Living in Fear

Good (early) morning, folks! It is currently 3:55am on this Sunday morning. Sleep is not coming easy tonight, for many different reasons. So I figured I’d occupy my time with doing what I do best– write. As 2019 is coming to a close, I wanted to conclude the year with a reflective piece.

A lot has been on my mind as of late. Ever since I graduated college, I feel as though I’ve regressed tremendously in terms of living life outside my comfort zone. One of my greatest life mottos has been to live fearlessly, take risks, challenge yourself every single day. Unfortunately, I have not been practicing what I preach.

Upon moving home, I’ve since been spending most of my days indoors, somewhat isolated from the outside world. As a person who has (and continues) to struggle with social anxiety, it is absolutely adamant that I find ways to challenge the anxiety each and every day, so I can kick social anxiety’s ass and build greater social confidence. Sadly, these past four months, I haven’t been doing so. As a result, I’ve found the anxiety creeping back, little by little. I find myself living in state of constant fear and worry. Worry about what others think of me. Afraid of social challenges. I feel as though I’ve lost my voice, and in turn, I’ve grown less empowered, my life completely overtaken by fear.

The thing is, in college, I had so many opportunities each day to challenge myself socially. In lectures, the act of raising my hand in a room filled with hundreds of students was daunting, but it was something I forced myself to do, so I could get the most out of class. That was one way I challenged my anxiety. Another way was through leading weekly dance workshops for my dance club, Bruin Burlesque. It’s a challenge standing up in front of a group and teaching choreography! Finally, even the simple act of attending parties and social gatherings on a weekly basis was a good way to practice social interactions. Towards the end of my third year of college, I found myself becoming much more confident not only socially, but in general, as well.

Then, I graduated from UCLA. All that momentum I was building in the fight against the anxiety seemed to stop all of the sudden. I grew very depressed. I isolated myself from the world, holed up in my room all day, devoid of all human contact. It’s unnerving how quickly one can regress in, well, anything. Without constant practice, you lose your skills. Use it or lose it, they say.

I enrolled myself in a social anxiety group through Kaiser. The group has taught me some great Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) skills, whereby you change the way you think, which then causes behavioral changes. The group itself has been a great social challenge. It’s pretty anxiety-provoking, attending group therapy every Thursday afternoons. There, we basically put our anxiety under a microscope. There’s no way you can possibly hide your social anxiety, which I oftentimes do in real-life situations. That alone is a reason I feel uncomfortable attending group. But I think that’s all the more reason why I should go– to tackle my fears head on. Sadly, the group only lasts two months, after which you are expected to carry out the tools you’ve learned into the real world. As I am nearing the end of my two-month cycle, I am growing a little apprehensive of what’s to come, without the weekly support. See what I mean by living in fear? I’ve grown to feel incredibly self-conscious in so many situations. I fear that I’ll bother or hurt others, the same way I’ve done in the past, when I was manic. I fear others will judge me negatively, so much so that I generally avoid situations where others can scrutinize me (meeting new people, social gatherings, etc.).

My fears are not only social in nature. Everything remotely challenging seems to scare me. Driving. Trying new dance and fitness classes. Challenging myself physically with the goal of getting back into shape. Even getting back into dancing and performing. All these things and more are challenges, and lately, I’ve seemed to shy away from anything outside my comfort zone. A lot of it is my generalized anxiety talking. My mind seems to jump to the worst case scenario. Socially, I worry I will choke in social situations, and that people will see right through my facade and recognize that I have social anxiety, which is a source of great shame. With driving, I worry I’ll get into a car accident and get injured, or even worse, die. In terms of working out and getting back my pre-college body, I’m afraid to push myself, not out of laziness, but fear of physical pain. Hah. Funny, coming from a former competitive athlete, right? Same goes for dancing. I know my technique has regressed tremendously, and it scares me to scrape off the rust and push myself to get back to the level I used to be. A far cry from the fearless fighter I’ve identified as throughout my life thus far. I used to be the girl who’d accost neurosurgeons on the street, go up to the UCLA gymnastics coach, follow an oncologist guest speaker to his car after lecture, grilling him with questions about the field of medicine. In all these cases, I was unfazed by the possibility of rejection and judgment from other people. Granted, I was manic in most of these situations, which completely elevated my self confidence and gave me an artificial sense of fearlessness. But a part of me wonders… what if those acts of bravery and lack of inhibition were signs of true confidence? Not just me being manic? I need to learn to give myself credit where credit is due. And I hang on to the thin shred of hope that one day, I will be able to build up my confidence once more, back to the level I used to be at in college.

