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What happens when you feel like quitting?

what happens when you feel like quitting, dealing with depression and travel, coping with depression

What happens when you feel like quitting? Who’s the real enemy at large in your life?

I’ll cut straight to the point.

I felt like quitting. I felt like quitting this blog… and many other things about my life.

When things feel beyond your control.

Until now, I haven’t been completely honest about what I’ve been going through. It’s something that’s  painful to share and at this point, I don’t really know who’s reading.

I actually started this blog post two months ago, when GoDaddy, my website’s host server, began threatening to shut  GRRRLTRAVELER down for getting too many search engine hits. I normally juggle everything on my own, but this was beyond my scope and I was forced to hire an IT expert for help.  But when everything we tried didn’t work and my readership began falling, it created an overwhelm of one more ongoing thing to deal with that was beyond my control.

Walls closed in from every direction, dealing blow after blow–  a two-year career  stalemate, bouts of infrequent employment, few opportunities–  career life, acting life, money-making life, travel life and now, blog life!  Everything was plummeting or at a deadlock, despite my best efforts. This fueled feelings of inadequacy, frustration and self-loathe. And to make it all worse, I wasn’t getting any younger!

My life was rebelling.  My identity… was  disowning me.

I was drowning and rather than treading more water and enduring more wave-crashing blows, I just wanted to let everything go…

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Failing at 40 and Dealing with depression

Everyone experiences depression. Being an artist, it’s something I’ve learned to cope with it. Creativity is my therapy; work and travel are my drugs. But take those away from me and dealing with the severity of depression, is like survival, without experiencing any joy. You feel like you’re fighting each day, simply to hold onto the bare minimum of who you are.  A Sissyphean effort.

Going from career as a professional dancer and artist, to New York’s entertainment industry, having succeeded at clocking $400-$1200 a day in a leading crew position, given mostly to men, paid to travel and sling out entertainment for popular nationwide TV shows… to being an ESL teacher living abroad and making money to fund my travels… and finally, evolving into a person failing miserably at life, making $9-12/hour at “on-call” office temp jobs in Hawaii. My ego was annihilated and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t able to dig a way out of it and was worried if I ever would.  I was used to defying the impossible and hurdling obstacles to my dreams possible. Now life was defying me and showing me that I was capable of failure.

Unable to work in an industry I loved, to feel valued for my experience or to afford the independent lifestyle I once had, was incomprehensible, painfully heartbreaking and alarming to me. Opportunities flew over and passed around me. If I got a job, it would fall through at the last most inconvenient moment. Even shit jobs didn’t hire me!  Not having much of an income, I made excuses to not go out with friends to save money on gas.  Was I failing at being 40?

It started to feel that way.

between black and white film, videos by christine kaaloa, dealing with depression, feeling oppression

Between Black & White. Video Installation. Christine Kaaloa

Knowing when to give up

What’s your tolerance to ongoing pain?

The other night, I had a dream :

I was a boxer pinned in the corner of the ring. An shadowy opponent is blasting me left and right. He’s bigger, more powerful than me. He’s pounding me to a pulp.  I have no coach to direct me, so I start flailing with all my might to get out. Why I didn’t just drop to my knees and surrender, I don’t know. Maybe I was more terrified of giving up on myself, than getting beaten to death.

Unlike other Asian upbringings, I never got pressured to be “a success” in financial or material ways. Instead my loving parents said:

“You don’t have to be the best at what you do, for us to love you. But always do your best. Never give up on yourself or let others tell you what you can or can’t do.”

This wisdom always gave me the resiliency, to fight my battles, defy the odds against me and succeed. I challenged rejection constantly, feeling impervious to it… defiant.  But sometimes, life’s negatives can come all at once, in unrelenting typhoons, tearing down confidence  and strength. Friends and family can withhold encouragement at the most critical times, relationships can turn into politics, and life and bad luck can skin you so raw, that you literally feel  fucked from the inside out. (Yup, it’s a real feeling)

…So that ultimately, it  takes one mite-sized thing (in the grand scheme of it all)  like GoDaddy being an unrelenting butt-head, to trigger your depression into wanting to end it all.

bloodties christine kaaloa artist, christine kaaloa photographer

Of playing God from Blood ties series by Christine Kaaloa

Thoughts on suicide and depression: What happens when you feel like quitting?

