I Want to Die But I Want to Eat Tteokboki by Baek Seehee

Recording her dialogues with her psychiatrist over a twelve-week period, and expanding on each session with her own reflective micro-essays, Baek begins to disentangle the feedback loops, knee-jerk reactions, and harmful behaviors that keep her locked in a cycle of self-abuse. Part memoir, part self-help book, I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki is a book to keep close and to reach for in times of darkness. It will appeal to anyone who has ever felt alone or unjustified in their everyday despair.

This notepad was tagged with: Books

This notepad was written on December 9, 2023.

There are 735 words in this notepad, and it will probably take you less than 4 minutes to read it.


Why is this book important?

  • I think that this kind of honesty in showing the therapeutic process can help de-mystify therapy for many people.
    • She is also honest about medication and side effects and shows the iterative process of dialing in on what medication to take, and at what dosage and timing.
  • I think it’s incredibly interesting to have this negative model of thought as a sort of cautionary tale. It goes to show what happens when you take certain thinking that we may all partake in from time to time to the logical extremes.
    • Ex: What are the consequences of black-and-white thinking or low self-esteem?
      • If you can see these things and learn the perils of them, you can avoid them, or want to avoid them.

Is Seehee relatable?

  • I don’t think that she is relatable to many people because she’s so early in her introspective journey.
    • If you are too far in your therapeutic journey then you might not be able to relate with her anymore, and if you are too early in your journey or not at all, you might not recognize parts of yourself in her.
    • It isn’t her fault that she’s early in her journey; societally in a collective culture you don’t value the self more, or that she was in survival mode/people-pleasing mode for so long that she couldn’t take stock of her own needs and desires.
      • She didn’t have the time and also cognitive distortions (she doesn’t “see” herself) she has normal human tendencies but then amplifies it and she’s not neurotic really just maladaptive empathy and other self esteem things.
  • How could you relate to her without going through similar experiences?
    • Instead you have to extract similar thought patterns or responses for yourself to find value in her experiences even if they are not that similar to your own.
    • Mental health is so personal that you cannot directly apply learnings from another person to yourself; some things are obvious to some but not others.

What are some lessons that can be learned from Seehee?

  • In ceaselessly people-pleasing and attempting to fulfill social roles she had created an ideal and unattainable version of herself that she compares herself to. She cares a lot about how she is perceived for validation, but that is an unsteady foundation; to lower those standards is for her to gain self-esteem.
  • She would be forgiving to other people, but her own harshest critic. She was constantly blaming herself for things outside of her control, instead just learning to blame it on other things like alcohol. In this was she was overestimating her control and/or agency in a way that allowed her to punish herself.
  • Being so empathetic made her make space for other people because she knew they were having a hard time, but in doing that made herself smaller. She couldn’t take or make space for herself because it made her feel bad and like she didn’t deserve/wasn’t entitled to.
    • Holding space for other people but not for herself led her to resent these people because she felt like they were taking without giving anything in return. While it is true that it was not cool of the other people to not try to return the favor, we don’t know how she would open up if asked directly.
    • Something that she thought a lot about was feeling entitled to complain. She correctly observed that she was better off than a lot of people, which is of course objectively true. There will always be people worse off than you, but that doesn’t change the way that you feel. The hedonic treadmill is a big part of the reason why you can complain when you are objectively better off, you have adapted to your circumstances to a point where the quality of life is somewhat taken for granted.
  • Your self-esteem determines how you feel about the sincerity of others.
    • People with low self-esteem want compliments but then cannot believe them when they get them, ironically enough.
  • There are often conflicting and coexisting desires within yourself, like independence and dependence or being alone and together.
    • The key to this is being able to have a balance between the two.

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A list of my favorite books and book series.

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