Hi friends! It’s currently 3:05am on this Saturday morning. I just came back from a Halloween party and felt the urge to write this blog post.

Before we get into the meat of today’s topic, I thought I’d share a little update on what’s been going on with me. Well, really, not much has changed since I last blogged. I’ve been studying hard, and it’s surely paid off, as I got a 29/30 on my Psych 188B midterm! 2 down, 2 to go. Gotta keep up the good work for my last two classes. I have one midterm next Wednesday that I gotta study hard for this weekend.

So onto today’s topic. You may be wondering why I’ve titled today’s post, “Heartbroken”. That word is so powerful… tragic… Surely something terrible has happened in my life to warrant the use of this word?

As I said, I just got back from a Halloween party. My suitemate’s film fraternity hosted the party. There were drinks, good music, fun people. But in all honesty, my heart was not in it. It was a mistake to go– I wasn’t even planning on attending the party, but a part of me wanted to challenge my social anxiety by getting out and meeting new people.

At the party, I ran into some old friends and classmates. There were two former classmates– Kim and Mooj– who were in my GE Cluster class two years ago, during freshman year. I didn’t recognize them, but they recognized me. Kim came up to me and asked excitedly, “Wait. Is your name Belicia?!” Slightly perplexed, I replied, “Yes! Have we met before?” She replied that she and Mooj were in the same class as me during freshman year, and that everyone in the class knew me as “British accent girl”.

I’ve told this story a couple times before, but in case you haven’t heard it, I’ll tell it again. One day, back in my freshman year, I had the sudden indescribable urge to adopt a British accent, kind of as a social experiment, to see how people treat me with vs without the accent. That day, we had a guest lecturer– a dentist– speak in my human aging class. I figured that because this lady had no idea who I was, I could pull the British accent trick on her, and she would have no idea I was faking it (well… that was the hope, at least). So in class, I purposely raised my hand to answer a bunch of questions, just so I could show off my newfound accent.

Well, from that day on, I went down in GE Cluster 80 history as “British accent girl”. I learned from Kim and Mooj last night that everyone– students, TAs, and professors alike– knew who I was. I was unaware of how popular my accent was with everyone! Kim showered me with compliments about my confidence and utter disinhibition, going so far as to say that she “aspired to be me”. Wow. Now THAT was a compliment gave me the feels. Thank you, Kim!

Goodness. How far I’ve regressed from the brave soul I used to be. Ever since the bipolar diagnosis, my social confidence slowly drained away, as the reality of what it meant to live with bipolar hit home. I came into college a changed person. No longer the shy and inhibited girl I was in high school. But what if that change was not a signal of learning and personal growth, but rather, an actual physiological shift in brain chemistry? I know now that the rapid life transition and new environment of college triggered my mania. Most of my freshman year of college, I was manic. One of the key symptoms of mania is a marked decrease in social inhibition, which manifests as social confidence. What if, all that time, what I thought was me breaking out of my shell, was in fact my bipolar talking?

Once I got on mood stabilizers, my manic episodes disappeared. I was grounded in reality once more. But I had lost something special– my social confidence. Perhaps that social confidence wasn’t real. But surely, it FELT real, that short time it lasted. I was on fire… a girl who shone so bright and spread her light to those all around her. Maybe that’s why people who knew me freshman year of college look up to me so much. It’s because no “average” person would pull some of the social stunts I did, back when I was manic. I was on fire. Literally, my brain was on fire. Manic. I felt unstoppable. Life is so, so beautiful, from the eyes of a manic person. I must be careful, though, not to romanticize bipolar disorder. At the core, bipolar is an ILLNESS. Mania, as good as it may feel, is an illness. And I mustn’t forget the crippling depressive episodes that inevitably follow the manias.

That bipolar diagnosis was the best and worst thing that happened to me. On the one hand, it explained a whole lot of my past erratic behavior. It explained my constantly in-flux moods, my emotional instability, my rash and impulsive decisions. In tagging me with the bipolar label, my psychiatrist was able to come up with a treatment plan to help me become stable.

On the other hand, the bipolar diagnosis shook up everything I thought I knew about myself. I didn’t know what part of me and my past experiences were attributed to bipolar, and what part was actual Belicia talking. It wasn’t just about the social confidence. It was about my past achievements… all those countless hours spent studying and dancing to the point of obsession and exhaustion… was this a sign of an iron work ethic, or was it the mania that drove me to workaholism?

There’s this phenomenon in psychology called the self-fulfilling prophecy. Your thoughts and self-perception drive your behavior. If you believe you are a certain way, you are more inclined to behave in a way that aligns with your mental perception. During the time I was manic, I truly believed I had finally broken out of my shell. I perceived myself as this super confident and outgoing person. I believed I was confident, so I made it a point to ACT confident and BEHAVE in ways that confident, outgoing people do. I started saying YES to opportunities that forced me to get out in the public eye, ’cause hey– I was confident, and I could handle it. Being the “socialite” of my friend group; being “Miss Popular” on my dorm floor; working as a barista; teaching dance to UCLA students; auditioning for a musical and an a capella group (while I had no singing training, whatsoever); hosting a Latin dance workshop for the UCLA gymnastics team; adopting the British accent. I behaved in ways that aligned with my newfound self-perception. So yes, while the mania was the mechanism that underlied my lack of social inhibition, it was my behavior and experiences that fueled the confidence. For a time, before the bipolar diagnosis, I was truly a confident human being, beyond the mania.

