Posted in Health, Mental Health

Ang depresyon ay hindi gawa-gawa: isang open letter para kay Joey de Leon, mga host ng Eat Bulaga, at sa lahat ng nag-aakalang biro ang pagiging depressed

05 Oktubre 2017

Sana basahin ninyo ito hanggang sa huli.

Hindi lang po alam ng ina ko ang tungkol dito, pero noong bata pa ako, gusto kong maging artista. Bakit? Wala lang, gusto ko kasing makita ako sa TV. Gusto ko ring makilala dahil sa pagkanta ko. At higit sa lahat, gusto kong magkaroon ng pangalan para sa aking sarili.

Matagal ko nang pinatay ang pangarap kong mag-artista. Bumalik lang ito ngayong 21 years old na ako, ngayong gusto kong magkaroon ng singing career. Kaya naiinggit ako nang kaunti sa mga artista, mapabata man o matanda. Bakit? Kasi may nakikinig at umiidolo sa kanila. Nakakaimpluwensiya sa mga tao, lalo na sa kabataan, ang mga artista. Kaya nga dapat mabubuting ehemplo sila. Kaya lang, may iilang artista at sikat na hindi ginagamit sa tama ang kanilang kalayaan at pribilehiyo. Kadalasan kasi, ginagawang katatawanan at kabiruan ang mga bagay na dapat ay sineseryoso at hindi tinatawanan.

Sa totoo lang, ayaw ko sa mga (stand up) comedian sa Pilipinas. Bastos yung mga joke nila e. Sige, baka okey sila sa mga comedy bar, pero hindi okey yung ilang mga patawa nila sa TV. At ang malala, pumapatok ang mga jino-joke nila sa TV. Minsan naman, hindi pa-joke yung pagtrato sa ibang usapin, pero hindi pa rin sila sineseryoso. Nakakalungkot lang isipin na kanina sa Juan for All, All for Juan segment sa Eat Bulaga ay may iilang mga host na nagsabi na ang depresyon ay dapat hindi ine-entertain, na ito ay gawa-gawa lang.

Nakatuon ngayon kay Joey de Leon, isang komedyante, ang atensiyon ng mga netizen. Siya kasi ang unang nagsabi na “gawa-gawa” lang natin ang depresyon noong Juan for All, All for Juan. Nagsisunuran na lang sina Allan K, Jose Manalo, at Wally Bayola sa pagbibigay ng komento sa depresyon at ang pagiging “gawa-gawa” nito. At dahil dito, maraming nagalit. Mabuti naman at may Maine Mendoza (at Alden Richards) na nagsabing mahirap ang dumanas ng depresyon.

Habang tina-type ko ito, naluluha ako. Naluluha ako dahil sa inis. Hindi, sa galit. Maaaring sabihin ninyo na wala akong karapatang magalit dahil hindi ko sila kilala sa personal na lebel, pero may karapatan akong magalit dahil tao ako na may mga damdamin. Ang mga damdamin ko ay tunay at hindi gawa-gawa. At lahat ng damdamin ko at ng sinumang tao ay may kabuluhan at dapat respetuhin. Ang pagiging depressed ng isang tao ay hindi binabalewala; ito ay seryosong bagay. Marami kayang nagpapakamatay dahil sa depresyon nila — sa depresyon na hindi natuunan ng pansin dahil sabi ng iba, ito ay “gawa-gawa” lang.

Hindi lang naman ang mga host ng Eat Bulaga ang may ganitong pananaw. Sa katunayan, marami pa ring Pilipino ang may kaisipan na ang kalungkutan ay dapat isinasantabi lang. Sige, maaaring gawin iyon, pero may mga kalungkutan na hindi basta-bastang naiisantabi. Dumadating pa nga sa punto na hindi na makagawa ng kung anumang bagay ang isang tao dahil sa labis na kalungkutan. Depresyon na ang tawag doon, at ito ay mahirap mapagdaanan.

