Koko's Return

Illustration for article titled Kokos Returnem/em

Brave Shine, baby.

I just want to give a heads up right off the bat, this was meant to be an intro to another article I was doing, but the stuff I wrote about ended up going long and heavy, so I wanted to separate them. There are super personal details about the last few months I needed to get off my chest, and they might be a little heavy hitting.


TL;DR if you aren’t interested: I’m back.

Writing, particularly about anime and film, has always been worthwhile to me as it has given me a chance to analyze works that have been created to express/relate to feelings I might have had or am currently grappling with. In many ways, writing for AniTAY has served as a public journal for me- I loved to share my feelings behind a handle that is only as public as I wanted it to be. I’ve had my ups and downs and I’ve relied on writing for AniTAY to carry me through most of it, for better or worse.


Despite having joy in writing, I was worried about personalizing it too much, that at some point my readers would go “Okay, he’s relating things to himself too much and I wish he would just leave himself out of it”. I’ve had readers reach out to me and tell me that putting the personal touches into my articles have made them worthwhile reads, and while I appreciated their support for that, a part of me had a huge insecurity over whether or not those same people would get burnt out on the sharing and turn heel. No matter how open you can be about things, it is exhausting to put yourself out there (even behind a blog).

Perhaps that is why when I finally shared my history with the Evangelion deep dive I did earlier in the year, I felt that was a great high note to end on. There was a height reached in my emotion driven writing and if I was concerned about overstaying my welcome, that felt like the time to call it quits. I shared one of my darkest moments and turned the lights out. As time would go on, I realized that sharing my lows wasn’t how I wanted to be remembered, by friends or family, or even you, an anonymous reader who cared enough to read what I had to say. If I wanted to continue and share the right kind of emotion, however, I needed to take some time to figure things out.


Whether most of you knew or not, I began a journey to moving on from my trauma. One that, despite my best efforts to keep outside influence from affecting, would be greatly assisted by the anime Violet Evergarden (of which I will be writing about soon).

For the past three months now, I have been traveling around the world for work and along the way, I have met countless people at various crossroads in their lives. For the sake of their privacy, I will refrain from specifics (with exception to one), but they all had different outlooks on life and people than my own, and I learned a lot about the world by listening to them. After every encounter, I would write down a little bit about them, and give deep reflection on what lessons they had for me. This was all thanks to a single encounter I had towards the beginning of my journey.


There was a woman I met somewhere in Michigan who, after some passerby conversations over the course of a week, opened up to me about a near identical experience to my own. She was constantly put through abusive administrative action and, while struggling, was kicked back down every time she was trying to get back up. I sat with my notepad, tearing up, listening to her share stories that felt like they were recollections of my own.

Before I left on my first trip, my family and friends were genuinely concerned about my well being. My grandmother wanted to get me a counselor, my mother would cry not knowing what to say, and my friends were all bummed out hearing me in the moments I couldn’t hold in my traumas. The thing that dug into me the worst was I was constantly in denial of what it was doing to me personally (although I carried the guilt of what it was doing to others plenty).


“You have a burning hate in your heart, and it becomes the only thing you are able to stay alive with. It is the only reason you can stay warm in the blizzard.” I used to write about myself and what the experiences I had did to me. She took the analogy another way and compared it to having a tank of oxygen at the bottom of an ocean.

After hearing her speak about it all, I left that evening without saying much else. I don’t think I slept much after a recurring night terror occurred. As fate would have it, the next day I was a volunteer for a “mentorship” event put together by my work. Despite my position, I was helping break the ice by being someone asking for advice (this was meant for some of our newer hires). Lo and behold, my partner for the exercise was none other than the woman I had met the other day. While others were asking pretty shallow questions, I paused for the first ten seconds or so and asked the question that I needed an answer for.


“How did you move on?”

I had long abandoned making any sense of how I would stop drowning in the heavy emotion that one horrible assignment gave me. There were times I thought I “cracked the code” so to speak, go several months without an issue, then just completely crash back down when something goes wrong. Needless to say, it was all still subconsciously tearing me apart throughout those periods. The worst of my episodes came after coming home after being away for six months overseas, where I completely flew off the handle and honestly didn’t think I would come back from that low.


What the woman did to get over her struggles identical to my own, what she taught me felt so silly in simplicity but made total sense: it doesn’t just go away, and you don’t completely get over it. You just try to pick up the good notes and keep the bad ones from drowning you- it is frustrating to practice because it is so simple. You have your days, but you don’t let them define you. You do the best you can, and hope that one day you’ll make it until you actually do. It doesn’t work for everyone, but hey it is a start somewhere. She also reaffirmed what I was thinking before: my career in mental health was certainly why I was having to battle my demons harder than ever. I found a lot of solace in meeting someone who got over a similar assignment to my own.

On my own, I decided to send emails to the people who wronged me, getting my closure. I wished them well, and put my email signature in with it. My position I have now, however, is four times higher than what I had when I was being abused. So by reading a well worded email that was short enough that they could see my signature, I got my closure, my realistic “payback” so to speak, it said the words that sum up the message I took away from the anime that saved me all that time ago, Haruhi :

I am right here.

I woke up a few days later with a burning resolve. The resolve eclipsed my hate I carried and a weight was off my shoulders. Going out and seeing people became a much better experience as I wasn’t clouded by my mental fatigue. For the first time in years, I felt like I deserved to live. I felt like I was going to make a difference for others without it being muddied by my own struggles.


I’m not really sure what is next for me, but for the first time in my adult life, I am ready for whatever comes. I know what I want to do, and I’m ready to fight for it and learn from others and be there for those I want to protect, help, and contribute to positive changes.

So here I am, back from my journey. I know mental health for other people is different, but I felt my story was worth sharing. I am ready to write about things I love, and I’m no longer going to worry about the trolls and statistics. I plan on shooting my shots, not holding back on my thoughts and feelings on articles anymore. You’re going to hear exactly why I like things. I’m doing me, and I’m going to enjoy the socializing with the great community here.


Looking forward to getting back to work with you all.

Illustration for article titled Kokos Returnem/em

Nukedashitette Nukedashitette
Kanashisugiru unmei kara
Anata wa naraku no hana ja nai
Sonna basho de
Sakanaide sakanaide
Karametorarete ikanaide

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