New Year's Clarity

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Hey TTP community!
 

2018 is officially in full swing and I hope you're jumping into this semester well-rested and energized. Seeing as it's a new year, I'd like to begin with transparency and clarity.

Recently, I realized there might be some misconceptions about the TTP and what the organization and community is about. There have been many newcomers and new changes in the past few months and I want to make sure that there's no miscommunication or misunderstanding, and maintain the same high standard of transparency that TTP is known for.

 

1. The Tipping Point is currently and will always be a non-profit organization:

The Tipping Point Mental Health Society is currently, has always been, and will always be a 100% government-overseen registered non-profit organization. Anything we take in goes towards either our overhead costs like keeping the website running, renting meeting space, or other various expenses, like one day hopefully paying the team of volunteers that keep it all running. I have personally put in thousands of dollars of my own (and my parents!) money to build and maintain this society. Registered nonprofits have strict legal rules around its operations and we've always been careful to follow them.

 

2. The Tipping Point is NOT a medical service.

If you are currently struggling with suicidal ideation, please stop reading and contact the Crisis Interventions and Suicide Prevention Centre. TTP is not a counseling service or a peer support group. We are an organization that initiates the challenging conversations around mental health in academia, in an intersectional perspective.  We originated with the mission of advocating for systemic change on the level of academic policy, but we have been shifting the central goal of the organization as we realized that advocacy within a large system like a university is going to take a long time to have an effect, and we currently do not have the resources to take on this exhausting feat. We'll get on it when it makes sense. That said, we do have a list of student-run resources on our website that UBC students have access to, should they feel the need to.

 

3. Ji Youn's Coaching Program, Formerly Tip Labs

 

First, a little backstory for context:

 

In the past few years, I have responded to messages from and talked to hundreds of students who struggle with overwhelming stress and anxiety. They are looking for guidance and solutions on how to manage their stress and build a work-life balance and hopefully not burn out. As many of you know, I was one of these students, and it was a painful experience because like these students, I found that schools, books, and existing programs did not fully help people like myself, people who sought personal growth strategies that were understanding of the limitations of my mental illness.

 

Fortunately, with a lot of trial and error, and after investing hundreds of hours (and dollars) into personal development tools and enrollment in coaching services, I figured out a system that can be incredibly helpful for a lot of people who burned out due to overwhelming stress and the inability to focus due to diagnosed mental health issues. People like myself.

 

This brings us to what I’m doing today:

 

I would love to be able to spend every waking minute offering free coaching and advice (and I do sometimes! I will take on pro-bono cases to help those who are in need on a case-by-case basis. If you feel like you need this style of coaching but can't afford it, please send me an email at jiyoun@itsjiyounkim.com). Coaching is a time and energy intensive process, and I take my job seriously. I'm proud to be able to say that every single one of my clients has seen tremendous progress through this work and I'm deeply honored to be a part of their lives. If you'd like to read about their (unedited!) experiences, click here.

 

Most importantly, I do not take on the role of a therapist or counsellor to my clients. I am not a medical professional and do not have the credentials to offer treatment as such. In fact, I make a point to refuse to work with clients that have been diagnosed with mental illness if they are not already working with a counsellor/therapist. I help students optimize their focus, organize their commitments for work-life balance, and manage stress. I incorporate empathy, compassionate communication and disciplined self-care for my clients because I know how tough university can be on their mental health. However, I do not address the treatment of mental illness. This is personal and professional development, not counselling.

 

Like any other coaching and consulting service, there is no one-size-fits-all option. It's important that students find what is exactly right for them, from seeing a therapist, involvement in a club or other extracurricular, or the personalized coaching that I provide. Because of this I offer a 100%, no questions asked money back guarantee if clients try the first session and decide it's not for them.

