Defense Wall of Depression

I found out from my experience that most people don’t feel comfortable when facing a person who has a depression or a melancholic person. I first discovered this long time ago. Those who I have came out to about my depression and they still managed to stand there listening to my story (instead of running away) were actually a few friends who have psychological background or friends who happen to be mature enough to accept it. They were not that many though. For most people, they still looked uncomfortable when I mentioned about it. One person, whom I did not even tell about the depression but somehow managed to guess it, said that I have “self-pity.” And from then on, whenever I disagreed or got angry a little bit at him, those two words would show up. It got to be comical, really. I actually thought perhaps I have gained a new nickname. How did he manage to guess it? Who knows. Something in the way I carry myself, the way I talk, my thought process, whatever clue it was, I honestly don’t really know for sure. I guess we humans have a tendency to think that we know other people better than they know themselves. That is how assumption is made. We assume we know.

If I have to put myself in those other people’s shoes, I understand why they would feel uncomfortable. Depression is the most common mental illness out of all mental illnesses, but it’s the least talked about. Why is that? Because the stigma is still there, felt by us who have experienced depression. We feel embarrassed. We feel ashamed by having it. We feel that we may become a burden to others. We are afraid that people will look down on us for having it. We think that people will not understand us, or it. We fear that we will have repercussion as a result of coming out with the fact that we have a mental illness. I know what I don’t like the most. I don’t like it when people would then look at me with a sympathy look on their face after I told them about it. A part of me thinks that that look is like a form of sarcasm actually, not a real sympathy. I’m fully aware that I’m not being fair by saying that the sympathy look and statement are not genuine because they may actually be genuine. But it’s because my defensive wall is up and preventing me from taking it kindly.

Please do understand, just like with all physical illnesses out there, a person’s body automatically enters a defensive zone mode whenever a bacteria enters the body or an old virus is acting out again. The same with us who suffer from chronic mental illness with an episode that comes and goes, when we think our old “ghost” is back, we mentally goes into a defensive mode too. We search around us for who are the people that we can trust to tell our problem and who we should stay away from. We become better at that over time. We pick carefully who we can open up to. I, myself, have experienced this and have seen the same phenomenon with people who have come to me to share their stories. They came to me NOT because they knew I have dealt with a mental problem before too, but they must have seen something in me that they thought they could open up to. It’s their defense radar who did the work.

And that is what I meant by having that defense wall up. We will know if the sympathy statement is genuine or not. The wall is up in order to protect us, to recognize the genuine people whom we can trust over the ones who may cause us more harm–whether intentionally (using our mental illness to bully us) or unintentionally (saying stupid, wrong, or insensitive things accidentally). The wall is up because we don’t want to crumble in front of a wrong person, or at a wrong time and place. The example of “that’s self-pity” or “that’s self-pity again” statement is what I consider as unintentional. I’m positive that the person saying it did not mean any harm to me, but at that time, those short statements hurt. Whether they were true or not, they still hurt. In actuality, I admit that they were true. I do have the self-pity, and it is something that I struggle with until now. It is not something that will go away in a short time. Needless to say, after the very first time I was called “self-pity,” I entered into a restless sleep later that night with a disturbing dream that woke me up in tears.

We never know how our words will affect others, even though those comments may be true. I’m positive that I’ve been guilty of saying the wrong things to other people many times too. I just hope that we all can forgive each other as much as we forgive try to forgive ourselves.

And so the road to healing and the stories continue… God bless.

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Fighting Depression

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Image taken from pexels.com

 

An old enemy is back, officially. Is it an enemy or a friend? Actually, I’m not too sure, but the most important thing is, it is back. It has a name. It’s called depression. I’ve known it well. Had met it before, a few times.

A friend or a foe, whatever it is, I am fighting it. It’s crippling for sure. It’s trying to take me down. Sorry, bud. You are still a foe, an enemy, I think. Because then why would I have to fight you?

Perhaps my angel is keeping an eye on me, because an old friend sent me a video yesterday. I watched it today and it was about fighting depression. Coincidence? Serendipity? I don’t think so. Things happen for a reason. The video is about a drug that can possibly be used to PREVENT depression and PTSD. Prevent! Instead of waiting for the enemy to come back, it can be prevented from showing up at all. But hold on the excitement, it will still take years for it probably to be available because it was just recently discovered. Oh well.

Here is the link to the video titled “Could a Drug Prevent Depression and PTSD?

This essay is also a testimony for something that I admit I have, that this thing has a way to creep into my daily life once in a while. I would like to say that it is okay to have it. It’s something that I have accepted, although I know it doesn’t come without a fight. It’s a debilitating thought process, but I know I can get through it. And for my readers and friends out there, I want you to know that there are things we all can do to manage depression. You can find many videos that talk about this.

For me and what I can do in this fight against depression, I would like to share some of my writings in the future that may touch on this issue, particularly about the process of debilitating thinking process that is often experienced in cases of depression. Depression is about a thinking process that can go out of control and lead to decisions and actions that may cause more suffering in the end. Depression is a mental illness, it needs to be paid attention to, but we don’t have to succumb to it. That debilitating thinking process can be recognized and handled, although it will take plenty of practices, many failures, before mastering it.

God bless you, God bless us all.

 

A Solemn Reflection

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.

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Originally published in January 2016 in another blog of mine.