Paano nga ba ito nalalampasan? Una, kailangan ng taong depressed and suporta ng kanyang  pamilya at mga kaibigan. Sa mga kamiyembro ng pamilya at mga kaibigan: huwag lang sabihin ang “kaya mo yan”; makinig ka sa mga saloobin ng kapamilya/kaibigan ninyong may depresyon. Mag-ingat din sa pagbigay ng payo. Mas mabuti na makinig ka lang, at iparamdam sa kanya na naiintindihan mo siya. Yun lang, sapat na. Pangalawa, kung kaya, humingi ng tulong sa mga propesyonal: guidance counselor, pastoral counselor, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist. Ang problema nga lang dito ay hindi kaibigan ng pitaka ng karamihan ang pagkonsulta sa mga propesyonal. Pero kung importante ang kalagayan ng inyong mahal sa buhay, maaari naman sigurong gawan ito ng paraan.

Mahirap magkaroon ng depresyon. Bilang isang na-diagnose ng depression apat na taon na ang nakakaraan (at matapos nito ay na-diagnose naman ng bipolar 2 disorder), masasabi ko na matagal na panahon ng paghihirap ang dinanas ko. Matagal na panahon din ang ginugol ko para mapabuti ang lagay ko. Umiinom pa nga ako ng gamot para bumalik sa dati ang mga kemikal at hormones sa utak ko, para mapabuti ako. O diba, biological ito! Hindi ito gawa-gawa! Kasabay ng gamot ang suporta ng pamilya at counseling.

Napakapalad ko dahil may paraan para makainom ako ng gamot at makapagpakonsulta ako sa doktor, pero paano ang ibang hindi ito kaya? Kaya may Mental Health Bill  na ipinapapasa sa Kongreso ngayon. Sana, sa pamamagitan nito, ay maging open-minded na ang lahat tungkol sa depresyon at iba pang mental illness.

Hindi basta-basta ang depresyon at ang mga iba pang mental illness. Panahon na siguro para maiba ang pananaw nating mga Pilipino sa mga ito.

Muli, hindi gawa-gawa ang depression.

Salamat sa pagbasa.

Cloie Anne Sioson

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Posted in Life, Mental Health, Personal

How to Prevent Suicide: Tips from a “Survivor”

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and I want to raise suicide prevention awareness. Being a “survivor” in a sense, I want to be able to help those who want to end their lives. I hope to be able to touch someone with this post. So, I hope you have the time to read this.

~ Long read up ahead! ~

Around  October or November 2012, I was cutting an illustration board for an extra credit project for Geometry class with a cutter. I was struggling so hard to cut polygons out of the illustration board for my “stained glass” project. It was so difficult, to the point that I almost accidentally cut myself several times. But there was this one time that I almost cut myself, but not by accident.

The whole time I was cutting the illustration board, I was crying. I wasn’t crying because of the cutting — I was crying because I was extremely sad, maybe even in grief. You may ask, I assume. Well, I felt betrayed by someone I trusted a lot. I also felt like I was just residing in our house, not living in a home; I didn’t feel the love in my family. And then there’s insecurity, self-doubt, lack of self-confidence, negativity, anxiety, depression, and regrets. Back then I wrote on a blog (that no longer exists) to express myself, but honestly, I felt like writing was not enough. I had friends whom I talked to, but it was as if talking to them was not enough. Maybe, it’s because I wanted a specific person to talk to me — the person whom I felt betrayed me.

And so that night, I was texting my best friend, telling her that I don’t want to continue with life anymore. It took her a little while to reply, so I thought that she didn’t care. I was a big over-thinker back then; to me, every little thing had a (negative) meaning. And so she didn’t reply right away. I was already crying so hard, until I got the cutter and placed the cold blade against my left wrist. I was about to cut in when my phone notified me that I received a text message. Being the girl who valued communication more than anything, I put down the cutter and read the text. It was my best friend telling me not to commit suicide — telling me how important I am to her, how loved I am, how valued I am. I cried even more, and I put away all the materials for my project.

Later on that month, I still wasn’t done with the project. It was the start of the Christmas rush, and I promised my mom that I will go with her to the mall for Christmas shopping. But then school work piled up, and I cannot go with my mom anymore. She then got mad at me, and I retaliated. I was so full of everyone, so I told her about my attempted suicide event. Her heart then softened, and she hugged me after a long time. In the end she went to the mall without me, and I finished the project with my heart a little less heavy.

