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  • The Moon Traveller | One Model, One Story

    Xiaojie Qin, Founder of CandleX, has a past with bipolar disorder. Although sheis no longer labelled with this condition, she wrote this piece two years ago about her experience. The accompanying image, short by Pere Ibañez, is part of the “Moodlab” series and is name’s 11 de Octubre. Name: Xiaojie Qin Country of Origin: China Occupation: Management Fear of Missing Out | My Bipolar Disorder The thing about bipolar is You have half of a life Many people with bipolar II spend longer time being depressed Than being creative, energetic, productive and happy When depression hits I was dead for months out of a year Before I was aware that it’s bipolar I was so confused “Why can’t I think of anything that I want to do?” I used to ask myself So one time when I was in remission I put together a list of things that I like doing or should do I thought maybe sometimes I just forget The depression hits Nothing on the list was appealing I was baffled Then there it came the long never ending days of despair Until the chemicals in my brain balances itself out It cycles I noticed it But I could do nothing about it Even when I was happy and contend I knew some day, I’d be on the other end It’s like being in the wavy ocean Your head is in and out of water I never had time to make sense of what’s happening When you can hold your head above the water All you can think of it to breath That’s what I was like I was trying to make most of my functioning days Running, doing, and rushing I know the color I can see will turn grey The music I hear will fade Some days my limbs would out of nowhere become so heavy that I wouldn’t be able to move them To me, I only have half of my life When I feel alive, I spin myself like a top Once you whip, you can’t stop! I’ve taken many walks at 6am because it’s quiet and beautiful I once watched a documentary about lepers twice in one night because it was fascinating I danced one weekend day for 14 hours, lost 3 toenails and had to go to physical therapy for my hips One Saturday, I studied online for 6 hours straight, just because. Hypomania That’s the technical word given for bipolar disorder II My body’s switch was finally turned on My soul woke up from hibernation, taking a big stretch So I was that volcano, pent up with lava that is pounding My mind decided to let it go “Make the most out of the time” there’s always that voice Missing out There were times in life I looked up and saw a plane in the sky I thought to myself that they are so lucky to have a destination I arrived in Paris Only found that my soul didn't get on the same bus with me I was in Rome Having the worst panic attacks of my life I saw the magnificent architecture But my emotions were too dried out to be in touch with the magnificence I was in Nepal I booked the flight back immediately after work Why stay for the weekend When where I am is of no difference Like most people I wish I didn't have to miss out on these wonderful things that are happening in life I also wish that I never have to miss out again, despite that I know there will probably be times that I will Like for most people that wishful thinking creates a hamster wheel A lot of times, I feel like a hungry homeless person That sees a plateful of food He wouldn’t sit down to smell and taste the food He’d just gulp everything down Just like him I was galloping life in one breath Until I finally started to do yoga and meditate That I realize there was other ways In a way, we all live in the waves of an ocean Some waves are bigger than others Mine certainly was like a tornado I am learning to ride the waves Not fighting it But riding it Learning to accept that others will experience things that I may never get to do helps me to bring the wave down. I know very well that I am experiencing things that some others would never do Don’t fear missing out Bring yourself back to the experience that you are already having Ignore the voice that tells you to do more The fear of missing out fades The joy of living the moment enhances July 2017 Author | Xiaojie Proofread | Mara, Lucy To see more photos and stories from the campaign, follow our Moodlab column or visit Camera Stylo between 29 June and 14 July 2019 in Beijing. If you would like to share your story with the CandleX community in the form of poetry or writing, send an e-mail to stories@candlex.cn. #psychosocialsupport #bipolardisorder #meditation #CandleX #depressionstory #bipolar #mentalhealth #mentalhealthstory