We all experience loneliness and disappointment on an ongoing basis. But we’re as unlikely to share that truth with people, as we are to say, “More failure, please!”  Instead, we smile and throw people off our trail with humor, saying… Everything is okay. I’m just fine.

In the process of my writing this post, I’d read that travel blogger, Anita Mac took her life. Our ages weren’t far apart. While the travel blogging community was shocked, I felt a stab of …envy. Her battle with oppression and depression ended. Mine continued on with no signs of getting better.

Some say, that suicide lacks courage; I disagree. As real-life solo warriors, we all take tough hits to survive on life’s battlefield. When one of us falls, it’s tragic. But with societal norms, the rising cost of living, pressures to fit a western mold to be “successful” in life, find a partner and to afford a good life for your old age… life has us forced onto a minefield, navigating both, real and self-constructed mines. Who’s the real enemy?

Whether deciding to take your life or to face it’s unfathomably painful consequences with no guarantees of a better future…  neither, are easy, ideal or winning decisions. Stuck between a rock and a raw deal in life, both require insurmountable energy and courage to act upon.

Silk video by christine kaaloa, video installation by christine kaaloa, coping with oppression and suicide

Silk. Video Installation/Dance Performance. by christine kaaloa

 

What if I can’t troubleshoot  life… how can I reboot it?

Whether it’s a two-year stroke of bad luck, an infertile location, or a bug in the environment we’re working in… some things are just beyond our control. Still, it’s hard not take things personally or to judge ourselves as a failure. In the case with GoDaddy, things never got better and my final resolve was to terminate my plan and move to another provider.  So much for finding answers through symbolism!

I’ve tested every angle I could think of. I researched new careers. None of my attempts were fruitful. So I’m back to the drawing board, reflecting on what I can let go of and how to reboot.

Maybe I need to lighten my life and downsize expectations. Perhaps, I’m still uncertain about where my heart is.  Or maybe, just maybe I can’t have everything I want in life and must choose the one thing I can live with for now. There is still much uncertainty to cope with and that’s the best I can expect. I’m taking one day at a time.

Like most people, I like to hear the occasional kind word to know I matter. I like to know that the work I do is valued. I like to know that my efforts occasionally inspire and that I’m purposeful. To be appreciated makes a person feel successful. But too often people are too busy to even offer kindness or appreciation.  Life doesn’t slow down. People forget to say ‘thank you’ and everyone is only concern with their own reality and ego. I don’t like that, but I get it.

Hawaii has allowed me to spend much needed time with my parents and for that I’m grateful of. Their growing age is the one thing that worries me about leaving the islands. But Hawaii will not work for the type of travel life or career life I aspire to. Nope.

The pressing question is.. what will?

 

[Note: I’ve already gone through this stage to be able to write about it and share it. I’ve lived by a ‘live to work’ mentality for a long time, because work gives me a feeling of  value and self-worth. Having made a living doing things I loved didn’t always come easy and  I’ve always reached for fairly big dreams. There is a stubborn fighting streak in me that always hopes to defy the impossible, which is blessing and a curse]

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What happens when you feel like quitting? …How many chances would you give yourself, before it’s time to give up? How do you deal with depression?

27 Comments

  1. Jim Brantley says:

    I seldom offer encouraging words to people like you. People I know will achieve what they are moving towards. It’s usually better to keep it respectful and at least semi-professional. But, in this case; because we have traveled parallel roads, I think I will explain why I support you.

