Around this time last year I fell into a deep depression. I’ve been dealing with depression for the greater part of the last decade, but I felt like I hit one of my lowest of lows last December.
I’ve always put on a mask of happiness and reliability but I guess the melancholy was finally showing through the cracks. My friends started to notice. “You aren’t normal, Khoi,” Chau had told me. I thought it was just her joking about me not being a normal person, but on the contrary she meant I wasn’t being my normal self. “You aren’t Normal Khoi.” I was already a somber person but if someone who was used to it saw something different it must’ve been something.
Let’s come clean. To finally move on and grow as a person I’ll need to be honest and transparent with everyone.
I’ve kept most of my health problems from most friends and family to not burden them or make them worry, only telling a select few I could trust. Even then, people I thought I could trust up and left because who would want to be friends with someone who might be gone soon? It’s not worth the investment. I used it as a justification to hide my insecurities. I used that as a justification for being awkward. I used that as an excuse to not make friends. I didn’t want people to know how weak I was. I was already weak-willed, but knowing how weak I was in terms of health just made matters worse. Almost every “area” of my body has health problems. It’s a lot of TMI but if anybody asks I’ll be sure to answer. The general idea is there are things wrong with my head, things wrong with my kidneys, and something wrong with my lungs.
Since 2003 I’ve made many bad professional decisions over the years. Could’ve went to an academy but stupidly declined and decided to go to a public high school… then another public school. Could’ve graduated after sophomore year but stupidly wanted to stay with friends. Could’ve went directly to a university but stupidly decided to follow one of most the toxic people I’ve ever met to a community college. Could’ve transferred after two semesters but stupidly decided to mess around with one class a semester. Could’ve transferred out but stupidly decided to go into business with friends who had none of the skills and only the funding with no intention of paying me until threats were made that I regret ever having to resort to. Could’ve worked with another friend on a business that went onto be very successful, but stupidly my apprehensiveness from the previous business prevented me from committed. Could’ve been happy and content but stupidly decided to nitpick and allow my insecurities to take over a relationship… twice. Could’ve went to work with my aunt in Vietnam and been wealthy but stupidly declined out of fear of leaving the country. Could’ve done a lot of things but stupidly I keep making bad decisions.
For someone many people have called intelligent I’ve made many stupid decisions. For someone many people have called diligent, I sure have been lazy and careless.
I’ve had increasingly bad things happen since my last “major” bad decision.
I lost my father in 2011. He died fairly young and suddenly. My father and I never really saw eye to eye but I can see why. I was a failure. I really hate this word but I had “potential” to be something great but I was just habitually messing up and aspired for nothing. Not to be cocky, but I don’t mean potential in this in the “bright outlook” that people seem to have of their kids. I mean this in the holding the actual keys to greatness. Up until I stopped trying in school and work I was in the 99th percentile of everything I did (except physical activity), had a bright future, and was talented and gifted. The keyword is “was.” I was no longer any of that, I was just this lazy son. He was disappointed in me and I was disappointed in myself. When he died I felt like I lost my chance to prove to him I wasn’t a failure. Sometimes I feel like my father died of disappointment and I was the killer. I was in that hospital room with him every day he was there. It’s this guilt that’s loomed over me since then. The last real conversation I had with him was him telling me I could do better if I started over. I was extremely depressed after his death. I didn’t leave my room for days at a time. I didn’t shower for up to a week. I didn’t leave the house very often. I was tired of living. Honestly if it wasn’t for a great friend I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here now. That friend helped me and although we don’t talk much anymore I am forever in her debt.
After the death of my father my grandmother died. I never met her. I never even talked to her. I had said I wanted to take my mom back to visit her mother when I “made it” but I never made it. And if I do make it, now it’s too late for that. Another family member I let down.
After the death of my grandmother, someone I am very close with confided in me they had cancer. They told only me and I was to tell nobody else since they were not seeking treatment. So imagine a 21 year old having to shoulder the burden of knowledge. Someone you care about is dying and would rather die than fight to get better. Someone you care about is dying but they don’t want anybody but you to know. Someone you care about is dying but nobody else in the world knows it besides their medical professionals is you.
After they told me that, more of my own health problems popped up over the years. Ever increasing amounts of health problems, dire bad luck, and depression are a terrible combination. You lose sleep over this stuff. You lose faith in life. You lose faith in yourself. You start questioning if there was a higher power you must be the butt of their jokes.
I can’t fix all my health problems but I could at least try to improve what aspects of life were under my control.
