Posted in College, Education, School

College: Woes to Goals

Getting a college education is very important to me. Without it, I can’t be a high school teacher, and I wouldn’t be able to broaden my knowledge. The idea of going back to school gets me giddy, so I enroll. But as a few weeks pass by during the semester, my anxiety brings me down. This has happened three time already, and I don’t want this to happen again. So, I’ve decided to transfer to another school.

Deep in my heart, I did really want to be a UP student, even if I chose to go to UP out of practicality. I wanted to get to know the real world, meet different people, and discover myself. But when I made that decision to study in UP, I didn’t know I had Bipolar II Disorder. I didn’t know that my depression back in high school was just the tip of the iceberg; I didn’t know that it could go worse. After a semester of only 12 units, I enrolled three times, and applied for a leave of absence (LOA) three times. I felt like I wasted the money of my parents and the tax payers, but health first, right? If I hadn’t left, I might be dead. By dead, I mean six feet under the ground.

I’ve been thinking about transferring schools since the first time I was on leave, but it’s only this time that I thought seriously about it. At first, I wanted to go back to my alma mater. Then I wanted to try open university. After that, I considered transferring to either of the remaining schools in the “Big Four”. Now, I’m considering moving away from Manila just to study.

Why am I transferring, anyway? Well, I just couldn’t take the system of everything in UP Diliman. From enrollment, to the academic requirements, to the social environment, to how students are treated, to how the politics in school go, to everything. Sure, UP is a microcosm of the Philippines and maybe the world, but for a student with a psychosocial condition, UP may be a little too much to handle.

I’m not making my condition an excuse for me to “give up” or anything. Everyone is different, and everyone has different needs. What I need now is a school that will help me cope up with my anxiety. I’m not putting UP down, either. I believe that UP is the best school in the country, and everyone who graduates from the university is an armored, strong, well-rounded, nationalistic, and competent individual. It’s just that, I think I need to focus on building my armor somewhere else.

News about my school options’ admission rules broke my heart. One doesn’t accept transferees for their education program. The other one doesn’t have my ultimate favored course. Another required me to finish another semester in UP. I broke down after getting that email from the last school that updated me. I told my mom, “Can I not study anymore?” through Facebook Messenger. I later on tweeted, “Can I just die?”. I was so depressed — I just wanted to die doing nothing. But then my mom told me before that water sort of helps ease depressed feelings. So I took a shower, and I felt better. I told myself, “wow, was that miracle water?”. But that feeling didn’t last. I grew frustrated (not depressed) in the evening because of doing my nails. Then everything followed.

The next day, I called my last school option, and boy I was so happy. This school is said to be a good school for students like me. It also offers my favored course. And guess what, the school accept transferees even if they’ve only finished one semester of schooling (provided that they have not failed)! Well, isn’t that good news? Well, the not-so good side of this is that the school is miles away from home. But hey, THAT’S OKAY! I’ve always wanted to explore other places, and I also want to know how it feels like to live independently. Nothing is final yet, but I have a strong feeling on this one.

When I was on leave, I kind of thought negatively of college. All I thought of was it was mental and emotional torture. But seeing happy college graduates added a little positivity on my perspective. Now that I have a school in mind, I am pretty much convinced, again, that college is a good thing. After all, not everyone is privileged to receive higher education. So I consider myself lucky. I’m lucky that I have a chance to change my life through education, and that I have a chance to change the lives of others through my education.

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Posted in Education, School

For the Love of Peace (Education)

A college classmate interviewed me about the peace education I had in elementary school. I discussed with him the basics of our peace education and peace efforts in the exclusive Catholic school I attended for my basic education. During the interview, I cannot help but feel nostalgic about my school life. But aside from that, I missed all the ways I helped, in my own little way, to promote peace.

My school is very active in promoting peace. Our college department even has an institute dedicated for studies about peace. We have basic peace education in elementary school, but that was not enough. In high school, teachers incorporated our school’s core values (truth, justice, peace, and integrity of creation) in our lessons and projects. They often focused on peace, even if our society needs all four values. Why? I guess it’s because of our partnership with a school in Mindanao.

