Conversations with People #2

I always believe that at any point of our lives, there will always be good people, be it someone we have known for the longest of time or recently acquainted, whose act of kindness will impact us in the most unexpected ways. But these people will only come to us if and only if we allow them the chance to enter our lives and help us. And by 'allow them the chance', I am referring to any form of action. It can be in a way that they come to our lives as people who intentionally help us or it can be the other way around, meaning that they come to ask for help first. And by 'help', it can be anything given to us that we never knew we needed. 

As I am typing this I was reminded of this one particular person, who had helped me in the most unusual way, and whose help would not have occurred if I had not given her the chance. A friend from college in England five years ago, we have done fun things together but we were not too close to share lots of personal stories. Although we had been maintaining contact ever since I left England, it was never more than a reaction to each other's Instagram post. Then sometime in August, she sent me a message that inevitably changed the way we perceive and communicate to each other. 

"Zuu. Do you have any time for a phone call? I just read your blog post about depression. I really want to chat to you about that Zu, cause I'm going through the same thing that you did and I was as confused as you were until I read your blog post"

I was a bit dumbfounded when I read the message for the first time. Not that it's because about depression, but because it came from her, this  energetic, cheerful, and passionate girl whose I am secretly envious of when I knew she got a chance to climb the Himalayas. 

"Of course! How about this evening? I'm still collecting data for my research now and only finish in the evening".  
I replied her message, gave my Whatsapp number, and set the time to make a call. 

At that time, my feelings was mixed. On the one hand, I felt sorry for her and wanted to help her any way I can, but on the other I was a bit nervous. First, we had not talked each other for quiet a while and this one time that we did, it was about a very difficult subject. Second, I have never been a fan of phone call, having always preferred meeting in person or texting. To me, any phone call except from my parents, my younger sister, and my boyfriend, is most likely to get me nervous before I pick it up. Third, I was afraid that I would disappoint by not being able to do much about her problems. And it seems as if the universe responded to my anxiety on the situation, it was rather difficult to match our schedules. Either my phone running out of battery, she was still on the way to her home, or me falling asleep while I wait for her to come home. Indeed, we postponed our call until two days later when she finally texted me again.

"Zu, can I call you now? I really need to talk with you, even only for fifteen minutes"

And after her message at that time we finally made the call which lasted for almost an hour. 

The conversation went well. I didn't feel awkward about talking with her, even when we delved into her depression story. To this day we still chat once in a while, though most of the time we tend to send voice notes, one of the best inventions ever I might say, due to its convenience. To me, it feels like exchanging letter in that we do not need to reply each other's voice notes in a rush. Not only does it get me more excited whenever I receive new notes, bit it has also made our communication more lasting than if we meet for just couple of hours in a day. So far, we have lots of interesting conversations, some of which have inspired me and are worth remembering. I might write about these in the future, but now I want to share some conversation that led to many others since.   

"Zuuu, halo! Umm, I want to ask something... so, I'm feeling better now and happy more regularly... but at the back of my mind I still feel the burden.. b-but it's weird cause I'm only happy on the surface. But when I'm alone, all the negative thoughts come back. Did this happen to you, o-o-r am I becoming better? What's happening to me? Ooooh my god". It was her first voice note. There was the sound of undulating ocean waves in the background of her "half worried and half confused laugh" voice. 

I was in the train as I replied, the sound of its wheels bumping against the real tracks in the background. I told her I felt relieved to hear that she was happy and agreed that she should avoid being alone in her room as it easily brings negative thoughts. She replied back, saying that she was felling good at that moment because some of her good friends came to visit and they went to this beautiful remote island for a weekend getaway.She continued that she was afraid of being left alone again once all of this is over. I could relate as I had had been there last year when my sister and good friends left Rotterdam. But only then I had an epiphany. 

"Oh, it's good to have friends accompanying you there. In my experience, it's important to have people alongside you in this kind of situation... they don't have to be the people closest to you, indeed, they can be anyone as long you can hold on to them to continue living. It's like trying to cross a deep river by stepping from one stone to another. They might come in all shapes and sizes, but as long as you have them, you will be safe from drowning"

Two days later she replied me. This time it was quiet, her soft voice was the only sound before it trembled slightly in the last minute of the recording. 

"I agree... it's so easy to get caught in our thoughts that we don't have anyone. I mean even though physically I'm literally alone here, but I do have lots of friends and some of them are even helping me a lot at the moment. Like you... even though you're not here physically, but just by listening to me and giving advice, it does mean a lot to me. I think you're right that sometimes our thoughts can really mess us up and it's really dangerous... but when there's emotional support, no matter how small, it does help.... thanks a lot, Zu.. seriously, I'm really really really grateful.. even though I know you're busy with your research at the moment, you still make the time to listen to me and help.. it's a journey, and I'll still need your help. I can say that I'm in a better place than I was last week"

And everything was going well until she sent me a voice note in the next two days. There was a long, deep sigh before she started to say something. 

"Oh my God... I'm so tired of this ups and downs... I thought I was getting better..." 

She took another long and deep sigh before continuing.

"So yesterday I went to psychiatrist.. I just wanna get checked like am I okay, or am I not okay. If I'm okay then great, I have nothing to worry about.. I can, you know, keep continuing on myself as I did for the past couple of days... but.... it turns out that I need to go for a therapy. She said I have mental depression, and I need to fix myself with this... and it crushed me because just a moment when I thought I was okay, then there's another step back.. I don't know what to do, Zu.. I'm so tired of all of this..."

