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  • A Snapshot of Project A’s Group Therapy | The Therapist’s View

    From March to April 2022, Project A (independent of CandleX) held its second round of in-person group therapy for women who were in abusive relationships. In this round, group therapy lasted 6 weeks. Each session was 2 hours long, meaning participants spent a total of 12 hours together in the sessions. In addition, each participant was offered the chance to have supplemental individual sessions with the therapist. The therapy was led by Xiaojie Qin, a certified psychotherapist/counselor in China and Australia, and the head of programs at Project A. Megan Purvis, head of operations, provided on-site support during the sessions. We want to present our review of this round from the therapist’s point of view to give you a snap shot of how group therapy works, and the benefits or challenges that come with it. Special note: Consent was gained from all participants. We want to thank all participants for their kindness and bravery for allowing us to publish this article, which we hope will encourage more women (and men) to seek professional help. Author: Xiaojie Qin Time: April 2022 Megan and I laid out 6 chairs, 5 of them were for the therapy participants, a group of women who were in abusive relationships. I love group therapy because it builds authentic connections between people, which is the real antidote of feeling separated and alone in their own traumatic experiences. I am also a firm believer that each one of us is wise and can offer something to the world. By creating a group setting, it allows the participants to offer their support and wisdom to each other, which is really empowering for them in return. I looked at the chairs in the room and felt curious, excited, a little restless and joyous that finally our second round of therapy was about to start in 30 minutes. Then they came in, five ladies in their 20-40s, each from different countries, and sat down. We were going to spend six Sunday afternoons together and that day the journey began to unfold itself. The first session is always about getting to know each other, setting group rules, hearing everyone’s stories that brought them there, and agreeing on group goals. The difficult part was talking about their own experiences with abuse, ranging from physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse in their intimate relationship, to when they were growing up in a violent home. Some ran away from their partners as soon as they had a chance, without time to pack up. “I know he would have killed me if I stayed,” one participant said. Some of them sleep with a weapon by their beds even now. The first session was overwhelming, but was also a great opportunity to install emotional regulation skills in SOS situations. I like the Chinese word wei ji, opportunity in crisis. I led the group to practice different skills as a breather between sharings. For example, I asked them to name different colors, guided them in breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, body tapping and bi-lateral eye movement. These exercises invite the peaceful sensations back into the body and help calm down from intense feelings brought up by their traumatic memories. We had advised them to plan something fun or comforting after the session, so their bodies and minds could recover. We had one participant reporting that she had a few days of feeling hopeless and depressed after the first session. We knew this could happen to some people when their trauma was not properly dealt with. I was very glad to see her back in our sessions, and making progress along the way. That’s persistence and courage, which would help her to live a more fulfilled life down the road. Sometimes people ask me if it’s too much to take in this negative information. I always say it’s the subtle positives in their traumatic stories that I saw which confirms my decision to stay a therapist on a daily basis. I also take it as a privilege that I get to point that out to them, so they start to notice in their mind and their heart that ‘I’ve got this’! Then we take it from there. One participant got silent when we stayed with a moment back in her childhood where her mom was being beaten by her stepdad. “I could not do anything to help my mom when my dad was beating her. She asked me to go to my room, but I stayed”. “Why did you stay and watch?” I asked.” I don’t know. he would hurt her less badly if he knew I was watching. ”She said. I stayed there and said, “You were three years old. You couldn’t do much. But you being there, by staying, did make a difference. Then came the magical silence. That’s when our mind and heart integrate with one another. “And although I didn’t know it at the time but me staying is most probably what saved her life- him knowing I was watching. ”She paused and tears ran down her face. “I matter.” She said this beautiful thing that I know was so rarely felt in her heart. In that moment, she saw her own worthiness and strength. As I primarily used mindfulness-based CBT in the group session, we continued to work on unpacking important moments in life. As we progressed, participants were given the opportunity to unpack for each other, enhancing their active listening skills and self-awareness. In this process, it became clear where the weaknesses are for each one of them. For one participant, it is the disconnection with body sensations. As that was pointed out in our session, homework was given to work on body awareness for that week. She came back reporting that she actually noticed how her body reacts to stress, and started to develop intentional more effective responses to stressful situations. She came back to the session saying that she felt more relaxed, and was feeling great that week. This is a young lady who grew up with a difficult dad that showed symptoms of dissociative identity disorder, and she deals with long term sleep problems, including frequent nightmares, difficulties falling to sleep, etc. People who have endured big trauma can become triggered very easily. In our session, as a group goal, we were working on emotional regulation, which is a gigantic skill to master. A baby step is to develop curiosity when dealing with inter-personal conflicts. We went through the skills of pausing, asking questions, and engage in active listening that make up the development of curiosity. It was really great to see one participant continued to use that skill and making progress in her current relationships over the course of six weeks, every time we had our group check-in. The weekly check-ins were one of my favorite parts of each session. I tend to give my clients “homework”, which would help them to continue to exercise their brain ‘muscles’ during the week. It also helps me to know whether we need to add another skill, or work on fine-tuning the current skills. The check-ins also help me to know the progress we are making as a group towards our goals. We always heard someone was making progress, and it inspired the group to continue to use the skills they learned in the sessions. They’d also share what worked for them in their recovery. Developing a vision is a tool that’s common for us to tap into positive neural networks. We had one participant who has gone a long way in her own recovery. She shared the tools she has been using that she found helpful. One of them is visualization. “Now, everything that I’ve ever wanted and envisioned is here except (censored for privacy reasons).” This is more powerful than me as a therapist sharing a skill. This is a testimony. After we finished our program, I was happy to read some feedback from one participant. She wrote, “I believe Xiaojie directed the sessions to make them less about her as a therapist and more about us as active participants in the process of recovery. We were encouraged to practice active listening while others were unpacking, and then report on their body sensations, thoughts, emotions and beliefs that we noticed in that narrative. We even had a chance to sketch it out in a diagram. What I mean by this is that this program is not for us to passively receive information but to actively participate in the creation of material.” This is also the power of group therapy of actively engaging participants to interact with one another. While another advantage of group therapy is cost-effectiveness in psychoeducation, it’s also good for participants to develop the skills they need to have healthier social interactions. People with trauma often need more skills on being assertive. Instead of having five separate individual sessions, we could talk about and practice assertiveness in one group session. This allows us to not only better allocate the funding to help more people, but also offer participants the chance to work on interpersonal skills. Similar to our first round, this group members also are on different levels in the spectrum of being passive and aggressive. We had one participant, very in touch with her emotions, behaviors and thoughts, come to the realization in our third session that she might be on the aggressive spectrum when dealing with conflict of interests and needs with friends and partners. It was very interesting to see each person map themselves out in sub-categories of aggressive or passive behaviors in terms of frequency and intensity. We had two participants who struggle with “asking for help” for two different reasons. The passive one stems from the difficulty to express their needs and opinions, and the aggressive one stems from the fear of appearing to be weak. By being in the group, it was so clear how different each person is. By talking about their stories and unpacking their critical moments, it puts their own stories in a picture that’s bigger than them too. We ended the sessions by looking back on the journey we had by being honest, vulnerable and strong together for six weeks. “It was foggy to me when I recalled the image of what's ahead of me six weeks ago. Now, I closed my eyes, and that image of mountain ahead of me became clear, and I have this grand 180 degree view.” I could picture that as she was saying it. It brought a smile to my face when I heard that. I, being the therapist, looking at them in the circle in our last session, seeing their shoulders relaxed, smiles on their faces, had a sense of accomplishment and joy. I felt like I was sitting in the garden with sunlight and flowers. So much ease, growth and inspiration unfolded during our time together. This is by no means an end to any recovery, but a start for some, a continuation for others. As for Megan and I, I look forward to welcoming the next group onto this journey in a few months. We encourage you to share this article with other women who were in abusive relationship to apply for our next round of therapy. We also encourage you to donate to Project A, which provides funding to make therapy possible for people who have lived through abusive relationships. Please find our contact information below.

  • Press | CandleX Interviewed on ABC News Australia

    On Monday, 28th March 2022, Qin Xiaojie, Founder and Director of CandleX joined Jinghua Qian, China Tonight journalist, in an interview for ABC News Australia on the topic of how the attitudes towards mental health have changed within the communities in China under the influence of the CoVID-19 pandemic. Xiaojie shared her observation of how in recent years, the tendency of Chinese people to refrain from discussing the bad things or presumably shameful aspects of their lives is shifting and they are making room for practices that enable them to share what’s going on in their lives. According to statistics, the rate of suicide in China has fallen significantly over the past decades and along with support from the government, the public health sector has also been equipped and revamped to cater to the efficient provision of various physical and mental health services. However, there are still major obstacles as far as the provision of reliable mental health services is concerned. Amidst all the limiting factors, the nationwide shortage of experienced mental health professionals in the field stands poses the biggest challenge; for every 100,000 people, there are only 2.2 psychiatrists and this has led to increased inaccessibility of mental health care by a large percentage of the population. Please follow the link for the full story:

