Thursday, February 21, 2013

Being depressed again (21/02/2013)

The following blog entry will be very depressing, primarily as I will be whining and bitching about my life. If this kind of material is not your appetite, do not continue reading. If you don't mind this sort of saddening set of events, then carry on. After looking through this diatribe if you have nothing constructive or pleasant to say, keep your opinions to yourself. I don't want pity, even though the depressed part of me likes wallowing in the self misery I bring upon myself. I also want to apologise if I hurt or offend anyone, which is not my intent. The purpose of writing my thoughts down is therapy for my depression, since I cannot ventilate to anybody right now. I would like to use my friends for this purpose but most of them will be sick and tired of hearing this drivel again, and most of them are busy with their own problems.

Let's begin at the time when I started to become depressed. I recently turned 32 years old at the end of January.

I'm not giving away when my birthday is. This is not for privacy reasons, although that is a secondary factor. I just don't celebrate my birthday any more and I don't want anybody else to celebrate the day either. I haven't celebrated my birthday for about twenty years. I have reasoned it is an arbitrary date, only to celebrate one Earth orbit around the sun. You might call me a miser and you be right to do so.

I'll get back to my point. About twenty years ago, I was asked to write what I had planned for my future. I can distinctly remember what I wrote down:

1. To take 16 GCSEs and get A*'s in most of them (actually all of them).
2. To take 6 A Levels and get A's in most of them (OK, all of them).
3. To study medicine at the University of Cambridge.
4. To be married by 28 years old.
5. To have children by 32 years old.
6. To be awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology.

As you can see I was an ambitious person or very deluded when I was young. To no one's surprise I haven't achieved even one of those goals. I haven't been totally disheartened about not reaching these expectations. When I finally understood how GCSEs and A Levels worked, I was not so disappointed about the results I got. I wasn't so down-heartened about not going to Cambridge. Some part of me, looking back, is somewhat relieved about not attending an elitist university (disclaimer: I don't think people from Cambridge University are snobbish, just the institution and culture behind the facade). At least I got to study medicine and graduate (finally). A long time ago I gave up on ambition number 6, since I know that was an unrealistic aim.

Which leaves ambitions number 3 and 4: getting married and having little munchkins. Out of all the ambitions I haveset myself, these you would think be the most achievable. I never thought I would be at 32 years old, still single, never had a girlfriend or even had sex Yes, I'm going to keeping harping on that I'm still a virgin like it is a badge of disgrace.

I have reasonably achieved all the other goals. I'm a general practitioner in training with a good job. I'm debt free and don't have much financial worries or burdens at the moment. So why should I depressed?

This is when the negative side of my psyche kicks in. For every shining light, there is a darkness that is waiting to engulf the brightness and warmth.

I wanted to be a psychiatrist in the first place after I was diagnosed with depression. I felt I could connect with psychiatric patients in that way, knowing what they were going through. Yet I knew I couldn't be a psychiatrist, not in Hong Kong with low proficiency of my spoken Cantonese. I fell into family medicine as I couldn't think of anything else to do. I'm thankful for this, since I have good working hours, reasonable holiday time and don't have to be on-call in a hospital. I'm also relieved since I realized I don't have the patience to be a psychiatrist. My attention level is just right for short consultations such as those in family medicine or accident and emergency.

I'm still in training to be a specialist because my depressive disorder cost me four years of my life. It took me nine years to graduate in medicine, instead of the five years it normal takes at my
university. Surely that is some kind of record, nine years to get a single degree. If I had actually graduated from university on time, I would have been a specialist resident by now. I would have been on par with my friends in university. Instead I lag behind most of them now. I see friends going on passing their examinations, become specialists, getting married and having a kid or two. People have mentioned I shouldn't compare but it is hard not to when every time I go on Facebook, there is my best friend's husband constantly posting pictures of his son every single day. Thank goodness Facebook had the foresight to put an "Acquaintance mode" for this sort of situation.

Because of my depression, I have difficulty relating to people. If the depressed part of me takes over, I don't want to go out, meet friends or attend social engagements. If I finally venture to the outside world, I have difficulty making small talk. I try to engage in chit-chat but every time I seem to do, I get this vibe that I'm despicable, retarded or any other negative trait you can think of. Maybe I'm just paranoid or self consciousness, which are just as bad.

All of these thoughts were lingering in the back of my mind since my birthday. They've been festering in a liquid of hatred and self-loathing. Having the Lunar New Year didn't help either. Too much free time on one's hands leads to a wandering mind. There are constant reminders of your loneliness. In Chinese tradition, only married couples are to give Lai See packets of money to people who have yet to get married. It's great to receive money from your family, friends and colleagues. However I would gladly trade that money for having some companionship by my side.

What was going to make my situation much worse was on the horizons - Valentine's Day.

Normally I super hate Valentine's Day. It is just a business day to pump money out of gullible people who should be sharing their love 365 days a year instead of storing it up for one day when anything romantic will be expensive. Also it is prejudice against single people.

However this year could be different. One of my good friends from England was getting married. Instead of holding the wedding in England, the bride and groom decided to come to Hong Kong, bringing friends and family over to celebrate. This would mean I would meet my friend's other friends. Now in the back of my mind, I was keeping my fingers cross the wedding would be like the ones shown in films such as "Four Weddings and a Funeral" or "Wedding Crashers". I pictured the scene at the wedding banquet: single women in search of an one-night stand. and I was available.

Was I disappointed? Ultimately yes, if the motive was going to get laid. That's how desperate I am. My thinking is always dominated about having sex because it is inextricably linked to my single status. My mind always thinks if my virginity goes, so does my single status. 

However I did meet two very nice ladies. Both were very different in personalities but both were very likeable. I hope both ladies keep in contact in the future. Yet I always have this low self esteem issue with women. I always think I came across as a buffoon towards other people. I know I didn't come across as endearing, regaling very unappetizing stories of medical predicaments whilst people are tucking into their dinner. This is something I've got stop doing at social engagements.

I did have an enjoyable time at my friend's wedding. I got to meet new people, dance and get drunk, which I have been missing. Yet that negative side of me is always there as a shadow, reminding me of my single status. I thought I would accept that I would remain single, with my unique status as a third culture person, somebody who has depression and a guy with an introvert nature making me believe that this would be so. Yet there is some part of me which seems to say I'm entitled to the opposite sex. "You're a doctor with a good income, well-organized, intelligent and considerate. Why shouldn't girls be looking for somebody like you?" That is all true but there are other considerations. I'm not the best looking or most healthiest of male specimens. I'm always trying to make excuses for my single status, not pointing out that I hardly go out to make friends or engage in social activities.

I've been told that my depression will be a part of me for the rest of my life. Since I've been suffering from the condition from a young age, it will be hard to shake off. I have long accepted that. What I want is resolution of my single status and it doesn't seem to be coming any time soon.

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