Something needed to change. There was something I wanted that misaligned with everything else I wanted in life. It caused me to fall deeper into depression. It’s hard to pretend to be happy when you aren’t. It’s hard to be strong when you aren’t. Many people relied on me so I couldn’t be weak. When you’re not in the right state of mind you often make decisions and mistakes without much forethought.
I did what I thought was necessary at the time and cut contact with one of the closest friends I had ever made. I wish I could say I did it in a responsible manner but I was a coward. I didn’t have the decency to say it to her face. I didn’t even have the decency to call. I didn’t have the decency to have a conversation or wait for a response. I just left a message and signed off everything for days. Khoi’s a filthy coward. I didn’t even deserve her as a friend with how I was at that point in time. How much of a coward and terrible person sank in through the rest of the day up until dinner.
I was an emotional little kid at Christmas Eve dinner with Chau. I’m pretty sure I whined and bitched too much and annoyed her but she’s a great friend and listened. I over ate and over drank for the duration. I came home at least 5–6lbs heavier than I left the house thanks to all the yakiniku.
I drank myself to sleep that night.
On Christmas and the few days following I didn’t leave my room. I hardly ate anything and I drank too much. Bottles of liquor I had saved for special occasions were gone within a few hours and bottles of beer from the brief exits from my room littered the floor.
I was a mess.
It was either the night of the 26th or 27th I finally left my room and made my way to the restroom. I turned on the light and saw myself in the mirror. I hated who I saw. This fat Asian man with an unkempt beard and terrible acne. I was absolutely repulsive. I hated myself. I hated what I saw. I didn’t want to be that person any more.
That wasn’t me. I never turned to the bottle for ANY of my problems. I might’ve spent needlessly and excessively when my father passed away but I didn’t turn to alcohol. I might’ve went on to do toxic things after broken hearts but I never drank myself to sleep. I might’ve made rash decisions and dropped a lot of friends when I was betrayed but I didn’t need to drink. I knew liquor would never fix anything. I knew that. For all my stupid decisions I was smarter than that. That’s not something I believed in yet here I was: A fat drunkard.
If I didn’t love what I saw how could I expect anybody else to? The friends I did keep deserved a better Khoi than the one they had grown accustomed to. I knew that Khoi or whoever I saw in the mirror needed to disappear.
Looking at myself in my drunken stupor, I had a moment of clarity. Among other things, I didn’t want to be fat any more. I’ve been overweight for most of my life and super fat, if not obese, for most of my adult life.
With all my health problems that I couldn’t fix, all this fat wasn’t helping so I might as well remove as much as I could.
I had to burn my public display of gluttony and sloth. I didn’t care if I “carried it well.” I didn’t care if I “only looked 200lbs.” I didn’t believe it was “Okay to overweight.” I didn’t care about any of that crap or believe any of that bull.
You know what I saw when I saw that fatty in the mirror? I saw an accumulation of my life’s mistakes. The fatter I got the more I made bad decisions and became worse of a person. When my father was alive he tried really hard to get me to lose weight as well as make better decisions. Unfortunately, I was stubborn and hardheaded. I heeded none of his advice until long after he passed. There were so many fallacies and deficiencies I saw in myself that I saw common in other overweight people. I won’t bore you with the details but to reiterate the point: That Khoi needed to be left behind.
On that day in December I decided to change my life.
There were things I wanted out of life that I couldn’t have with the way I was living. I would never be able to do the things I wanted to do or experience what I wanted to experience if I wasn’t alive to do them. I would never be able to meet the people I wanted to meet if I wasn’t someone they would want to meet. I would never be able to prove to myself or to others I wasn’t stuck in this circle of depression and underachievement.
At that point I was just proving those people right.
On Christmas Eve 2014, I was 254lbs, today I’m 173lbs. As of today I am officially no longer over weight according to the BMI scale. But looking in the mirror again I’m still chubby and fat. I still have moobs and a belly. It just showed to me that BMI was bull. I still wheeze and I still ache. That’s not healthy and I still need to lose weight.
How did I lose weight thus far? Initially the first 15lbs were really unhealthy. Depression coupled with a lack of appetite and pure liquor consumption for a few days dropped me down 15lbs in less than a week. I hated myself for doing it and I had to do it in a healthy way.
I wasn’t going to do some trendy diet that was in right now. I wanted to be able to adjust to a normal lifestyle after I had lost the weight. “Normal” being better, healthier habits that have become engrained in my daily life. Don’t get me wrong, those trendy diets are capable of losing weight quickly but I wanted an experience I could learn from. What’s the point of having change if you’re just going to relapse into bad habits after?
This was really hard for me to start for one reason: I love food. Anybody that knows me at all knows that I love food. I love food more than I like most people (family included) and that’s not an exaggeration in the slightest. I had resolved to give up one of the few people I loved more than I loved food. If I was able to give her up, limiting how much food I eat should be easier than that right?
