In line with the Mental Health Awareness month, I want to share another poem I wrote eight years ago (January 31, 2010) entitled Laughters of Grief.
A light of sunshine in my heart
Was given by the one I love
Suddenly the storm clouds took part
And rain came from above.
The empty soil was filled
With water ‘til it drowned
My laughter as I grieved
It is as is I frowned.
But what life could bring
As a prowler, intruder, or thief
Try to snatch the song I sing
Only, laughters of grief.
Getting First-Hand Experience: My Start of Mental Health Awareness
I can’t remember the specific reason why I wrote this poem, but reading this now reveals how my 14-year-old self was struggling to be resilient and not showing signs of weaknesses and sadness.
In line with the Mental Health Awareness month, I feel the great need to share my experiences, so that this could help others understand what I’ve been going through.
In my previous posts, it’s now obvious that I went through anxiety attacks. They were almost leading to depression. To avoid the stress and triggers, I needed to leave my first job.
However, even a resignation was not the best solution. I thought a year of rest from the stresses of the corporate world already prepared me to become employed.
Unfortunately, the triggers of my anxiety attacks were also back with my second job. A new wave of fear started creeping in and I needed to get away from it… fast. I didn’t want this decision, but I had to leave my second job. Some people advised I just needed to be healthy, strong, and positive, but they never really helped.
Once again, I thought resignation was the solution to get rid of my anxiety attacks and depression, but after this quick exit, I began doubting myself and entered a new phase.
And because I was shameful, fearful of judgment, and tired of hearing the “stay positive” advice, I avoided telling people that I was still dealing with depression and anxiety attacks.
I continued to hide what I felt and pretended everything was already okay. Trying to be positive feels like punishment for someone who’s battling with depression. Even if we want to keep our spirits high, we know that there’s something we need to deal with deep down our souls.
Also, my friends know me for being an encouraging person. I fear that once I show them my other side, I might lose them.
However, I can’t hold this for so long. Why can’t I be just positive enough to go through the storms of life? After a series of reflections, I slowly realized I started wearing what you may call, a laughters of grief mask.
Ending the Stigma With Mental Health Awareness
Up until now, I still encounter feelings of depression. I usually feel them when I’m alone. You may see me joking and laughing, as if nothing is wrong. But I know this is only possible by the grace of God.
Last June 2018, I joined a healing program under Living Waters Philippines. I thought depression was the number one problem I need to deal with, but it was just the tip of the iceberg.
In line with the mental health awareness month, here are some of my realizations while experiencing depression:
- Even if I received love and affection from my family, I still felt neglect from other people. I thought crying is a sign of weakness, and people won’t love me for being weak. To avoid further neglect, I coped by detaching from my emotions. Now I know crying is a great relief.
- Whenever I feel lonely, I distracted myself and focused on academic success. However, I devoted lesser time in making friends and mingling with people because I don’t want to risk feeling neglect and hurt again.
- I seem to have no enthusiasm in the things I usually love doing. I once enjoyed going to the gym and working out, but now I have to drag myself. Could this be a manifestation that I still experience depression?
- Living one day at a time is victory. Each day is a choice of sulking or living.
What You Can Do Now
People struggling with mental health issues are stronger because it takes effort for us to move on and do normal tasks. Never underestimate the small successes of people.
I hope that these realizations serve as an eye-opener. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, it’s okay. We don’t need to hide our weaknesses because they’re part of us.
Instead, we must accept that we have them and learn how we can live with them. However, we must not focus too much on our weaknesses, but on our strengths, which should come from God. From there, we can strategize how to win our daily challenges and gain victories.
For those who do not experience mental health issues, please extend patience and understanding to the people who are in need. They are not crazy, but they just long to be loved and accepted.
This can be a good start. As Jesus Christ accepted us, we should also extend the same grace we’re receiving from Him. Mental health awareness can be our tool to understand and love people around us.