The following year, my senior year in high school, I met an injury: my left kneecap got dislocated. With that came more anxiety and depressing thoughts, and overall health concerns. I lost all my will to study, and even to live. I felt like I lost everything, since my school life was my everything. Suicidal thoughts came back, but I no longer had the courage to act on it. I refused to get professional help, but one day, I finally went to a psychiatrist.

It was in late October 2013 when I was diagnosed with severe depression, but I think I’ve been depressed since 2008. The doctor gave me medications, explaining why I needed them. The balance of the chemicals in my brain should be restored, thus the medications. She assured me that it is possible that I will no longer take medications for my condition when the time comes, provided that I also have therapy and a solid support system. Ever since my injury, my family has grown stronger together, and I was happy because of that. I also knew who my real friends are, and I felt the support of my school.

The road to my high school graduation was rough, but I made it to the finish line. Then, I eventually went to UP Diliman for college. That, unfortunately, didn’t go well. I still got depressed about that, but I rarely got suicidal thoughts. Well, at least I got a lot less of those thoughts compared to when I was in high school. I guess it’s with the help of my medication, but more of my solid support system and my psychotherapy. These two (for some) or three important things will get anyone continuing with life. If you believe in God, then you have a fourth. Either way, these things show that no one is alone in the fight, even if they feel like they are.

I still get them, the suicidal thoughts. I had one around two months ago, because I felt useless. A friend then told me that those thoughts are from the devil, and that I shouldn’t listen to those “lies”. Since I am a practicing Catholic, I knew that what my friend said was true. I just needed a little reminder of that. The way my friend said it was not ideal though, and I kind of felt bad after it. And since I felt bad after, more reasons to take my own life came in as thoughts. I thought that I was a burden to my family (since I wasn’t studying), that I was useless, worthless, and unloved. But then, here I am now, typing a long blog post on how to prevent suicide but wrote a lengthy portion just for my history. So, how on earth am I still alive? Here are the things I tell myself, my reasons for living (and I hope they are your reasons too):

1. I am a champion

  • Out of a billion sperm cells, I won the race to the egg cell. Yes, it was me. That’s the very reason why I’m alive. Though there will be times that I will lose battles, I will never lose the war. After all, I was a champion at the moment of conception. I was a champion when I was a mere cell — what more now that I am able to do many things? I am no failure, no one is a failure. If I fail at one thing, it does not mean that I fail at everything. In fact, I have so many chances to turn over a new leaf until the day I die. I just have to choose my battles and keep up with them. Also, champions don’t just succeed without learning, and that is important to know.

2. I have a purpose — there is a reason why I’m alive

  • Winning the race of the sperms was not a coincidence; it was meant to happen. I was meant to be my parents’ daughter, my brother’s sister, my family’s gem, my friends’ confidante, a Filipino, God’s child and servant, and so much more. I am meant to be alive because I have a purpose in this world. I was not born because of nothing; no one was born because of nothing. Everything has its purpose, whether I realize it or not.

3. I am not my past

  • There were so many times when I lost battles, and of course I felt bad about it. Who wouldn’t feel bad about failure, right? But then, I don’t stay in the low forever. Why? Because I am not my failure, I am not my mistake, I am not my past. Yes, my past was a part of me, but it was and is not me. A part is never the whole.

4. I am loved, and I am made to love

  • Love may seem complicated, but really, nothing is easy. It takes a certain level of humility to give and receive love, but it is possible. To love, I believe, is natural to humans, no matter how hard it is. How is this evident? Of course, it’s my support system. I may come off annoying, but my family and friends still stay by my side. In return, I pay it forward to anyone I can reach — I learn to love those who come off as unlovable. See, loving isn’t that hard. It just needs humility.
  • Now, how can I say that I am loved, or treated with goodness at least? Well, I can see how my parents provide for me, how my friends would stop what they’re doing or multitask so that they can “listen” to me on Facebook Chat, and how strangers would keep the door open so that can get in or our of an establishment. Amidst all the ugly in the world, there is still goodness, and I choose to believe in that. After all, goodness begets goodness; true love begets true love.

(For those who are non believers, you may skip this. But you may read on if you are still interested in reading this.)