  • Passion | CandleX Value #1

    Author: Xiaojie Qin, Founder and Director of CandleX Date: March 2022 For the 7th year anniversary, I decided to answer a question that I got asked over and over again over the years: How did you get started and how do you run the organization? I thought the best way to answer is to use our value statement as an anchor. I review our organization introduction every year, and I compound on the values. Some changed over time. I often review whether we are still in line with our value in our decision-making, and review whether we actually have prioritized some values over the others as the backbone of our organization. Now the update “Who Are We? | CandleX” article is published, I’d like to answer the question by expanding on how we came to be, and grew by Value #1: Passion. It’s difficult to keep a baby, who’s never felt hunger, alive. The thirst for knowledge and the desire to be part of the change are what keep CandleX going. At CandleX, we have no fixed working hours, and as a director and person, I do not like ‘allocating’ tasks to others. CandleX definitely inherited from me that non-forcefulness way to operate. Then how do we get things done? From the very beginning, I operate on the belief that there are many passionate people out there who need a space to contribute to mental health for the community. As long as it’s a belief, there’s a margin for error. I was willing to test it out. One thing that I do know is that I am passionate about mental health and wellbeing. I do not want to make people do things, but I can start by doing something myself and see if there would be others that like to join. No grand plans, no efforts to look for funding nor get a team in place first. That was in 2015. At a public event in Beijing, I signed up as a speaker and shared my journey with mental health by tapping into my strength and vulnerability, authenticity and compassion for myself and the community. It created a ripple effect. I was very soon invited to give talks in schools, in companies, and even on TV. I knew right away this was a shared passion. I knew I needed to create a team so this powerful shared passion could shape our community. At that time, I had worked in the NGO field for 7 years already. I was comfortable with the idea to start a local NGO. Sounds daunting? All I thought at that time is that I needed a name, a logo, a mission statement, an official email account, and a team structure. The team structure looked great. It’s funny to look back on it and see my name for all different positions. I was a one-woman team. I just did what I could as a one-woman team: I waited, for “shared passion” to take care of the rest. Very soon, my enthusiastic yoga friend joined me for talks and workshops. I don’t even recall how one of our very first volunteers that year, a teenager, at the age of 17-18 joined us a whole year until she left China. Another young lady, who came to our support group and did not really even believe this type of peer support would work, ended up working with us as a support group coordinator for her 4th year now. Sometimes our passion and emotions which give us enlightenment for the meaning of life, come to us unexpectedly. If we give teenagers a stage, they perform! If you follow us long enough, you would notice that our graphic design has improved significantly and are more consistent now. These are products of one of our teenagers, who first joined our teens open letter project in 2020 and bravely shared her story with school bullying both in China and in the States. One of the least visible people the whole time, our operation officer, has been with us for four to five years now, assisting me with holding the structure in place. None of it would have happened if they did not share the passion for mental health. My previous working title was specialist in monitoring and evaluation, which meant my opinions and comments were given more weight in my specialized area by default. It also meant I previously had very little management work. My first management role was the founding of CandleX. Learning to work with others was not a walk in the park. Over the years, I went through an experience that made me realize as long as there’s passion, people’s differences can be put aside and I could grow personally. In the past, I was more of a solo person who would rather do things in their own ways and their own speed. That started to change in 2016. A newly arrived therapist from the US joined the team as early as our first year. I was so thrilled because then, we actually had an in-house therapist for the work that we did. After working together for a while, we started to feel uncomfortable with each other, and we had conflicts, serious ones, after which we were not sure about working together anymore. It was not an easy decision to cool down and repair our relationship for either of us. It is just so much easier to avoid the hard work sometimes. There was a period of time when I wish the team were working harder, or being on-time more, taking our meeting notes more seriously. I had lots of expectations, and I ran the organization with certain principles that I am comfortable with. These principles are fine for me and certainly helped me to model professionalism and to deliver the best services. But for the organization, running in such a way bent flexibility and dampened appreciation, and certainly, at times it created management issues. Our in-house therapist and I came to a gridlock at some point. Despite our differences, we both are so passionate about mental health, and the work that we did together. We managed to move through these moments because we have this shared passion to hold on to, and also the respect we have for one another even though we yelled at one other. She was with us for the following five to six years hosting and attending countless workshops, talks, events, and running online psychoeducation programs even when I thought she could not possibly have time for it. She made time, or rather – her passion made time! CandleX’s still growing, and I am sometimes still in pain. Just like yoga, passion is like the breath that helps us to build endurance and flexibility within us. Passion has always been in the driver's seat throughout the years, and fun is part of the journey. We would not have been here after seven years. When I first started it, I had a full-time job. I would work on CandleX on the weekends and at night. People said I worked all the time. I disagree. I worked on CandleX in a way that felt less like a job but like a hobby. I would go dancing and yoga in my free time, and working on CandleX was just another fun thing on my agenda, in a professional way. In 2015, I shot a documentary on depression in Chiang Rai because I enjoyed interviewing people, making videos. I also went with the flow and unexpectedly did a mental health workshop for an international school in Bangkok when I was there on vacation in 2016. I believe in the law of attraction. I broadcasted my passion and our team grew, which fed the organization with more passion and it started to maintain itself. With more people contributing to our offline awareness events, I started the support group in 2015. In 2016, we implemented a creative fun awareness-raising project on bipolar disorder by working with an amazing photographer friend of mine on taking people’s photos, which later ended up in exhibitions in and out of China, and a book that was an iTunes number one sale. When enough people emerged to facilitate and coordinate in 2019, I started the teens open letter in 2020. The past few years, my passion has now been more directed at starting the fire, while the community’s passion has been that oxygen that sustains the fire. My creative ideas do not distinguish between free time and work time. When it hits me, that’s when I work on it. I do not believe in “hard work,” not even when I was little. In fact, I think we all need to “work” less, and just “live” more. Life happens when you start to feel like the boundaries between work and free time are blurring. I left my full-time job in 2019, and since then I found it very difficult to answer the question: what do you do in your free time? Time is not divided into work vs. free categories. It is just, time. Can we run low on passion? Yes, we can! I learned to be the gatekeeper to the spirit of our value, and passion is one of them. What we do each day either charges – what I call – our battery, or consumes it. You have to keep your battery charged! We encountered challenges over the last 7 years. One outstanding case was our partnership with another organization that ended up with over-complicated admin procedure for funding. I remember waking up and feeling demotivated because that funding part of the work was consuming our passion and energy. All the messages from our operation officer during that time carried so much frustration and fatigue, which made me feel bad for her. One day, I decided to terminate that contract, which also meant not only we lost the funding but our own funding invested in fundraising too. I still stand by the choice I made till this day. April 1 this year marks our completion of the 7th year. If you are still looking for the meaning of life logically, it may not work. Instead, I invite you today to feel the passion from within because the meaning will come when you allow yourself to be led by passion.

  • Chapter 5: Growth from Therapy | Kelly’s Story

    此采访为中文采访,中英文参访字幕在文末。 In March 2021, CandleX director Xiaojie interviewed Kelly Yang on her experience with bipolar disorder. A year later, CandleX decided to present this interview in five chapters to commemorate World Bipolar Day. This is Chapter 5 of the interview. Check out Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, or Chapter 4 if you haven’t already! In today’s Chapter 5 video, which is also the final chapter of Kelly’s Story, Kelly shares her learnings and the adjustments she made since starting therapy. She went into therapy thinking of just having a safe space to pour out her feelings, but soon learned that it can give her much more than that. She explains how her therapist helps her to dig deeper in examining her behaviors and to find the inner emotions that drive her actions. She said that therapy has allowed her to become more self-aware and know her true self better and that her therapist has helped her bring subconscious thoughts to the conscious. Then, she shares with us a trick she finds extremely useful: creating a “happy list.” This list consists of things that make her happy, and she elaborates on what she puts in the list and how the list comes in handy during times of low emotions. She also mentions escaping the box that we may feel trapped in during depression and discovering hobbies to fulfill ourselves. Overall, therapy has been guiding Kelly in a positive direction. Interviewer: Xiaojie | Director of CandleX Interviewee: Kelly Time of interview: 2021 Finally, a huge thank you to Kelly for sharing her experience with us! Hopefully, her story has helped you, inspired you, or taught you something. This brings us to the end of our March World Bipolar Disorder Stories of 2022. TRANSCRIPT Xiaojie: Can you tell us about the changes that therapy has brought you? Kelly: Starting last November (of 2019), I began another depressive episode, which was due to some family changes. So, I went to therapy because I wanted to find a place to express my true feelings. At first, I went to therapy with the goal of pouring my heart out to someone. My therapist is a young Malaysian man and a great listener. Every session, he would say one or two things that’s eye-opening to me. After engaging in around ten therapy sessions with him, I could identify my thought process clearly when describing events. While I speak, I could see a clear train of thought. After I expressed my thought process, he would point out the different internal feelings I may have when doing certain things and how I could improve in the future. He wasn't telling me what to do; he was pointing out things to make me think deeply about the meaning behind my actions. Xiaojie: Right. Kelly: He was guiding me to see the deeper logic that goes into my actions. We engaged in about ten sessions, and it has been a positive help for me. He has helped me realize the reason behind my actions. Before, I thought I acted in certain ways because "I am just that kind of person." But that's not true. He would explain my inner feelings that drive these actions. When I think back and realize what he said is correct, I learn more about the real me. Xiaojie: You mentioned a few key things. Through therapy, you have learned more about yourself. Only when we are self-aware and know what we're deprived of, can we make according adjustments to our lives. You talk more about gaining a deeper level of knowledge of yourself. We don't know why we act certain ways subconsciously, and your therapist helped you become conscious of your subconscious. Another thing you mentioned is you made adjustments to your life to better charge yourself. So, which adjustments were the most useful, in your opinion? Kelly: I am someone who is willing to try different things and I have quite a few hobbies. So, a strategy I use is, when I'm unhappy, I would have a "happy list." I would write in my "happy list" that I was happy when I went singing today. Or I did a thorough clean-up today which made me happy, and I would add it to the list. I would fill my "happy list" so that when I felt unhappy, I could find something on the list to do to make me happy. Say I'm unhappy today. I look through the list, then decide to find a few friends to go sing together. Afterwards, I would feel relaxed and relieved, and I would go to sleep happily. The "happy list" has been a useful little tip for me lately. Xiaojie: That's great. Many times, when we're unhappy, our emotions are negative, which makes us act negatively. For example, we drink alcohol or do shopping, which later makes us feel even worse because we spent so much money. So, the "happy list" you use is something that makes you happy and something that gives you more energy. Kelly: That’s right. Xiaojie: It can help you short-term recover from your negative emotions. Kelly: Another thing is, since I was depressed, I was stuck in a box thinking about one thing. What I've been getting better at doing is forcing myself or allowing myself to escape from that box. Then, I can go develop a hobby that makes me feel truly happy, alive, and fulfilled. For instance, I've been starting to learn a few instruments. Once you give yourself the power and energy, the complicated thoughts and feelings will slowly fade. You would start to focus on more things that really matter and realize that you're better off improving yourself. A lot of the time, we need to be able to jump out of the box. Xiaojie: True. You may have heard of this, but it's said that when we are in an unhappy environment, most people spiral into the negativity. What we need during these times is a technique called distraction. The "happy list" you talked about aligns with this. You have a list of things you know you like to do, so I do these things first to distract myself and relax my mind. Good for you. I'm so happy to have been able to discuss so much with you in nearly an hour. One hour is actually not long because there are more details that we weren't able to cover today. But, hopefully, we'll have more chances to interact and grow with you in the future. Thank you so much for sharing. Kelly: Thank you, and thank you to CandleX. 文字稿 小杰:能够讲一下心理咨询能够给你带来什么样的改变吗? 诗诗:其实我相当于是从去年11月份开始,自己又有一段时间的抑郁情绪,是因为一些家庭的变故。我去找心理咨询的诉求,一开始的诉求其实很简单,我希望找一个地方能够去说出我真正内心的想法。当时是想以倾诉为目的去找心理咨询,但是因为我的心理咨询师也是一个很年轻的马来西亚的男生,他也是一个很好的倾听者,他其实每一次会有那么一两句话点醒我。其实就是相当于我觉得,到后面我们磨合到现在大概是有十次左右,我跟他磨合到的一个感觉就是我过去跟他说我这段时间所发生的一些事情,其实我在说的过程当中,自己就已经给自己理出来了一条思路。在我说出我这些思路之后呢,他就会点出比如说你这个行为,你那个行为有可能自己的内心是一个什么样的想法。那么如果下一次的时候你可以其实选择怎么做会更好。他其实不是说我告诉你你要怎么怎么做,他其实是在点你,让你去更深的思考你这个行为背后的一些意义。 小杰:对的。 诗诗:或者是说你这样做自己深层次的一个逻辑是什么。其实我觉得我们两个交流了大概十次左右,其实对于我来说是一个比较正向的帮助吧。他有真的是在让我意识到,原来我这样做,因为之前有的时候一些行为我就是这么做的,我本来就是这样的人。其实不是的。他会告诉你,这样做内心是一个什么样的想法,我自己回去再思考好像真的是这样的时候,就会更加的真实的认识到自己。 小杰:你刚刚说到几个比较关键的词,就是说通过心理咨询的这个过程,让你更多的去了解到自己,因为只有我们了解到自己是什么样的状态,需要什么样的营养,我们才会作出比较相应的生活上的改变,所以你刚刚提到的更多是认知层面的,在心理咨询你刚刚讲更深层次的,就是我们潜意识里头自己都不知道,为什么会有这样的行为,他慢慢的让你这种潜意识的意识浮上来,到你的意识层面。 小杰:第二个你刚刚也讲到说,可能会做一些生活上的改变,然后给自己更好的充电。那有哪些这种特别你觉得做的生活上的改变是特别有用的行为吗? 诗诗:其实因为我自己本身是一个比较愿意去尝试更多可能性的人,兴趣爱好也比较多,所以我自己其实有一个小窍门吧,就是在我不开心的时候,我会有一个“开心列表”。我会写下来今天唱歌了我很开心,就会把唱歌写到我的“开心列表”里面。比如我今天做了一个彻底的大扫除我很开心,就会把大扫除写到我的“开心列表”上面。所以就是积满你“开心列表”的时候,当你真的不开心的时候,我就去顺着那个“开心列表”去找,什么事情我可以开心。比如说我今天不开心了,顺着这个去找,我找一两个朋友我们一块儿去唱一次歌,唱完歌回来之后就很放松很发泄,很开心的睡觉了。其实我觉得“开心列表”这个东西是近期来讲我自己的一个,让自己变得开心的调解。 小杰:非常棒,因为很多时候我们在不开心的时候,因为情绪是负面的,很多产生的行为就是负面的,比如说酗酒,闷闷不乐的,可能就是一阵的去有些人疯狂的购物,完了更难受,因为又花了很多钱。所以你刚刚说的这个“开心列表”让你很高兴的这些东西,更多的是给予你的能量。 诗诗:对。 小杰:能让你在短期里头从这个情绪里恢复过来对吧。 诗诗:我觉得还有一点就是,因为之前一直处在抑郁情绪,是困在那个框框里出不来,就一直在想同一件事情。其实我到现在稍微的有一点好转是,我真的是能够强迫自己,或者是让自己跳脱出那件事情,然后我去培养一个自己真正觉得开心的,自己真正有体验感有成就感的一个兴趣爱好。比如说我最近开始学一些乐器,我觉得在真的,当你自己给自己加上一些小马达之后,你有一些复杂的思绪就会慢慢的消减,就会觉得这都不算事儿,这些是什么事儿啊,你去想它干什么啊,我还不如把自己过的更好一点,其实有的时候 小杰:对的,这其实在做咨询的时候,有可能你也有听到过,就是我们在一个特别不开心的当下环境的时候,大部分的人都会陷到那个漩涡里头。我们这个时候更多需要的是一个技巧叫注意力分散。你刚刚讲到这个,其实就是我有一个帖子了,我知道了哪些喜欢,我就先去做这些事情,让自己的大脑放空。很好。非常高兴能够在其实差不多有一个小时的时间跟你有很多的探讨,虽然一个小时的时间并不长,但是实际上还有很多很多的细节,我们今天没有时间去沟通到。我们在以后也希望能够跟你再有机会交流,一起成长。非常感谢你给我们的分享。 诗诗:谢谢你,谢谢CandleX。

