I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki: The cult hit everyone is talking about
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Grateful for Baek Se-Hee’s bravery, for her therapist’s support, and for stumbling upon this incredible work. Baek Sehee] uses months of (real) transcripts from her therapy sessions to explore her own depression and anxiety, always tiptoeing toward something like self-awareness. The author claims to have learned several things - she understood that she can let herself be, that she can let herself feel whatever she feels, that she interprets events in her life depending on her mood.
Internalizing their behavior, she questioned and criticized herself to the point of depression and severe anxiety.It’s also full of personal and sometimes pathetic details, but I’ve tried to make it more than just a venting of my dark emotions. which i can understand because this is just a record of baek sehee's recount of her talks with her psychiatrist, but it did make the reading experience less enjoyable. It is extremely insightful into a young woman’s mind, although of course, not everyone experiences the same challenges. I’m devastated if someone I like doesn’t like me, and devastated when someone does end up loving me; either way, I am looking at myself through the eyes of another.
For a book that supposedly lays it all out, it lacked depth in terms of allowing the reader to step into the author's experiences with her struggles with her mental health (examples of books I read recently that did this well: The Limits of My Language: Meditations on Depression by Eva Meijer, Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person by Anna Mehler Paperny). Inhaled this book this weekend morning and I am so glad I decided to pick it up after getting frustrated by my recents reads turning out to be either DNFs or very disappointing ones. This short memoir deals with mental health and a lot of issues most of us keep thinking about almost everyday regarding our own unhealthy behaviour towards ourselves and others (including strangers! Although I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokpokki is actually a compilation of written dialogues between the author and her psychiatrist, I was able to immerse myself into the conversation, to the point that it felt very intimate, as if I was in her situation all along. It’s not just a story; it’s like peeking into someone’s personal diary, where they pour out their heart and soul.
The challenge for us all is to have as good a mental health as you can have, within the constraints of your own personality, and managing those needs so that they are realistic. Yes, she would, and she’d be thrilled by the fact that her older self has sold shedloads of books, too (which is probably another thing that makes me slightly suspicious about the book…). I just want to clarify again, that this is is a well-written book, but I’m just not the right reader. I think one of the most important lessons that I learned from this book is that there is only one "you" in this world, and you are special in your own way, regardless of what happens.
Sehee is honest and authentic throughout, beginning each chapter with a brief essay that introduces a topic she wants to discuss with the psychiatrist and concluding with an essay reflecting on what she learned from the session. It also provides key insights to issues that are widely applicable, definitely found myself bookmarking certain places! The fact that her psychiatrist didn’t give her any homework, didn’t explain what they are going to do in their therapy sessions, left me speechless.He is the winner of a PEN Translates grant and a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant, among many others, and his translations include Kyung-Sook Shin's Violets, Bora Chung's Cursed Bunny, and Sang Young Park's Love in the Big City. However, I would expect her to learn this and start processing the positive change within the first month of therapy, not after ten years. She feels persistently low, anxious, endlessly self-doubting, but also highly judgemental of others.