5. God will never let me down

  • I’ve had my fair share of doubts on the existence of the God introduced to me by my family and my school. I even had two periods in my life when I didn’t go to church, didn’t pray at all, didn’t choose to see God. But God is always good. He made me realize that it is Him who made me, it is Him who loves me even if I refuse to love Him. Eventually, He sent angels —disguised as friends— to lead me back to Him.
  • I’d always remember my first year in high school, the time I told my parents about the time I was molested. I refused to go to counselors because I knew that God would heal me. Of course, I encourage everyone to go to counselors if they need to, but I knew the kind of “therapy” and healing that I needed. So I prayed and clung to God, entrusting my whole life to Him. I was not healed instantly, and my depression got worse, but I knew that He was with me. After all, Jesus did not promise a bed of roses on earth for us. He even told us to take up our cross. Although I lost my faith after high school, I saw His goodness in others. Maybe that was His way of making me believe in Him again. I am undeserving of His love and mercy, but He still gives it for free. Oh, the wonders of God are marvelous!

Now, if you don’t feel like you have at least one of these reasons, of if you don’t have your own reason, please try to do at least one of the following:

1. Express yourself through art, music and dance, writing, sports, and more of your other talents and/or skills.

  • Having to release your (negative) energy and thoughts on doing something “productive” is a good way of coping with depression and sadness. You do not need to show the world your work; you can simply keep it or even throw it away (especially if it is full of “negativity”). Also remember that you are doing what you are doing to help yourself, to bring happiness and contentment to yourself.

2. Express yourself by talking to someone

  • Talking to someone makes you open up to others. It also helps in releasing your thoughts. It can also be an avenue for validation. You just have to know who to talk to. By talking to your friends, you will find out who will make you feel loved and accepted; you will know who your safe friends are. For me, talking is therapeutic, but that’s me. We’re all different, so this may not be effective for you. But then again, nothing’s bad with trying things out.

3. Get professional help

  • Talking to a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist is really helpful. Although some are not comfortable with this idea, I’d just like to let the world know that it’s not wrong to get help. Getting help is a form of loving yourself.

4. Avoid over-thinking, change your mindset, love yourself.

  • Over-thinking can kill…literally. That’s a reason why people commit suicide. It’s hard to avoid that because the mind naturally thinks. But we can control our thoughts, and we should not let our thoughts and emotions control us. Thoughts and emotions are not bad; they are natural for humans. But we should learn to control how they affect us.
  • We tend to generalize life as something miserable because of all the negative things that we’ve experienced. One thing I learned in therapy is that it is helpful if we do not label the events in our lives as positive events and negative events; we should treat them just as it is. “It just is”, my doctor would remind me. In all fairness, that helped me go along, not dwelling in the instances that I face. After all, life is not pure joy nor pure sorrow, it’s a mix of both, as we should treat life as it is.
  • We are also encouraged to remember that we should avoid thinking badly about ourselves. Our self is the only person we have forever, therefore we should learn to love ourselves.

(Again, for those who are non believers, you may skip this. But you may read on if you are still interested in reading this.)

5. Pray

  • Personally, my prayer life is not yet strong. But when I’m troubled, I pray hard. I tell God my story, I even rant and vent to Him even if He already knows what’s inside my heart. I just want to express every feeling I have. And then I would meditate, keeping my mind silent, focusing on my breath. I would listen to God then. Sometimes, His messages would come in a form of a reminder of a future event or an idea for my writing, but I wouldn’t recognize it right away (but I surely will recognize it anytime). Prayer is really powerful, and God’s message to us will always bring us joy in any way possible.

The ten things I listed above are just some things you can try doing and thinking about. I do not guarantee that you will be better after, but again, there’s nothing wrong in trying.

If you still have no one to talk to, please feel free to send me a message. Just send a comment on this post, and I will get in touch with you. I’m no professional, but I am here to listen to anyone who needs someone to listen to them. After all, I want to be a clinical psychologist in the future.

I hope that you bookmark this post and read it whenever you feel like you want to die.

I hope I get to help someone.

I hope and pray that there will be a day that people will be kind and understanding to one another.

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.