  • Chapter 4: Accepting Failure | Kelly’s Story

    此采访为中文采访,中英文参访字幕在文末。 In March 2021, CandleX director Xiaojie interviewed Kelly Yang on her experience with bipolar disorder. A year later, CandleX decided to present this interview in five chapters to commemorate World Bipolar Day. This is Chapter 4 of the interview. Check out Chapter 1, Chapter 2, or Chapter 3 if you haven’t already! In Chapter 4, Kelly uses takeaways from her personal experience to give advice to people like her, the younger generation, and parents. Depression and bipolar disorder are commonly found in perfectionists and high-achievers, which Kelly believes she is. When giving suggestions to these people like her, Kelly emphasizes acceptance – accepting failure, accepting things to not be perfect, and accepting a more ordinary life. When giving advice to teens, Kelly mentions that knowing there are other possibilities in life is a critical aspect to growing a healthy mindset. When addressing parents, Kelly recommends them to not force their kids to complete their own unfulfilled dreams and to learn to see the different methods of child development, which is especially hard with Chinese education. In Chapter 5, Xiaojie and Kelly will talk more about Kelly’s changes after receiving therapy. Interviewer: Xiaojie | Director of CandleX Interviewee: Kelly Time of interview: 2021 TRANSCRIPT Kelly: There are people around me who have similar experiences to mine. They are considered excellent kids who have always been good, with good families and successful careers. These people also experience symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder. I vividly remember my attending doctor telling me kids like us are extra susceptible to bipolar disorder or depression because there are obvious characteristics. One is how we've never experienced any major setbacks in life. Another thing is how we pursue perfection excessively. Xiaojie: Perfectionism? Kelly: Exactly. It's this excessive pursuit of perfection. Actually, the perfectionism you mentioned isn't a derogatory term. Wanting to perfect things is a great quality, but excessively doing it adds a derogative sense to it. It's not like an A+ is good enough; excessive perfectionism means it needs to be an A++ or even more. They are most definitely good enough, but they think they need to be even better. When they're pursuing perfection excessively, they drain themselves and sink into deep emotions more easily. So, instead of giving advice to others, I think it's more appropriate to share what I've been doing myself. I try to reflect on myself more, stop sinking into excessive perfectionism, find my goal and a comfortable state. Then, I look for a goal in a state I feel comfortable in. Striving for wild accomplishments excessively will make you sink into extreme states, which is bad for your mind and body. Xiaojie: Perfectionists or people who are strict on themselves have lots of trouble dealing with their failure or moments of disappointment. For perfectionists struggling with this, what would you say to them? Kelly: To be honest, I can't truly accept my own failure yet either. I think perfectionists and people who have a smooth life may have never experienced failure. They can't accept to fail because they automatically put a "no failure" label on themselves. So, I've been slowly trying a psychological state where I accept being ordinary and being less than others. I accept that I just didn't do well on something. I think acceptance is one thing I've been trying to learn. I need to accept the lesser side of myself. I'm not always going to get an A+, be the best, and be better than others. There are also things I can't do well on. Once I accept that side of myself can I truly accept that life is multidimensional. So are other people and myself. My path also has many directions. This way, I see more possibilities in life. If I work towards one single path until I die, I would only see what's in front of me and miss the better things around me. Xiaojie: There's a good saying that we are our own best friends. When we are our best friend and our best friend fails, how we comfort them is the voice that we should use on ourselves. When we fail, we need to be gentle, accept, and take care of ourselves. This is the meaning behind the saying. Many of our CandleX teens and parents are on this journey; the parents will successfully send their kids to study abroad. What do you want to say to families with kids who haven’t gone abroad and experienced depression or bipolar disorder yet? What would you say to these kids who are still in their teenage years, still in school, and still unexposed to big life setbacks? Kelly: It's actually like what I previously said. I have the same realization now, which is how we suddenly question why things are certain ways at this age. This is because of something that was established during our teenage years. Everyone back then had this innate sense that I need to do the best, be stronger than others, receive an A+, and be the first in my grade. I need to be better than others in this and that. I need to apply to the top 20 colleges. Setting these goals is good because we need goals in our lives, but sometimes we need to allow ourselves to accept that we may not be able to achieve the highest goal. So, let's take a step back. We don't get it done that way, but what about another way? It's not finding an exit for ourselves, but admitting the other possibilities in life. I think if I could relive my teenage years, I want to be able to see other things aside from my grades or the Gaokao. This is genuinely what I would like to say to the younger generation. I want them to choose from more possibilities before experiencing adulthood. Xiaojie: That is great. What about to parents? Because Chinese education is quite special in the way that parents tend to put a lot of effort, energy, and money into their child's growth. Do you have anything you would like to say to these parents? Kelly: Since I don't have kids of my own, it would be a bit farfetched to give any suggestions to parents. Xiaojie: Then let's change the question to: what do you want to say to your parents back then? Kelly: Oh yes, that's better. Like I mentioned before, if I went back to my teenage years, I hope to see more possibilities. But if, back then, my parents could tell me, "It's okay to not score such high marks. There is both success and failure in life because it's not possible for you to always be the best in everything you do." and encouraged me to find my true interest and passion, I might be able to open myself up more and be more broad-minded. Because in my knowledge of Chinese education, everyone puts grades as the most valuable thing. They judge you on your grades and your Gaokao score. Actually, the sense that the Gaokao changes one's life is still an idea that needs to be adjusted. This is why our education is headed towards that one goal. As an observer, a small problem many parents have is how they force their own hopes and dreams onto their children. They like to say, "I couldn't do this and that. I couldn't go to a good university." That's why my child needs to attend a good university. By doing this, parents are giving their kids too much pressure. When they make their child live according to what they want in life, parents are ignoring the possibility of their child growing on their own. When you suddenly let go of a sprout you've been pulling up to help grow, saying the sprout is grown now, the sprout will lose sense of how to take root. Though it's been getting better these years, with everyone becoming more internationalized and open, the root problem still exists in China. So, for parents, they need to accept more possibilities to bring their kids more possibilities. Xiaojie: We also want to remind parents that emotions like being depressed are caused by the lack of nutrition to our internal spirit and a constant search for external things, which are usually things that drain us. For example, I have to study and learn history and math, even though I dislike them. But there are more ways for children to develop. The child may love sports or music. I want them to be able to have more space to do what they love. This way, they stay farther from depression. A great point you mentioned was that we need to not only strive for success and goals, though goals can be helpful, but we also need to accept our chance of failure and see it as an okay part of our lives. 文字稿 诗诗:所谓的就是一路走来就是别人家的孩子,一直都比较优秀,事业包括家庭各方面都还算不错,我身边也有跟我同样差不多经历的朋友,也是经历了抑郁症也好,双相情感障碍也好,其实也有这方面的病例在,我就记得很深,我的主治医生其实有跟我说,像我们这类的孩子其实是双相的,或者是抑郁症一个非常易感人群,因为它可能有几个特征,就是一路走过来都比较顺利,然后没有经历过什么很大的挫折,还有一点非常重要的就是过渡追求完美。 小杰:完美主义? 诗诗:对,完美主义,就是所谓的过渡追求完美,其实之前所说的完美主义,你追求完美其实不是一个贬义词,你追求完美是非常好的一种品质,但是过渡追求完美就有一点贬义的色彩在了。它不是说你追到100分就可以了,过渡追求完美的人他是要追到150分甚至是更多,你都已经追到这儿完全就已经够了,但是不行我还要更优秀,还要更好,其实在你过渡追求完美的过程中就很容易消耗自己,让自己陷入一种情绪的漩涡当中。所以我与其说是建议别人,不如也说是我最近都有在自省自己,不能要让自己陷入到这种过渡完美的状态下,要认清楚自己真正的目标是什么,自己觉得舒适的状态是什么,然后在这个舒服的状态当中去寻找自己的一个目标,而不是说去过渡的追求一些虚妄的成就,反而会让你陷入到一个很极端的情况当中,这样对自己的身心都不是很好。 小杰:因为完美主义的人包括说对自己要求很严格的人,很难去处理自己的失败以及没有办法达到自己要求的那些时刻,对于这种正在处于这种时刻的完美主义者,你有什么样的想跟他们说的吗? 诗诗:其实这个问题就是,我自己到目前为止也不是非常能够接受自己失败的,其实我觉得像是完美主义者,包括像这种所谓的一路优秀过来的人,他们其实一路可能没有经历过很多的失败,他们就觉得自己不能接受失败,我不应该失败,其实是有这样的一种固有的思维在的。所以,我自己现在也有在慢慢的尝试一个心理状态,就是说我接受自己的平凡,接受自己的不如人,我接受自己可能在这方面我做的就是不好,我觉得接受这件事情是我自己现在在慢慢学的一件事情,你要去接受自己不好的那一面,我不是说我永远都是100分,永远都是最好的,我永远都是比别人强的,我也有做的不好的地方。当我接受自己背面的时候,我才能够真正的去接受人生是多面的,别人是多面的,我是多面的,我的路是多条的,这个时候人生的可能性会更多一些,而不是说我们只追求这一条路,我就那一条路走到死,其实这个时候反而你就会一直着眼于自己眼前的那些东西,你看不到周围更好的东西。 小杰:有一个很好的比喻,就是说做我们自己最好的朋友,如果说我们是自己最好朋友的时候,当你的好朋友失败的时候,你应该怎么样去安慰他,那个时候其实我们要唤醒这个声音,你在失败的时候其实我们更多的是需要给自己一些温柔以及接纳,以及呵护,就是这样的意思。 小杰:其实我们CandleX很多青少年的听众以及家长也是在这个旅程中,他们还在,自己的孩子可能正要面临出国一切都比较顺利,那对于还没有走,这一批孩子还没有首发抑郁或者双相的这一批孩子们和家长们,你想对他们说些什么,我们先来看看你对这些青少年想要说什么,还是十几岁,还在学校里面很努力的念书,还没有什么挫折的这些孩子? 诗诗:其实就像我刚才说的,我自己现在的这个感悟一样,就是所谓的可能到我们这个年纪才突然觉得,为什么会是这样的,其实这个根儿都是在我们青少年时期形成的,那个时候大家就是会有那种固有的印象,就是我要做到最好,我要比别人都强,我要考100分,我要拿年级第一,我这个要比别人强,那个要比别人强,我出国要申到最好的大学,就是会给自己其实定下这样的目标是很好的,因为我们人生需要一些目标,但是有的时候我们也需要让自己接受,我们可能没有办法达到最高的那个目标,让我们退一步好不好,我们不做到这样,我们那样做好不好,不是说给自己找一条退路或者是后路,而是让我们去承认人生的更多可能性,我觉得这个其实是我希望如果我再重活一次的话,我的青少年时期能够去看到除了学习之外更多的东西,而不是只看到分,而不是只看到成绩,只看高考,这真的是我发自内心的希望告诉接下来的弟弟妹妹们,他们能够体验更多人生之前,让他们自己去选择更多的可能性。 小杰:很好,对于,家长这一块儿呢,因为咱们中国式的教育,也是比较有特色的,所以就是家长大部分的时候会花很多的心、精力以及钱财在孩子的成长上。对于这一部分的家长你有什么想要说的吗? 诗诗:因为我自己本身也没有孩子,其实我现在说对家长的一些话,其实也有一点牵强。 小杰:我们换一种方式,你想给当时你的家长说些什么? 诗诗:我觉得这样比较好。其实就像刚才我说的,如果当时我自己回到原来的青少年的时期,我希望能够看到更多的可能性,但是如果我当时的家长,如果能够告诉我说,你不考那么多分也没有关系,你要接受你的人生就是有成功有失败的,不是说你每次都能够做到最好,你要去找到自己真正的兴趣所在,你要去做自己真正想要做的事情,如果我觉得那个时候我的父母是这样跟我说的,其实我有可能会更加的,把自己的心胸打的更开一些。因为据我所了解到的中国式教育,真的还都是分分学生的命根儿,大家都是唯分论,唯高考论,其实高考改变一个人的命运这件事情在中国一直以来都没有得到一些很好的改善,所以这导致我们的教育其实更多的都是朝着那个目标走的。再加上很多家长其实有的时候,我自己旁观者来看他们有一点点问题所在,就是他把自己曾经的一些愿望,和自己的一些想法施加在孩子的身上,我当时没有怎么样,我当时没有考上一个好大学,我就要让我的孩子考一个好的大学。其实这个时候你反而去给孩子过多的压力,你让他过多的按照你的意思去走的时候,你反而是忽略了他自己成长的一个可能性。当你一直在拔苗助长的时候,你突然这个苗松开手了,你大了自己过去的时候他就不知道该怎么扎根了。所以说我觉得我们中国式的家长,其实近些年有点在慢慢的好转,大家也更加的国际化,更加的Open,但其实还是根儿上没有变。我希望如果是在家长这方面的话,他自己要去接受更多的可能性,才能带给孩子更多的可能性。 小杰:而且我们也其实非常想提示我们的家长,所有的抑郁这一类的情绪,都是因为我们没有办法给我们心灵供给营养,因为我们更多的去追寻外界的东西。所谓的这些外界的东西,是在消耗我们可能是我每天不爱念书,我不爱学历史,我不学数学,但是我必须得学,其实我们有更多的成长方式,他可能是一个特别喜欢去运动的孩子,或者特别喜欢音乐的一些孩子,所以也希望他们如果有更多这样的空间去做自己爱做的事情,那他离抑郁就会更远一些,你刚刚也提到非常好的一点,就是说我们要不仅仅说成功是生活中我们要去追寻的一些东西,有一定的目标还是挺好的,但是我们要认可我们每一个人都有失败的这个可能性,而且这个经历也是可以是被接受,也是我们人生中的一部分。