  • Sex Addiction Survey Results by CandleX

    In Dec 2022, we sent out a survey to gather information on sex addiction in China amongst the international community. Until 22nd Jan, we have received 53 responses, in which 49 are valid, from those who identified themselves as struggling with sex addiction. In the meantime, we are calling for applicants to join our sex addiction recovery group. To understand what sex addiction is, check out our article here. Let’s look at the results based on 49 responses. Gender The majority of our responses come from men, 86% compared to from female of 14%. This is in line with the academic research findings in many papers that the majority of individuals that struggle with sex addiction are men. Age 82% of the responses come from people between the age of 18 to 40. Limitation: this does not reflect the make-up of sex addiction people. It is possible that those who were willing to fill out the questionnaire, or those the survey reached are people who are under 40. This make-up of the active international community members tend to be those who are below 50 years old. Relationship status About half of the responds are in a committed relationship, while 35% are single. Severity of self-assessed addiction level We asked people to rate their level of addiction from 1-10, 1 being no addiction and 10 of being the worst addiction they could imagine. On average, it’s 7 that people feel like they are addicted to sex. 85% of the respondents rate their addiction at and above level 6. Limitation: self-assessment is subjective. Everyone’s understanding of what each level means could differ. Length of sex addiction The average duration of their addiction that respondents filled out is 11 years. This could be due to the shame and lack of social and professional support. Some respondents found it difficult to know the length. It could be due to the lack of awareness on the onset, and the debatable line (for self-assessing) when it’s healthy sex and when it becomes an addiction. We want to thank our partners for promoting the survey, Date Night China, Youman Potential, BARE, Fun Beijing, Men are Humans Too, and Hopelessly Tatiana.

  • What is sex addiction?

    Is sex addiction a real thing? although there are still many debates on this even within the academic and clinical mental health field, it is a real thing. ICD-11, International Classification of Diseases, added ‘Complusive Sexual Behaviour disorder’ into its newest edition in 2018. Check out our video on ‘what is sex addiction?’ by Xiaojie Qin, a psychotherapist and director of CandleX. Starting in Dec 2022, at CandleX, we have been exploring possible ways to support people with sex addiction. We sent out a survey for people who are aware of their addiction to fill out and received many responses that indicates that there’s a great need for support. The survey is still open, we would love to hear from you. In the next few months of 2023, we will start a series of activities online and offline in China with the support of our awareness raising partners including Date Night China, Youman Potential, BARE, Fun Beijing, Men are Humans Too, and Hopelessly Tatiana. In the next few months, we’ll start community mobilization, and potentially start a psychosocial recovery group for people with sex addiction. To keep in touch with us, you can also join our CandleX’s WeChat group by adding our WeChat coordinator on it. We’d like to thank our partners, Date Night China, Youman Potential, BARE, Fun Beijing, Men are Humans Too, and Hopelessly Tatiana for raising awareness on sex addiction with us.

  • VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION POST

    #InvisibleHeroes at CandleX Nourouz, Mental Health Peer Support Group Coordinator

  • 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.

  • The Examined Life | CandleX Monthly Event

    In November 2021, CandleX launched The Examined Life, an intimate monthly gathering dedicated to self-discovery, emotional growth, and the exploration of topics that most of us can relate to. Greek philosopher Socrates famously stated that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” To Socrates, all philosophical exploration is reduced to one simple commitment: to know ourselves. In our fast-paced society where many social settings require us to mask up and engage in small talk, we don’t always have the time to listen to ourselves and get to know our inner selves better. Many topics that truly deserve our attention are overlooked or pushed to the back of our minds. Some examples: · How do we deal with loneliness? · How do we deal with grief and the ultimate existential concern: death? · What does our parents’ relationship teach or fail to teach us about love? · How do we accept ourselves and why is self-acceptance so hard to come by? · What difficult patterns of behaviour are we prey to in friendships and romantic relationships? Etc. While mental health support group provides a safe space for anyone to open up about their life and mental health struggles, The Examined Life lays tough life questions on the table, and by practicing a culture of vulnerability, candor, and intimacy, helps us better understand ourselves and cope with life’s ebbs and flows. The gathering hopes to bring us deeper self-awareness and more resilience, which are key to leading fulfilling lives. What the Gathering Offers: A safe space to open up, share, and find comfort in each other’s most human, vulnerable side; More lucid understanding of topic discussed; Self-discovery, self-knowledge, and emotional growth; Authentic, meaningful connection with those who likewise crave for and are replenished by such engagement; A non-judgmental support system. Details at a Glance: · Date & Time: The third Tuesday each month, at 7 pm (unless otherwise specified; gathering signup link will be shared in the CandleX group) · Language: English · Fee: ¥50 or donation-based · Gathering size: up to 10 attendees · Location: an apartment near Chaoyangmen station (detail in signup link) · Signup: An event signup will be sent to the CandleX WeChat group the week before. It’s on a first-come, first-served basis. Principles for Gathering: 1. [Not a therapy group] · Our setting is not that of group therapy. We are a casual, friendly gathering. · The host and attendees are not professionals so are not equipped to offer professional mental health advice. 2. [In case of crisis] · Please seek professional help immediately in case of crisis. · Visit our website for more crisis support: https://www.candlex.cn/crisis-support · CandleX is not responsible for the safety of people engaging in self-harm or suicidal ideations. 3. [Non-judgment] · No form of disrespect or verbal/nonverbal violence is tolerated. · We practise active listening and offer personal opinions respectfully. 4. [Participation] · Everyone is encouraged to share. · Everyone can pass any time if they don’t want to share.

