Can We Choose to Fall Out of Love?

“I had the opportunity to better understand love – even the compulsive parts. It isn’t a neat symmetrical Valentine’s heart. It’s bodily, it’s systemic, it’s a hideous pair of Rams horns buried somewhere deep within your skull [caudate] and when that special boy walks by it lights up! And if he likes you back, and you make each other happy then you fan the flames… and if he doesn’t, then you assemble a team of neuroscientists to snuff them out by force.”

One of the best presented psychological talks… by singer and rapper Dessa.

silent depression

7 Behaviors That Reveal Someone Is Silently Depressed

Silent depression can be very common in this fast-paced world. Of the (underestimated) 350 million in the world who experience depression, a large portion might not seek out help due to shame, embarrassment, pride, culture, or lack of available resources.

I felt a strong compulsion to share this article from Power of Positivity because it hits very close to home.  I experienced nearly all of these symptoms from July to September of this year: even though my mom had passed months prior, my mind and body were able to hold on for nearly seven months before I collapsed under the weight of climbing work expectations, managing my mom’s scattered estate, dealing with personal grief, and navigating complex interpersonal relationship stresses following my return from the Philippines. In addition to the symptoms below: I also experienced a pretty heavy dose of brain fog, which made it impossible to be productive for even a couple hours at a time.

Common symptoms of silent depression:

  1. Withdrawal from activities, work, or school
  2. No energy
  3. Eating too much or too little
  4. Trouble sleeping
  5. Substance abuse
  6. Faking emotions
  7. Workaholic

For me, not many people noticed – not right away at least. The lack of structure at work made it easy for me to drop off the grid, citing working remotely. I kept up with my social calendar as a feeble attempt at counteract these symptoms with a bit of extroversion. Being alone was crushing, but given everyone knew that “this year was eventful”, my “off-ness” seemed to be more or less normative.

I did not realize the extent to my own suffering until my absence from work finally became a noticeable issue to my mentors,  and I was forced to confront the fact I’d emotionally run myself dry. By the end: I hadn’t seen my office in weeks, my apartment was a smelly mess (I’m still dealing with pesky fruitflies that won’t go away), my relationship had crashed to rock bottom, I’d lost meaningful connections, and I hadn’t kept up with my finances – made more complicated from all my travel this year.

I had the immense luck of being around 2-3 genuine good souls to finally reach out to, even if I didn’t have a tight relationship with them right away. One simple conversation and coffee started a few more, and then tinier, progressive steps to getting the personal and professional support I needed. It’s been two months since taking a step toward mental health healing, and I’m so glad I did it.

A small check-in or expressing that you’ve been thinking about someone could be the difference. I know it was for me.




7 Signs of Silent Depression:

Brain Fog: A Symptom of Depression:

Greenberg et al., (2015). The economic burden of adults iwth Major Depressive Disorder in the United States (2005 and 2010). Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 76(2), 155-162.

the benefits of failure

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.

So given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.”

The great Southwest migration: Part II

To cap off my recent post about my transition to San Diego, here are some of the more social (and interpersonal) lessons I’ve learned since arriving:

  • Capitalize on connections, even if it doesn’t feel like you should. I wanted, very much, to find my own place in SD. I’d never lived alone before, much less in a new city that doubled as a tourist attraction, and the prospect felt exhilarating. So, I initially blew off my mom’s insistence to find a Filipino friend-of-a-friend-of-an-aunt I could live with. Places like Northpark or Ocean Beach further south are full of people my age, and I searched for and even met a potential roommate. Things were going great.

    Turns out doing this is very, very expensive. Had I kept this route, I would’ve spent near $3000 by the time I’d arrived, starting out in (additional) crippling debt. I ended up renting a room in a large 4-bedroom house owned by my mom’s college best friend, in a far north suburb of San Diego called Ranchos Peñasquitos (PQ).

