Liebster Award

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I don’t have a large following, so I was #shookt when Niall, an English professor from Ireland, followed me. If my memory serves me right, he stumbled upon my blog when I posted a confession about being a former Grammar Nazi and I instantly regretted hitting that “Publish” button when I discovered he is an English professor. LOL.

Anyway, thanks for not unfollowing me even after seeing my grammar mistakes. Kidding aside, thanks for nominating me for the Liebster Award. (Check out his blog if you want to know if steal and rob are interchangeable and learn a thing or two about the beautiful English language)

Now, here are random facts about me:

  1. I sleep on my stomach.
  2. I won’t get tired of watching the Bridget Jones movies.
  3. I feel like I’m a 65 years old woman trapped inside a body of a 21-year old girl.
  4. I’m in a love-hate relationship with my boyfriend’s loud snoring.
  5. The word “ardent” makes me swoon.
  6. I don’t own a pet.
  7. I can cook but I’d rather write. Or read. Or live.
  8. I want to visit Liverpool and all the places referenced in The Beatles songs.
  9. I prefer a house over an apartment.
  10. I’d love to live in the countryside.
  11. I’m not a fan of the restaurants in our area.

In turn, I’m giving these people, whose blogs inspire me, a chance to speak:

  1. Rebel Rookie
  2. Out of Desk
  3. After Hours
  4. INTP Bubbles
  5. Cari’s Blog
  6. Very Happy Berry
  7. Booknomnom
  8. Hainrihi’s Discoveries
  9. Untouristing
  10. Smitten Wordsmith
  11. LonelyHappyThoughts

The questions would be:

  1. What’s your favorite book?
  2. Who’s your favorite blogger?
  3. American English or British English?
  4. Have you seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?
  5. How did you get into blogging?
  6. How many books do you own?
  7. Name one item on your bucket list.
  8. What’s the one local band you would recommend to a foreigner?
  9. How do you normally spend your Sundays?
  10. Do you have a library at home?
  11. What’s your favorite F word apart from Friday?

And for the rules,

  1. Display the award and thank your nominator.
  2. Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Nominate 11 blogs.
  4. Notify them.
  5. Give them 11 questions to answer.

Cheers to blogging!

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This Is Why No One Wants to Talk About Their Mental Illness (Published on Candy Magazine)

As I’ve said before, depression is an illness just like how cancer is an illness.

Like fluid released from a ruptured cyst, it will permeate your brain until you can no longer take the pain. You won’t know when it’ll hit you and when it does, there’s no escape. If you are suffering from this condition, then you are mentally ill.

It’s easy to claim that we are depressed; in fact, many people still mistake their sadness for depression. However, nobody wants to broadcast that they are mentally ill, to put the word out there for the world to hear. And it’s not so hard to see why.

For many countries, mental health is still an uncharted territory. With the majority of the population still turning a blind eye on mental health issues and with the stigma around it, admitting that you are mentally impaired is synonymous to claiming that you are crazy, psychotic, pathetic, crybaby, or whatever names they call mental health sufferers.

With the majority of the population still turning a blind eye on mental health issues and with the stigma around it, admitting that you are mentally impaired is synonymous to claiming that you are crazy, psychotic, pathetic, crybaby, or whatever names they call mental health sufferers.

It seems that we’re still far from witnessing the day when we can finally walk the streets wearing our mental health badges without being looked down upon by society. It doesn’t come off as a surprise, though, as women have been fighting for equal rights for so long already.

Depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder. You have to know these are not beautiful.

All those self-confessions and TV shows depicting the real-life struggles of mentally ill people are not beautiful. Nobody wants to talk about their struggles openly only to see a hint of prejudice in the eyes of those who are listening. Nobody wants to publicize a self-confession only to be rejected by a potential employer for being emotionally weak, for having a low emotional IQ. No one wants to be called “psychotic” by a colleague who has read their online article. No one wants to seek help from a doctor only to be judged by people as they walk down the clinic hallways. Nobody wants to suffer from any kind of mental illness. End of story.

Personally, I am not comfortable publishing posts about my struggles because one, I don’t want people to look down on me and treat me as if I am a vulnerable little crybaby and two, recruiters would see them, which means they could instantly dismiss my chances of working for them. I don’t want to be tagged as the “girl with depression.”

You see, this is not some kind of dating trend that people invent to have the internet talking about it. Our stories are not like those click-bait articles that people publish to boost their website traffic. We don’t invent stories for the sake of likes. We write the pain as we go through it because the process of letting out what we think and feel at the moment helps us heal.

We don’t invent stories for the sake of likes. We write the pain as we go through it because the process of letting out what we think and feel at the moment helps us heal.

And even though we’re not comfortable with publicizing our personal battles, we share them because we care. And you should care, too. You can start by opening your eyes. Because mental illness is not beautiful, but we can make the pain a little bit bearable by ending the hate.

