If you (or someone you know) need help or just want to talk to someone, you can get in touch with mental health facilities such as the UST Graduate School Psychotrauma Clinic, which offers free psychological services even to non-UST students.
It all started in June 2016, at the beginning of my one-month internship. I was only required to report in the office twice a week for just two hours. Most of the time, I was just alone in my dorm room so I was very bored and lonely. That's when my appetite sank and when I started losing weight.
Things got tougher for me when the school year started in August. We were required to come up with the first three chapters of our thesis in just two weeks. I didn't even have a topic in mind then. The fact that my other major subjects were so difficult didn't help either.
I realized that something was wrong with me when I spent a lot of time locked up in a bathroom cubicle, crying; when, every time I tried to work on my school requirements, my head buzzed; when I continued skipping meals and losing weight; when I spent more hours in a day asleep than awake; when it took me a week to do a one-page essay that I could've normally written in an hour; when I felt guilty for relaxing and having fun; when I got so mad at myself for being dysfunctional; and when I felt that there was no escaping the misery that I was experiencing. It was a cycle of guilt, anger, misery, and a constant state of hopelessness.
It was a cycle of guilt, anger, misery, and a constant state of hopelessness.
My breaking point was on the day my then boyfriend told me that we needed to talk. I received his text message while inside a veterinary laboratory, filming a swine autopsy. I tried to bargain. I asked if what we're going to talk about was good or bad because if it's something bad, I didn't want to hear it. But he insisted that I needed to.
Suddenly the room grew smaller and I found it hard to breathe. Tears pooled in my eyes and my classmates caught me staring into nothing. That's when they told me to take a break. The moment I left the laboratory, I removed my face mask, sank to the floor in the hallway, and started crying really hard. Good thing a friend (who's clinically diagnosed with depression) was there to comfort me. She made me open up about everything that was going wrong with me. She listened. And I listened to her story, too, afterwards. At the end of our conversation, when I already stopped weeping, she suggested a psychiatrist and her consultation hours. Suddenly I was brave enough to validate what I have been suspecting I have been going through.
But right before I was able to schedule an appointment, I saw a Facebook post telling people to refrain from describing ordinary emotions as depressed or bipolar. This is not the first time I saw a post like this; I've read a lot of posts saying that other people aren't allowed to use the word "depressed" because they don't know what it really feels like, or they haven't done a thorough study about it.
This discouraged me to have myself checked. What if my symptoms weren't enough to be called "clinical"? Does that mean that the misery I've been going through for months is nothing but an ordinary rage in emotions? Other than being rejected, I feared confirming that I do have depression. If I didn't know, if I wasn't diagnosed, I could just ignore it and shrug it off. But if I confirm it with an expert, it will be like carrying an elephant in every room I go to.
Other than being rejected, I feared confirming that I do have depression. If I didn't know, if I wasn't diagnosed, I could just ignore it and shrug it off. But if I confirm it with an expert, it will be like carrying an elephant in every room I go to.
I wasn't able to escape the stigma. Whenever I tell this story of how I got depressed, people would ask if I was clinically diagnosed. I could see the judgment in their faces whenever I say that I just knew that I was—as if it's not legitimate, as if it's some cool kids' club to have a medical record stating your right to be chronically sad. As if when you're not clinically diagnosed, your case wasn't depression at all and just some overreacting skit.
When the semester ended, I continued being a limp noodle at home. My parents scolded me for not eating and for not getting out of bed. I explained my condition but they didn't understand. It was so easy for them to call me lazy. They started taking me seriously when I started talking about my suicidal peers. I guess they got scared that I might get the same idea. But, truthfully speaking, I fear death.
They still did not acknowledge my condition for depression because to them, that's synonymous to their first-born child losing her mind. But they did make the extra effort to take me out shopping, allowing me go home past midnight, not complaining when I spend a week's worth of money in a day. It's like my parents lost their right to be parents over me because the slightest scolding might trigger me back to depression.
But I was thankful that they were patient and understanding in this sense. I hope they knew that I did those things not because I wanted to (because I know we're not rich to be living that lifestyle) but because I was trying to find happiness in anything and everything. I was trying to help myself.
Did I get over it? When 2017 came, I still found it hard to get out of bed and attend my classes. What I did was I forced myself to wake up very early and jog. I hoped that exercise would produce more happy hormones—and it somehow helped. I also focused on going easy on myself because I let myself suffer too much the past year. I worked on showing myself love and care.
Surprisingly, I rarely get into feeling depressed since 2017. I don't know what happened but I'm thankful that I can recognize hope again. I'm thankful that I can feel happiness without guilt again. I'm thankful that I'm slowly turning into myself again.
Things will get better.
To those who are still battling with depression, I know there's nothing I could say to make you feel lighter. But know that even if it's hard to believe, things will get better.