  • 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: In Dance, I Expanded | My Story With Swing Dance

    “You’ve loved dancing since you were a little girl,” my mom said to me one time. “There was a time when you always came home much later than the other kindergarten kids. One day, I went to see what you were doing on the way and saw you moving three steps forwards and two steps back. You were dancing on your own on the way home.” Read Chapter 1 to learn about my dancing life before swing dance and how I met swing dance in 2010. Author: Xiaojie Qin Date: 2022 After I moved back to Beijing in 2011, I continued to go to swing dance parties. My Monday evening routine back then was to come home, rest, have dinner, dress up and go to swing dance. I often was one of the last few to leave. There were no other dancing nights, so every good dancer in town would show up at CD Blues on Monday evenings. That same year, I went to Swing Time Ball for the first time. It might even have been the first one ever, although I can not be sure. I didn’t know Swing Time Ball would eventually become the biggest annual swing dance event in China and internationally reputable a few years later. For me, that December night was just a night where we had a special dance event for all the dancers that we all knew in town. There were performances, dance competitions, and what was just a social dance. Now, looking at some old videos, I realize we even had a band at the ball! I joined a Jack and Jill competition, and back then it was all nanshen (男神, the very popular lead dancers) that were in the line up! Swing Time Ball 2011 Beijing The next year, in 2012, I went to Great Wall Swingout, which was happening for the first time Beijing. From then on, there have been a lot of swing dance trips! I’ve gotten to dance at the best annual party in the country, and with the best and most enthusiastic dancers around the world in many events, including CSI in Korea (2014), Blues Weekend in Boston (2015), Big Bang in Bangkok (2016), and Herräng Dance Camp in Sweden (2019). Of course, I attended Swing Time Ball annually as well. What a blessing it is to be able to dance, be inspired, be free and to feel deeply connected with the world! CSI Korea, 2014 Blues Weekend, Boston, 2015 China Lindy Hop Championship, 2015 Great Wall Swing Out, 2015 Great Wall Swingout, 2016 Oh, looking back on those times, it seems like life was all good then! But, not quite! Those were the years that I always had a full calendar, being in my 20s and early 30s, throughout which I was so caught up in “trying to figure out my life.” I thank swing dance for creating a space for my mind to calm down, and for my goals and confusion to be put on the shelf. In many ways, swing dance was my anti-depressant during times that I struggled with depression. When the music was playing and I was not haunted by my thoughts, I was okay. Thankfully, I always get through depression one way or another—I never stopped dancing! Certainly I dance more when I want to connect with children. If you give them a chance, children really show you how to have fun in life. In dancing we are all equals, and we can play and laugh together. Back when I had a job that took me to many rural areas in China, I was thrilled to just hang out with the kids. I would always show them some swing dance moves. It made so many people happy, just kicking our legs and turning our hips. And just like that, a decade has gone by. These trips, events and people have given me so much joy, simplicity and inspiration that I feel greatly expanded.