    I see something rare in you, Christine. I don’t know what I’d call it. It is true, you do have talent and looks. But talent and looks are as common as sand… no, it’s much more than that. It’s that certain undefinable quality which cannot be taught or acquired. It is seeded at birth and has the power to make even the most powerful men feel uncommonly awkward in its presence. This “gift”, for lack of a better word, is enormous in it’s scope and powerful in its ability to help one succeed, but the price you must pay is to be fragile and easily scarred. For the few people like you, as time passes, all the negative things they hide so well create little cracks that scar their spirit; until one day, the cracks snap and the scars become too obvious to bare…this is depression.

    I went through many years of depression. At first I thought is was karma repaying me for all those lies and unkind deeds. But this thought was a lie in itself; it wasn’t karma; it was the totality of life. It only took the effect of one final event to shatter all of those cracks and break me. The fact that it would happen was a certainty; we all have a bridge too far, and eventually we all come to it only to realize we simply can’t find the strength to cross…that is, until we do.

    You wrote this in 2009. Over the years you have slowly, and often painfully I’m sure, found enough strength to begin rebuilding that bridge. The cracks will always be there, and will be added to. The scars will never go away…this is good. I like my scars. They are mine, I own them, The scars you carry are not the deep furrows of someone who just happened to pass through life, they are great monuments to someone who truly lived. Embrace them, they are you.

    Remember; eagles don’t fly in flocks. Sometimes they must fly alone; but they are always eagles.

    Finally, I know, respect, and enjoy Grrrl Traveler. Now, for the first time, I think I’m getting a feel for who Christine Ka’aloa is. Thank you for that.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      Thank you Jim. That was a very warm comment. I think I wrote this is 2013 or 4.

  2. Marcelo says:

    Hold on, girl! Don’t let your unquiet thoughts destroy you. That’s not what nature wants. I’m a male in my 20s with very little experience in life but I could relate a lot to this message of yours. Once you have experienced a brilliant path in life, doing what you love and receiving applause for that, you’ll always keep on holding to those good memories and keep on searching for more. That’s clearly a mistake. A “life for work” philosophy may give you “glory” days, but we all know that one day our capability of creation will decrease and, if we keep on searching for that feeling, we will feel weak and ashamed. I’m not a religious kind of person, but I’ve been through some situations that the Bible wisdom was indeed helpful and life changing. First of all, if you look for creativity and quality through your job, you’ll will win. But if you look for fame and attention, you’ll lose your soul. If we give too much of ourselves in our jobs – and by that I mean giving our “personal signature” or expectations, we’ll certainly feel depressed when our product/service is no more needed. One thing I learned from God is to cherish the truth. In every single way. If I’m a teacher, I’m giving classes, the best way I can and that’s it. I shouldn’t give classes waiting for people to like me or send me a kind gesture. If it’s given, great; if it’s not, it’s not. I’m also a person who likes receiving kind words after doing a good job, but that should never be the reason I did it in first case. That’s not truthful. It can lead to sadness and disappointment. So, if I could give you an advice is “be here”. Life is not easy, there are people in really distinct situations, but we should not give up. We don’t even know yet why we’re here! I didn’t ask for coming and look where I am. All we know is we need to eat, drink and sleep (I am by no means saying we’re supposed to live in this vegetative survival status, as you mentioned, but I want to make clear is that “be sucessfull” is not needed. It was created by competitive humans to justify their goals). So your job should not be a reason to be happy. Don’t put yourself in such a inconstant meaning. Be here, see what nature wants you to learn today, pay attention to your body and health… We’re not in a battlefield, so there’s no need to run. There’s not an ideal type of situation for living, us humans are so different! Some were born incapable, some rich, some poor, some sick… we don’t know shit about life, we didn’t ask for coming, so we should not take control. Just do what you like right now, take care of yourself and the living creatures around you, that’s when you can feel a sense of order and peace. What was created by the humans is unstable and irrelevant. Your writing is a gift and I had a great time reading your observations about South Korea. God bless you.

  3. Jim says:

    An extraordinary post!!! Thank you. Sad to say myself and many others can relate all too well.

    Wishing you the best. You are amazing. Please keep up your wonderful efforts.