  • Chapter 3: Living in a Mental Hospital | Kelly’s Story

    此采访为中文采访,中英文参访字幕在文末。 In March 2021, CandleX director Xiaojie interviewed Kelly Yang on her experience with bipolar disorder. A year later, CandleX decided to present this interview in five chapters to commemorate World Bipolar Day. This is Chapter 3 of the interview. Check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 if you haven’t already! In Chapter 3, Kelly shares her experience living in the psychiatry department of a hospital in Beijing. Before hospitalization, it was difficult for her and her family to accept that Kelly really had a mental illness, so it was a plan that dragged on for a while. Once she was hospitalized, she started taking medicines and receiving electroconvulsive therapy (mECT). This treatment resulted in short-term memory loss, so she couldn’t exactly recall some things that happened during the time, but she explained how it proved to be effective for her. In Chapter 4, they will give more insight on suggestions for people who are well-achieved yet mentally unstable. Interviewer: Xiaojie | Director of CandleX Interviewee: Kelly Time of interview: 2021 TRANSCRIPT Xiaojie: Did you receive treatment in a fixed-point mental hospital in Beijing? What was the process like? Kelly: To be honest, seeking medical treatment was quite a rocky journey for me. My parents had no experience with this, and neither did I.So, in the beginning, they brought me to the sleep department in a traditional Chinese medicine hospital because I wasn't sleeping at first. While I was there, I tried acupuncture and eating Chinese medicine, but it wasn't really working for me. Then, I went to Peking Union Medial College Hospital's psychology department, where I started using Western medicine. Xiaojie: You already started using psychotropic drugs. Were you diagnosed there? Kelly: I completed assessment forms for each hospital I went to, and the results all pointed to a major depressive disorder state. So I started taking medicine, but since I- Xiaojie: Sorry to interrupt, but I forgot to ask this: is it correct that ou went to see the doctor after your last bipolar episode? Kelly: Correct. The episodes before the last one were more like points, where I overcame the emotions after I validated myself. The previous two episodes' symptoms were also not as severe as the last. In this last episode, I couldn't even function normally. As I was saying, I first tried treatment using Chinese medicine, then I went to public hospitals where I used psychotropic drugs. But, at the time, my parents couldn't accept that I may actually have a mental illness. That's why they weren't really strict on me to take the medicines. People who have taken psychotropic drugs probably know that the side effects are very obvious in the beginning. So the strong side effects of the drugs added to my already low state worsened my condition. I felt that I was already bad enough, and I would be even worse after taking the medicines. So, at first, there were quite a few twists and turns. Xiaojie: You were only seeing the doctor and not hospitalized yet, right? Kelly: Right, but I also stopped working and seeing other people. I would stay home with my parents every day. Xiaojie: From the doctor making suggestions to you being hospitalized, was there perhaps a process in the middle? Kelly: Yes, I dragged on the plan to go to a specialized hospital for two months. Xiaojie: It seems you were avoiding and avoiding the hospital until many people couldn't hold you back and you really needed to go. This is commonly seen in China because it's very hard for us to admit that we have psychological and mental problems that need other to help us with. So what was this entire journey like for you? How did you view your own mental problems and seeing the doctor? What were you feeling? Personally, during periods of illness and before I was hospitalized, I was extremely against seeing the doctor. A signature feature of bipolar disorder is patients would think they're completely fine and there's no need to see the doctor. Xiaojie: Especially during manic phases? Kelly: Yes. "Why are you taking me to this place? Why are you controlling me? Why do I need to eat medicine?" I had this sense of resistance. So, taking drugs and seeing the doctor in these two months were pretty tough. I was resisting up until I was hospitalized and received some treatment. Only when my emotions and my senses slowly returned, I could truly accept being in the hospital, taking medicines, and the possibility of long-term drug use. Xiaojie: Alright. Let's talk a bit about when you entered the inpatient room. Many people may have lots of imagination, fear, and curiosity about living in a mental hospital. So, when you entered the inpatient department, what did the doctor do and what did you do? Can you briefly share that? Kelly: I need to first clarify something. No matter my treatment or the drugs I took, they actually all damaged my memory a bit. So, some things that happened during this time are blurry and missing in my memory. I would feel blankness for certain things. For some things, I can only remember bits and pieces. Well, living in the mental department of a hospital was not that scary. It was lights out at 9PM, and we would wake up at 5AM to line up to get our blood drawn. A doctor would visit me every day to adjust my drug dosage. I did a treatment that, for me in my stage of illness, was quite useful. It was electroconvulsive therapy (mECT). This treatment method is considered pretty common in China. Xiaojie: Can you briefly introduce this treatment method to us? Kelly: I actually didn't do any research on what this method really is, so I'll just share my personal experience with it. I would just lay on the hospital bed, and they would make my whole body numb. I've seen fully-numb patients being sent in, then connected to electricity, and constantly twitching on the bed. It was basically electric shock. Xiaojie: What you just described was you looking at others. Did you have memory or any feelings during the treatment on yourself? Kelly: All I remember is the doctor calling for a group of patients and taking us to another treatment room. We would wear an armband, connect to a tube, and when they called your name, you would go lie on the bed. We had all kinds of pads for electric shock stuck onto us, and the tube would connect to a needle that injects anesthetic, which makes me lose consciousness. When I awake, I would be in another room. They would observe my heart rate, blood pressure, and these basic values. After I go back, my head would throb and I would just sleep. I did this every day for four days. It was the same process every day. After these four days, I could feel an obvious erase of previous memories. I didn't know why I was there, why everyone cared about me so much, because I thought I was fine. It suddenly pulled me back to the state I was in before, and it was like the memories in between were gone. Xiaojie: How much of your memory was erased? Kelly: Just the memories from the previous two months of being bipolar. Xiaojie: Memories from two months ago were already blurry? Kelly: It's just like, "Wait, what did I do that day? And the other day?" Later, when I talked to my father, he would ask me if I remembered what happened or what I did, and I would say no. Now it's getting better, though. I can slowly start remembering things again. But back then, even my doctor told my father that this treatment will result in short-term memory loss, but it will get better later on. After those four days, I experienced a strong feeling. Before, my logic was messy, which is a symptom of bipolar disorder and depression. Basically, it's this confused, messy thinking with no logic. That time, I was in chaos. I didn't have any logic, which was very different from how I normally act. A saying I really like is: I pressed "Restart" after the treatment. It's as if I didn't experience the entire episode, and I could restart. This was the feeling I had during the time. I recovered my clear thinking. My manic emotions before and after the electric shocks were different. Before the electric shocks, my mind was in a state of chaos, so I had some crazy behaviors during that manic phase. But during the manic phase after starting treatment, I thought life was beautiful and I couldn't be happier. I felt like I could do anything. Xiaojie: You felt confident, capable, and hopeful for the future. Kelly: So I personally think my manic phase before treatment was a more intense mania, while the manic phase after treatment was less mania in general. I've told people around me who feel depressed or have depressed family members that from personal experience, even if you haven't experienced severe physiological symptoms, like just sinking in depressed emotions and not being able to come out, still go see a reliable psychologist to receive some psychological guidance. But if you already have physical symptoms like depressive facial numbness or long-period insomnia, I think it's best for them to accept professional treatment from specialized hospitals and use medicine to adjust their state. This is usually the advice I give them. Xiaojie: Right. This is similar to WHO's basic advocacy for depression, which is what we call mild depression. Counseling is most effective during mild depression because patients still have the ability to think logically. Plus, after taking drugs, everyone reacts differently; there may also be side effects. During this period, they can try to get medicine from a psychiatrist, but counseling also plays a very important role. During severe illness stages, it's necessary to use both. 文字稿 小杰:你是在北京的一个精神医院专门的这种定点医院去做的这种治疗吗,大概是什么样的一个过程呢? 诗诗:其实我这一次求医的过程算是比较波折吧,因为其实最最一开始的时候,我父母也没有经历过这样的情况,我也没有经历过这样的情况,所以一开始其实他们是送我去了一个中医医院的睡眠科,因为开始我不睡觉吗,所以送我去中医医院的睡眠科,做一些针灸,吃一些中药什么的,但是对我来说反正就是没有什么太大的用处,后来又去了北京协和医院,去了协和医院的一个也是心理科大概是,那个时候就开始用西药了。 小杰:已经用精神科的药物了,在那边有做诊断吗? 诗诗:去到每个医院其实都有做表格,就是去做那个评估,每次评估回来之后大家都是一个重度抑郁的状态,所以就开始吃药了,但是因为我那个时候。 小杰:不好意思,我打断一下,我刚刚忘了问到说,就诊的时候给我的感觉你应该是从双相这一次的发作,最后一次再就诊的? 诗诗:是的,就是最后一次才就诊,之前的都是相当于节点,有一个节点肯定自己了然后就扛过去那个情绪了,并且上面两次其实发病的程度都没有最近的这一次严重,这一次就真的是整个人没有办法正常的生活。就像我刚才说的先去通过一些中医的治疗,后来去到一些公立医院,进行了一些精神科的用药,但其实那个时候呢,我父母这边也不是很接受,我真的是得了,可能是这方面的疾病,他们就是对我吃药这方面也是属于那种想吃就吃,不想吃就不吃,并且其实可能很多用过精神类药物的人都知道,它的副作用其实一开始是非常明显的,我那个时候本身情绪就非常的不好,然后我用药的副作用又非常的强烈,就会更加的加重我的病情,会让我觉得本身就不好,我吃上药是不是我就更完了,其实那个时候有这样很波折的一个前面的序。 小杰:那个阶段一直都是在作为,不是在住院是吧,就是门诊? 诗诗:对,但是我已经不上班,然后也不见人,就是每天我父母陪着我待在家里。 小杰:可能当时医生给了建议到你真正的到医院,这中间还有一个过程是不是? 诗诗:其实是这样的,一直拖着,拖着,拖到大概两个月以后才去专科医院看的。 小杰:真的是就已经感觉前头的一直是在回避回避回避,回避到这个人都已经几个人拉不住了,必须得去了,才就的医。 诗诗:对。 小杰:咱们中国常见的一个,就是说很难去认可说我们心理上以及精神上面有一些问题是需要别人去帮助的,身边的人有这样的一个旅程对于你当时自己来说是什么样,怎么样来看待你当时就医,心理问题就就诊这一系列的事情,你的心理路程是什么样的? 诗诗:其实要说我的心理路程的话,就是我在发病期间,在我住院之前,其实我都是非常抗拒就医的,双相情感障碍还有一个很明显的特点,他就会觉得自己没有病,我什么事儿都没有,为什么要带我去看病。 小杰:特别是在躁狂期的时候? 诗诗:对。你为什么要带我去到这个地方,你为什么要看着我,还有我为什么要吃药,那个时候就一直有着这样抗拒的情绪,所以包括服药包括就医,其实在这两个月的时间里都是挺坎坷的,其实我的态度一直是很抗拒的,直到我后来住了院经过治疗,我的情绪慢慢的回来,我的理智慢慢回来之后,我才真正去接受就医、吃药,并且有可能会长期吃药的这个事实。 小杰:好的,那我们来分享一下,从进到住院室的那一刻,因为很多人可能对精神科的住院都是有着无穷的幻想以及恐惧心、好奇心,所以对于你来说,当时进到了住院部,你是什么样的,医生做了哪些事情,你做了哪些事情?简单的介绍一下可以吗? 诗诗:其实有一点我要先说明,因为包括我的治疗也好,我的用药也好,其实是对记忆力有一些损伤,其实我对于这中间的一些记忆是有一点点模糊和缺失的,我感觉到有一块突然就空了,有一些事情我只能记得碎片,其实我感觉在精神科住院也没有那么恐怖了,就是每天9点熄灯,5点半起床,然后排着队去抽血,会有医生每天过来看你,然后来调整你的这个用药,其实我当时做过的一个治疗,是我认为在我的这个病情当中对我来说是比较有效果的,就是那个无抽电休克,这个治疗应该算是国内比较多常用的一个治疗方法。 小杰:先简单的介绍一下这个治疗方式吗? 诗诗:其实我也没有真的去做过一些了解,它具体是什么,只是说我自己的亲身感受,它其实就是说你躺在那个病床上,然后给你进行全麻,我眼睛看到过比如说被全麻的病人推到里面去,然后身上都连着电,他就在那个床上抽搐,大概就是这样一直抽搐的过程,其实就是所谓的电击。 小杰:你刚刚说的这个是你看到别人,但是你当时在这个治疗过程中,你是没有记忆的也是没有感受的? 诗诗:我唯一记得的感受就是我们当时一群病人被医生,然后拉着去到另外一个治疗室里,然后我们戴上一个箍,连上一根管子,叫到你名字的时候你去过去躺到病床上,然后身上贴了各种电击就是各种贴,然后管子上连上一个针管,就是把那个麻药打下去之后我就没有意识了,等到我再醒来的时候,就已经是在另外一个屋子里,就开始观测你的心跳,你的血压这些基本的数值,回去之后头会非常的疼,回去之后我就睡觉了,大概每一天都是这样的一个过程,大概是有四天的时间,其实每一天都是这样的过程,我当时就明显感觉到,我做了四天,前面的那一些记忆就好像被橡皮擦给擦掉了,我不知道为什么要来到这里,为什么大家都这么关心我,我什么事情都没有啊,突然一下子就给你拉回到自己原来的那个状态当中,中间这段记忆好面就没有了一样。 小杰:中间这一段是多长时间的一段记忆? 诗诗:就是发病的这一段记忆,就是这两个月。 小杰:从两个月前就已经有的记忆就已经很模糊了? 诗诗:一下子就觉得我干嘛了,我那天干嘛了,我那天干嘛了,就后来包括我父亲跟我聊天的时候,他都会问我你记不记得你怎么怎么样,我说我不记得,其实现在还好,有慢慢慢慢一点点的想起来,但是那个时候真的就是,这也是当时医生跟我父亲说的,说这个治疗会让你的短时记忆缺失,但是后来会慢慢好的,对,就是那四天之后我有一个非常大的感受,就是因为我原来的时候,其实逻辑线是混乱的,这个其实是双相的,包括抑郁它都会有的一个病症,就是逻辑线混乱,思维混乱没有逻辑,那个时候就是感觉指东打西的,完全没有任何逻辑,与自己平常的这个行为有很大的差异,我很喜欢一种说法,就是我觉得那之后就突然好像按下重启键了,就是突然重启,整个这一段时间就好像没有过过一样,让我重新再过一遍,大概是这样的一种感觉,那段时间真的就是一下子思维又清晰了。我在电击之后和电击之前感受到的那种躁狂期的情绪是不一样的,就是在电击之前,因为我那个时候整体是处于一个思维混乱的时期,那个时候的躁狂期就是体现为一些疯狂的举动。 诗诗:在开始治疗之后的那个所谓的躁狂期,是我觉得人生怎么这么美好,我怎么这么开心,我什么都可以做,大概是这样的一种感觉。 小杰:自信心,觉得自己也很有能力,对未来充满了希望? 诗诗:所以我自己感觉,我自己认为,可能我在治疗之前的那个所谓的躁狂期是有一种急性发病期的一种病症,但是在治疗之后的那个躁狂期反而是比较少的躁狂期的感觉,我也有跟我身边的,不论是自己有抑郁情绪,还是家人有抑郁情绪的人,我都跟他说自己的亲身感觉是,如果当你还没有很严重生理病症的时候,比如说你只是沉浸在抑郁情绪里面,你不知道该怎么拔出来,那么我都建议他们先去找一个比较可靠的心理医生,去接受一些心理上的疏导,但是如果比如说已经有一些生理上的病症了,比如说像是抑郁性目僵,或者长时间睡不着觉,大概是这样一些生理反映的时候,还是希望他们能够接受真正的专科医院专业的治疗,用一些药来去调整自己的状态,这一般都是我给他们的建议。 小杰:对的,这也和我们世卫组织对抑郁症的一个基本的倡导很像,我们叫mild depression,就是轻微的抑郁。轻微抑郁的时候,其实心理咨询就是最好的,因为我们还有逻辑思维的能力,因为毕竟用药的话每个人的反映不一样,包括还有很多的副作用,在中的时候可能去尝试看看精神科能不能开点药,但是心理咨询也是其中很重要的一部分,但是在严重的这种精神疾病的病发期的话,那就是两种都得用。

