For my gratitude note today, I wrote down an event that happened today and I felt a tug to share it here.
Towards the end of my day, I spoke to one of my students. This female student has been having a rough time for the past few months. She had had an episode of mental problem to the point that she had to receive help in the form of psychotropic medication from a psychiatrist.
This student used to fear me too. Perhaps the word fear is too harsh, but it was more about unsure on how to face me because I might have been too stern on her previously. Not that I meant to be stern, but I think her perception of me back then was confounded also by her episode of mental illness. She is much better now, even though she recognizes that she is not fully complete with the illness yet. At times, the mood and anxiety are still trying to come back. And so she struggles, but also manages to continue.
We had a good talk. We started the meeting actually talking about academic stuff because that was the main reason why we met in the first place. When we were done with that topic, I started going into the other direction by asking her how she feels. I was hesitant at first to ask her about it for fearing that it may make her uncomfortable, but I took the chance. The opposite happened. She opened up. We ended up talking for additional half an hour just about her struggle. It was very courageous of her for talking about it in an honest way, and it was very heartbroken for me to hear her story. She looked very fragile sitting in front of me, while at the same time, tried so hard to appear strong. The contrast made me even feel more heavy hearted, but I was also amazed by her effort.
From listening to her story, we went to a discussion on what to do in the future as an anticipation if the episode comes back again, such as how to know the early signs, increase social support (which is very important in all treatment of mental illnesses), and some other important activities that she can do in her down time. In this opportunity, I offered her some of my own insight. In overall, the whole conversation went well.
But what’s left in my mind until now are those eyes. They’ve been haunting me. Because in those eyes, I see myself. For the first time, it’s as if I was seeing my self from a different perspective, and it was a humbling opportunity to be able to see it from a new angle. I was her, I knew that person well, I knew what her struggles were like daily. My last message to her was, “No matter what it is, you have to fight it. No matter how hard it is, just remember that you have to fight it. Don’t give in to those thoughts. I know it’s hard for you to maybe understand all of this now, but just remember that I said you have to fight. And when you get tired of fighting, that’s when you find help from people that you trust.” I hope she got the message. I think she did.
Eyes, I understand it now, they can’t fool you. It’s all written there.
May God take care of her and guide her always. May she find strength in Him to ease her suffering. May God be with those who are suffering alone. And may God bless us all.
Originally published in January 2016 in another blog of mine.