It is a mistake for me to believe that all that social confidence during my freshman year of college was the mania talking. It was partly the mania; but it was also my continuous effort to push myself outside my comfort zone. Mania may have given me the initial push, but after that, I put in the work. I need to believe that I can be confident and accomplished, without the help of my manic episodes.

Where am I, now? Well, last night really put into perspective how much I’ve changed since my freshman year at UCLA. I am heartbroken at how much I’ve seemed to regress socially. Shy, insecure high school Belicia is creeping up again. Conversations with strangers, parties, answering questions in class, public speaking– they are all ordeals, once more.

Why has this happened? It’s partly the mood stabilizers that have taken away my precious manic episodes. I’m no longer manic; my brain chemistry has changed in such a way that has taken away my socially uninhibited ways. But I believe 90% of my social regression is mental. I have the belief that my former social confidence was completely FAKE. That I really haven’t changed much from the shy girl I was, three years ago. And because of that, I now identify more with the shy, low self-esteem Belicia than I do with confident and outgoing Belicia. This identity shift has shaken my ability to confidently handle social situations, because I don’t believe in myself, the way I used to. I no longer take risks. I no longer make it a point to put myself out there. I used to be the one who stood out in the crowd. Last night, at the party, I sat alone by the drinks table, reluctant to speak to new people. The only time I felt freedom was when they put on some of my favorite songs to dance to. Then, and only then, was I able to let loose and have fun. So, in spite of all that’s happened, at least I’m still confident in the realm of dance. Dance and writing. My two biggest anchors, after family.

At the end of the day, I’m grateful for the bipolar diagnosis. It’s stripped me of all delusion of grandeur. I am grounded in reality. I can build social confidence– genuine social confidence– from the ground up. I would hate to live my life reliant on manic episodes, because what would happen every time they disappeared and were replaced by depression? Would I be social butterfly one day, and a social recluse the next? It’s an unstable way of living. If I could somehow manage to build unshakable confidence, separate from the mania, that would be the ultimate marker of personal growth, learning, and stability. Now is when I must be brave and put in the work. I need to put myself out there again, this time without the help of mania. It will be scary. It won’t be easy. But I believe I am a strong person, with or without mania. I can do this.

Alrighty guys. Thanks for reading this. I need to stop procrastinating and start studying. Got a midterm this coming week, and two the following week (plus a dance competition!).

Midterm Season is Upon Us!

Hey guys! It’s 5:35pm on this lovely Monday afternoon. I’m sitting a Jamba Juice located in UCLA’s Ackerman Union. It’s so cold in here, and goosebumps line the entirety of my arms. I’m listening to Christina Aguilera’s song “Twice”– if you haven’t heard it, I’d highly recommend!

I have a midterm tomorrow afternoon for my human sexuality class. I’d say I am about 90% prepared. Gotta do some brush up studying when I get home, but after that, I should be good.

I am very pleased with my performance on exam #1 for my health psychology class. I got a 94%! I was so worried I would get below a 90% (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just I hold myself to higher expectations). I’m still working on the whole “not equating my self worth with external achievements” thing. It’s much easier said than done, of course. A healthy dose of self-imposed pressure is good, as it pushes you to try your very best. But if you’re living and dying with each exam, dwelling on each failure (and victory) for far too long than is healthy… well that’s a problem.

It’s important in life to learn how to cope with failures and disappointments. The truth is, you can’t be at your A-game, 100% of the time. We all have our off days. Now, that’s not an excuse to not try your very best in all you do. But sometimes, even with ample training and practice, you just don’t deliver. It happens. You gotta learn how to block out those bad times and move forward. Learn from your mistakes. Investigate what went wrong, and don’t repeat the same error the next time around.

Here’s a case in point. I recently applied to this club called “Morning Sign Out”. It’s essentially a writing organization where students write about hot topics in medicine, and present scientific studies in layman’s terms, to make information accessible to all people. I wanted to join this organization because I wanted to write about mental health. When I was filling out the application, I thought to myself, “Man, I got this. I’m a shoe-in. I was a writer for the Daily Bruin! I’ve been writing on my personal blog for over 4 years! I’ve worked as a writing tutor / essay editor! My name was published in a medical journal! No way I’ll get rejected from this org.” I relied too heavily on my past laurels, and ended up phoning in on the writing portion of the application. I was cocky, and it was that cockiness that kicked me in the ass, at the end of the day. I was rejected. And I was furious at myself. But I learned a very, very valuable lesson from this experience. NEVER, EVER half-ass something, no matter how confident you may be. If you want to achieve something that’s important to you, you must give it your all, every time.