  • Chapter 2: Pink Hair & Luxury Bags | Kelly’s Story

    此采访为中文采访,中英文参访字幕在文末。 In March 2021, CandleX director Xiaojie interviewed Kelly Yang on her experience with bipolar disorder. A year later, CandleX decided to present this interview in five chapters to commemorate World Bipolar Day. This is Chapter 2 of the interview. Check out Chapter 1 if you haven’t already! In Chapter 2, Kelly talks about how her depression turned into bipolar disorder, a common situation for people who have bipolar I disorder. Kelly describes the feelings she encountered during different phases of bipolar disorder – she experienced the highest highs and lowest lows, which is a signature feature of bipolar disorder. Finally, they wrap up the discussion with Xiaojie asking Kelly for advice on how others can help people with bipolar disorder. In Chapter 3, they will cover more on Kelly’s hospitalization experience. Interviewer: Xiaojie | Director of CandleX Interviewee: Kelly Time of interview: 2021 TRANSCRIPT Kelly: It's just this constant draining of energy. I wouldn’t sleep or eat. My father described me as someone with infinite strength. At that time, all I thought about was how much I didn't want to live, and I thought there was nothing to live for. So, I tried to do things like jumping off a building, and during those times I had so much strength that my parents and brother combined couldn't even pull me back. My father said he was stunned at the amount of strength I had to pull free. It was like I wanted to use up all the power in my body. Previously, I mentioned the time when I didn't sleep for five whole days, and that time, I suddenly used up all my energy and fainted. When I woke up a few hours later, I felt like my entire body collapsed. Xiaojie: Like you used up all your battery? Kelly: Yes. I finally felt exhausted, and I didn't know what I was doing before. That was the process for me. Xiaojie: What I find curious is that, for many people, they become more innovative during manic phases. They think they're at life's peak, the world's amazing, and they can do anything (like going five days with no sleep). However, in your case, you have high energy but negative emotions. Is my interpretation correct? Kelly: Actually, before I was hospitalized, my emotions were... How should I put it? They were negative and sort of insane emotions. So I would act a bit mad and look "not normal." But after I was hospitalized, I received treatment and was on medications. That was when I felt the feeling of others during bipolar states. I did some things I would never have tried before, like dying my whole head a vivid shade of pink that really stood out. And when I went shopping, I would buy bags worth 30-40K(RMB). At the time, it was like that and I was so happy. I thought, "I'm completely healed and normal now." However, every time I went back to the hospital with my pink hair and new bags, my doctor would increase my medicine dosage. I couldn't understand the reason for that because I felt so fine and so happy. My father told me later on that, at the time, the doctor told him I was in an abnormal state that was part of the manic episode, and my mood was unusually high it needed to be lowered. It makes sense now because I was insanely happy in that period of time. I had the habit of writing in my diary every day, and before I would write about how much I wished to die. Then, after I was hospitalized, I wrote about where I went every day and how extremely happy I felt using multiple exclamation marks. During the time, I was gleeful every day. Afterwards, I realized that that period was indeed when I felt the upside of bipolar disorder. Xiaojie: Right. At the hospital, were you diagnosed with bipolar I or II disorder? There are actually 4 types of bipolar disorder. Did the doctors tell you? Kelly: I think it was bipolar I. Xiaojie: I thought so, too, because we have mental health support groups at CandleX, and quite a few people with bipolar disorder come in with stories similar to yours. That's how I could tell. OK, let's summarize again. The first episode was in your last year of undergrad? Kelly: Yes. Xiaojie: Throughout the years, I feel like you went from depression to bipolar, since the first two times were depressive episodes, then you slowly turned bipolar. This is quite a common situation, to my knowledge. How long was the entire journey? From the first episode to the bipolar episode, which was also the last episode, right? Kelly: Yes. It was around 4 years, from 2014 to 2018. Xiaojie: Okay, I have a few more questions regarding events we advocate at CandleX. We really want to help the family and friends of those with bipolar disorder to know what they should do to help that person with bipolar disorder. Kelly: When I was depressed or bipolar, what I wished to hear least from others was how I just needed to get over it and stop overthinking because I was fine. They are denying your current state, which makes you feel even more dispirited and feel like your actions are useless and wrong. It will make you sink deeper into negativity. So, I think it's important to not deny their current state. I was really grateful for my boyfriend at the time for staying by my side. Even though he knew he couldn't do anything to really help me, he was there for me. I think approaching people with depression or bipolar disorder as the role of a listener will make them feel more warmth. Xiaojie: I really like the two points you mention. One is that we need to first validate all of their emotions, and then be there for them. If they want to say anything, no matter how embarrassed or guilty they may feel, they can tell you. So, more of the time, they wish for family and friends to act as this supporting body like a boat, instead of helping them to solve any problems. You are there, and they know that they can step aboard if they need it. Kelly: Yes, that's what I mean. 文字稿 诗诗:其实就是一直在消耗你的精力,我不睡觉、不吃饭,当时我父亲描述就是我力大无穷,因为那个时候脑子里全部都是那种我不想活了,我觉得活着没有意思这种想法,所以那个时候有很不正确的尝试,就是去尝试跳楼,那个时候我甚至有的时候,劲儿大的时候冲出去,我父亲、我母亲包括我哥哥拉我都快要拉不住的那种,他们三个人拉我都拉不住的,我父亲描述就是都不知道你哪来的那么大劲儿,就是要往外冲,感觉就是要把我身上所有的劲儿都消耗光,我记得有一次,就是那次五天五夜不睡觉,我好像是突然一下子把劲儿都消耗光了,我就晕过去了,晕过去之后再醒来,几个小时以后再醒来,就觉得全身上下就像散架了一样。 记者:到零了? 诗诗:那个时候才感觉到是真的累了,会觉得自己之前好像不知道是在干些什么,大概是会有这样的一个过程。 记者:虽然我觉得比较有一丝一点的,是很多人他在躁狂期的时候,他的那个情绪是给他很多创造力,他可能觉得我现在是在世界的颠峰,世界特别的美好,我是什么事情都可以做,五天五夜不睡觉,你的情况虽然你的这种能量是非常高的,但是你整个情绪反而是负面的,是这样的我的理解? 诗诗:其实是这样的,我在住院之前,我的这个情绪怎么说呢?一是有点负面,二是有点那种疯癫,会导致我的行为有一些疯癫,看起来就是不太正常,但是我住院之后其实是有经过一些治疗,包括有一些用药什么的,那个时候反而我真的有感受到他们说的那种感觉,我那个时候也做了一些,我从来没有想过的尝试,那个时候染了整个一头的粉头发,非常的粉,很出挑的一个颜色,那个时候去购物,就是那种一买买三四万块钱的包,觉得是这样,就会觉得好开心,怎么这么开心,我一点事儿都没有,我现在完全好了。 诗诗:每当我这样子顶着粉头发,拎着包回到医院的时候,我的医生都会再给我加药,因为那个时候我不理解,我说我这么好,这么开心,为什么还要给我加药,后来我父亲才跟我说,医生当时就跟他说,她这个阶段是不正常的,这个阶段是在躁狂期,情绪是有一点异常的嗨,所以就要把它给降下来,因为我那个时候真的是觉得我的天啊太开心了,因为我那个时候其实每天都有写日记的习惯,前面总是写我好想死,我怎么还不死,就是类似这种,等到我真的,我后来有看那一段时间住院那段时间,每一天都是今天去了哪,好开心,就是几个感叹号,好开心,每一天都特别特别的开心。 记者:好。 诗诗:那一段是我后来有体会,我觉得确实是让我体会到双向嗨的时候是另外一种什么样的感觉。 记者:对,所以你在医院的时候,诊断是双向一还是二,其实双向目前大概有四个类别的区别,你有跟医生聊过吗? 诗诗:好像是双向一。 记者:我听见也像是双向一,因为我们(英文)也有这个互助小组,其实来到我们这儿双向的人还不少,也听过很多类似的一些故事,听起来就是双向一的情况。OK,那我们再总结一下,你其实首发应该是在大四? 诗诗:对。 记者:一直走了多年,其实给我的感觉是抑郁转双向,因为前两次其实是抑郁状,然后慢慢的转到双向,这个也是很多时候比较常见的,我这边了解到的比较常见的一个状态,这一段历程大概有多少年的时间,从首发一直到上一次双向的一个首发,也是最后一次对吧? 诗诗:对,大概是2014年到2018年吧,四年的时间。 记者:好的,这一块我想再来问几个问题,就是我们的这些倡导的活动,特别想帮助他们有双向情感障碍,抑郁人身边的这些亲朋好友知道我在当下应该怎么样去帮我身边这个人。 诗诗:我在抑郁或者是双向的时候,最不喜欢或者最不喜欢别人听到的一句话就是,大家常说的你看开点就好了,你想开点就好了,你想那么多干嘛啊,你根本就没事儿,就是想太多,他是在否定你现在的这个状态,会让你觉得更加的沮丧,就会让你觉得我这样果然是没有意义的,我做什么是有意义的,就会陷入更加深的一个漩涡当中。 诗诗:我觉得跟说千万不要去否定他们现在的这个状态,我当时是很感谢我那个时候的男朋友,他非常坚持的一直陪在我身边,虽然他知道没有办法做一些什么来帮助到我,真正帮助到我,但是他有做到一个最基本的陪伴,我觉得就是以这样的一种倾听者的姿态去靠近抑郁症患者,或者是双向情感障碍患者的时候,其实他们会更加觉得温暖的。 记者:对,我觉得这两点你提的特别好,一个就是我们首先要去肯定这个人当下所有的情绪,当我们肯定了之后我们的陪伴更多的是我在这里对吧,如果你有任何话的话,不管你觉得多么的不好意思,羞愧,但是你都可以跟我讲,所以其实更多的时候是希望我们的亲朋好友能够不是帮我们去解决掉任何的问题,更多的是作为一个承载体,像是一艘船一样,你就在那里,我如果需要上船的时候,我知道我可以往上踏一步。 诗诗:对,就是这个意思。

