When I started this blog, I had the entire premise thought out. The premise started with the fact that the number 27 felt important to me. Being a superstitious kid, the number kept popping up worse like a subliminal message and even an old woman cryptically stated that something massive was going to happen when I turned that number. I recognize the number is iconic for a lot of legendary people who happened to have died on the age of 27 and lately I have been experiencing very strange health problems which only consolidated both my fear and familiarity with the number. From then, I would try to live out my days boldly and defiantly as possible and then just document it whenever I had the time. It was motivation to take more risks, be more open with people and do things I probably would never think of doing just in case the self-diagnosed prophecy actually existed and became true. But lately I have taken another approach to the idea of mortality. I’ve been having quite frequent thoughts of it which have been quite debilitating but peaceful. Aside from the health problems, there was one quite genuinely scary moment in my life. Ironically it was probably at the peak of athleticism and physicality of my life and probably the moment I started year nine (when I turned 15).
Year nine was the year where I was on good terms with everyone, made amends with academia and blasted through it while retaining both an active social life and was in great physical condition (well… personal best which was still much more better than what I am now). It was the all rounder of my life after a great battle of solitary depression and anxiety that came from years of torment, bullying and deceptive forces. But strangely despite making great lengths to take care of myself and the year I pretty much “had it all”, it was one of the first times I felt like I was physically dying.
I remember one night I felt an incredible chill surge through my body, my head throbbed immensely and I was shivering tremendously despite losing most mechanical function and will to move my body. I tried moving my arms and legs but they wouldn’t budge. I felt helpless within my whole body as it throbbed, was sore all over and was convinced that was the day. A few days before 15. It was apparently a warm winter night, a few days before my birthday and I was certain I was going to die. Everything in my waking consciousness told me that if nothing were to change, I was going to die in a few minutes. I tried desperately to keep my eyes open and just my mind, despite the insane certainty of impending death tried to push the thoughts away. I was only 14 and despite the richness I felt in terms of happiness there was so much I wanted to do, accomplish and achieve. I remember listening to music and trying to savor every moment of every note, tone and all the instrumentation I could hear just to prove I hadn’t given up. I sang weakly to myself convincing myself of all the things I wanted to do and just to prove I was going to get through it. Despite my lungs playing up, I tried to make the loudest sound I could (which was a faint whisper) despite my family being fast asleep. I didn’t want to sleep, I try to keep myself awake cause if I slept, it was almost if I conceded defeat. This brutal fight against the body and the mind went on for many hours and I remember how frightened I was.
Of course I relented and a few moments I did – I didn’t expect to wake up but I did. It was a school day. It was traumatic but despite the emotional baggage I felt, I celebrated quietly and tried desperately to forget. I never mentioned it to friends nor family. After all, my policy on people is never to intentionally burden them if I could help it. Besides, people wouldn’t take it seriously. How would anyone (especially teenagers at the time) respond to news like this? I was certain they probably wouldn’t have believed me anyways. I played it cool and went on my way delivering jokes and trying to make my friends laugh like I usually did at school. I was the comedian with the killer one liners and accents. I miss that side of me. He seemed to have gone away from experience and as the years went on.
But I digress, in retrospect I’ve given that moment a lot of thought ever since after finding breathing a little more difficult these days that moment in time and other times like almost getting hit by a speeding van that ran a red light when I was crossing the light just when I was about to go home. I remember then how close it was, and if I were to walk just a tiny bit slower than I did, then I would’ve probably died. After that day, I kept thinking I was a glitch to life. I wasn’t supposed to exist at that moment. The world felt so much more different. I was more unfocused at school, I felt pointless to my friends and that I escaped the hands of fate. I remember my perspective just changed and there went happiness. A lot of people try to tell you something like a debilitating existential crisis or near death experience gives you the superhuman capacity and change you for the better. But there are always other sides of the spectrum. You spend days feeling all alone, anxious and notice how fleeting things are and that your life can end at any moment in time. At this point – I expect the inevitable “Well, you need to get over it and do something about it,” commentary that a lot of preachy, pop-psychology bred and arrogant people would say. And although there is validation to their point, people at a vulnerable time want people to listen not for them to talk over them and then bring about their own projections of their failures. For those that don’t have the art of discourse done right, listening involves stepping out of your shoes, the ceasing of comparing your problems to the other person and actually being quiet to hear things out and offer suggestions for recovery rather than aggressively venting out general statements that serve no one in the long term. Listening really helps the other person.
During my summer school on the first day (this year), I went through something incredibly strange. So nervous at the initial meet and greet first day, I felt an irrational compulsion to escape the expected “schmoozing” of people and was incredibly shaken by the social setting. So shaken, I made my way to the nearest bathrooms and stayed there for almost half an hour hyperventilating and uncontrollably crying. My mind went jagged with existential questions about why I was there and even blackened out to who I was when I stared at the mirror. My social anxiety emerged and reared it’s ugly head to proportions I thought I kept under control to the point. A lot of people mistakenly think things such as mental health and anxiety is a pointless exercise, but you genuinely feel like you are a bystander to both your mind and body when a mental health issue explodes into big proportions. Socially, the person suffering knows it’s inappropriate and is aware of the judgements placed upon them but they truly can’t control the compulsions that they have. Many don’t mean to “break” social conventions just on the purpose of being rude… they genuinely can’t help it. They need listeners, not judges. At that point in time, I felt so vulnerable that I wasn’t in control of my mind and body, much like that night before I turned 15.
From all these episodes, I felt it was necessary to close myself off from the world and isolated myself and became an extreme homebody. But slowly and surely, I’m working on confidence. I’m not waiting seven years anymore, I’m going to constantly work to be better with things and choose to live. The brightest point in your life can bring about the darkest shadows. And rather than try to eradicate one part entirely, it’s all about chipping away all the problems to live consistently rather than in short spurts. Life is work. You put more effort on living than you do dying, but that effort is necessary and is good. I live for the bright days and work through the dark ones. It’s my new philosophy and heck, I’m not dying until I can do something that I can be proud of.