As for identity… I feel like I don’t know who I am any more. I thought I was fearless. I thought I could serve as a role model to other people. I thought I had finally found my voice. Everything seems to be falling apart. All the progress I previously made… all gone down the drain. I’ve lost faith and trust in my unquiet mind.

Anyway, those are my thoughts that keep me awake on this Sunday morning. My anxious mind cannot rest. I am neither manic nor depressed, which is one of the only positives I seem to have in my life right now.

I will talk to you guys later. As always, the act of writing has helped me get a lot of pressure off my chest. I feel better. Hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in a little bit of shut-eye. Love you all, my loyal readers, and I wish you all a happy new year!






Life Update 12/23/19: First Novel in the Making?!

Hi everyone! Today is December 23, 2019. Aka, Christmas Eve-Eve! It’s currently 10:45pm on this Monday night. I’m feeling sleepy, but also felt the urge to write this reflective piece.

This past month or so has really been looking up for me. The first few months upon moving back home to NorCal were some of the toughest of my life. I was clinically depressed after graduating college, for many reasons. Eventually, I was able to get the help I needed, and I’m happy to say that with the support of many, I was able to get through this very rough patch.

I owe everything to my family. Though it is sometimes difficult for them to understand what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder, I can tell they are making a concerted effort to learn more about the illness and support me in any way they can. Their methodologies, albeit flawed at times, stem from good intention. My dad sits in the passenger seat as I drive to San Francisco twice a week for acupuncture treatment, because I am too scared to drive alone to the city. When I was so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed for therapy, my mother coaxed me out from under the sheets and drove me to my appointments. My brothers were there when I needed someone there to listen to my woes. If I didn’t have such a great family, I don’t know if I’d be here today, sitting in my bed, typing out this post.

As I pick myself back up (for the hundredth time) and brush off the dust, I am, once more, looking for ways to grow myself in various dimensions. I truly miss the intellectual vibrancy of college culture. It’s something you really take for granted when you are in school. You get so caught up in the grind of studying for exams and writing papers and maintaining your GPA, you often forget that at the end of the day, being a college student is a PRIVILEGE you’ve earned. That said, just because college is over doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. I’m trying to make a greater effort to read more books. Next up on my list is NY Times Bestseller, Educated, by Tara Westover.

In addition to reading, I am in the early stages of outlining my first novel, which will be a compilation of some of the blogs I’ve written in the past few years. It’ll be a coming-of-age tale of a young woman (aka me, lol) entering college in 2016, where she fights to find her voice, her calling, and her sense of self-worth. The novel will focus heavily on my personal struggles with bipolar disorder and how I managed to cope with it while dealing with the academic and social pressures of college life. It will also touch on aspects of my upbringing, including growing up as a triplet, being a competitive gymnast-turned-dancer, finding my love of writing, etc. etc. So, super super excited for this long-term project! Aiming for the novel to be finished in the next six months.

Alrighty, folks. It’s been a long day. Time to get some shut-eye. Will talk to you guys soon!





Happy Holidays,



Hi friends! Welcome back to my blog! It is currently 5:40pm on this chilly Friday night. I just finished a quick workout and am looking forward to a night out in San Francisco with my friends!

Life has been going up and up and up since my last update a couple weeks ago. I think I’m on the verge of hypomania, with my inner dreamer being unleashed full-force. I am ambitious, and I have all the energy in the world to follow through with my goals. Goals… I have many. Get back into dancing. Write my book. Work out twice a day. Apply to jobs. The list goes on.

The funny part of all this is that it will only be a matter of time before I come crashing down to rock bottom again. Sadly, it’s the universe’s cruel joke on my unquiet mind. It’s a fundamental law of nature. What goes up, must come down. Mania, then depression. Manic-depressive illness. Bipolar disorder. The hand I was dealt.

