An Open Letter

“This is what I meant when I say Philippines has a blind spot when it comes to mental health awareness and support. Filipinos don’t value it; the poor ones badly need it, only the rich can afford it.”

It is not only difficult to “get help”, it is much difficult to get the “proper help”. I am not after medications, I just wanted to know what’s wrong. I just talked to my doctor for 15 minutes, of course I was not able to say it all. I was very nervous. He diagnosed me for “mild depression” and advised me to go for a jog every morning, and since I don’t want any medication, he prescribed some Omega 3. Again, “HELP

I was so devastated earlier that I created this, something that will never be sent. I just needed to vent.

I am writing you this email because I know our first meeting did not go very well. Honestly, it was horrible. It made me break down while walking out of the hospital. I decided to see a psychiatrist because I know there is something wrong, I needed answers not medication. I just wanted to know what is wrong. I am hoping for relief or at least just a little clarity, but you only made me feel even worse.

Did you know that I am broke? My family is having financial problems. We are not that well off. I had the opportunity to be a model for Hair Asia, an annual event for hair stylists. I was one of the models for hairstyle competition, that’s the reason behind my Mohawk, my crazy hairstyle, the reason why I can afford your consulting fee. It’s out of budget but I needed help. I gave up my hair, I look like a cuckoo. I gave up the first and last money I ever had for nothing. I was walking down the stairs of your hospital feeling horrible. I can’t fight back the tears. Another day of lost hope.

I told you earlier that I get nervous when I talk to people. I am not exaggerating it. I’ve just had my panic attack in front of you. My words are jumbling, I am already breaking down but I tried to compose myself. Everything that I have said earlier is all bullshit. You asked me, what made it come back and then I told you about this girl and that this girl is very intimidating and that I can see myself in her. But I don’t even know why I said that. That’s stupid. This is one of the reasons why I don’t talk to people, one of the reasons why talking to people makes me nervous. Because all this bullshit is coming out of my mouth whenever I open it. I am not thinking at all. Everything that I say is not making any sense. Conversations bring me shame. Earlier, I’ve only made a clown of myself. But I thought you can understand, of all people I’ve talked to.

You asked me “What am I feeling?” That is the most simple and complex question a psychiatrist will ever ask and you are asking it while you are talking on the phone with someone, while you are talking to me. How can I say what I am feeling? If I am going to answer that, honestly, I feel like shit. I just sat down and you already made me feel like shit. How can I politely say that? That’s when I started buttering bullshit, my mind is not working, my inner mind is making sense but what I am saying is not. fgsfmgnsdk I am a mess. I started talking, I am already stuttering, but you still made me pause because you can’t hear the one you’re talking to over the phone. You asked me your very first question and you triggered my panic and social anxiety in a snap. I’ve just entered your room for 15 minutes and I just break down. Maybe you sensed it. You became disoriented as well, you asked the same questions” How was my sleep?” Then you started scribbling my prescription, I told you I am afraid to take medication, so instead, you told me, just do some exercise. Go for a jog. You told me, this is just mild depression. You prescribed some omega 3. You sure this will help me?

You haven’t heard my story, I haven’t talked.

I failed to tell you how my mood shift from this to that. How anger fills me right up, that I am afraid I might hurt my kids. How I am sometimes disrespectful to my mom because I snap, I don’t know why I snap, I don’t know how to stop. How I hate myself even more after that. How I don’t know how to apologize to my mom because I’ve been snapping quite a lot and there is no excuse. How guilt makes me even more crazy. How I change from personality to personality to personality that I am losing track of who I am anymore. How heavy my body feels, (or I think I already said it, how do you put it? Yes, I’m lazy) how light it is, how I feel hopeless for no reason, how I scream just for petty things like throwing me a funny face when I am talking. How my neck itches for a choke-hold that the idea of hanging myself always comes in my mind, but thankful I have kids, I have solid reason not to.  But it is just mild depression, right? I don’t know. You asked me to show up next Wednesday. Should I? Do you really want me to show up? Why would I?

I don’t know why, is it my haircut? What made you think that I am not someone to be taken seriously? Or is this how you treat your patients?

