The Challenge of Getting Better

Art by Eve Moreno

Art by Eve Moreno

CN: suicidal ideation, cannabis use

In July, I had my first psychiatrist appointment and began my foray into mental health for the first time in my life.

I was having serious suicidal ideations every day. My mind played a continuous black-and-white movie of my life’s saddest moments on loop. I was nonfunctional, in bed all day, unable to harness enough energy to perform the simplest tasks like going to the grocery store. I was filled with so much anxiety that I couldn’t even walk around the corner to get a burrito at the local fast food restaurant. I was smoking marijuana from the second I woke up to the moment I fell asleep, doing my best to numb my pain away.

Four months later, after over a dozen experimentations with different medications, two talk therapy sessions a week, and numerous group therapy sessions a day, I’m more productive than I’ve ever been in my life.

I’m going to the store several times a week, picking up groceries and cooking.

Every day, I put on my makeup, put on a dress, and go to a Wellness Center where I discuss my various ailments with like-minded individuals. I also attend classes to help me better understand my bipolar disorder, as well as classes on coping skills on how to handle depression.I’m driving to several open mics a week to perform stand up comedy. Oh, did I mention I’m a standup comedian?

It’s easy to forget, because when I’m nonfunctional, I cease to get onstage at all.

I completely stopped smoking marijuana, so I’m experiencing all of my emotions soberly and fully. It still feels strange to not be numb anymore. By every measure, I’m getting better. Even my parents, therapist, psychiatrist, and partner think I’m improving immensely. But here’s the confession I’d like to make:

Sometimes, I wish I never got better, and I wish I were still in my bed.

I think about my bed every day. I think about how comforting, how safe, and how soothing it was, especially under the blankets. I think about smoking marijuana, numbing my pain, stripping away all of my ambition so I wouldn’t feel guilty over not accomplishing more with my life. Because when I was nonfunctional, I had no responsibilities. Nobody expected anything out of me, and I certainly never expected anything of myself.

Now that I’m getting better, I’m starting to want more from my life, which should sound like a positive thing, right?

Actually, in the short-term transitioning from nonfunctional and suicidal, to functional and healthy is the most painful thing I have ever done. Suddenly, there are stakes in my life and I actually have to get out of bed. People expect things from me. I actually have to try. When I think about all the obligations in my life, or even just the agenda of the day, I get exhausted and overwhelmed. I wonder what is the point of “getting better?”

There’s an allure to giving up that nobody ever told me about. It pulls at me every day.

I have this fantasy of having a relapse; my parents, friends, and girlfriend would all have to take care of me because I can’t take care of myself. It would alleviate so much pressure I put on myself to lead a productive and healthy life. Actually trying is excruciatingly difficult when you’ve lived a life of not trying. It’s scary to figure out what you want to do, what you like, and who you are if you’ve never asked yourself those questions before.

In some ways, it’s easier to fall apart so that you won’t have to ever answer those questions.

I’m not accustomed to this newfound sense of independence. It feels so different and uncomfortable. I’m changing so quickly, and change – even when it’s good – is always a scary thing. But these thoughts are when I think about life in the short-term. In the long-term, it’s an undeniably positive thing that I’m getting better.I get to experience fuller emotions and fulfilling events. I perform multiple tasks every day and feel accomplished afterwards.

I’m no longer isolating myself in my room, and I get to share my life with those around me.

I get to perform my dream of stand up comedy.

Most importantly I get to be present with my partner, and actually show my partner reciprocity when I’m being taken care: I want to show that I can also contribute to our relationship.

Prior to getting better, I wasn’t actually living. I was merely existing, running out the clock on my life and killing myself slowly.

It makes sense why I’d want to go back to merely existing. It’s easier and it feels safer.

But by choosing to merely exist, I missed out on living life and all of its wonderful moments. I even missed out on the bad moments. I was hiding away from life, an unhealthy coping mechanism that no longer made me feel safe, and began having suicidal ideations. My mental health was unsustainable and I knew I needed help because the suicidal thoughts began troubling me.

When I was in bed or on the couch smoking marijuana all day, watching the same television shows repeatedly, I didn’t have good or bad days. I experienced a palpable emptiness, resigning myself to the infinity of depression. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I didn’t want to do anything. And I never wanted to go outside again.

I was essentially already dead.

Compare that to a few weeks ago when I was having a pretty bad day. The Wellness Center didn’t seem to be cheering me up. I made plans later that night to drive in traffic to go to an open mic and boom, I did just that. The drive back home was an hour less than the drive to my sanctuary, the thirty minute drive helped me process all what I was feeling. I thought about my bad day, and strangely, a smile formed on my face.

If somebody asked me what I accomplished that day, I would tell them, “I had a bad day, but at least I had a day.” To be quite honest, having a bad day is better than giving up for me, any day of the week.


[Note from the Editor-in-Chief: We understand that not everyone has the support that it takes to get better, which can lead to a variety of outcomes that look very different than Robin's story here. If anyone feels that they do need to give up, whether it's for a day or longer, please know that it's not your fault and that there is no shame in experiencing depression however you experience it.]


Edited by Eve Moreno

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Image description:

A blue face with long blond hair appears in the middle, wearing pink glasses, red lipstick, and what looks like a pink crystal unicorn horn. Behind them is a different shade of blue with rough scalloped outlines. The background is different shades of pink.

About Robin Tran:

Robin Tran is a transgender comedian and writer based out of Orange County, California. She has appeared on Comedy Central, and she has had articles published on Everyday Feminism, xoJane, and TIME.




About Eve Moreno:

Eve Moreno is a trans and queer multimedia artist of color living in South Central Los Angeles. Eve’s Latinx identity comes from being raised by parents that migrated from Mexico City and Santa Ana, El Salvador. Eve’s media work focuses on documenting trans and queer communities of color. You can follow Eve's work on TumblrInstagram, and their facebook page.