 

4. Unbranding of Tip Labs

We are going to be updating the TTP website over the next couple months so it will accurately show the changes and improvements we have planned, and to phase Tip Labs out of  the TTP brand and onto my own business webpage. We welcome discussion and any communication about this topic because mental health is so easily ignored, and because people who don't understand the experience can easily reduce it to "well counseling exist already so why does there need to be anything more?" It's important to remember that just because other people want to minimize your needs doesn't mean those needs aren't valid, and a solution that is right for someone else doesn't necessarily have to be right for you.

 

Hopefully that brings some clarity to The Tipping Point and my own individual work. As always, please feel free to contact us through our Facebook page or send me an email.


 

Have an amazing 2018.

Yours in love and health,

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Founder

The Tipping Point Mental Health Society

Photo by Amanda Sandlin

 

Part 3: Still Alive

Content warning: suicide

 

Writer’s note

This piece was written in celebration of the end of my chronic suicidal intent; it has been one year full year since my fifth and last attempt. One year of growth and healing. This piece is my way of validating my past pains and letting go of the person I used to be. It is an emotional piece. Please take care of yourself.

 

 

 

If you got this far, thank you. I hope you're okay.

 

The thing about suicide is that the failed attempts become traumatic memories themselves. 2.5 years after my first attempt and almost 2 years with my counselor, I have finally started trauma processing work around my suicide attempts.

 

I'm learning to let go of the belief that I can't keep myself safe. I'm learning that as crazy as it sounds, the suicide attempts were my attempt at keeping myself safe the best way I knew how. I didn't know I had a choice. I didn't see a future for myself. I didn't know I could reach out for more help. I didn't know that my loved ones would stay throughout it all. And I tried to see. I tried my fucking best but I just couldn't see it at the time.

 

So now, I'm starting to look back at 19 year old Ji Youn with empathy instead of shame. I never wanted to die. I just wanted rest and I couldn't see it happening while I was alive. I was exhausted from carrying so much guilt and shame for a decade.

 

I am incredibly proud to say that I've gone a full year without any suicide attempts. How I got out of a year and a half-long period of chronic suicidal intent? Hope. Hope that I could create something of myself, or my story, into a possible, fulfilling career. And that's this - The Tipping Point.

 

So to every single person reading this, to every single person I've met and encountered in my professional realm, to all of my mentors, friends, and loved ones - thank you. Thank you for listening to my story, for being a part of The Tipping Point community, and for keeping me alive. For helping me realize that I can keep moving forward, that I'm not just a mentally ill college dropout. And thank you to the police officers who kept me alive. Looking back, I now realize that they must have been scared too. They didn't know what else to do. And that's okay. It's taken me 2.5 years to realize how they could've helped me better myself.

 

When I first left school, I was too ashamed to say the word: suicide. But now I'm embracing it as a part of my story. I am not my story, I am not my past. I am who I choose to be, who I choose to create myself into.

 

Suicide is happening whether or not we talk about it. 25% of Canadian deaths between the ages of 15-24 die by suicide. And many suicide attempt survivors carry so much shame. So let's talk about it.

 

If you are a suicide attempt survivor or have lost a loved one to suicide, please message us through The Tipping Point. We would love to share your story with our community.

 

With love,

Ji Youn

Founder of The Tipping Point

 

Part 2: Dehumanized

Content warning: suicide, harsh language

Author’s note

This piece was written in celebration of the end of my chronic suicidal intent; it has been one year full year since my fifth and last attempt. One year of growth and healing. This piece is my way of validating my past pains and letting go of the person I used to be. It is an emotional piece, and many parts come from a blog post I wrote right after that night. It can be difficult to read. Please take care of yourself.

Part 2

The handcuffs hurt. I asked to take them off, or at least put them on my front. I knew that once the police was there, I had lost. There’s no getting out. The police would take me to a hospital, I would have to wait a long time to see a psychiatrist, being treated like a 5 year old child. I would have to repeat my story again for the hundredth time, I would convince the psychiatrist that I had all the resources one could possibly have, and then they would let me go home.

