First Draft Life: Notes on Mental Health

First Draft Life: Notes on Mental Health

Words by Andrew Yuen.

[Trigger warning for mention of suicide.]


It is 11.30 am and already I feel the weight of standing up while lying down.

Every non-well-adjusted person knows this feeling. The unseizable day.

Everything on a bad day feels like a first draft of something else. There’s a sense of being unawake, though my eyes are open. I am numb. If you understand, you’ve probably had days like that too.

I was supposed to be in therapy today but I decided to lie in bed instead, watching old clips of Mad Men on Youtube. It wasn’t that I did not have the energy to go, it was that I didn’t want to. Ironically, I find therapy least effective when I am most unhappy. When I am most unhappy, I often find myself not wanting to talk to anyone at all. For the struggling, you probably identify with this too.

Therapy is a hell of a lot like speed dating. I’ve sat on a great many sofas, couches, waiting rooms with certificates and answered many, many leading questions. I’ve been on a carousel of medication, from Ritalin to Xanax to Wellbutrin etc.

So far, everything has worked, but not really. Therapy is very abstract, with its countless acronyms and structures and worksheets. On some days, to be asked leading questions for a good period of an hour and to feel that the therapist does not “get it” is frustrating.

There are days where my heart is inscrutable, like a still and vast ocean. Other days it feels as though my will is balanced on something infinitely small and precarious. It makes me angry.

There are, thankfully, good days too. On those days I might feel fascination with an article, a TV show, or a good book. I enjoy a good conversation or the company of my friends.

I was very impressed with Bruce Springsteen’s quotes on depression. He wrote that “you don’t know the illness’s parameters.”

It’s very true. Depression has many angles of attack. Some days it feels like a stifling boredom, other days an existential despair. In its harshest form it becomes a self-imposed exile on Life via suicide.

Therapy, I feel, is very often a conflict between the values of the therapist and the client. There really are no “silver bullets” to things, whether you look at philosophy, psychology, or psychiatry. In fact, the many interconnecting and sometimes conflicting views provide great anxiety.

Sometimes all we need is for someone to tell us, “You aren’t okay. And that’s okay.”


Andrew writes flash fiction short stories and loves film photography. He pens down his thoughts on depression on his blog latenightfragments.wordpress.com. Currently, he is in treatment at a private clinic with a therapist, who works in tandem with psychiatrist in the same clinic. He believes that they have helped him immensely and that therapy done well is important in a person’s recovery.