Coping and cutting my hair

Story by Kimberly Hsueh
Senior Staff Writer

Take one step at a time. This is what I didn’t do when I attempted to break out of a depressed state. 

For weeks, I was plagued with deprecating thoughts, managing to convince myself that I was truly incapable of doing anything. I reclined in bed and spent hours on my phone. While doing so, my worries began to exponentially expand, as my pile of tasks grew larger. As an expert procrastinator, I always completed my work before the due date. But, there was no sense of accomplishment and only dissatisfaction. The cycle repeated and my mood only dwindled. 

During this period of time, I don’t recall smiling. All I wanted to do was hide in my room. My parents were fed up with my attitude and angrily retorted that my behavior was translated onto them. 

“Act happier,” they said. 

Establishing guilt was a method commonly used in my youth, so hearing them ask me to fake happiness for their own sake was triggering. The urge to tumble out of the car, like how Jeannette does in Glass Castle, was tempting, but I bottled my anger and disbelief, once more, and sarcastically smiled. I would take the challenge. 

I experimented with several coping mechanisms and began with cutting my hair. I would spend hours in my bathroom, sectioning and trimming my hair. The length slowly shortened and my mood slowly brightened. To me, cutting the ends of my hair felt like I was releasing the heavy thoughts that crowded my mind. However, this feeling was short lived and every time I felt a negative emotion, I would grab my scissors and cut. 

Soon, I lost my patience and angrily snipped. The unevenness prompted me to cut more and the mistake became more prominent and unfixable. Why did I think cutting my hair would fix all my problems? I realized that it wasn’t the result that I was looking forward to; it was the act of being in control. I can change the style of my hair to how I want it; I am my own person, so why am I letting the events of and people in my life control me?

I can’t spontaneously act happier, but I can find my faults and correct them. I still cut my hair and carry on my bad habits of procrastinating, but I have forced negative thinking out of my life. For every mishap that happens, I think about the experience I obtained and the effort that was put into it. No matter what happens, my life is in my control and I don’t need people to tell me otherwise. 

Obviously, this motivation does not sustain for consecutive days. I still have my lows, laying in bed and dozing off during class. But, I know that I can always start over the next day, week, or even month. Easing into the right mindset takes time and the best thing to do is take one step at a time. 

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