The pain in her trembling voice was palpable. It was obvious that she almost, if not cried. I couldn't help remembering my own experience in the situation last year. The moment that I was so tired of life because I was so confused of what stage I was in it. Those moments where I convinced myself I was okay but suddenly feel down again by the slightest gust of wind.

"If you think that going to the therapy would just make you more depressed because of the burden, then don't do it. I also used to think about going to a psychiatrist here but I realised it would only complicate my life because of the long procedure. So I decided to hold on. And even though it's a long process, I have reached a point where I can safely say that I can (still) handle this on my own" 

But the day after I sent her the voice note, she replied and informed me that she decided to take the therapy. 

And it's been a week since she gave me her last voice note about her decision to go on for a therapy and I just realised it today that I haven't replied her message. Things got bit more hectic than before as I was busy with my preparation for another data collection in Semarang. 

"Hi youuu, how's the therapy been going so far? I'm really sorry I just replied your message as things got busier and also I was sick the last time you contacted me. I hope the therapy makes you feel better"

We started chatting again, catching up on the latest news about each other. While she said the therapy had made her slightly relaxed, she still felt anxious and panicked from time to time. In return, I told her that lately I was also started getting anxious and panic more often, but I always try to find distraction.

"Yup, that's what I also found... but have you ever felt like when you get panic and try to do something else, but it apparently makes you feel more anxious because you feel like you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing. But when you try to do it, you just cannot because you're panic. So it becomes a vicious cycle"

"As you said, sometimes I also feel that way and when I do, I try to do things that could calm me down without making me feel guilty afterwards... something productive like doing exercise, walking, or trying to do the less stressful part of my work... but if all else fails, I would stop doing anything, and usually end up crying... but I think there's nothing wrong with that, because I tend to feel completely relieved afterwards and ready for work"

"To me, the hardest thing from my depression is my own thoughts... whenever there is a problem, I will always think about it till I reach a point where I cannot see any way out. Is it the same to you?"

"When I get depressed, I also thought that there was no way out... but I try to trick my mind, ensuring myself that there will always be a solution. Even though the results won't be according to my expectation, I see it as another challenge for me to convince myself that imperfection is a part of life, and that it's completely fine if sometimes reality doesn't meet our plan or expectation". After saying this, I realised that advising someone else is always easier than doing it to myself.

Being alone in an unfamiliar city with almost no familiar faces around me, plus the fact that I started to get more tired each day because of the field work I had done for almost three months now was surely taking lot of my energy, both physically and mentally. This condition opened up some negative thoughts again in my mind.

"To me, one of the reason why I fell into depression was when I found out the fact that to live is to suffer. Sometimes when I'm alone and too sentimental, I feel so tired to live my life because we always have to fight for living and to hold different kind of pain when we enter different phase of our lives"

I was aware when I was writing the sentences that it seems so pathetic and rather childish which made me feeling guilty afterwards.

"Sorry I know I should give you more positive messages but instead I wrote something that sounds so pathetic and pessimistic" 

But her answers were making me so peaceful to the point that I would read it whenever I feel down. 

"Honestly, I also feel the same way sometimes, so in this case you're not alone. I found myself asking to God quiet often lately, 'Why it has to be me who go through all of this?' Like yesterday my motorcycle fell down and my mom who was sitting in the back was having a light short term memory loss because her head hit the road. Before it happened I was happy because we actually just got back from a trip, and the bad thing happened again. Then all those inner voices started and I had to battle with it. It got to the point when I said to God that I'm so tired and ready to go. But he said not yet, keep pushing through. It's not time for you to go. I'm preparing you for something greater and to everything there's a process. I can't tell you what my plans for you yet, but you will see"

"The thing is, for people like us who are perfectionists, this is tiring, I mean living life which is full of uncertainty. But just how you can trick your mind that there's a way out to every problem, maybe do the same when you feel that this life is all about keep fighting. Tell your brain to shuddup and tell your hear that this is a process that you're getting to something greater"

"Now I can tell all of this wise things just because I'm in a good mood, but when I'm down, I feel like falling down from Himalaya and find myself hard to climb up again. If anything, we are going through this together. I share things to you, and you can do the same to me. It makes me feel happy, indeed. And don't feel like you only need to share positive stuff. Only McDonald's who always can make us happy so he can produce happy meal. Real people have struggles and we can't do life alone"

By the time I reach this sentence, I just couldn't help myself smiling and laughing. She was really in a good mood that she could make a joke out of depression. But what made me feel much better was that since then I found the person I can talk and fight together with. Not everyone can handle negative thoughts and anxious voices, but with her, through our occasional exchanged voice notes, I can do something that I hardly do to other people, just because I'm always afraid that I will be judged or be a burden to them, especially those who haven't really experienced what I have been through. Then I realised it isn't actually me who has helped her, but indeed, she has been a much helper to me to this day. 


  1. Hi mba zu , salam kenal dari saya windy . selama ini aku cuma silent rider blog mba doank (aslinya aku selalu silent rider kalau baca blog blog orang) , baru kali ini aku si komen hihi. btw setiap ada kesempatan buka HP pasti baca tulisan2 mba lewat blog ini . sudah hampir semua aku baca hihih. asli nya aku suka sekali content blog mba zu , sangat mengispirasi , semoga terus bisa mengispairasi dan berkarya lewat tulisan2 nya ya mba .

    1. Hi Mba Windy... makasih banyak udah baca blog aku dan kasih komen buat kasih tau aku :') aamiin doain aja Mba supaya aku bs terus menulis hehe.. makasih sekali lg ya mbaa *hugs*


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