April 2015

Dear you,

You told me to call you whenever I needed someone to talk to. The only person I wanted to talk to today was with you. You told me you felt unwell last night, and I tried to make you smile. At 7pm I texted you. No reply. At 10pm I texted you again. No reply. I didn’t sleep last night just in case you called. I could have been there for you. But no, you swallowed a bunch of pills and ended up in the hospital. I could have been there for you. Yes, I’m angry. But I also understand. I hope you get the help you need. I’ll always be there for you. I wish you knew that.

– N

Journal entry, 11pm.

I’m sad. Sad I couldn’t be there for you. I feel so helpless. Part of me feels guilty even though I know there’s really only so much I could have done.

I’m angry. Angry that you had so much support while I stayed silent. I hid my pain, it was my fault. But I can’t help but think that your pain is valid while I’m just a psycho.

I’m angry that my visit to the hospital was horrible. He knew I was BPD therefore I’m a faker. My pain isn’t real.

I cried for you this morning. I lashed out and screamed at my mom until my voice went hoarse. And then I cried some more. I wanted to cut so badly. I took my own advice and went for a run. I left the house as the sun began to set. I ran. I held back tears and I ran for as long as I could. Ran until my throat burned from gasping for breath and my legs trembled. I walked and stumbled upon the field while wandering through previously unexplored paths. I went into the middle of the field and sat. I just wanted to talk to you. I was so mad. I was so desensitized and apathetic and unempathetic, yet helpless. Yet my heart ached for you. I fell back and laid there for a while, as the sky went dark. I laid down and let myself cry. I’m home now and I feel like I can’t cope with the pain. I want my own pills to knock me out, just for tonight.

Sadness and anger…

Today I talked about the trauma openly with a therapist. Talking about the first incident was the hardest. It easier as I recounted the next incident. She pointed out there was something new she saw in me. Not quite anger, no longer fear.


Confidence in myself. In knowing that he was the one who was wrong. Confidence that only blooms out of 7 years of suffering and buried pain.

And behind the confidence, there stood sadness and anger, interlocked. Sadness for the naive girl who was manipulated, overpowered and lied to. Anger towards the boy who stole her innocence with his selfish ways.

I am forgiving myself. I never did anything wrong. This was not my fault.

Checking the facts

“One of the hardest battles we fight is between what we know and what we feel.”

We are always told to check the facts. But even if you know the facts, it’s hard to push our feelings and thoughts away. Especially when they’re so deeply ingrained in us. When you live half of your life believing you’re not good enough, worthless, or undeserving of love, it’s difficult to accept the facts. It’s tough to accept everything that’s proving your assumptions wrong, even if they are right in front of your face. Checking the facts is great. But it’s unhelpful if your emotions constantly get in the way.

Healing is pain; pain is healing

It seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it? Isn’t healing supposed to make things better? When in reality, the steps we take to facilitate healing can be very painful. If you’ve ever cleaned a scraped knee, you’ll remember the pain of having to touch the open wound. But in the end, this is to facilitate the healing process.

These words by @jennagalbut revealed a lot to me about my own healing process. For so long, painful memories were hidden in the shadows, where I didn’t have to look at them. The problem with this is they would jump out at me when I least expect it.

Since starting treatment for my PTSD, I’ve been even more so on edge and anxious. I thought that the treatment was making things worse. I wanted to quit. To shove all the painful thoughts back into the dark instead of facing them in the light. But I am trying to remind myself – it gets worse before it gets better.


I finally found someone who I love and who loves me back, and of course he lives thousands of kilometres away. This sucks. Long distance sucks. Why do these things always happen to me?


I finally found someone who I love and loves me back. It’s the kind of love I’ve always dreamed about, and despite the thousands of kilometres between us, we’re both willing to make it work. I found someone who will go through this pain with me because he loves me.

Left behind

I’m watching my friends and colleagues thrive and achieve,
I’m happy for them, I really am.
But I wish I could be there celebrating with them,
Instead of here in this hole, trying to scratch my way out.
I see them running past me
Towards the finish line
While I’m being dragged backwards by my feet.
Humiliated, pained, desperate to be free.