It was easier but it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. I had to eat better, eat less, and get better with portion control. Luckily Chau helped with that. She helped me with meal planning and preparation. I started planning out my meals for the week and started weighing and counting after eyeballing and guestimating failed me.
After I started eating healthier and losing weight I decided I needed to actually exercise and work out. A couple years ago I used to wake up early and run around the park by my house, unfortunately I stopped when obligations started earlier and ended later. Now that my schedule was more or less freed up I had to make time to exercise again. I decided to get a gym membership.
I bought a two year prepaid membership to force myself to go to the gym. I knew if there wasn’t a huge initial cost I’d just write it off as a failure and cancel. It took me days before I even activated my membership on the off chance I decided to refund the membership.
If it hasn’t been made apparent: I am a very awkward person. I was so scared to go to the gym. I didn’t want people to judge me. “An overweight Asian? How did that happen?” “Ugh gross he has fat hanging everywhere.” “EWW”
None of that happened at the gym. Nobody was judging (at least aloud), nobody was staring, nobody cared. People were there to get their workouts dumb. The gym rats you hear stories about are far and few in between. Gym goers offered advice and helped at times.
The majority of my weight loss happened by June. It finally became “easy” to lose weight.
I learned if people actually wanted to lose weight they will. If people want to do it healthily they will. If not they’ll find an excuse or look for shortcuts. I had no excuse back in the day and nobody to blame but myself.
There are plenty of people who blame others and things out of their control for their weight issues. Unfortunately I experienced some of it. Strangers in the streets and some family members alike tied my weight and weight loss with “luck.” They said they couldn’t do anything. They said it was genetics. They made all these excuses and felt like antagonizing things outside of their control instead of looking at the key root of their problems: themselves.
I’m close to where I was in terms of a “goal weight” but sometimes that number can destroy you. In October I was preoccupied with not missing an exercise that I went for a run late at night with close to no sleep or food in my belly for the day prior. I ended up in the ER due to fainting and having lacerations above my left eye that are now scars.
Unfortunately, that’s a bill to the ER and bill for medication. Unfortunately, it wasn’t only my lack of eating and lack of sleep that caused me to faint. Fortunately, being in the ER allowed them to run tests and scans and alerted me to health problems I didn’t know I had yet. About 4 or 5 more health complications to be added to the already long list of “What’s wrong with Khoi?”
I’m “healthier” but I’m still unhealthy. I don’t think more weight loss will improve that aspect. Four of my doctors already told me to not lose any more weight unless I really wanted to because it won’t improve my health by much, but do it slowly and do it responsibly if I do continue to pursue that goal. I want to be “fit.” I want to be “cut.” I’m nowhere close to that but I am a helluva lot closer than I was last year.
Even though I’m thinner, there were other things I had hoped to improve over the year.
I thought losing weight would make me more confident, I’m more insecure than ever. I thought going to the gym would make me more social, but I’ve left the house less than I did last year if you don’t count doctors’ offices or the gym. I thought being thinner would make it easier to talk to people but I’m more awkward than ever.
If anything, it’s taught me I have to make conscious efforts toward everything I want to improve. I can’t “hope” things fall into place. I’ve never been one to hope and pray why did I expect other things to happen. If anything the opposite happens when I wish for things.
It also taught me I can’t do things alone. If it wasn’t for my best friend and the many others that have helped me along the way, I wouldn’t have gotten anything done. Chau helped with the food planning and prepping when I started to eat better. My mother helped me with the cooking when I was still failing at cooking salmon. Mike/Cup helped me stop drinking and kept me sober for a few months until I could drink responsibly. Vu and Diana helped me when I first started at the gym. Ai, Chau and Sumi helped me buy products to improve the health of my skin. There’s dozens of other people who’ve helped me and I would like to thank you all individually but I can’t name everybody.
Sometimes I feel like I only have two or three real friends. To others I was only a friend when it was beneficial. Need to rant? Khoi. Need a website? Khoi. Need a computer fixed? Khoi. Need a logo? Khoi. Need a computer built? Khoi. Need a ride because drunk? Khoi. Need a ride to doctor? Khoi. Need a meal? Khoi. Need advice? Khoi. Bored but nobody else to talk to? Khoi. Need to find a good price? Khoi. Need to translate? Khoi. I never really get messaged first unless someone needs something. I never really get invited to hang out or do anything. I never really get invited to play games either.