  • Chapter 1: Me and My Timeline | Kelly's Story

    此采访为中文采访,中英文参访字幕在文末。 In March 2021, CandleX director Xiaojie interviewed Kelly Yang on her experience with bipolar disorder. A year later, CandleX decided to present this interview in five chapters to commemorate World Bipolar Day. This is Chapter 1 of the interview. In Chapter 1, Kelly first introduces herself to the audience. She grew up in Beijing with her parents, studied abroad for college, and is on her dream career path. She illustrates herself as a hard worker and high achiever. Through her stories and descriptions, we get the sense that Kelly’s life was quite ideal and successful. She says that on the outside, she is an extrovert who loves to socialize and try new things. However, she explains that because of her constant desire for excellence, deep down there is another side to her that is very vulnerable, sensitive, and prone to self-doubt. Xiaojie then asks Kelly when she first experienced symptoms of bipolar disorder. According to Kelly, there were three times she had signs of bipolar disorder. The first time was in Kelly’s last year of college: she was stressed with life decisions and pressured to do well on important exams for graduate school. She was constantly self-doubting and surrounded by negativity during this time until she finally received the offer to graduate school and could feel relief. The second time was a bit like the first: she pressured herself to do the absolute best in graduate school, which caused her to use excessive energy in studying and be in a constant state of self-doubt for half a year. This time, the symptoms went away when she won the major scholarship award and was first in her grade. The third and most previous time was due to work: she was under high work pressure, so when she made a small mistake, she thought her life was ruined. She says this third time was different from previous times because her emotions were going from one extreme to the other. She remembers her father telling her that for five days, she was restless and didn’t sleep. On one extreme, she would jump, run, shout, and cry at home or act crazy out in public. On the other extreme, she would hide in the corner of her room without talking or eating. Xiaojie summarizes with Kelly’s confirmation that the first two episodes (times) Kelly described were closer to depression, and the third episode was when she started having bipolar symptoms. In Chapter 2, they will discuss more about the emotional states during phases of bipolar disorder. TRANSCRIPT Xiaojie: It's good to see you again today. This is the second time we've met, right? Xiaojie: The first time we met should be last week (March 2021). Kelly: We met at one of the movie nights. Xiaojie: So I'm very happy that we had that conversation after the movie, and you said that you were willing to share your experience with bipolar disorder and the treatment process you went through. So I'm delighted to speak with you in our "broadcast studio" today. Kelly: Yes, because I had my own experience with bipolar disorder for about two years, and as I told you last time, after people around me knew that I have this illness, they came to me for consultation, or hoped I could share some advice with them, so I hope that I can help more people who suffer from this mental illness, so that they can know how to get proper treatment, or how to get out of this predicament. Xiaojie: Yes, actually experiencing a bipolar disorder is a journey. I would like hear your story bit by bit from the very beginning. Kelly: I graduated from Hong Kong Baptist University, and I am now working on documentary production as a documentary director. My life story is relatively simple since I am a Beijinger, I grew up with my parents, had about a year and a half of overseas study experience, and after I returned, I successfully got to work my dream job at a TV station. Actually, everything went relatively smooth for me. I am seen as the "good child" in others' eyes. So before my illness, everyone would think I was doing well in all aspects and that my parents never need to worry about me. I always had an excellent image. Even when I was suffering from bipolar disorder, everyone was shocked because they thought life was so smooth for me. I think this is a misconception that others have. Xiaojie: Right, and it's quite a common misconception, too. May I ask you about your personality? You talked about how your entire life has been quite smooth and successful, so what are you like in the eyes of people around you? Kelly: I don't know if I feel too good about myself, but I have always thought of myself as quite extroverted. Of course, I'm not THAT open. I'm just more willing to share my thoughts with people, and I like to socialize and hang out with people. I have many hobbies and interests, and I hope to explore more possibilities. I am actually a more outgoing person who is willing to try new things, and my personality was always like this. Of course, with this outgoing personality, there is definitely another side. That is, there is also a very sensitive and delicate side. It may be due to my desire for excellence ever since I was young, so I would constantly judge myself, like what if I am not good enough, or did I say something to make others unhappy? Behind the outgoing side there is, this introverted, sensitive and vulnerable side. I think it's this kind of double-sided personality. Kelly: There are actually three times when I showed signs of this illness. The first time was when I was preparing for my postgraduate exam, I was taking the IELTS test, and that time I was faced with a life decision. My parents, including my boyfriend at that time, couldn't give me much advice that I could rely on, so I had to make this choice on my own. When making a choice, I was always torn, not knowing what to do, and I also wished to get a very high score on the IELTS exam, so during the entire time of the exams, I could clearly feel that my emotions were very low, and stayed low for a really long time. Xiaojie: You mentioned for a long time, so about how long? Kelly: Around six to eight months. During this period of time, I was always in a state of self doubt. I felt like I was not good enough. I would think "why couldn't I do anything well?" There were always these negative emotions surrounding me. This time, once I received the offer to my school, everything was fine again. In fact, after the offer, it all felt fine at once. So this was the first time. The second time was when I was studying at HKBU. because my undergraduate degree was in international finance, and I took a big leap to an international news major for my graduate major. Because learning journalism and working in television has always been my dream, so I really hoped that through this experience of studying abroad, I could really understand how to work in the industry I want. So, at that time, I worked very hard. I was afraid that I wouldn't do well. Every night I called my mother crying, telling her why I couldn’t do anything well and why I was so incompetent. But in fact, this inability to do well was the self-image that I put on myself. Xiaojie: That’s stress. Kelly: No matter how many people told me otherwise, it didn't work. I firmly believed that I wasn't good enough, and I told myself that I needed to work even harder. It might sound a bit like I'm bragging, but this time, I won the only major scholarship award in my whole grade, Xiaojie: That is already fantastic. Kelly: I was first place in my entire grade that year, and I felt like I received affirmation, so my emotions stabilized again. This second time also lasted for about half a year. It was also a time of extremely negative emotions and no lifted spirits when I wouldn't eat or sleep. This was the second time. The third time, and the most recent one, was because of work. I was under a relatively high-intensity work pressure, so because of a minor mistake, I suddenly broke down. That mistake was minor to the point where it's like I can't even recall it now, but it had felt like the whole world collapsed around me. I thought all the decisions I made and everything I had done were all wrong. I thought my relationships were ruined. I thought my career was gone, and love was gone. At the time, I fed myself a lot of these imaginations. That time, it was obvious that my reactions were different from previous times. My emotions swayed between two extremes. I remember my father telling me that I went five days without sleeping, and I didn't feel tired at all. I would jump, run, shout and cry at home, and when I was outside, I would go mad and act sort of crazy. Or I would sit in the corner of my room all day without speaking, responding, or eating. I was jumping between these two extremes. Xiaojie: So for the first two times, it sounds like you had many months of depression. But you were in a stably depressed state during those times. Kelly: Correct. Xiaojie: The third episode was actually when you started to have bipolar symptoms, right? Can you tell us, during times when you feel bipolar symptoms, what the high and low emotional states are like? For depression, the emotional state is depressed; some people are sorrowful, others are numb with low spirits. I want to learn more about the emotional and physical experience during times of mania for you. 文字稿 记者:很高兴今天再一次见到你,这应该是我第二次见到你了是吧? 诗诗:对,是。 记者:咱们第一次应该是在上周? 诗诗:对。 记者:上周的时候。 诗诗:在那个观影会上见到的。 记者:所以我很开心当时我们在观影会结束之后说,你有一些自己的经历,包括你治疗的一些过程,愿意跟我们分享,所以我非常高兴今天能够在我们的直播间里头跟你有一次的谈话。 诗诗:是,因为我确实是自己有过,现在有两年左右的双向情感障碍得病的经历,包括像上次跟你讲的,就是我身边的很多人知道了我有这个病之后,都愿意去来找我咨询,或者是希望我能跟他们分享一些我的建议,所以我还是很希望能够帮助更多的人,就是有这个困扰的人,能够希望让他们知道怎么才可以得到一个正确的治疗,或者是怎么才可以帮助这些人走出这个困境。 