Today was a tiring day. I am currently being interviewed to work as an SAT English instructor at a tutoring company, and today was the “technical” portion of the hiring process. I had to take a diagnostic SAT English exam that lasted 1.5 hours. Honestly, I was dubious that I would do well on the exam. I haven’t  taken an actual SAT in what, 5 years? Since sophomore year of HIGH SCHOOL! I spent a week prepping for today’s exam, and for both practice tests I completed, my scores were middling, at best (lol, I learned the word “middling” today while taking the critical reading portion of the test). Anyway, I thought I did terribly on today’s exam, but later in the day I received a phone call from the owner of the company, who told me my scores were “great”. So I’ll be moving on to the behavioral interview next week. Super excited!

How is life, otherwise? As mentioned earlier, life as of late has been good. Real good. Maybe even a little too good. I don’t know, guys. These days, I no longer pray for those highly coveted “up” moods. I only pray for stability. Bipolar is tricky. Left unchecked, your moods are “controlled chaos”, as I like to think of it. Your moods follow a general sinusoidal trend, with ups inexorably followed by downs. But it can very easily feel like you have no control whatsoever over when you are catapulted up to the stars, and when you come crashing down. There’s a quote I love that perfectly encapsulates the essence of bipolar:

“It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.”

Indeed, the magnitude of which I feel things is increased tenfold because of my illness. Any major life change or event can send me soaring high for days, weeks, and even months, or conversely, can send me down to the depths of hell. I know, I know, I’m sounding a little bit melodramatic right now. Take a chill pill, Bel!

Alrighty, folks. Time to go, I need to get ready for my night out in the city! I’ll talk to you guys later!





Hi guys! Happy first day of December! 🙂

As some of you may know, these past couple months have been very difficult for me. Transitioning into post-grad life, moving back home to the Bay Area and leaving behind my life of three years in LA all proved very very difficult. I think all transitions are hard, but especially so for people struggling with mental illness.

The depression got so bad that I actually went to the ER for a psychiatric emergency. It was only after the ER visit that I got the help I needed. For the past week, I’ve been going to IOP (intensive outpatient therapy) three times a week, MWF. That, in addition to my bipolar and anxiety groups and acupuncture treatment, has kept me super busy. The good news is, I feel immensely supported. I was stuck in a free-fall for the past two months, each day getting closer and closer to the sweet release of death that would take me away from this cruel, cruel world. Finally, after my last cry for help, I was caught by a safety net. I’m happy to say that I am no longer in a crisis situation. I am out of the woods. I marvel at the fact that, only a couple weeks ago, I was contemplating suicide. And now, here I am, feeling on top of the world with high-flying goals and grandiose ambitions. I suppose such is the very nature of bipolar disorder.

I wonder why it took cutting myself and going to the ER for me to get the help I so needed. Before that, I was going to my two groups each week and attending one-on-one therapy once a month… but that was it. The rest, I had to do on my own. I was drowning in my own misery,  and without the proper support system, I had no way of escaping the darkness.

Well, here I am, out of the worst part of my depression. After the ER visit, I saw my psychiatrist, who changed my medication regimen. That immediately kicked-started me back to life, and I was finally able to get out of bed each morning (an impossible task, before). Once I was able to get out of the house, I started reaching out to friends in the Bay Area. I had lunch with my good friend from UCLA, Mindi, which was a blast. I also attended a Bay Area Bruins Alumni Friendsgiving dinner, where I met fellow Bruins of all ages and backgrounds. Yesterday, I had dinner with my high school friend Rachel, and my UCLA friend Chelsea. After eating at The Old Spaghetti Factory, we watched the new movie, “Frozen 2”. I loved this sequel almost as much as I enjoyed the first film! Lovely, inspirational soundtrack.

I think there’s a “point of no return” in every depressive cycle. Once you have crossed that line, no amount of willpower can get you out of the hole. You need some external intervention, be it from your team of healthcare providers, family, friends, or even a divine power, to get you out of the depression. It’s only when you’re out of the woods that you can take preemptive steps to STAY out of the woods. For me, things like taking long walks, writing, dancing, and meeting up with friends help a lot. Keeping busy with a structured day is so important for people with depression.

So anyway, I’m going to end this post here. I need to walk the mile-long trek home from the café I’m sitting at, and it’ll be dark very soon. I’ll talk to you guys soon!