Sometimes thinking about where my life is in terms of friendships I get really sad, but then I realize it’s on my end as well. I’m not a very welcoming or fun to be around person. I don’t smile. I don’t laugh. I don’t like to do many things. I don’t talk much and when I do it’s often brief or blunt. I’m boring and the only thing that really interests me is food. I don’t ever plan things. I don’t voice my opinion until I’m angry, but when I’m angry I don’t handle anger like most people. I usually get quiet and just think it over with myself. If it’s the other party’s fault I’ll confront and talk it over once I’m calm. If it’s my fault I admit my mistakes as soon as I’m calm. People are used to immediate outbursts but I don’t like being angry around other people. I need to change the way I act.
I think I’ve been really too submissive. I’ve teetered on the two extremes of being overly aggressive or being too submissive. I need to get back to being assertive like I was at some points in my life. The two extremes aren’t good for life. Being too aggressive is what started the chain of events that lead my other business to fail. Being too submissive is what started the chain of events that lead to my most recent business to fail.
Taking this year to reflect, I think I’ve come to terms and can address my shortcomings and mistakes.
But… I’m not done growing or changing yet.
There’s many other things I have to improve. I’m not stupid. I know better and know what I need to be better. It’s finally time for me to take my own advice and have faith in what I have to offer. I need to be a better person as a whole and I need to actively work towards it. I also need to make up for the mistakes of my past.
I hate the Khoi that I was. There are plenty of people who hate me for justified and unjustified reasons, and I’d like to apologize to everybody. I can’t change what I’ve done but I can make up for the mistakes of my past. I am sorry to those I’ve hurt and those I’ve disappointed. I’ve done dishonest, belligerent, irresponsible, creepy, greedy, rude, surly, obsessive, Machiavellian things. It might seem insincere and impersonal to do a wide apology but if anybody that reads this would like a personal apology I’ll be sure to apologize and find out how to improve in the future.
I also have to learn to forgive. The more people I meet in life, the more I realize everybody is stupid (me included) and very rarely do they harbor ill intent. Those that do harbor ill intent are either misguided or ignorant. You can’t hold something against someone without attempting to understand them. Being quick to judge never benefitted anybody. Learning to forgive and letting go of hate and grudges makes for better peace of mind. Even if I don’t agree with their decisions or were angered by it, it’s better to keep them out of mind and only keep the lessons of the situations.
With that said, I have to learn to forgive myself. If I make a conscious effort towards learning from my mistakes and fixing my mistakes, I’ll have to eventually let go of the weight on my shoulders. The Khoi today isn’t the same Khoi of 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 or even 2011. If I’m better and smarter than those Khois, I won’t make those same stupid mistakes nor will I hurt people in the same way.
I have to remove or contain negative influences from my life no matter who they are. There are still many bad influences in my life. Although I can say I removed most of them in 2011, there are still a few people in my life I would hate to be anything like. It’s really hard to remove certain individuals. Some of those people being family members or close to other people I’m close to so I just keep them around as anti-inspirations. I aspire to be what they’re not. I don’t want to be a gossiping, envious person like you. I don’t want to be a self-centered drama queen like you. I want to fake piety like you. I don’t want to be holier than thou like you. I don’t want to whine about everything like you. I don’t want to pretend to be a hard worker while being extremely lazy like you. I don’t want to make grand assumptions like you. I don’t want to be clingy like you. I don’t want to be needy like you. I don’t want to be habitually late like you. I don’t want to forsake my friends like you. I don’t want to be the definitive flake like you. I don’t want to lie to myself like you. I don’t want to be as obnoxiously lonely like you. I don’t want to always invite myself where I’m unwanted like you. I don’t want to blame others like you. There’s many points of reference of things I do not want to be but it’s up to me to decide what it is I let influence and inspire me and instead deter me from such behavior.
One aspect I need to improve and fix is my professional standing. I really want to start my next business but I can’t do it alone. I’ve never been one to ask for help, but I need to overcome pride. My pride has prevented me from doing many things in life. My pride stopped me from going back to school until now and it’s too late. All those credits expired, but I know I have to do it. Nobody takes people without extraordinary feats seriously if they don’t have a degree. Finally listening to Chau’s advice, I’ve decided to go back to school even though it’ll be a longer journey now that my credits expired. Going to school will help me network and give me the “proof” in the form of a degree necessary to secure more funding. It’s something I have to do and even though my doubt in the educational portion of schooling is still very high, it’s something I will get done.
As 2015 draws to a close, I see how much more I need to improve. As 2015 draws to a close, I also see how much I’ve improved this past year alone. I can’t improve without making these conscious efforts and taking the steps necessary for success. Thank you for your support and I hope this is the final apology I have to give to so many people. I know I’ve let many people down, but this is where I start to make people proud.