With the long weekend (and a typhoon) coming up, I don’t know how to feel. Obviously, I’m already pumped for another weekend of spontaneous adventuring, but the end of this week also marks the midpoint of my 10-week internship here at TELL. It’s hard to imagine that in less than 40 days, I’ll be back in the United States. I can already see myself sprawled out on my dorm room floor, typing away furiously on some coding assignment, and definitely not having the time of my life like I have been in Tokyo.
With that being said, I think it’s time for me to make a confession: until the past couple years, I was always reluctant to view mental illness as a true sickness. I’ve always been a relatively logical and rational person, skeptical of intangible concepts I could not physically see or prove. To me, people who were truly sick were those who had no say or choice in whatever illnesses struck their body. An x-ray or test would indicate the severity and existence of their disease. On the other hand, experiencing depression or another mental illness seemed to be a choice entirely up to the person; despite the amount of counseling and medication one could have, I truly believed that it was up to the person to pull themselves out of whatever they were experiencing. It was not until first-hand witnessing some close friends and even family members experience mental health-related problems that I realized its daunting gravity. Now looking back at my past narrow-minded perspective, I feel embarrassed and even a bit ashamed. My purpose for sharing this is to demonstrate that the stigma towards mental illnesses is very real, and the most effective methods of eradicating this stigma are raising awareness and outreach; that is why the TELL message so strongly resonates with me. My time at TELL has shown me countless times the importance of tolerance and lending an ear to those in need. People who are mentally ill should never feel ashamed about their illnesses or seeking professional help; it is the people who buy into the stigma who should feel that way.
On a lighter note, I saw a lot more of Tokyo this week, and basically concluded that I want to move to this unbelievably beautiful city after graduation. During the weekend, I completed a treacherous hike to the Big Buddha monument in Kamakura, then soaked up the sun at Yuigahama. After work this week, I visited Memory Lane in Shinjuku where I feasted on amazing yakitori dishes and even dared to try horse sashimi (never again). Also, I visited the Yasukuni Shrine to see Mitami Matsuri, the lantern festival and the entire display was breathtaking. This city continues to impress and surprise me every day.