Saturday, May 26, 2012

Humble Pie: Life Lessons

I was very competitive as a kid.  I may not be full Japanese, but I definitely inherited that stereotypical Asian American upbringing. No television, no sleepovers in high school (heck my friends weren't even allowed to drive me anywhere), played the flute for 4 years, rode horses (national level), competitive speech (national level), learned to sew, learned to cook, 4-H leadership and extracurricular activities, cotillion classes, you name it, I did it.
Senior Portrait

I skipped 8th grade and started high school at 12. I went to a "magnet" high school for academically gifted children; you had to take an entrance exam to get in, as well as letters of recommendations from teachers. I took zero period all four years in high school; I took summer school every summer to get ahead. I took AP classes, honor classes, International Baccalaureate classes... you name it. I had blonde hair, big boobs, and bigger brains! My friends and I were not going to flip burgers; we were going to cure cancer, amass millions, and kick ass. 

I started my freshman year at UCLA at 16 in 2005. I still haven't gotten my bachelor degree. I still haven't gotten even my associates.
Miss Mochi, circa 2005
I've struggled with clinical major depression for years. Diagnosed at the age of 11, its something I will always fight against. I also have a compulsive disorder where I rip out my eyelashes. In high school, it caused tension between my parents and I. At one time, they wanted to send me away to boarding school, to send me back a grade. My mother one day came home sobbing pleading to tell me why I was like this, what had made me this way.

When I was 12, I packed all my trophies (which decorated my entire room) and hid them away. I didn't want to see them anymore.  I didn't want to remind myself of what I could be.

That was my first long lasting depressive episode. I got better. I brought the trophies back out, and added a hell of a lot more.

Sophomore year, I started seeing a therapist for yet another episode. My parents wanted to avoid medication at all cost. 

I survived high school, pulling a better GPA than you'd expect for someone who would miss school because she couldn't get out of bed. My application essay for college documented rising up and crushing depression like a bug (in an upbeat yet humble, tasteful essay that appeals to that sort of application). What a bunch of bullshit, in retrospect.

In my first semester at UCLA, I stopped going to class. I stopped showering, stopped eating regularly, managed to gain a miraculous 40 pounds in less than 10 weeks, and stopped leaving my dorm room.  For a person who only got one C in her entire life, I had a full semester of F's. *Actually not true, I got one B, which flabbergasted the faculty. If I was withdrawing from UCLA for depression, how could I pass that class? I explained I never bought the book, never went to class, but showed up for the first day, midterm, and final. It was a pure lecture class, and someone on my dorm floor dragged me to those days.

I was now the black sheep of my high school; the black sheep of my family. Everyone I talked to, would shake their head and say, "But you're so smart? Why are you sad?" I was ashamed to talk about my depression; people would tell me to just cheer up.

I was started on medication. And a higher dose. And a higher dose. And a higher dose. My weight went up as well.

I eventually went back to UCLA, got a 4.0 GPA for a couple, then left. Another depressive episode. My parents forbade me from going back.

I developed anxiety about school. I would drive up to the local community college... park... then sit there until I drove away.

Quite a difference between this and before
This post is called "Humble Pie" because where I thought I'd be in 2012 is not here. It's not being mortally afraid of tomorrow. It's not being heartbroken that I will never live up to everyone's expectations; I have ruined my relationship with my parents.

But I have a supportive boyfriend, an amazing dog, and I am still alive. We are so poor I turned in the cans and bottle from work for the puff pastry for this entry, but we have our own place and it is a safe haven I've never had with my parents, full of unconditional love. I weigh 100lbs more than I did in high school. I never wear makeup, I never do my hair anymore. I have also been sufficiently humbled by my experience. Kids that I thought were so "dumb" and "not serious academically" have their bachelors. I've never told anyone about all of this, just hints of what goes on here and there. I might never graduate, but I've come to terms with that. I'm still going to try.

No one on their deathbed worries that they should have worked more, should have achieved more. That's not happiness. Happiness is accepting that life is more than a resume; life is more than a list of achievements.  And for a girl that has trouble remembering anything happy about her childhood that doesn't involve crushing the competition, life has certainly been a lesson in humility.

Miss Mochi's Humble Pie

1 sheet of puff pastry
1 jar of Rhubarb Strawberry Pie Filling or other canned filling
one egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Defrost the puff pastry, and lay out flat. Cut into quarters and place approximately 2 heaping tablespoons in the middle of each quarter. Bring the corners of each quarter together to form a purse. Roll the edges a little to seal, and brush the entire thing with egg. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the pastry has puffed up and turned a nice golden brown.

 See Also:
Hapa Farm Girl: Rhubarb Strawberry Pie Filling


  1. Devany, I appreciate your blog. I too have clinical depression and have resolved that I will be on medication my entire life. I appreciate you sharing your experiences. Not only does your information help others understand depression, but it helps depressed people understand they are not alone.

    You are a beautiful writer...Also, I can't wait to try your "humble pie."

  2. Dev- this is such a beautifully written post! I love you and will always be there for you. Friends Forever!! Katherine

  3. What a beautifully written entry from an equally beautiful person! It takes so much courage to go through what you did, let alone write it all down for everyone to see. I can definitely relate to "overachieving childhood syndrome", as well as being amazed to see where I've ended up in 2012! It really is about letting the expectations of others go in order to free yourself to live a rich life.

    On an unrelated note, I absolutely love your taste in food. Keep up the great work!

  4. I've been stalking your archive, and this post touched me. I have always looked up to you, and what you wrote here just solidifies that. You are an amazing person, and it takes a lot of courage to talk about a subject like this. You should be proud of the woman you have become. Having a Bachelor's degree doesn't guarantee that a person will accomplish great things. Just do you, and the rest will fall into place.

    And, my mom is right. You really are a beautiful writer!

  5. I'm so glad I came upon your blog. As I was reading this post I nearly came to tears because I thought I was reading about myself.
    As a fellow trichotillomania sufferer, weight-gainer, and overachiever with overbearing parents, I feel your pain, and I am so happy that you are in a better place now.
    It hurts to suffer alone and feel like no one understands or loves you in the way you want them to. But things get better when you start going about life on your own terms.
    So I wish you all the best, and I will certainly continue to read your blog. I'm not Japanese, but I did spent 5 years of my life living in Tokyo, so sometimes I feel a bit Hapa myself.
    Goddess bless, lots of love and hugs, and continue on with the awesome recipes!

    PS: If you need some help, tips, or support for the pulling, message me. You're not alone.