记者:对的,其实有双向情感障碍,是一个旅程,我就从最开始一点一点来听你讲故事。 诗诗:大家好,我叫诗诗,也可以叫我Kelly,我是毕业于香港金汇大学,现在从事的是一个纪录片的拍摄工作,是一个纪录片导演,其实我的经历还比较简单,因为我是北京人,就是从小在父母的身边长大,有过大概一年半左右海外留学的经历,回来之后就很顺利的进入到了电视台进行,从事自己比较梦想的一个职业,其实一路下来算是比较顺利的,算是一个别人眼中的好孩子的那种形象,所以其实一直在得病之前,大家都会觉得诗诗怎么样,哪里都好,不用父母操心,其实一直都是以这样一个形象在世人面前出现的,直到后来得病其实大家也都会觉得你怎么会得病,你明明都那么的顺利,其实算是大家的一个误区吧。 记者:对,这也是挺常见的一个误区吧,我能大概问一下你的性格,你刚才有谈到说你可能生活上一路走的也比较顺利,在一般人平时跟你接触的这些朋友里头,大家眼中的你会是什么样子的? 诗诗:我个人觉得也不知道是不是太自我感觉良好了,因为我一直以来,我认为我是一个算是比较外向的性格,当然了也没有说那么的Open,就是一个比较愿意跟人去分享自己的想法,然后比较喜欢社交,比较喜欢跟人出去玩儿,自己有比较多的兴趣爱好,比较希望能够探索更多的可能性,其实是一个比较外放的人,愿意去接触很多新鲜的事物这样的一个人,我之前的性格一直就是这样的。 诗诗:当然除了这个外放的性格,肯定在另外一面,就是会有很敏感细腻的一面,就是因为可能也是我自己本身从小就是希望自己能够优秀这样的一个底色在,其实自己会不断的审视自己,会不会是在哪方面做的不够好,会不会是我说了这句话他有没有不高兴,其实是会有在外向的背后是有自己内向的和敏感脆弱的一面,我觉得是这种双面的性格。 记者:对啊。 诗诗:我其实算是有三次这个得病的一个征兆,第一次大概是在我大四要考研,出去考学然后考雅思的时候,因为那个时候面临着一个算是人生的抉择吧,而且在这方面其实我父母啊,包括我那个时候的男朋友也不能给我太多,很让我觉得有依靠的建议,所以我只能自己去做这个选择,然后在做选择的时候就一直很纠结,不知道应该怎么办,包括当时考雅思又希望考到一个很高的分数,所以其实是在当时考学的时候,就整个一段时间,能很明显的感觉到这个情绪非常的低落,就是持续很长一段时间都很低落。 记者:很长一段时间,大概有多长时间? 诗诗:有个半年到八个月吧,这段时间其实一直都是处于非常,就觉得自己不行,我怎么这么不行,什么都做不好,总是有一些负面情绪围绕着你,这一次其实相当于在我拿到进会的offer之后,一切就好了,这个情绪一下子就没有了,其实是在这个节点之后,一下子就好了,这是第一次。第二次是我在进会读书的时候,因为我其实本科学的是国际金融,我是研究生的时候跨了一个很远的专业学的国际新闻,因为学新闻做电视一直是我的一个理想,所以说我很希望能够通过这次海外求学的经历,让我能够真正懂得怎么去做我想做的这个行业,那个时候就非常的用功,我很怕自己学不好,我就恨不得废寝忘食的那样去学,每天晚上的时候都打电话回去给我妈哭,说我为什么什么都做不好,为什么这么不行,但其实这种所谓的不好、不行,是自己给自己施加的那种印象。 记者:压力。 诗诗:其实别人,不论多少人说你已经做的很好了,你做的很棒了,你非常好,但是都不行,自己就是觉得自己不行,一定要再去更努力,然后这一次呢,其实这样说可能现在所谓说的有点“凡尔赛”,这一次是我知道拿了当时全年级唯一一个第一名的一等奖学金。 记者:已经很棒了。 诗诗:我当年是拿到我们全年级的第一,那之后就突然好像得到了一个肯定,一下子那个情绪也没有了。第二次大概是去了有也是差不多半年左右的时间,但也是属于情绪非常低落,一直都提不起兴致来,也不吃饭,不睡觉,大概是这样,这是第二次。第三次就是工作,也就是最近的这一次,其实是相当于我一直处于一个比较高强度的工作压力当中,是因为一个非常小的失误,我突然一下子就崩溃了,那个原因小到已经现在感觉提都已经提不出来了,那种感觉,但是突然一下子就感觉世界崩塌了,觉得我以前做的所有决定啊,包括所有的这些事情都错了,我这个人际关系也崩塌了,我工作也没了,爱情也没有了,当时就给自己加了很多这种臆想,那一次的反映就很明显跟前两次有所不同,它是会情绪在两极当中来回的游弋,我隔很长一段时间,就是我父亲跟我讲的差不多五天五夜不睡觉,而且那五天五夜不睡觉就是完全不觉得累,一直在屋子里蹦、跑、嘶吼、哭,在外面也是就是各种的发疯,做一些,有一些看起来有点发疯的行为,要么就是在屋子里面坐在角落里一天都不说话,怎么叫都不应声也不吃饭,大概是会在这两极当中来回的跳。 记者:所以第三次,前两次听起来有一个比较长的几个月的抑郁期,但是在这个抑郁期里头是一个平稳的状态。 诗诗:对。 记者:第三次的时候,其实就是在整个(英文),一个(英文)的时候,你就已经有这个双向的倾向了对不对,能够大概给我们讲一下双向的时候,高的时候和低的时候你的一个情绪状态是什么样的吗?因为抑郁的话它的这种情绪就是抑郁感,有的人有悲伤,有的人会有麻木的这种感觉,提不起兴趣之类的,你刚刚讲的我想更多的去探讨一下,我们在躁狂期这个时候是什么样的一个情绪体验以及你的生理体验?

  • Every Addiction Comes with A Story | An AA member Interview

    Teen Interviewer: Lily Teen Writer: Katelyn Time of Interview: 2021 Alcohol addiction recovery is a long and arduous process, filled with both victories and setbacks. To outsiders, it might seem like just drinking too much, but there’s a fine line between too much drinking and addiction that causes significant harm. Relieving stress, coping with loss, general anxiety and trauma could all be potential reasons that lead to alcohol abuse. Individuals that recognize their addiction and fight to stay sober go through lengthy battles whether others see it or not. I sat down with David (a pseudonym for privacy reasons) on a sunny day with clear skies. He was wearing a tank top, giving an overall athletic look. David has been in China for more than a decade; he came after graduating from high school. He had his first sip of alcohol at the young age of nine years old, and began to drink more in middle school. The dependence on alcohol to function well socially kept pushing him to pick up more drinks. “The first time I got drunk I was 9 years old. When I was around 11, I started to hang out with friends older than me, so I drinking became a habit,” David tells me.“I’m an introvert, and social events have never been my strength. Alcohol served as a social lubricant, and I was able to dance, talk to people, make new friends. Sometimes I was even funny! Alcohol changed everything. It gave me the courage to do things I would have never dared. In reality, however, alcoholism only brought problems. “My family life created a lot of trauma. Drinking went from a social lubricant to a sort of medicine to cure my soul. I was always looking for peace in the bottles; it was a beautiful and simple way to release my emotional pain. And guess what, it worked! But, just for a while. It came the point that my best companionship became my biggest enemy, bringing a lot of chaos into my life. “I would get into fights and do other crazy things that put my life at risk. It started to become a nightmare. It brought a lot of loneliness, depression, basically a lot of suffering. “I started to lose a lot of opportunities. I was really good at a sport called racquetball (similar to squash). I was a national champion. But due to my drinking, my performance started to decline. The last time I played racquetball, they kicked me out of the competition because I was playing under the influence of alcohol. They banned me for a year, and I never played again. ”David’s alcoholism later caught the attention of his family. Family relationships were strained as a result.“ A good friend of mine, unfortunately, got into an accident while drinking. His earlier departure from this world freaked me and my family out. We knew I was drinking the same way as him. They feared that if I didn’t stop drinking, I would most probably die. My father gave me two options: go to the army or go to rehab. On January 7, 2005, I went to rehab for the first time." After four months of rehab, what was life like for David? “I really wanted to try a life without alcohol. I tried and it was wonderful. I was able to have relationships again with my family. After getting expelled from two schools and being threatened, I was able to finish my high school. I then ended up in China with an opportunity to study in Beijing.” The successful sobriety is owed, in large part, to the support from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). “The 12th step program I took part in the past allowed me to change my life, enjoy sobriety, and live a life where serving others became a fundamental part of my life.” However, staying away from alcohol entirely while living in China proved to be difficult. “My family was facing a really big challenge back home. Everything that I considered important at that moment was threatened. Things like the name of the family, our social status, respectability and assets were at risk. So the idea of drinking again, to release the fear of losing everything, became stronger and stronger. One day a good friend of mine was about to leave China. He told me that we had been good friends for four to five years, and on that night, we should have a drink together.“ The disease of alcoholism has two components. The mind convinces you that you are safe to drink. Meanwhile, when alcohol is in the body of an alcoholic, the body creates a craving for more and more. We alcoholics can’t digest alcohol in the same way as non-alcoholics do. “When I started drinking again (in Beijing), I just wanted to die. I was shaking, sweating, and hallucinating. I was very paranoid. I thought that people were eavesdropping on me. I was checking microphones and cameras around my house.” What convinced David to quit drinking once again? The ending of a relationship as a result of his alcoholism. Eventually, David sought support once again from AA in Beijing. “I was in a meeting on March 10, 2014. I felt defeated. I was emotionally, mentally, and financially bankrupt. I understood that I couldn't make it on my own.” David then talked about how many people lacked an understanding of the condition of alcoholism.“ Denial plays a key role in alcoholism. I really thought my way of drinking was normal, and I lived in a delusion that almost cost my life. At the same time, there was a big stigma and ignorance from my part about substance abuse. I thought alcoholics were those living under a bridge and those who had lost everything in life, etc. This ignorance and prejudice made it even more difficult for me to accept and be aware of my issue. “When I was used to drink, I thought a sober life would be extremely boring! I can tell you now that I wouldn't change my worst day in sobriety, for my happiest day while drinking. The biggest change is that now, instead of finding a chemical solution to my problems, I found in this moment joy, happiness, but most importantly, suffering as I now understand suffering is a part of my human experience, and that trying to avoid my pain through alcohol is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.” David’s case teaches us that when it comes to alcoholism, there is no shame in admitting we have a problem. In fact, accepting our problem is a key step on the path to sobriety. Help is always available for alcoholics. We believe in empowering teens by giving them a chance to be teen interviewers. Participants interview an adult who has dealt with mental health issues in the past and is willing to talk to our teens about it. Today's story is about recovering from alcoholism. Lily, who shared her story on moving to the States at the age of 13, interviewed David over the summer of 2021. We'd like to thank David who was willing to talk about his experiences of recovering from alcoholism and to help our teens and the broader community to understand alcohol addiction. Katelyn, our teen writer, who published four chapters on her mental health journey since her move to Canada at the age of 14, wrote this story. In this process, we always engage a media professional who volunteers their time to support our teens. This person gives advice to the teens regarding how to deal with sensitive topics and how to structure their articles and editing. We'd like to thank Alistair, digital editor at ThatsBeijing, for supporting both Lily and Katelyn for the past few months step by step.