  • Talking about suicide: What I learned | Event Review

    M, attended the panel discussion event on suicide. She shared her own experiences and reflection on this topic . If you didn’t get a chance to attend, you can still learn the key points from her key takeaways. For psychoeducation content accuracy, I, a certified psychotherapist, have reviewed it. Xiaojie Psychotherapy, Director of CandleX Author: M (panel discussion attendee) Time: Sep 2022 Supporting Survivors of Suicide Loss To support someone who is a survivor of suicide loss, it’s important to have empathy, and for them to be able to trust you. It’s also important to be honest. Additionally, while people are encouraged to ask their friends and family if they are suicidal, sometimes, when we are aware that someone knows someone else who died by suicide, we may feel uncomfortable or unsure what to ask, about the person who died or the situation. But as one of the mental health experts pointed out, in these situations, sometimes not asking anything is a good place to start. Sometimes simply sitting with them, or being with them, and allowing them the safety to feel their feelings, is a good choice. It’s important to provide people an environment in which they feel safe and listened to, and where their feelings can be expressed safely. Survivors tend to grieve in isolation, so providing a connection is incredibly valuable. Supporting Someone Dealing With Suicidal Ideation One of the focal points of the night was asking and answering the question “How can we support someone dealing with suicidal ideation?” This question was posed by the moderator and returned to several times. According to the mental health experts on the panel, the following are all good things to remember: Listen to the person and let them tell you what they are feeling and what they need. Validate their feelings. Allow them a space to feel how they feel. Don’t try to fix their problems. Consider the relationship you have with the person (are they family? a close friend? a coworker?) and allow that to guide your response. Provide resources such as hotline numbers or therapy information. Ask the person what they need and how you can help or support them. Accept and acknowledge them where they are. All of these points are important, because otherwise there is the possibility that the person will not continue to have the conversation with you because in addition to dealing with their own feelings, they also have to worry about their relationship with you or the role you take in that relationship. Event photo credit: Eric The mental health experts also discussed the Safety Plan, which I think is an invaluable tool. Safety Plan 1. Who are your people? Who are the important people in your life, your friends? Those who really uplift you? Even one person you can think of who can be a safe place or a trusted person to confide in and look to for strength and support. 2. Where is the hope? Is there anything, no matter how small, that you can hold on to? What can you look forward to, that gives you hope? 3. Emergency numbers What Support Do People Who Have Struggled With Suicidal Ideation Wish They Had Gotten? At a certain point during the event, the panelists who brought some kind of personal experience to the discussion were also asked what they wish others had done to support them when they needed it. They wished they had been encouraged to get help or given some sort of practical guidance. They wished their feelings had been acknowledged. They wished there had been a lack of judgment. They also stressed the need to commend the bravery of the person who comes forward about their struggle with suicidal ideation. Given the stigma, the shame, the fear, and the sheer difficulty of talking about the issue, it takes a great deal to make that step to reach out. The person who does is doing so at great effort and potentially great cost. The value of support groups was also stressed, as these spaces can allow survivors to talk about their experiences and express their feelings, and know that they are not alone in what they are and have been going through. CandleX provides peer support group twice a month, and you can sign up here. Support group link Event photo What If There Are No Signs? Much of the conversation of the night centered on what to do, and how to help, when we know the people in our lives are struggling, either with suicidal ideation, or as survivors of suicide loss. But I kept thinking to myself: What about when we don’t know? One of the panelists with personal experience voiced what is a common experience of those who are survivors of suicide loss: They didn’t know. There were no signs of what their loved one was going through. While there will never be a perfect answer, or a 100% effective solution for preventing suicide, I think all of the advice and information given during the panel can serve as valuable information even when there aren’t signs, because all of it lays out an ideal way to treat people generally, suicidal or not. Over the discussion I noticed common threads in the stories of the panelists. There was often no discussion of or dealing with feelings and emotions in their families or friend circles. They had intense feelings of guilt and shame, and suffered from an acute lack of feeling of self-worth. All of the panelists discussed the difficulty of talking about how they felt. For some of them, these things were major factors in what could be described as a spiral towards greater intention of suicide. I have to wonder how many lives can be saved if all of us are able to talk, to reach out for help, to feel supported, valued and believed, and given the chance to be accepted for who we are. The Suicide Awareness Panel was so much more than simply a panel. It was a personal reawakening to my own history of struggle with mental health issues. It was a small but important step toward creating a better and more open society capable of supporting those suffering. It was an invaluable resource for saving lives. At the end of the night, I left the panel more informed than I had been coming in, more in tune to my own place in a connected world, and more committed than ever to keeping such an important and urgent conversation going.

