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.