Floppie saved my life.

I was huddled in the fetal position on my bed, curtains drawn, buried in my sheets. I was a lump of misery. I spent most of my depressed days in bed or on the living room floor in downtown Beijing. I had lost all my energy and I sobbed impulsively. It seemed natural that after reaching my summit in Tokyo, the logical step was to come down. I just didn’t expect to fall this far down. In my mind, the stretch of nothingness was omniscient. There was one dim street lamp in that darkness, but however I crawled towards it, it did not come closer. There was no hope left in my mind. Floppie stood by me on the floor. He looked at me kindly, gave me a pat on the head, and smiled gently as if to say, ‘I will be here, whatever befalls you.’

I had locked myself in at home for some weeks already since being given sick leave, unable to face the outside world or look at my rugged self in the mirror. Apart from the regular psychotherapy sessions and calligraphy classes, I would not leave the apartment, sometimes not even my bed.

On a pivotal winter day in January 2010 — the weather being fit for my depressed mood — Timmie somehow managed to drag me out of bed to go for a walk to the nearby mall. I had no interest, but I was too tired to protest. I dragged my feet and kept my head to the ground as I walked. Chance had it that at some point Timmie had to go to the bathroom, so I loitered at the shop nearby to wait for him. There in the shop window I saw a soft toy bear! It looked so soft. It just sat there looking up at me, giving me a little smile. I smiled back. When Timmie came into the shop to look for me, he saw a faint smile on my face for the first time in many weeks. He bought the bear for me.

Timmie asked me to give the bear a name. Without thinking twice, I named the him Floppie.

A few days later Timmie wanted me to go out for a walk again. When I refused, he suggested, ‘How about we take Floppie to play in the snow?’ I lit up and agreed. We went to the Forbidden City moat, which was covered in pristine snow. Timmie put Floppie down and said we should take some photos with him. I giggled, and for a while I was distracted from any negative or suicidal thoughts. I just played and enjoyed the time. I decided it was too cold and gave Floppie a hat and vest to wear.

‘Why name him Floppie?’ Timmie asked me.

‘Because he just flops around all day. He’s tired and sad all the time,’ I answered.

‘Oh, and he eats mosquitoes,’ I added as an after thought.

Floppie was a stuffed toy bear.

Excerpted from “Stress in the City: Playing My Way Out of Depression”, available on Amazon and Trigger Press, and retail bookstores.

How a toy bear helped me find my way out from depression
Floppie bear

Originally published on Medium.com