Okay guys. Time for me to “sign out”. Gotta go home, take a shower (I had dance practice before this), and study some more. Wish me luck on my midterm tomorrow!








Junior Year, Fall Quarter, Week 3

Hey guys!

It’s currently 8:46pm as I sit in my warm, cozy bed, typing out this post. I hope you all had a nice, productive weekend!

Unfortunately for me, I managed to catch a little bug towards the end of last week and am currently fighting to get better before the start of this coming week.

In other news, I’ve got to say, I absolutely love my fall quarter schedule! No class Monday or Friday, so I get a four-day weekend each week! Tuesdays and Thursdays are a little bit rough, but I like the layout of my class schedule. Three classes, starting from 9:30am, and ending at 4:45pm, with 1.5 hour blocks in between each. I go to lecture, then use the time between classes to debrief on what I had just learned. It’s a good thing going.

I have my very first exam this coming week. I didn’t do very well academically last year, largely because I was so distracted with partying and other vices. Thus, my confidence in my test-taking ability has been shaken. I am determined, however, to get my GPA back up this coming year. I’ve been studying consistently everyday, reviewing my self-generated study questions, going through flashcards, and re-reading important concepts from the textbook. Sadly, I wasn’t able to do as much studying as I would have liked this weekend, because of the sickness. I spent most of today in bed, sleeping. It comes to show how important it is to take care of your health, while in college.

More good news– I found a dance partner! His name is Mert, he just moved to LA from Turkey, and he’s been dancing for about five years, a little longer than I have! We had a little tryout on Friday, and it turned out to be a good-fit partnership, so I am very excited to see where we go!

My hopes for this coming week are simply to recover from the illness, study hard, exercise daily (haven’t been doing enough of that, sadly), and limit my spending budget. Man, I love having clear-cut goals. You know what you want, and you know exactly what to do to reach them. I’m a goal-digger to the core. I love love love it!

Alrighty, guys. Time for bed. Gotta rest up for my study day tomorrow! I also need to get my phone fixed, as my clumsy hand dropped it in a hot tub. Really inconvenient, but stuff happens in life.




Have a good night!


Life Update 10/10/18: SCHOOL, SCHOOL, SCHOOL!

Hey guys, happy October! It’s been a hot sec since I last posted. I hope you all are doing well.

I’ve been so busy lately, and it’s only the second week of the quarter! Lots have been going on. My focus for this quarter (and academic year) is to get my GPA back up (after a rough patch last year), as my path, once more, is medical school. With this goal in mind, I’ve been going hardcore with my studying, and I’ve never felt more on top of my schoolwork than ever.

It’s so interesting. Last year, around this time, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I lacked focus and direction. And so, without a concrete goal to work towards, I felt… lost. Now, exactly one year later, I have found my path once more. And I feel so, so much more like myself. Driven. Focused. Passionate. I wake up each morning with a goal, a purpose. It’s an intoxicating feeling, and I’m absolutely in love with my current state of being.

It’s so true when they say that once you find your calling, you are unstoppable. You know what you want, and you will do whatever it takes to get there. But what people talk less about is the difficult path of finding what makes you tick. Finding your “thing”. Rarely are individuals born knowing exactly what they wish to do for the rest of their lives. It’s a long journey of trial and error, experience, and self-discovery, that ultimately leads people to understand what they truly wish to do with their lives.

For many, college is the place where that magic happens, which is why I’ve grown to appreciate my time here at UCLA, now more than ever. My time as a Bruin is finite. It is now. There are still a million things I wish to do on campus… so many ambitions, and so little time. I cannot believe I am already a third-year student! It gives me a shiver, each time I think about how the precious time has slipped through my fingers. I must appreciate each moment in its entirety. Is it weird, also, how I keep wondering whether or not I’ll run into my future spouse here on campus? LOL. I hear so many stories of married couples meeting each other at university, and I wonder if the same will happen to me.

But back to the topic of today’s post– what’s been going on with me! Besides school, I’ve been dancing consistently, almost every day. I’m getting back into Dancesport Club and hope to find a partner to compete with on the collegiate dance circuit. I’m in the process of forming my own dance club, Bruin Burlesque, where I’ll teach my fellow Bruins how to Burlesque! I applied to a couple student-run health magazines where I hope to be a writer/content-contributor. I auditioned and got onto an urban dance team, but unfortunately, I made the difficult decision of forfeiting my membership on the team, as my academic life takes precedence over all else. I know my own limits and priorities. My goal for this quarter was to get straight A’s. Would being on a dance team, as fun as it may be, serve me in achieving this goal? Maybe yes, maybe no. But I didn’t want to take any risks. The last time I was on an urban dance team, my GPA took a hit. I could not risk the same thing happening again, especially as my chances of boosting my GPA are wearing thin (I’m a third-year, gonna graduate soon!).

So… I have more to tell you guys, but my Psychology of Human Aging class starts in 15 minutes! Gotta get myself mentally prepared for the three-hour class! But I promise to talk to you guys very soon!