This is our first meeting, but all I wanted for you to do is to listen to me first. Let me talk. Let me speak like as if you are not in a hurry. Like you are not about to call your next patient. Like you are not about to hop in to your next hospital for more profit. Because this is my first time, right? I don’t even know what to say. How will I tell you what I’ve been having problems with, because there are a lot and I don’t know how to say them properly.

But I am going to give you another try. I don’t know how will I raise the money, but I will. I need you. I badly need you. Maybe you are not a great help, but you might still be a help. It’s partly my fault. I will give it another try, if it turns out the same, I don’t know what to do anymore. I am afraid. How will I change myself? I am not happy with this state.


A joyful heart gives health to the body, while a sad spirit dries up the bones.

That’s what it says in his card. Man, I was walking down the stairs with dried up bones. Sorry, this is badly written.  I feel bad. I still feel so bad. I’ve stopped writing for a while. I’ve finally had the guts to go see a doctor but look what it got me. I feel even worse. I have his email address, I don’t know if I could send it. I will sound even more crazy. I will instead show up next week. I will try to compose myself. I need him. Did you know that there are only around 400 licensed psychiatrists in the Philippines? That makes 1 for every 10 million Filipinos. This is what I meant when I say Philippines has a blind spot when it comes to mental health awareness and support. Filipinos don’t value it; the poor ones badly need it, only the rich can afford it.

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22 thoughts on “An Open Letter”

  1. It pains me to hear that you are going through so much in your life. I could totally relate to you cause there was a phase that stretched for years wherein I was in a depressed state. Don’t give up on yourself 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear you have surpassed such difficult phase. And thank you. Yes, I won’t. I will go back next week, and if it fails, I guess.. I will try to cope without professional support. By the way, how did you do it? I am just curious, or desperate to know more ways to overcome it. But it’s okay if you don’t answer it. Of course it’s personal.

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  2. You need to realize that you deserve all these good things. So ask yourself this, ‘How can anybody help me with my problems, when I’m not removing myself from the situation?’ Stop waiting for more signs. You have all the pieces to the puzzle, so stop trying to solve it in the first place. Stop breaking your own heart. It all starts with you, and it all starts now.

    This is hard work, and it begins with making an effort to wake up in the morning. It’s going to be an epic struggle, and you’re going to be battling your own mind. And it’s going to feel like you need to convince the Devil to be good. But I promise you, you can. And so you must.

    You need to take the poison out of your own life. Let go of toxic people, habits and vices. People you can’t say no to, or can’t help saying yes to either. Habits that you know you should lose. And finally voices that you know are killing you.

    Stop. Stop. Stop. Self preservation. Nobody, but YOU, can inculcate this. Love yourself.

    Love yourself, because you’re beautiful. You’re unique, and absolutely irreplaceable.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. And I want you to be the angel of your life :)..
        Involve doing something and don’t idle your mind. That’s when negative thoughts hit the most. Go out, do something crazy, volunteer, help others, go on a travel. You just need that kick to your life. We are all here to help you :)..

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have felt your pain, the deep dark that feels suffocating. Mental health issues are still so taboo and misunderstood in so many places. But, you must persevere for you. Be your own advocate, make yourself heard. Demand full attention. I recommend writing down thing you want to say so that when you get flustered you have words to guide you. I’m here 15 years later to tell you, it can and will get better!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Von. I’m very sorry that your first visit to this psychiatrist didn’t go well at all. But that’s not unusual, in my experience. I agree with Southern By Design above that you should write things down that you want to say–just notes, not a full discussion–and take that with you next week. Make sure that you tell him about your anger problems.

    What are your fears, specifically, about taking meds? The current anti-depressants that are available, as well as other categories of meds for psychiatric problems, can be hugely helpful. I’m not sure how much assistance you can get from a psychiatrist if you’re not interested in meds. You might need longer sessions with someone trained to do talk therapy instead. Here in the U.S., those therapists would be psychologists, social workers, etc., but usually not psychiatrists.

