This post is about things I learned after being randomly attacked on the streets of Berlin when a stranger pushed me off my bicycle.
Last week, I tweeted about being at my end when someone pushed me off my bicycle. I was genuinely confused because I've never experienced such an act of random aggression. This, coupled with my mental issues, led me down a depressive spiral wherein I questioned life, humanity, and our behaviors. This blog post aims to summarize what I've found.
For context, here are a few things you need to know about me:
- I have the most severe kind of hemophilia.
- Because of this, I spent the first 23 years of my life in a very volatile state between life and death:
- I would be healthy one day, and some insignificant, unnoticeable event (like opening a door) would cause me to bleed internally.
- I would notice hours later that I had lost a significant amount of blood and nearly die.
- I would then, fueled by a lot of adrenaline, hustle to the emergency hospital for urgent care.
- I sometimes would spend weeks admitted in the hospital thereafter.
- I am not cured, I just have better healthcare. If I don't take my medicine every 48 hours, the same things can happen today.
- These mental gymnastics of swinging between "OMG IM DYING!!!" and "heh, life is pretty great 👍🏾" have given me prominent bipolar disorder.
- The nearly dying on and off has given me PTSD. I sometimes panic and think I'm dying even though I'm more or less fine nowadays.
I had woken up depressed and had a generally crappy day. This is not atypical for me since I have bipolar disorder. I didn't feel like it, but I dragged myself to German class (it's one of my goals for this year). On my way back, as I'm casually riding my bicycle 🚴🏾♂️, someone walking alongside me on the street stretched out his arms and pushed me off my bicycle. I fell. When I got up, I looked at him and said "what's the problem?!".
Turns out, it was a pedestrian (zebra) crossing that I had not seen.
- The zebra stripes were yellow on a black asphalt road,
- it was night time, and
- the contrast ratio between the yellow street light and the zebra stripes wasn't ideal.
Pay attention to a11y, y'all!
It Was My Fault
The person who pushed me off my bicycle is "in the right" in this case. It was my fault. I should have stopped and let him pass. Perhaps he overreacted a bit, but most people who know me know I overreact a few times myself. It's part of the human experience.
He also didn't know I have severe hemophilia. He probably would have exercised a little more restraint if he did.
In retrospect, all of this makes perfect sense to me. In the moment though, it sent me down an exponentially darker and more depressive emotional rabbit 🐇 hole than I was already on. I woke up depressed, this made it worse.
"why are people like this?" "why is this city so evil?" "why do I overreact just like this?" "are we all just lost and angry"
I wonder if you can relate.
My good friend Dave 🧔🏻 says something I really appreciate often:
We often want the mountaintop experiences in life, where everything is beautiful and where we're happy – experiencing accomplishment from the climb and the breathtaking beauty on top of the mountain 🏔.
What we keep forgetting though, is that nothing can really live on mountaintops: it's all dead up there.
Life and growth happens in the valleys.
I love this. As someone who has spent an extraordinary amount of time in the valleys (you know, from nearly dying all the time), I agree. People often say to me "oh dear, you're depressed, that's so sad! I hope it doesn't last long and you feel happy again soon!". I hear where they're coming from, and I appreciate it, but I'll feel happy again when I feel happy.
For me, it all happens in waves. Sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I'm not, but when I'm in a depressive state, it needn't be bad – it serves me well! When I'm happy, I'm too busy living in the moment to reflect and re-evaluate the world and my place in it – I just want to have a good time. It's in the depressive episodes, in the valleys, where I go looking for hope, truth, meaning, and purpose – and where I find it.
Here's what came out of my depressive episode, triggered by my hemophilic-bipolar disorder, and amplified by a random dude who threw me off my bike:
I should start a blog to collect my thoughts and share things LOL
I am thankful to have a community of friends who care for my well being. I have received so many messages from friends and family expressing a ~genuine concern~ love 🔥 for me. Little old me! The sick nobody! That odd hemophilia dude! I'd never want to take this incredible gift of community for granted. From the bottom of my heart, y'all, I am thankful to and for y'all. ❤️
People are hurting. Would the d00d have pushed me off my bike if he was happy and content with the world? Studies say most likely no. I wager that the reason we have things that make us cringe with disgust in the world today: gatekeeping, racism, mansplaining, etc. is because people are hurting.
People are hurting from feeling like they're not clever enough so they gatekeep using esoteric language that inflates the ego, because they need it to feel important and ease the pain. I sometimes mansplain (to my shame!) because I want people to think I'm smart. I don't do it to put people down, but rather to help me bring myself up! It's approval seeking because on some deep level, I feel inadequate and it terrifies me.
The (counterfeit) solution? Pretend. Fake it 'til you make it, no matter the cost.
The actual solution? Truth.
I publicly acknowlege that I fail in one way or another, either technically or physically or whatever. I'm a flawed human. It is what it is. I'm trying to improve, but it's kind of a gradient descent kind of thing. There will be error. It's unavoidable and that is okay.
I have a mission. I'm convinced the world is broken. You're welcome to disagree with me but I mean... look around. And so, while I can occasionally get sidetracked with my depression and bipolar and PTSD and bleeding to death or whatever, there are people around me facing just as much hardship as I am.
As one who has suffered possibly far more than most can imagine, my mission is clear: restoration.
I want to help put the pieces back together however/wherever/whenever I am able. What a world it would be if the dude who threw me off my bike's hurt was healed. What if he would then go on to help others heal, and they'd help others and those people would help even MOAR PEOPLE and exponential healing and wholeness would cascade through all that we know.
This is kind of what I dreamed of in my depression.
It's the mindset of "I think I can, I think I can" that ultimately makes you succeed. (3/8)— Tejas Kumar (@TejasKumar_) October 12, 2019
Better go get started.