The impostor experience

“Impostor Syndrome” was first described by Dr. Clance and Dr. Imes in 1978 in an article looking at the inability of high-achieving women to internalize academic success. In other words, these women were unable to take credit for their successes, often being afraid that they will be exposed for being a fraud and attributing their success to luck or chance. Later, Dr. Clance had stated, “if I could do it all over again, I would call it the impostor experience, because it’s not a syndrome or a complex or a mental illness, it’s something almost everyone experiences.”

The Impostor Experience is not a recognized mental illness in the DMS-V, however it is a topic of interest to psychologists, especially studying individuals working in academia. As a doctoral student studying in an all-female lab, I have found that every other grad student has described some form of impostor experience at one point in their academic careers. Although this syndrome is seen in both males and females, based on my experiences and conversations I have seen it more prevalently in females. A lot of this, I believe has to do with societal expectations of women.

Some common signs that someone may be feeling like an impostor include:

  • Perfectionism and subsequent inability to either begin or finish tasks
  • Extreme fear of failure (“I can’t fail”, “if I don’t do this, I’m a failure”)
  • Undermining one’s achievements or successes, attributing them to luck or chance (“I just got lucky”, “anyone else could have done this”)
  • Fear of being “exposed” as a fraud (“I feel like a fake”, “someday someone will see right through me”)
  • Rejecting/discounting praise

A lot of these signs act hand-in-hand with anxiety and depression, but the way women are conditioned to be growing up in Western society compounds these effects. Finally, personality plays a huge role in the development of the impostor experience.

In my experience, I have felt the need to turn down praise in order to not seem egotistical or overbearing. I have felt the need to downplay my achievements in fear of seeming like I am bragging. Growing up very shy, I have always shied away from too much attention or recognition. Unfortunately, instead of humbling myself, I ended up tearing down my self worth and often selling myself short. There is some sort of common belief that tells women we cannot be assertive, and by extension we may perceive that to mean that we cannot be successful or proud of our success.

Once you acknowledge you may have impostor syndrome or impostor experience, you can start tackling this problem by:

1) Taking note of your successes and achievements.

In my experience in DBT, this is a skill called “accumulative positives”. Since some of us so often focus so much on negatives and criticisms, it is good to periodically acknowledge the good. And not just mentally – it helps tremendously to physically write down your achievements. By doing this, it makes these successes seem more concrete and “real”.

2) Realizing you are not perfect, nor do you have to be.

Oftentimes we just need to take that leap when we are so afraid to start or finish a project. For writing, sometimes I get stuck in my head and delay blogging or writing for days. It’s when I realize that I don’t have to get it perfectly on the first try (or even by the last draft) that I put out some of my best work. Life is rarely an all-or-nothing event. Edits and changes can be made after the fact. It is okay to be less than perfect. It is okay to ask for advice. It is okay to start a project before you feel 100% “ready”.

3). Talk to others, and realize you are not alone.

Struggling with these feelings can be difficult, and there is no need to go through it alone. Often our thought processes are clouded by our own doubts and simply talking to another person can help clear the fog. If you are also a grad student, you will likely find talking to others (if you are comfortable doing so, of course) will reveal many other students feeling the same way. Looking at the girls I work with, I see them all as strong, independent, and admirable women. Knowing that they struggle with self doubt and feelings of inadequacy does not make me think less of them, just as it does not make them think less of me. If anything, the realization that you are struggling and continuing to push through makes you stronger and braver than you could imagine.

Music, to me

Music is extremely important to me, as it is to so many people. People love music for so many reasons, and here’s why I love it so much.

Music says the words I want to say, but in a much more beautifully elegant way. Just the fact that there is the instrumentals, harmonies, melodies, and all the little nuances there make it much more beautiful to me than if I were to say the words or write the words myself.

Not to mention, if you add in the fact that I’m an extremely sensitive soul and I can be moved to tears by a huge variety of music, music is a recipe for me becoming a puddle on the floor.

So when I make you a playlist, I am baring my soul. I know people are deterred if they don’t like a genre or an artist, but for me the music and lyrics speak beyond those small details.

I’ve always been very sensitive about my music taste. Well, I’m sensitive in general. Growing up playing music and letting it heal me has fostered a very deep connection for me. Singing songs that speak to my heart has fostered a deep connection with many songs.

I want to share my love, but I am so afraid because of how sensitive I am. Sometimes I think, how pathetic. How weak. But more often I’d rather think, how lucky. Extreme emotional sensitivity is a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it. How fortunate that I can be so moved by music in a way that some people simply cannot fathom. I am grateful.