  • Retreat Review | Beijing Community Healers

    “Having been working in mental health for 7 years, I have at times felt energy depletion, empathy, and compassion. I have travelled far for many retreats over the years to charge myself. Sometime I wish we could just do it right here in Beijing, especially now with COVID travel restrictions. I know many other healers in Beijing who do great work for our communities need a place to be taken care of for a change. Then I thought why not just create one for our own Beijing healers?” On January 1-2, we hosted the very first CandleX Beijing Community Healers Retreat. It was aimed at people in the Beijing community who have volunteered their time and expertise over the past years and helped to build up our community resilience for mental health. The retreat was carried out in a small, intimate, and cozy home environment in Shunyi, where we were able to get away from downtown for a bit. A two-day meditation, creative writing, self-reflecting card games, movies, mindful walk, and good food were on the two-day agenda. At this retreat, we continued to practice mindfulness – in our use of phones, words, and energy. “I constantly check in with everything I do, and the work CandleX does is constantly reminded by something Maya Angelou once said: ‘Maybe the hardest part is, if you teach, you have to live your teaching,’” says Xiaojie. (You can learn more about CandleX’s spirit on this blog post in 2017: Xiaojie's letter | # 20 CandleX's two years now. But where am I?) We are pleased to have offered the very needed space for healers in Beijing and we aim to do another one this coming up spring. We’d like to ask the community for two things: Please let us know if you know someone who’s been volunteering their time and expertise that support community mental health. We’d like to get to know them and potentially invite them to our next retreat. We believe community healers need to be taken care of by the community as well. If you have ever attended a wellbeing event hosted by healers that made the healing events accessible to you, we encourage you to donate to our Beijing Community Healer Retreat Funds. This way, you’d be helping more community healers get access to the support that they deserve. Please add Summer to make a donation, and let her know that it goes to “Beijing Community Healer Retreat.”

  • Morality & Grief | A TEL Gathering Reflection

    Last night was the second gathering of “The Examined Life,” an event series I started hosting for the non-profit mental health organization CandleX based in Beijing. Our topic last night was mortality and grief. The 12 attendees, in different phases of their lives and of different cultural backgrounds, bonded over vulnerable, personal stories of death. We united, simply, in the fact that we’re all human. Death is a culturally forbidden topic in most of the China I know. As far as my earliest memories go, I feared my grandparents’ deaths. Being a naturally sensitive person, I concluded at a young age that death was the worst loss of all because you simply never recover from it. But this fear was unspoken. Whenever I tried to raise this existential concern, the adults around me would say, “Now that’s a sinister thought. Don’t think about such sad events; be happy.” Older me now understand the way we dodge our death anxiety was in fact a somewhat healthy defense mechanism as life is so much more than death. However, we can’t avoid death forever; truth is, someday it comes back to haunt us. And this year it has. With both Tim and my grandparents getting increasingly ill, we realise it’s that time of our life that “the worst loss” isn’t far from us. So without much experience I started grieving. I started grieving the dreams and future I looked forward to sharing with grandparents. I started imagining life and a world without them. I started settling in with the fact that my future kids would probably never meet them, and that’s okay. During this process I realised how lonely grief can be. A friend’s therapist described the way she grieved her late boyfriend's sudden death as sitting in a dark room alone with dried tears all over her face, and there was no light at all. That’s an accurate description of grief, I thought. It’s a dark, inaccessible space, and we are there by ourselves because of how tabooed it is to talk about one of the worst types of pain openly, and how rare it is to find a communal space that isn’t church or therapy that welcomed such discussions. Credit: Tania Yakunova Attendees shared with us the loss of friend, mother, father, partner, brother, uncle, some of which happened as recently as 3 months ago and some as far dated back as two decades ago. As a group, we grieved together by recounting the memories we had with our loved ones. We came to agree that confronting other’s and our own mortality guides us to lead more fulfilling lives. Many said they started living their lives drastically differently after staring death in the face. They started exercising more, saying yes (and no) more, gave up on suicidal attempts to let light sink in, and they slowed down to appreciate the little moments of life frequently and unapologetically. In different ways, we learned from and are transformed by our loss. If one can heal from a traumatic event, it ceases to be trauma and evolves into something that empowers and drives us. Yesterday was a gathering of empowerment, rather than sadness.

  • Chapter 1: The Happy Tune is My Step | My Story with Swing Dance

    "In dance, I met myself,” Xiaojie said. Here is her story. “在摇摆舞中,我遇见了我自己。“ 小杰说。 这,是一篇她的故事。 作者 Author: 秦小杰 Xiaojie Qin 时间 Date: 2021 ​ Before Swing Dance Back when I was just a toddler, mum said that whenever I heard music from the radio, I would move. The happy tune is my step. I remember that in primary school, I’d always participate in the group dance at the elders’ community. I remember that I was the youngest one in the dance group, the grandmas from the group said I was a good dancer, I must have been nine by the time. Picture: One-year-old Xiaojie In high school, every Saturday - the only night without extra study in a week, I would wait for my parents to go out for a walk and start my stress relief activities, dancing and moving my body, in crazy routines to the DVDs of Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Whitney Huston, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, and Coco Lee. Once I started working, for the first time ever, I had enough time to explore my hobbies. Salsa for a few months, I had so much fun. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was that the shoes were so uncomfortable, they were high heels after all! In the spring of 2010, a friend said there is a swing dance class that day at Zhang Zizhong's. I never heard of that dance before. Why not, I thought. I didn’t have anything better to do. Picture: 2010 swing dance in Sanlitun village (now Taikooli) 摇摆舞之前 我妈说,那个时候我刚会走路,正从屋子里外往外走。广播里开始播放一首歌曲,我颠颠簸簸的走回来,‘每一步都踩着快乐的节奏‘。 小学了,我记得一段时间,我总会去参加单位老人家的集体舞蹈,就是现在的广场舞吧。我还记得,当时我是最年轻的一个,老奶奶们说我跳的不错。那个时候,我应该9岁吧。 高中了,每周周六,那是唯一一个没有晚自习的夜晚,我就等着爸妈出去散步后开始我雷打不动的解压活动,疯狂的跟着Christina Anglera, Britney Spears, Whitney Huston, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson还有李玟的DVD扭摆。 照片:2010 三里屯户外摇摆舞 工作了,第一次有足够的时间去探索爱好,Salsa了有几个月,挺好玩的,就是那个鞋穿着不舒服,再舒服也是个带跟的鞋啊。 然后,2010年的春天,一个朋友说当天有个摇摆舞体验课,在张志忠那里。啥是摇摆舞?我心想。反正也没事,那就去呗。 照片:2011 Swing Time Ball 照片:2018北京布鲁斯舞蹈节 The Beginning of Swing Dance Do I believe love at first sight? Call me romantic! I felt for the first time, the meaning of love at first sight from my first swing lesson! (If you have read my story of Brazilian Jiujistu, you would know love at first sight can happen more than once in life). I remember just watching Josh and Leru’s little performance from that day back in 2010, and I knew I was in love with swing dance. After that there was the weekly class - no other options were available at that time. You only got to dance just once a week. In the same class was Simon Bressanelli. if you're a swing dancer, you know that he is a master teacher and dancer on the international stage. I used to think I had some talent, but in the class, I found out that many other people could learn the moves, but I felt I had 2 left feet. Picture: June 2010 with Simon Bressanelli In the same summer, I went to study abroad. In Antwerp, Belgium, I do not remember whether there were weekly lessons, I only remember that I went to observe the local classes, and we practiced bounce in that class. Eager to achieve success quickly, I would go to a special class with the local swing dancer, and I would always go to the dancing party. With full immersion at the parties, I could practice and grow, with local experts and only correct swing movements based on the natural expression of my body. Those ugly swing moves didn't stop me from ‘bothering’ the lead. It was at one dance party when I first met Sep, a famous Belgian swing pioneer - I said I didn't know how to do the moves he was demonstrating. I tried to jump around with him. I vaguely remember him saying that I have the ‘energy’ and, with time, I could be a good dancer. I still don't know what he meant by "energy” but maybe it's the most natural response that music brings to my body, and the way I let my body express itself. 3 pictures: 2010-2011 Belgium 摇摆舞之初 信不信一见钟情,信!不是我罗曼蒂克,因为摇摆舞的第一个体验课我就感受到了一见钟情的含义。(当然,你读过我巴西柔术的故事,就知道一见钟情可不会一生只有一次。)我只记得,当天看着Josh和Leru做了一小段的表演,我就知道我没救了。接下来就是每周一次的课程,那个时候没得挑,每周就一次,同学还有Simon Bressanelli,如果你是个摇摆舞者,你就会知道这个已经是当代国际舞台大师级别的舞者了。以前我觉得自己还有点天赋,一上课发现怎么好多别人都会了的舞步,自己就是不会呢? 照片:2015 China Lindy Hop Championship in Beijing 照片:2018 China Lindy Hop Championship in Beijing 那个夏天,我出国念书了。在比利时,安特卫普已经不记得有没有固定的周课,我只记得我去观摩了下当地的课程,那一堂课就练bounce,心急想吃热豆腐的我没去上常规课,有时候会跟当地的摇摆舞着去上个特别课程之类的,有舞会的时候我都会去。没有了系统一步一步的学习,我就只能在舞会中成长,在以身体自然的表达为基础上去纠正摇摆舞的动作。非常惨不忍睹的摇摆舞步没有阻止我去骚扰lead。一次舞会,我第一次遇见Sep,比利时耳熟能详的摇摆舞先驱了,我说我不会跳,我试着跟着他蹦来蹦去的,我模糊的记得他说,我有一股劲,随着时间,我可以成为一个不错的舞者。 我现在也不知道他们口中的“劲“什么,也许是音乐带给我身体的最自然的反应,以及我允许身体对这个反应的表达。 照片:2011跟Josh在北京

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