  • Suicide Awareness: My Reflections | Community Writing

    In Sep 2022, I invited M to attend the suicide prevention panel event that I was going to attend as a panel guest, with the intention to have an article written about the key learnings from the panel discussion. M has been in China for more than 8 years, and comes from the US. I would never have known her own experiences and reflections on this topic if I had not invited her to come to this event. I want to thank her for her bravery and openness to share her story, which becomes part of our join our September Suicide Awareness Raising Month. It is normal to feel uncomfortable and tense when talking, reading, hearing about suicide topics. But once they are felt, heard, and accepted as part of our joined human experiences, we can heal and recover a bit better on the other side. Xiaojie Qin Psychotherapist, Director of CandleX Author: M (Anonymous Beijing Community Member) Time: September 2022 A few years into my college experience my mental health took a nosedive and I was forced to take time off from school. Looking back, it’s pretty clear that a lot of the issues I was struggling with (and their contributing factors) had actually had their inception many years earlier, but it was in college that everything fell apart. Initially, after leaving school, I moved back home with my parents, and it was there, at that time, that I had my first experience with suicidal ideation. The World Health Organization defines suicidal ideation as “thoughts, ideas, or ruminations about the possibility of ending one's life, ranging from thinking that one would be better off dead to formulation of elaborate plans [1].” In my case, I have experienced instances of this kind of thinking at different times for more than a decade, sometimes more intensely than at other times, sometimes more frequently than at other times. Thirteen years on from that first instance my life is in a much better place. I have been in therapy for years, I feel I have true friends and strong personal connections that nourish and support me in a number of ways, I am not in a precarious employment position, and at the moment things are going fairly well. Things could always be better, of course, and no day is absolutely perfect, but to be honest, my own personal experience with suicidal ideation has not really come to mind for a while. So, that’s great and all, but why the long preamble? When I first heard about the Suicide Awareness Panel discussion taking place on September 6 and hosted by Hopelessly Tatiana and moderated by Helena from BARE, I thought it sounded like an interesting event for a good cause. With my own history of depression, the de-stigmatization of mental health issues has long been personally important to me. But that was essentially as far as I got in my thinking before the panel—other, deeper aspects of my personal mental health history just did not come to mind. The event began with the moderator onstage with the panelists. There was a full audience in attendance. The moderator was very intentional about laying down ground rules for the night, which I appreciated. It was clear to me that this topic was going to be handled in a compassionate and respectful way, and any trepidation I may have felt beforehand of exactly how the conversation would be handled, was alleviated. The panel portion of the night began with panelists discussing a range of topics, including their own feelings around suicide, whether the suicide of someone close to them or their own attempt. Deeply personal stories were shared, some of which left me and much of the audience in tears. There were mental health professionals present on the panel as well, and they provided valuable expert experience dealing with suicide and suicidal ideation. Not far into the discussion it hit me that this was the first time I had ever seen the topic of suicide and suicidal ideation discussed so openly, in this kind of forum. Event Photo, Credit: Eric I’m not exactly sure what I expected to get out of attending the panel. I think I thought it would be a good, interesting event to attend. I think I had externalized my interest in the topic, along with any connection I may have felt. I definitely hadn’t expected to be as affected as I ended up being. Sitting in the audience, a lot of memories came back to me, things I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Particular times when I had felt or possibly was close to giving up. One last-minute, fortuitous intervention in particular. Uncomfortable memories, however far away they seemed now. It was sobering to be reminded that I was more intimately connected with the topic of suicide and suicidal ideation than I had been prepared to admit when I first walked in to the event space and took my seat. The night’s discussion also prompted me to remember with sadness the struggles of people in my life who had had even closer encounters with the topic than I had. A friend from middle and high school who had one time later on told our little ragtag group of friends that if it hadn’t been for our friendship she might not have survived. A former boyfriend who in high school had lost his older brother to suicide and who later in college had made his own attempt. It’s not that I was shocked, necessarily, by what I remembered. But I wondered how I could have not realized the topic was closer to my own life. I realized that, even though the topic had been out of my mind and I was doing well, it was and continues to be a pressing issue for so many. The stories and feelings and pain shared on that stage reminded me that for so many people, suicide is not simply a “topic” they can disengage or disentangle themselves from. It is with them every day. And I think that is really an important takeaway: Suicide is something that, in some way or another, is closer than we think. Certainly for those of us who experience suicidal thoughts and ideation, and for those of us suffering from the loss of a dear one to suicide. But suicide is also close for those of us who don’t. We may never have had a suicidal thought, but it is quite possible that people we know and love have. Perhaps we don’t personally know anyone who has ended their life, but we know people who have lost loved ones to suicide, and who are struggling every day in silence and isolation. Whatever the specific circumstances, this issue is something that, while immensely difficult to discuss, must be discussed, must be de-stigmatized. Over the years, we have published other personal stories on this topic. You can read them here: In the Moment of Blur | Sam’s Story with Depression The Fine Line between Life and Death l Xiaojie’s poem Making Up for My Existence | Depression Stories Michael’s Journey to Alcoholism Recovery | My Stories, My Emotions In the next article, we will publish the key learnings from the panel discussion. References 1: ICD-11 for Mortality and Morbidity statistics

  • Suicide Awareness Raising Sep

    September 10th is the World Suicide Prevention Day. In response to that, CandleX makes this September month a suicide awareness raising month. Check out the video to see what we are doing this month, and know where resources are available in China.

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