Remember, everything affects everything; if the world were more open about the realities of the mentally ill, we would hear less news about people dying by suicide. Every action (and refusal to act) counts. Keep that in mind.

This originally appeared on Candy Magazine and was also published on Thought Catalog

Today, I Decided to Be a Mental Health Advocate

When I started Nowheregirl, I was hesitant to publish my self-confessions for fear of being tagged as the “girl with depression.” Writing the pain as I go through it makes each battle a little bearable, but putting the word out there for the world to see used to make me uncomfortable. It’s not hard to see why.

We know that mental health is still an uncharted territory for the majority, and admitting you are mentally ill is almost synonymous to admitting you are some crazy psychopath.

What I did was write from a second person’s point of view. I made it appear as if I were talking to a twenty-something girl when in reality, I was talking to myself. This somehow made me feel I was not completely baring my soul, and it worked. But rather than posting it on my blog, I decided to give Thought Catalog a try. I submitted the article and received an email three days later that my article has been accepted and was up at their site.

Since then, I have been writing about mental health and submitting articles to various platforms, where I can reach and inspire hundreds of people, something that my blog couldn’t do for me because I have a small following.

From time to time, I get messages and comments from friends and strangers alike, saying they find my posts relatable. Some of them even share stories of their personal battles with me, seeking advice from someone who’s slowly learning to live with the pain.

I know there are downsides to publicizing your self-confessions, like being looked down upon by colleagues or employers. I have this friend who publicized her story about depression, which resulted in not getting the promotion that her manager almost promised her just because, in her manager’s own words, she has low emotional IQ. Even I got called “psychotic” by a colleague when he discovered through my blog that I was suffering from depression.

But knowing that there is someone out there who relates to my stories and finds comfort in my words is enough to compensate for those downsides. This makes me feel like in a way, I and my readers are on this journey together.

Today, I decided to create a Mental Health category in my blog, so readers who want to read about my journey can easily find them. Today, I decided I will be a mental health advocate in my own little way.

I’ll start by saying that if you are also fighting those invisible monsters, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me so we can talk and build an army. I may be an introvert and awkward at first, but I promise I will listen. Because, most of the time, that’s all we need–someone who will lend an ear, someone who understands.

If you want to get professional help, you can call our suicide prevention hotline (Philippines) 804-4673 (HOPE).

My Anxiety Helps Keep My Creative Juices Flowing

I won’t sugarcoat it: anxiety is ugly. Not only does it make me feel a thousand emotions at a time, but it also triggers my depression big time. As a creative who writes for a living, I discovered there’s an upside to all this.

Well, I can’t really call it an upside, for that matter, because that sounds like romanticizing the illness. But one of the things I’ve learned from years of battling anxiety is when you can’t fight the current, you gotta go with the flow.

I have long embraced this condition and learned to live with the pain, so whenever the monsters come knocking on my door, I greet them with a deep sigh while mentally preparing my weapons. Simply stated,  I have learned to anticipate what’s ahead by not wallowing too much on those horrible thoughts, which used to lead to suicidal thoughts. While it’s not guaranteed to work 100% of the time, the process makes the struggle much more bearable.

So, how does it help keep the creative juices flowing?

Like I said, when you have anxiety, you imagine a thousand possibilities, which, no matter how terrible some ideas appear to be, is a creative pursuit in itself. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Recently, I stumbled upon two articles about how boredom is equal to creativity and how being busy kills our ability to think creatively. The articles have basically one message: to put your smartphone down and start paying attention to the world.

Apparently, articles like these make me stop and contemplate: how am I doing?

As much as possible, I try to have a work-life balance by going out with my boyfriend, friends, and family when I’m not doing my nine-to-five job or side gigs or squeezing in my interests that are essential for my alone time, like reading books and seeing movies.

With so much on one’s plate, you can only imagine how I can still make time for my blog. As I explained in my previous post, I don’t find the time to blog; I wait for the ideas to come out of me naturally.

But when you have anxiety, your brain has no switch. I take advantage of this condition by writing the ideas and thoughts that pop into my head on my smartphone. This happens when I’m taking a cigarette break, killing time during traffic jams, waiting for sleep to come, or basically during all my idle moments. As of writing, I have 79 unfinished drafts here on WordPress.

Unless you are an author who writes books to earn a living, I guess you can still live a full life and keep the creative juices flowing. In this case, my anxiety is doing me a huge favor by keeping me in a constant state of overthinking, which then allows me to gather ideas and turn them into blog posts.

Writing Is Easier When I’m Wearing My Heart on My Sleeve

I remember one of my ex-colleagues asking me how I find the time to blog. Here’s what I did and didn’t tell her:

I don’t find the time to blog. I believe if an idea does not come out of me naturally, there’s no point hitting that “Write” button and trying to come up with a made-up vision just for the sake of publishing something.

