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The Unexpected Job

This excerpt is in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week with the theme of Moving More for Our Mental Health

I still remember the winter of 2018 as unforgivingly cold. My life, as well as my body, was frozen in a helpless state, watching the world move forward while I stayed stagnant. You see, I had depression at the time but didn’t know it. Being stuck in my apartment from sunrise till sundown while doing nothing has became my new normal. I first began to exhibit signs of depression during my senior year of college in Minnesota. Violent mood swings, the inability to get out of bed, lack of motivation, and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness draped over what would’ve been an optimistic time of growth for most. Within six months, I failed all but one class during my first semester, broke my two-year relationship apart, drifted away from my best friends, and was fired from my job. I was left struggling to piece my life together, often choosing to retreat into the false fantasies within my mind.  


No one around me recognized the depressive symptoms that enveloped my life, and as my world crawled deeper inside my head, I couldn’t help myself out. So, I sat, laid, and stood in my apartment, watching TV, playing video games, and overeating while watching more TV. While we can look up journal articles and various studies to pore over the glistening data that points to exercise and moving the body as beneficial for the mind, it was constantly freezing outside. I remember trying to go on a walk after watching a YouTube video on mental health, and then promptly slipping on ice and hitting my head on the sidewalk, discouraging any further forays into the world of exercise.  


depicting depression

My roommate’s friend, Tyler, recognized my depressive symptoms and invited me to his workplace one afternoon. He worked as a barista at a local coffee shop, and after his shift, he sat down and listened to me expressing the lack of purpose in my life for an hour before getting up and shoving a job application into my hand. He sat there for hours, helping me fill out all the necessary details, shutting down any excuses I had with gentle encouragement. I remember him asking, “What’s the worst that could happen?”, confronting my dysfunctional thoughts. Immediately after finishing my application, the owner of the coffee shop walked in, Tyler passed my application to him, and after an impromptu five-minute interview, I left the coffee shop, confused and employed.  


Suddenly, I was forced to be up before 4:30 AM every morning and on my feet making coffee for eight grueling hours a day. My manager gently trained me, teaching me how to work the cash register, smoothie, espresso, baked goods, and dishwashing stations, laughing forgivingly at my blunders as I crammed the overload of new information into my faltering brain. With each burn from the scalding hot steam wand, I learned to craft the perfect textured cappuccino; with each customer staring blankly as my fat fingers fumbled through the cash register, I learned how to efficiently take orders, count money, and serve people with a smile; with each catastrophic drop and spill, I learned to spotlessly clean the scene of the crime; with each nasty customer interaction, ten customers made me laugh and smile; with each day at work came a bouquet of little victories.  


barista is busy working

Working in a bustling coffee shop in the suburbs of Minnesota is like dancing. Everyone has to have a cup of coffee before heading to work, and as I mastered the art of espresso, the smoother we danced as we served up to sixty cups of coffee per hour during morning rushes. Each day as I seamlessly cleaned portafilters, steamed milk, pulled shots, poured latte art, and received orders, my mental well-being improved. I became energetic, optimistic, and motivated. I was hopeful. While the job entailed getting out of my apartment in the wee hours of the morning in negative temperatures and standing on my feet for eight hours a day, I was content. And as I got home and exhaustedly crawled into bed each day, I was happy. 


Physically moving is crucial for mental well-being. There are many resources out there pointing to moving one’s body as beneficial for the mind. While being physically active in my job helped out my mental health, it is not the main point of my story. My point is to be like Tyler. He saw me struggling, took the time to listen, and inconvenienced himself to help me. Without his gentle push, I wouldn't have been able to start digging myself out of my mental rut into a journey of mental well-being. I will always remember Tyler’s act of kindness, and I remain grateful to him to this day.  


 

Seth Wong is one of the winners of the Creative Writing Competition (May Edition) organized by CPCS

Hi, my name is Seth Wong, I grew up in Kuala Lumpur until I was nine. My family moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to eventually start a foundation housing impoverished cancer patients seeking treatment in the local government hospitals. I lived there until I graduated high school, choosing to pursue my undergraduate degree in Minnesota, U.S.A., where I obtained a double degree in Business Administration and Biblical Studies. I had a rich experience working a variety of jobs and meeting many friends, but I suffered from depression during my senior year of university as written in this story. After barely graduating and working for a year, I moved back to Thailand where I worked in my parents’ foundation. I spent four years intentionally slowing my life down, choosing to focus on my inner life and self-discovery in the hopes of understanding the turmoil that was my mental health. Working with cancer patients and refugees also allowed me to realize that I wanted to assist people with their mental health. I am now pursuing my Masters in Counseling at HELP University to equip myself to help others. Thank you for taking the time to read my story! 

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Guest
Jun 06
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Didn't know you went through such an mental ordeal Seth. May the Lord continue to keep you in His hands and bless richly your journey with Him.

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Guest
Jun 05
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Good sharing in bringing hope to all who struggles with mental health issue.

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Guest
Jun 04
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Seth,


Im really proud of who you have become and even more so of who you are becoming! Keep it up!


Uncle Wilson

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Guest
Jun 04
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Seth, thank you for being so real and willing to share your story, which I know will encourage many! So proud of you!

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Guest
Jun 04

Thank you for being so brave to share your story. It's certainly an encouragement and awareness to self and people around me. To be more mindful that mental health is a silent disease. The more one takes the courage to bring it out in the open, hopefully, this topic will no longer be a taboo but a need to address. May our good Father continue to use you for His glory. Thank you for your heart, service and willingness to be used by Him. Blessings.

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