    For $600, I enjoy a large space, a golf course and fire pit in the backyard, and sometimes, already cooked meals 😊. Though this definitely helped the cost of moving, living in suburb central has its downsides…

  • You will get lonely. Even though I was in dissertation hell (and isolation) for months prior to moving, it was still comforting to know that I could call up any of my friends and meet them for a coffee. For the first three days in San Diego, the knowledge of having no one here to reach out to was isolating. Within hours of dropping my boyfriend off at the airport, the lack of familiarity around me was a cold introduction to an otherwise sunny city.

    Ironically, a timely media release discussing the adverse health effects of loneliness was the cherry on top of my boring first week. And since the findings are derived from meta-analyses, then it must be true (I joke, but this is as close as psychology gets to proving anything). Holt-Lunstad also posits from her research that by 2030, loneliness will be an epidemic, and AI will be critical to counteracting these effects. Helloo near future:Her---Hello-Samantha.jpeg
    It took a few chats with neighbors and acquaintances of my auntie’s family, all of whom made similar transitions, to let me know it was completely normal to feel so displaced, and to take it in stride. Quite embarrassing really, for someone who’s semi-trained in Acceptance Commitment Therapy (lols). A paraphrase:
    Accept your reactions and be present
    Choose a valued direction
    Take action.
    So…. I did. But not before some introspection…

  • You will learn how social you really are. For as long as I could remember, I considered myself a quiet and frankly, boring person. I never really talked much in groups, just enjoying the banter of a group while out. I joined a sorority in college, not just to break out of my shy shell, but to enjoy structure of a sisterhood to ease the friend-making process. Puzzling decision, sure, as I did feel obligated to stay up-to-date with topics I didn’t care much about, or adopt social graces for the sake of sociability (e.g., never say no to a fraternity invitation; of course we’re drinking at brunch) – though all that is its own story. For those passions separate from Greek life (watching, reading, and writing sci-fi, for instance), I happily ventured off to a coffee shop alone, where I felt I could be myself without consequence. For all these reasons, I’d developed a reputation as a fairly quiet, introverted person.
    Coming here alone, I realize how very misguided I was. I found out how much I enjoy being around others, even if it’s just quiet company. I’ve found conversations that I can talk about for ages with others who enjoy the same things.Though I need time to myself, too much alone time can be far worse. Turns out, these are classic “characteristics” of an ENFP and an “introverted extrovert”; in other words, I’m shy and quiet, but get my energy from being around others. If you’ve never heard of Myers-Briggs, take a look down below, and even test yourself out if you’re curious:MyersBriggsTypes
    Though the Myers-Briggs test has meandered into pop culture and away from its original intent (i.e., assessing one’s dynamic in a workplace setting), I gotta say it’s fairly spot on. You also can’t deny their enjoyable kitsch. A few memorable nerdy ENFP’s to which I’m affiliated: Arwen, Ron Weasley, Elsa, Professor X, Sue Storm, and Qui-Gonn Jinn. 🙂


  • You will find your niche… Fatally set into the role of an ENFP, I hated knowing that there were tons of people all over SD I’d probably vibe with, but with no way of accessing them. So, after a few days of little to no conversation, I started scouring for potential events that I’d actually enjoy and to possibly meet like-minded people.
    Turns out San Diego has a thriving nerd culture that enjoy active lifestyles in their own right. On a Thursday night after a full week alone, I finally forced myself to drive 20 miles north to a science-oriented brewery out in Vista called Wavelength Brewing Company, where they were having an event about the solar eclipse. I ended up meeting my first friend in San Diego, and also scored eclipse glasses that saved my friends’ eyes as well as my own 🙂2017-07-27 18.56.30
    For the first few meetups, I had to swallow the fear that it could be a complete bust. So far, I’ve gone to five meetups, and I don’t regret any of them. Not that I expected to become close friends with every single person you meet (and you won’t), but at least I started to feel like I was interacting with SD. Most importantly, not only have I met new people, but it’s forced me to be comfortable in showing who I am as a person.It’s still a work in progress, but I’m enjoying my slow introduction here. I’ve met other postdocs, looked at the stars, watched 80’s movies, colored self-affirming NSFK coloring books, attended concerts of aspiring recording artists, stumbled upon bands, and felt the sand under my feet this past month. For one who should be spending their time writing (research papers) under a rock, I think I’m doing fairly well 🙂


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