We are a proud race. We are a nation of brave and proud people. We are known to the world for our ability to laugh in the face of adversity. To the world, we are optimists and we were brought up as such. There is always a silverlining, a rainbow after the rain. We are a race that never seem to lose hope, faith or happiness. As a nation, we have a lot of characteristics that we proudly showcase to the world.
We also have a rather primitive perspective when it comes to mental health issues. But of course, we do not talk about that.
There are a lot of things we do not talk about. Depression, anxiety…name every mental health issue you can think of and chances are, we do not talk about that. The same way most our parents don’t talk to us about the birds and the bees.
In my opinion, the Philippines is not the best country to be at for people suffering from mental health issues such as depression. It is not a question of capability to take care or assist people with mental health issues because I believe we do have highly qualified psychiatrists in the country. It is more on our attitude towards the issue.
In our country, there is a stigma associated with mental issues. People automatically think that when you go to a psychiatrist, you are crazy. Our understanding of these issues are very limited.
I remembered years ago someone in my grandmother’s village commited suicide. Nobody wants to talk about it and if they do, it’s in whispers. I didn’t understand why and assumed that it is because the Philippines is a very religious country and suicide is a sin. It is only later that I realized that it is more than that.
Our attitude towards depression in particular is quite depressing. No pun intended.
We are a nation known for our resilience and so it has become a habit for us to laugh in the face of problems. For someone suffering from depression, this is an additional nail to the coffin. Often, we are afraid to tell people what we feel because we do not understand it ourselves. Even if we understand what is happening to us, the stigma that it brings with it and the fear that no one would understand is enough to stop us from telling anyone.
We have a tendency to downplay our problems or keep it to ourselves. When we see a sulky, mopy teenager we assume they’re just acting out.
We are not capable of determining if someone is just sad or is at the brink of suicide. I know this inability to recognize depression is not limited to our country only, but for me, it is worst because of our attitude towards it.
When someone is depressed, it doesn’t mean that they are crazy. You cannot just tell a depressed person to be happy and expect them to be happy. There is no on or off switch for it. It is involuntary. You do not ask to be depressed, it just happens.
All the cliches about rainbows and hope and tomorrows only succeed in making a depressed person even more depressed. Telling a depressed person to “be strong, you can do it!” is not really much of a help either.
When you are desperately clinging to life and you don’t understand what is happening with you, it becomes very frustrating that everyone else sees the silverlining and all you can see are dark clouds and shadows.
Depression is like a vacuum that silently and sneakily sucks you into the abyss. It’s like a deadly gas that slowly creeps into the room. You do not see it, but you feel it. If you are not aware of it, you wouldn’t know what it is. All you will know is that, you feel hopeless and numb.
The people around you will not notice unless they look closely and they know what to look for. You feel isolated, misunderstood. Everyday feels like a dark and gloomy day and nothing makes you happy. You laugh, oh yes, you laugh. You smile. You even tell jokes. But inside, deep inside, you feel empty. You laugh but you don’t feel anything. You start hurting yourself to feel alive.
The sad clown sydrome. People sees your smiles but not the pain you are hiding.
We are afraid to ask for help. We are afraid to tell anyone anything. Or if we do ask for help, nobody hears it.
It is great that our suicide rate is not as high as other countries like Japan, for example. But do we have to wait until it starts raining bodies from buildings and cliffs before we start changing our attitude towards this?
Depression is a silent killer. Anyone can be a victim. If you think you are suffering from it, please ask for help. It is not easy to talk about it but it is the first step. Talk to a professional like your counselor or approach your doctor. Talk to your friends and family.
If you are reading this and you feel that you can’t talk to anyone around you, send me a message. I am not a professional nor an expert but I’m willing to listen. You are not alone.
Posted via Mobile.
*I apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors. Proofreading via mobile is a challenge for me.*