers or even my own expectations.
Thank you for mental health professionals, social workers, and friends that continue to ride with me even though I was/am a literal ghost. You’re the reason I’m still here.
Thank you to the Beaverton for allowing me to write and contribute regularly when I can, and being so understanding when I just don’t have it in me to be funny. Who continue to guide me even though I make it so hard. Thank you for allowing me a space where I can always come back to, to write and create, and publish. I cherish the team so much.
Thank you for everyone who allows me to write and draw, all you editors, who put up with me not fixing my edits in time, and still letting me know that I am worthy.
Thank you for giving me purpose.
And of course everyone who helped me in the past, people who I also consider my friends. People who don’t judge me for my introversion at the moment, people who want me to be okay. Simply because they enjoy my presence in my life. I hope
This has been a paper, I am so sorry, but it’s an embarrassing situation to be in... that it’s taken so long to get my life back on track. I am asking for help, good energy, to be completely open without judgement… especially after I did this before.
I need help.
To pay rent, to pay for the medication that keeps me from going off the deep end, to reopen my phone service, and to eat— I haven’t cried because of hunger since childhood, and I truly wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. All this is making it impossible for me to do anything I love, including writing and being able to communicate with anyone.
Most importantly, I need to be able to make sure I can stay in hospital treatment long enough to see myself get just a little bit better, just enough to allow me to continue to progress, and live on the outside again as someone better than who I was before— a person who only knew how to doggy-paddle through it all.
If you'd rather e-transfer or PayPal: [email redacted] or paypal.me/ondiko
If you’re willing to help, thank you so, so, so much. If you can’t, and are struggling, I’m rooting so much for you. We’ll make it. I hope so.
I love you all so, so much.
- Katrina Chiu