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today, i felt alive

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

this past weekend, in my quarantine hotel room in taipei, i lay in bed crying and watched youtube videos on how to cope with depression. fuck, i thought. one doctor said i have anorexia, another said i have anxiety, another prescribed me with daily 10mg prozac on the off chance the anxiety got worse and/or was also mild depression, but honestly i think it's been kind of useless because up until now, it seems only to be inebriating me with vivid, bloody dreams where i'm either killing somebody or being killed.

but don't worry amy, it's all in your mind.

i'm not diagnosed with depression, but i feel like at some point you just know if you have it. it's like when you wake up one day and start crying uncontrollably because something inside you hurts, but you don't know what, but you realize you just always randomly need to cry and don't really want to "bother" other people about your feelings because your feelings are just being dumb, things will be better tomorrow, and maybe it's kind of normal to want to sleep all day to shake those feelings off. someone in one youtube video put it perfectly: the word that he would use to describe depression is "overwhelming."

ever since i published my book i've felt overwhelmed. no, just kidding. i started feeling overwhelmed 2-3 months before it came out, when all the marketing shit blew up in my face and i realized i would never, ever publish a book again without paying someone to do my self-promotion work for me.

so i published the book, flew off to taipei, asked my family to ship out all 400+ signed copies of twenty-one years young: essays for me, and tried to forget it even happened (truth: i forgot to mention my book when giving a 3-minute self-introduction to the other fulbright english teachers). which is all quite frankly very, very sad to me because i wanted to feel only happiness and pride after making my biggest dream come true.

anyway, regardless of how i'm feeling, the book is out, i'm in taipei, and i'm on day 16 of 22 days of quarantine where i've had the luxury of being alone and doing a lot of government-mandated nothing, which really just means "not a job," aka eating, sleeping, reading, watching TV, and thinking.

a selection of quarantine meals at the rainbow hotel:

i spent most of those days thinking a lot about how i think too much. i think it's too bad that i overthink most things in life, then i think it's only because i think so much and feel so much and am such a freaking sensitive emotional sentimental person that i had enough secrets to spill into a book.

my secret now is that i (think i) am depressed and also just so fucking relieved to be (almost) done with all of it, with the marketing, with the self-promotion. i've figured out that i'm pretty good at selling myself but i hate selling myself. it's both mesmerizing and horrifying seeing your social media posts reach hundreds of people every week. it's then nice to remind yourself that no one really cares about your stuff as much as you do, and kind of sad too.


anyway, i had no one to sell myself to today when i just ran around aimlessly on the streets of Zhongshan district. it was my first full day out of 14-day hotel quarantine. i had no motives other than to get some fresh air. i went to a themed 7-eleven that was so cute it made me want to cry. i walked by zhongzheng, an elementary school that my current roommate will soon be teaching in, and smiled at all the cartoon wall art. i saw a baby in a stroller lose a blue ornament down the street and i ran to get it for him, then i ran away before the mom saw a stranger standing in front of her stroller smiling and waving at her little boy for two seconds.

some photos from my run:

i breathed fresh air for longer than 30 minutes for the first time since arriving in this country, and that made me feel alive in a way that made me never want to die. or at least want to keep living so i could feel like this again and again.

it's also been a while since i've wanted to write a blog post. it's always like this: how i only want to write when i feel horrible or ecstatic. i'm currently hunched over my laptop smiling and hoping that living and teaching and existing in taiwan will be a cure that prozac only wish it were. it'll be nice to speak chinese to people every day again. it'll be nice to spend time with middle schoolers who are just beginning to think for themselves. it'll be nice to get to know my co-teachers, my co-workers, my community, and myself more.

before i left america, i told my editor and publisher i'd write a 4-part article series about my book to drive sales and get reviews, but i know that it was all bullshit. i'll write what i want to write when i want to write it. and as for asking for honest reviews and going on speaking tours and becoming a motivational speaker and encouraging people to find their own purpose, etc. etc. and chase new dreams, etc. etc., those can all wait, because i'm 22 and i just wrote a book whose entire message was basically to slow down and enjoy the reality of growing up when it's happening, and i will finally try to listen to my own advice and do that now.

and that's freedom.

or at least the attempt to find it.

my and a new friend's suitcases outside a taipei apartment:

here's to the new year.

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