Week 13 of the Pessimist to Semi-Optimist Project
Last week someone told me to look up depression among Hong Kong (HK) students because there has been an alarming numbers of suicide among students. Suicide is the leading cause of death between the ages of 15-29 and it is the seventh leading cause of death in HK. From September 2016 to March 2017, there has been 22 student suicides with ages ranging from 11 to 22. This is also an issue in South Korea and other Asian countries as demonstrated by surveys with students on the topic of suicide.
As an person of Asian descent who has survived to adulthood, I can totally relate to these deaths. These parents want a better future for their kids which means ensuring their children do well academically. The payoff is that their offspring gain higher education and secure well paying jobs for a better future. Things go wrong when depression and stress steps in while the children are under enormous pressure. There is a lot of stigma in Asian society about mental illness as it is perceived that the person is weak and unable to function. Instead of seeking help, many try to hide the face that anything is wrong, deny it at all costs due to face and hope that the problem goes away.
The message I got from some friends and family (Asian and non-Asian) when I found myself not being able to cope with depression was to “suck it up” and just “deal with it.” It is the survival of the fittest idea – if you can’t cope, you don’t deserve to live. Depression is like a thick blanket that is on top of your head and tries to pull you down. It takes up a lot of your energy and your thoughts become foggy. At a conference on depression research I attended recently, a scientist described it as having a traffic jam in the head. Different people have different traffic jams, so treatments will vary.
Brain-xercise Week 13 – DBT House
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a spinoff of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). My counselor asked me to look into some DBT exercises which could help me relieve anxiety and help me deal with people.
One exercise is building a DBT House which makes you think about strengths, supports, value and areas to grow in the form of a house. This house helps you focus on what is important in your life and be aware of the good things you have going for you. A free template is available at Therapeutic Interventions for Children.
Below is a pictorial of what the house looks like and what ideas you would put into the house.
Semi-Optimistic Thoughts: This depression business may never go away, but by being aware that supports are in place, this will help lift depression off your shoulders a little bit. Everyone has something going for them, negativity sets in when dwelling on the past and lack of things.
Song I’m listening to: Binary Sunset by John Williams from Star Wars A New Hope