  4. Many MANY of us feel like quitting. I know I’ve made it clear more than my fair share of times – especially when things seem to stack up against you.

    Just know that you do have a group of online cheerleaders that will support you no matter your decision.

    Now to have mine support not traveling full time, putting the blog on the backburner, and attempting to find a job that pays more than $15/hr with a film degree. 😉

    You can do it!

  5. Tom Gates says:

    Hang in there! Things ebb and flow in our lives. Good times go sour, and bad times get sweeter. That’s been my experience at least. I can say with 100% certainty that most people wish they were doing something else career-wise, and most married people wish they were single. It’s the irony of it all. But nobody is crashing servers at Godiddy! Keep making videos…

  6. fileeep says:

    Hi Christine,

    You have taken a very big and courageous first step, talking about it. Now you need to get professional help, you can start with a Doctor and get a recommendation to the next level.

    I found this site…..

    http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression

    “There is no one proven way that people recover from depression. However, there is a range of effective treatments and health professionals who can help people on the road to recovery.”

    Everyone seems to have an amazing life now days with the social media explosion, but it is only a snapshot of a moment in time and behind the posted photos and adventurous videos, life goes on.

    We all know that money is required to live and a job is essential for this, we can easily go through the motions but we also need love and companionship, a home, that comfortable silence that only comes with close family and friends.

    I truly wish you all the best, fileeep!

  7. chancealberg says:

    Christine, it is so wonderful that you have shared this with the world! It demonstrates a sense of vulnerability that I have not seen from you before and I really really love it!!! On the other hand, depression is a terrible disease, (chemical or situational), and I worry. Are you OK? Do you have enough support? Never forget that you are deeply loved and admired by many. You have been a huge source of inspiration to me, and a role model for so many people that want to live outside the box, but are to afraid to do so. F^@% convention! Continue down the path that feels right and the world will open up for you. Love you Grrrl!

  8. Dany says:

    Hello!
    Thanks for sharing these thoughts. It’s nice to know we are not alone in this world. I’ve just turned 30 and have been going through a similar crisis! There are some stuff in my life that I have thought about quiting, but once I realized that I’d fail to quit. It’s hard to give up on our dreams. And I think we should never do that. Now I’m on the process of understanding myself and my dreams so I can go for it. Not easy!!
    Hope you can find your way out!
    Cheers from Brazil… 🙂

  9. Aloha Chris,

    I can honestly feel your pain or something in its approximation. Yes, I’m a long-time meditator and am well versed in yoga…a practitioner from the late 1960s. But there are some karmic rough spots that can really stretch the capacity.

    The past two years have been tough for a lot of people in my life. So your story seems like a familiar refrain…even as it is uniquely your own.

    I’ve had what I refer to as “My Year of Living Injuriously” during that same time frame. I’m still on disability unable to work after being hit by a car while in a pedestrian crosswalk. Yeah, I’m one of Honolulu’s annual statistics. At least no blood and guts were involved (if you don’t count knee surgery), but the ability to NOT do as I normally would do is quite debilitating, both physically and mentally.

    We won’t even discuss the financial ramifications! So I might not be able to literally feel your pain, but the metaphoric leap is not a big one.

    And yes, you may be going through this at 40, but I’ve got a decade on you. The only way that I’m going to be compensated for my worth is to take my career in my own hands and become an entrepreneur. I didn’t so much as take the leap as I was pushed off the cliff.

    Frightening? Oh, boy. But for adventurers like us, it is also a shot of adrenaline. Just the thing to get us over ourselves and immersed in a creative moment.

    As independent as I am, I know that I need to “pack posse” for this adventure. We are already connected on Google+ which is my new home of preference on this “range.” I’m still on a short tether for health reasons, but I can foray out into the city for an occasional coffee.

    Mahalo for having the courage to share.

    Peace & Blessings, my friend.