 

I hate the hospital. I fucking hate the hospital.

 

I asked to be sent to the Vancouver General Hospital instead of St. Paul’s. I had been to VGH for my first three attempts and St. Paul’s for the fourth. None of them were fun experiences but the fourth was dehumanizing and I didn’t want to go back. They took me to St. Paul’s.

 

They undid my handcuffs and gave me some water to drink. They took my blood pressure. And I sat. I asked the police officer how I would become a cop. She said there was an info session every 2 months. “Cool,” I thought. “Maybe I’ll do that. Then I might have some power as a cop in this fucked up system.” I was so fed up with these cops though. They kept asking questions and I made it clear that I wasn’t interested. I asked if my friends were coming. They called my sister so that the family knew that I had failed, or in everyone else’s terms, was “safe.”

 

The nurse came to lock me up in the room. This time I was prepared. This time, I wouldn’t walk in so easily.

 

“So you’re going to lock me up in a room? When I just tried to kill myself? Without being able to see my family or friends right now? Oh, and I have to wait til the morning to see a psychiatrist? Who can’t fucking help me? Do you really think that this is what’s best for me right now?”

 

“It doesn’t matter. This is the Mental Health Act. These are the rules.”

 

“Rules? Who the fuck makes these rules?”

 

“Psychiatrists, medical professionals.”

 

And I screamed...

THERE’S A FUCKING DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT ACADEMIA TEACHES YOU VS. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. IF YOU’VE EVER BEEN IN MY SITUATION, YOU WOULD NOT LOCK ME UP IN A ROOM BY MYSELF WITH NONE OF MY LOVED ONES AND MAKE ME WAIT FOR HOURS.”

But they forced me in. They were on the verge of putting me under restrictions, as in making me swallow sleep pills or forcefully injecting me drugs or carrying me into the room, which would cause a scene. So I walked in, hopeless, rolling my eyes at this fucked up system.

 

They made me take all of my clothes off. My underwear too. Really? My underwear? Because I’m somehow going to kill myself with my bra? They made me take off all my jewelry. They put on a plastic hospital bracelet on my right wrist but they cut away my Brazilian ribbon bracelet that my friend put on for me before he left town.

 

That ribbon bracelet had meaning. In the Brazilian tradition, you tie it around your wrist with three knots. Every knot, you make a wish. And when the ribbon naturally comes off with time, those three wishes will have come true. I had wished for my illness to get better, for my relationship with my parents to get better. And they took that from me too.

 

I stared them in the face. “Why are you a nurse? Why are you a police officer? Do you actually care about people? YOU ARE SILENCING A MARGINALIZED PEOPLE. YOU ARE SILENCING ME. YOU ARE NOT GIVING ME A FUCKING VOICE. THIS IS NOT HOW YOU HELP PEOPLE. WHAT THE FUCK AM I GOING TO DO WITH THIS PIECE OF RIBBON TIED AROUND MY WRIST. HOW THE HELL AM I GOING TO KILL MYSELF? Here, you should have my piece of gum. Here, take my hair ties. I might kill myself with these too. Glasses - they’re fucking deadly. Take them.” They cared about my physical safety but not my mental safety. Their “rules” made me want to kill myself even more.

 

They stripped me naked. Of all things mine and of my voice and of my thoughts. They told me to follow their rules because they were the rules. Otherwise I’d have to go to worse and more strict procedures. I told them, fuck the police. Fuck the nurses. If it means I have to follow a system and its rules without having my own opinions on how things should run, on how people should be treated, fuck it. I don’t want to be a part of it.

 

I fell asleep under drugs. I was woken up by a psychiatrist. I honestly don’t even remember what I told her. She didn’t ask much. I was probably half asleep. I had breakfast. I went back to sleep waiting for my parents. My parents came and picked me up. I couldn’t stop staring at my bare left wrist where the yellow ribbon used to be.