IN BAGUIO

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Having a depression in a country that’s known for being happy.

Philippines is a place that’s full of life, quirks and has unending energy. In the country where we see depression or even seeking a psychiatrist as an act of being crazy. This is country where everybody smiles and welcomes you with open arms. Having a depression in a country that’s known for being happy despite being poor is hard to accept.

I’ve been battling with my inner demon as young as 9 years old I didn’t know it at first but I knew I was sad and I always think about ending my life just to end my sadness. I had a happy childhood I was just not a happy child. When I was 9, I just came back from a 3 day camp and it was one of the happiest days of my life. But when I returned home I realize that I was too happy, I got scared because I might not feel this kind of happiness anymore so took a handful of pills just to end my life. Nothing happened because those were just vitamin c tablets and I just fell asleep the entire day, nobody knew I attempted to kill myself because they thought I was just too tired from camp. As I grew up I got sadder and sadder. Everyday has been and struggle to me and the feeling of smiling when you’re sad it felt like Manny Pacquiao punching my insides and the inner battle gets very tiring.

I asked for help in my junior year in high school because now I wasn’t only battling with sadness but also anorexia. Just going to the guidance office to ask for help is hard because I know there were only 2 types of kids who go there; the kids who did bad and those teacher’s pet who wanted extra credits. I went inside and told my story I felt like layers of clothes stripped off me, minute by minute I felt more and more vulnerable at the end of the session I felt bare. I left the room feeling lighter but more confuse because my anxiety has now taken its toll I would think; what if they see me as a weak person? What if the guidance counselor thought I was acting out? Depression is taboo in the Philippines, what if they think I was just looking for attention? Those questions consumed me entirely and I was back at being depress. I avoided my guidance counselor. I tried my best to focus on doing good in school and help in the school’s charity programs, little by little I was getting better I even thought maybe I was just acting out and asking for attention. I started to believe depression is nonsense and Filipinos never get depress because it’s in our culture to always be happy.

Then a year ago, I started struggling with balancing my work and personal life. I felt like life is getting more and more out of control and the pressure is always at my back. I started my childish adolescent pattern again and this time I thought drinking would help. Then one Wednesday night as I failed to open a jar of nata de coco (my favorite) something as petty as that I felt hopeless and weak, the demons inside me knew that this was my breaking point. I sat at the edge of my 26nd floor apartment balcony ready to end everything. As I was about to end it the phone rang and I realize this was a mistake. I started acknowledging my depression.

I asked for help because I knew I cannot do this alone. Talked to a few people about it and learned that pain and suffering is inevitable but so is happiness. I am still battling depression up until this point and this battle might be never ending but I know that this time just acknowledging it and doing something about it can greatly help me. Just knowing that depression can happen to anyone even the happiest of race.