  10. Christine,
    There are more of us out in the world than we care to admit. Dealing with depression is a lot more common than you might think. Most people (like me) are embarrassed and do not want to discuss our issues in public. Therefore we sit and think about negative things that make it worse. Your are spot on when you say we express humor to shadow the real problem We all use this ruse!

    I have found several things that help me. One is exercise and this really works if you do it on a regular basis. Not just infrequently. Second we tend to hover near our home and not be social. Get out and start doing things. They don’t have to cost money. Just be in motion and deal with other human beings.

    Finally if you need it, seek therapy. There are times when it helps me and there are times when I can manage on my own. Each of us is different. Hope that you will continue to “stalk me” (Ha remember when you sent that. I was having a particularly bad day and your comment helped me immensely). If you need to talk you know where to find me on FB PM! We love you and life is a roller coaster. Never become a total recluse and know we are here for you! Just talk to us and it helps!

  11. Eberle says:

    You are so loved. Thank you for your raw heart felt thoughts and feelings. You have an amazing way of touching others. I’m sorry that you are feeling defeated. Life can be too difficult at times. Your blogs have been a lifeline for me since I stopped traveling. I find listening to Tara Brock’s meditations very helpful when I wonder what this is all for. If I could make a suggestion sit down with a friend or two listen to a meditation together and have a good cry/talk/and tea.
    Sending you love and hugs.

  12. Jessica Wray says:

    Such an honest and couragous post to write. I´ve been following your ups and downs with work for a long time and I understand how hard it must be. There really nothing I can say to remotely make anything better. All I know that if life was fair you´d have the job of your dreams because you deserve it. When it comes to blogging, even though you´ve never done it for the money, you´ve created such a successful site. It is such an enormous resource and has helped so many people. So many people in fact that the GoDaddy server couldn´t handle it. That is something to be proud of! Maybe you really could just monetize it? It wouldn´t make any of the content any less valuable in my opinion.

    Anyways, I hope you are finding yourself in a better place now, or something turns around soon. You are amazing, and have led an amazing life, regardless of if it feels that way now.

    Take care xx

  13. debbie ann says:

    Thank you for writing this. Love yr blog, but please take care of yrself first, whatever that means, reduce the demands if you can.

    When I feel like quitting I look for an easier place in order to recover, don’t compare, I meditate, it helps me. I try not to measure myself against others.

  14. Renee Hifumi says:

    There is always hope. And you can’t give up when there is hope because you never know what is around the corner. You inspired me to get a passport. I haven’t gone out of the country yet, but someday soon!

  15. Hey Chris, you did what so many people never have the courage to do: you TALKED about it. Even more, you wrote about it! But that’s not a big surprise given your track record of being totally GRRR. I agree with Barbara – what you share through this blog is more than travel. There are so many more women now who are daring to make these non-traditional choices, but very few who have written about the total experience of before, during and after. Something tells me you will be fine, but I know getting to “fine” is a hell of a ride. One breath at a time. I’ll write more offline. Hugs.

  16. agnesstramp says:

    This is a very inspiring and honest post, well done for being so open to your readers. What I would recommend to fight depression is yoga and some meditation. That helped me a lot when I struggled with my busy schedule and travel routine. You need to put your needs and health first and have more breaks, don’t overwork! Blogging must be fun, don’t be too hard on yourself sweetie! x

  17. noelmorata says:

    That is tough with parents that are getting there in age, I find calling regularly helps and visiting when the flights are cheap to the mainland is where I can fit it in or layovers between longer flights….In terms of career…if you see more opportunities in Asia get those feelers out again and recharge the adventurous spirit in a new environment…good luck!

  18. Christine, I knew you were discouraged about things, but I didn’t realize it was this bad. I’m very sorry to hear you’ve been going through this. I’ll send you some additional thoughts off-site, but wanted to voice my support here. Hang in there. I’ve been where you are, but the most important thing is not to give up. Things do get better eventually.

  19. Kate says:

    Sending you a big hug!