In Cotabato, where our sister school is located, chaos and armed battle is always present. Thus, our school is very active in helping our brothers and sisters, whether Muslim or Christian. Our school encourages its students to participate in the school’s efforts to provide aid to the sister school. We would have our annual “Lugawan Para sa Mindanao” (Porridge for Mindanao) in all of the institution’s units to raise funds for financial and other aid for the sister school. The project is a yearly success, trust me. How can a student of our school say no to our delicious “lugaw”?

When we had Peace Education back in seventh grade, we had a letter exchange program with the students of our sister school. When I read a letter from one of their students, I was really humbled. My pen pal described her life to me and my classmates, and I was teary-eyed. Then I realized that I was fortunate to be living in Manila, where there were no armed battles, even if Manila isn’t peaceful. I was humbled on how lucky I am to be living my life, even if I had my own problems. Besides, I’m not stereotyped as a terrorist. But, that letter exchanging experience made me realize that those stereotypes were just stereotypes. My pen pal seamed to be nice; she even wanted to be text mates with me and my classmates (too bad, we weren’t subscribed to Talk ’n’ Text. She said she wanted her text mate to be a subscriber of TNT).

The Peace Education I received changed me, even in the little ways. It taught me how to manage my anger (well, a little bit), and to appreciate the peace and order in my family and local community. It also taught me to have peace with myself, since back then, I had conflicts with myself. As I said in the interview of my classmate, the Peace Ed I received also sparked my passion and advocacy for peace. In fact, the class sparked my desire to teach about peace and my desire to help give justice and peace to the masses.

It wasn’t really effective to some students, but at least we learned about our rights, equity, some history, and iconic people who promoted peace. If I were given the chance to improve the curriculum, I would. But hey, enough of changing it. I think it’s good enough. At least my school had Peace Ed. 

I wish the Department of Education would look into adding Peace Education in the new K-12 curriculum, if it isn’t included yet. I mean, I think this is basic. I think everybody deserves to get this type of education; everybody deserves to know and experience peace. After all, we NEED peace on Earth. If DepEd has no plan in doing this, then it would be a great loss.

Education is the key to growth, and Peace Education is the key to unity. I hope the authorities realize this statement.

Posted in Mental Health, Personal

Anxiety: The Eating Machine

I missed another doctor’s appointment today, and I feel bad about it.

Three weeks ago, my psychiatrist told me to read and answer some pages of a workbook that would help me in dealing with anxiety. Today, I realized that I failed to do my reading assignment. And for that, an anxiety attack came. My knee started aching and I got nauseous.

I started tearing up when I texted my mom and my doctor’s secretary about my current status. I really felt irresponsible and weak. I just wanted to stay home and cry in a fetal position. My mom came home and told me that my doctor will be fine if I go to my appointment without doing the assignment. But I still didn’t go. Anxiety ate me up already.

Anxiety will always be a part of my condition, and it’s been haunting me since childhood. It’s like anxiety is my sickness. I get anxious over the little things and the big situations. Will my classmates like me? Will my professor accept this late yet mediocre paper? Will everything be okay tomorrow?

Fear and anxiety will haunt me from time to time, and I’m sure about it. It’s natural for living beings to feel scared and anxious. It’s just for some people, fear and anxiety will completely consume the person for the time being. Sure, we can surpass it, but it will take some time, and a little (or a lot of) effort too.

It’s hard to learn how to manage anxiety. Trust me, this is the second time I’ll be learning about it. It really takes time for someone trying to manage anxiety to learn “techniques” on how to be stable when anxious. After all, it’s not easy to unlearn old habits.

When you have anxiety, everything becomes complicated; everything may a negative meaning, everything may be awful in your eyes. It’s like you have the whole universe on your shoulders, and sometimes, you just want to give up. But remember this: there is hope. Anxiety may just be a part of you, but it is not you.

If you think you can’t handle your anxiety alone, go out and seek help. Don’t be afraid, others will understand. If they don’t, it’s okay. You can feel bad about it, but not for forever. Take your time to regain strength, and go out to seek help again. If you get anxious, it’s okay; it’s normal. Rejection brings anxiety, but try not to let anxiety consume you. It’s always good to have a little hope in the bottom of your heart after all.

Anxiety is a part of human nature, but it can be managed. Don’t be afraid of it, you’ll get more anxious.