    I’m thinking about you. Hang in there! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am afraid I’ll depend on them just to be okay, just to feel okay. I want to overcome this on my own. I’ve been doing my research for a long time, how it can mess up the chemicals in our brain, the side effects and such. Hearsay, it’s trial and error until they get to the right medicine for you. I am afraid to lose myself some more.

      I believe I need a psychologist. I need someone to help me untangle my mind and see what is really going on in there (mind). I want to see the clear picture so I can realize the things I needed to do, because right now, I really have no idea.

      Thank you, Timi. I can feel your support.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I certainly do understand your reluctance to take psych meds. All your points are valid ones.
        A psychologist or other trained and licensed counselor can be of utmost help to you. Mine certainly has been to me: I’ve been with her almost twenty years now. I dread her upcoming retirement, but I will find someone else to see. Talk therapy is so valuable! And you don’t get that with a psychiatrist. So I do hope that you will find someone qualified and sympathetic to talk with.
        How old are your kids? Mine are 32 and almost 34, next week. They are what has kept me alive, so I’m glad that you also have children. Not just for survival reasons, of course. 🙂
        Please take care, Von! And know that I’m here for you, even though I’m thousands of miles away….

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      2. Thank you, Timi! You never failed to send warmth all the way to here. My kids are very young, my oldest is turning 4 and my youngest is turning 3. They are both having their birthday in December. I honestly find it hard to admit that I am having problems, when I have two kids to take care of. I usually don’t put my mental state and parenting in one topic without feeling ashamed. People can’t help but raise their eyebrows. But somehow, I was able to do it in this post.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m so glad you did. I was a single parent from the time Nick had just turned 4 and Jason was 2 and a half. Going from being a stay-at-home mom to working full-time with the boys in daycare, and with my bipolar disorder I on top of it all, it was very very stressful. So I can relate to your feelings! You will be able to flourish and so will your children. Please believe me. 🙂

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  5. I am so, so sorry you had to go through this. There is not much more disheartening than having a professional, someone you paid to seek help, disappoint you. There is someone out there that will get you and help you. Stay strong and don’t quit. Let me know how I can help. I am not a professional but I have decades of experience with mental health and holistic healing. I also have a bunch of resources I can send your way.

    Many hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’ve been wandering in your site. I am interested in “self-healing” and holistic healing” Hope you can write more about these two. Keep on sending out support to those in need like me. Little things like this means so much to those in need.

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  6. Hi Von,
    What you’ve written is honest and heartfelt. I won’t say I know exactly how you feel but I have an idea. I don’t know if it’s one of my drafts or something I’ve already posted but Filipinos, I feel, don’t believe in depression. When I was diagnosed with clinical depression 18 years ago, I was given so many advice, the first being “Pray!” I was told I didn’t need medication. I got some but like you, I didn’t want to depend on medication.
    I once went to a psychiatrist, when I had a relapse about a year or so after the initial diagnosis. I had stopped seeing my psychologist then. I simply turned my back and never looked back. It haunted me. It was inevitable.
    I left it again. I had gotten good at repression, compensation, compartmentalization, etc. I’m not quite depressed but I’m anxious. I’m back with a psychologist.
    I’m a Filipino. I’m just lucky I’m in a “western-like” country.
    I don’t know if it will help at all but do visit my blog ithinkisayido.wordpress.com (not the travel). I’ve been writing about my mental health issue lately, maybe because I feel a relapse coming – for no reason.
    For now, stay strong. I hope to interact with you.
    Hugs xxx
    Anne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. The “pray” is our most common remedy when it comes to depression. Spirituality helps, but it is always better to have a professional help, though some might even say its a waste of money “mag inuman nalang tayo”. Our culture just doesn’t take mental health issues that seriously, or we Filipinos don’t know how to address it properly – yet. I will be following your personal blog. I’m glad I bumped into you. Finally, a Filipino who understands.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, I forgot that! I never mastered the art of drinking. Lol! I get drunk quickly so I “cheat” when I drink.
        Stay the course. I sure hope I can be of help. Keep writing and interacting. Every little thing helps. I’ll be seeing you here. Hugs xxx

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