  20. Thanks for sharing. There is no “ideal” number of chances where you decide to give up. Asking a question like that is only torturing yourself. If you’re depleted and don’t feel like you have anything left to give, it’s time to start focusing on yourself. On taking care of you- and figuring out what that means.
    I haven’t commented on your blog before, but you have been an inspiration to me. Being a single female traveler, pursuing your dreams and travelling around the world is so BAMF. When I see your stuff, I think, “She did it, and so can I!”
    I’ve struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for a large portion of my life. Recently my niece, who was 17 and like a little sister to me, committed suicide. Needless to say, it’s been a huge blow. It’s only been a few months, and I’m set to leave for Korea in February to teach English. I am dropping the “practical” medical degree (the path I was on) to taking a gamble doing something I truly love.
    There is no rhyme or reason to depression and grief, but you plant seeds and slowly begin cultivating a new way of coping, a new way of thinking, and learning to be gentle with yourself. One day at a time, one minute at a time. This includes cutting yourself slack regarding any bad things you’re thinking about yourself, or beating yourself up for feeling sad. A daily meditation practice has done wonders for me.
    I hope that you’ll seek therapy. This world desperately needs people like you to stay in it and continue doing what you do. Following your dreams is the harder path, there’s no doubt about that. And with those life-fulfilling highs there are going to be the crushing lows. Everything you shared sounds really rough, most people would feel pretty crushed in your circumstances too- but you’re GRRRL! Even if you don’t feel like it right now. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts, and sending good vibes your way. Feel free to message me if you like.
    Take care of yourself.

  21. Thanks for this very honest post, Christine. I haven’t been through what you’ve been, so I can’t say that I understand what you’re going through.

    However, I do know what it feels like to be overwhelmed, to feel that everything that can go wrong in your life will go wrong. The best thing to have at this point is support system; knowing that people love you can help.

    It’s too easy to give up; I had felt tired sometimes about the ups and downs of life, specifically when it comes to relationships. What helps me is knowing that all these things will pass. That someday, this (whatever it may be I’m going through) will be over.

    With clinical depression though, it may be time to consult a professional. We all need help at some point in our lives. Hang on there!

  22. I’ve learned a lot through your blog, Christine. It doesn’t serve as a travel blog, to me it’s a life blog. As if your my unofficial life coach. There’s no guide to being a woman-who’s-traveled (or rather female-expat) and I’ve taken the nontraditional route of traveling before working immediately after graduating college. I don’t know where to go or who to ask, but when I do have a question, I always end up here. When I am here, I feel like your blog will inspire an answer for me and my anxiety will calm itself.

    To meet you this past summer and hang out with you in Suwon has been one of the best experiences in Korea. I felt like I was in the presecence of celebrities. I got to hang out with QiRanger, Joanne, and GrrlTraveler all on the same day! And we went to a Korean Adult shop! Like it’s an every day thing! Shut the front door!

    To answer your questions:
    When I feel like quitting, I quit. Unless I find another alternative later in time, I will pick it back up.
    How do I deal with depression? I cry my heart out alone and then I realize I’m not alone, just lonely far from my family and friends, by choice. They’re only a phone call or a text message away. Thanks to Google Voice, it’s free.

    Keep calm and HEEEEEEYYYYY GRRRRRL!

    ♥DROPDEADBARBI

  23. Niesha S says:

    Hmmm…between a rock and a hard place eh. I would say just come back to asia.but the parents thing. I think ultimately its got to be your own happiness.

  24. Hi Christine,

    Great courage you showed writing this post. I have been there. Yep, I have REALLY been there, questioning myself, going within, going bonkers in my case.

    Finding spiritual grounding, being grateful for all things – by speaking a gratitude list OUT LOUD – and believing that an Invisible Force was guiding me through it all helped me quit the quitting habit.

    I keep going, feeling better each day. Certainly I have moments but they are seconds, and minutes, instead of days, weeks, months, and spending time in a quiet room, meditating, and expressing gratitude out loud, and thanking God for the gift of life, has helped me immeasurably.

    Thanks for sharing!

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