I used to do that during the early stages of Nowheregirl. I was in the process of establishing my blog, so I wanted to stay consistent and publish not less than five posts every month. What I would do was force my brain cells to cooperate so the juices would continue flowing. Unfortunately, this process does not work wonders for me.

Tell me what to do and I won’t do it; leave me alone and I’ll give it my 200%. This holds true for me in all aspects–work, passion, chores… I appreciate being told what to do, but I do my best work when I’m left alone. #IntrovertAlert

When blogging, I am more comfortable to put my thoughts into words when talking about three topics: musings, accomplishments, and self-confessions. When I write about my musings, I just let out what’s going through my head, like comparing intelligent people to land and idiots to water. I’ll start with the story of how I came up with that idea and then the words will flow naturally.

When I write about my accomplishments, say my career or love life, it’s no brainer. Accomplishments put me in good spirits and writing when I am in a good mood is as easy as writing when I am blue, which brings me to my next point:

If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know that I write mostly about depression and mental health. Most of my entries to Thought Catalog, Mogul, and Candy Magazine are self-confessions of how I go to war every day.

Last week, I talked to my best friend about not being able to post anything in the past weeks. I’ve been busy with adulting that I failed to notice it had been almost a month since I last wrote anything here. I even joked about how I wish I were depressed so I could at least publish something.

I know that was a mean thing to say, but it’s true for me. Writing my pain as I go through it makes each battle a little bearable. I simply turn my struggles into sentences, insert some metaphors into the paragraphs, and rearrange the sequences to create a piece that reflects my personal battles.

Simply stated, writing is easier when I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve. When an idea pops in my head, my first reaction is to either grab my phone or find a piece of paper to save them. I don’t force myself to write something for the purpose of publishing it. I have to either be on cloud nine or feel blue to be able to write my best piece. I need to feel an extreme emotion–either positive or negative–to write effectively. Anything in between doesn’t work.

What Did Mark Twain Mean By “Good Books?”

As a bookworm, I am always bombarded with book-related stuff that I see daily on my Facebook newsfeed. Over the years, I have repeatedly stumbled upon this quote by the great Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain, which reads:

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Source: Picture Quotes

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them. – Mark Twain

This quote always makes me stop and question myself, what did Twain mean by “good books?” I bet many bibliophiles would agree with him on this one, but even then, I wonder what others think about this.

“Good,” in this context, is such a vague adjective that does not imply anything unless Mark Twain explicitly defined this in one of his writings. “Good” is one of those adjectives (like beauty) which meaning entirely depends on the reader. That said, this single word makes the entire quote irrelevant.

Think about it. If some self-aggrandizing bookworm who prefers non-fiction books were to use that quote to justify that her taste is better than those who prefer Wattpad stories, her statement wouldn’t make sense at all.

Wattpad Reader: Wattpad is life!

Self-Aggrandizing Bookworm: Really? You should read the good stuff! Did you know that Mark Twain said that the man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them?

Likewise, if a World Literature professor were to use the quote to back her claims that classic novels are better than young adult novels, she’d be making a fallacy.

World Literature Professor: So, what did you read over the weekend?

Student: Young adult books! Harry Potter is life!

World Literature Professor: Young one, you should be reading books with substance. Why not try classics? Mark Twain said that the man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them. Mark Twain is a legend. Believe him.

Student:

Young Adult Books:

Floor:

Simply stated, quoting Twain to justify our opinion about which books are “good” is total BS. In fact, the quote itself is a generalization and somehow demeans those who can’t read books. You see, even the phrase “can’t read books” in this context is too indefinite. Was Twain referring to the blind, illiterate, or impoverished?

I know some people who do not read books who are as smart as some bookworms I know. My point is, just because you are a bookworm doesn’t mean you’re smarter than those who don’t read. Although I believe well-read people have advantages over those who aren’t, being a bibliophile does not give us a free pass to insult the intellectual capacity of non-readers.

I hope people would stop using this quote from Mark Twain if their only intention is to humiliate others. Perhaps the better quotation would be from J.K. Rowling:

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Source: Pinterest

If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book. – J.K. Rowling

On Editing: Making Money From My Hobby

Back in college, my favorite pastime was to point out the linguistic shortcomings of people. I used to cringe whenever I spotted or heard spelling or grammar errors. I may not have confronted anyone but I always secretly corrected them in my head. Sometimes, my best friend and I would discreetly talk about them and make a big deal out of those issues, as if those trivial blunders were a reflection of their intellectual capacity.

Being a Grammar Nazi was both a pleasure and a burden. When I was younger, I simply couldn’t help but butt in whenever my friends spoke or posted something in broken English. I always believed it was an act of kindness. I thought that by doing so, I was doing them a favor–I did not want others to make fun of them, that’s all. What are friends for?

Although it was never my intention to hurt their pride, some of them did not like my giving out unsolicited advice. For some of them, I was a self-aggrandizing bitch so they deleted me from their social media for fear of being criticized for their mistakes. I couldn’t blame them.

Now, I realized being a grammar police pays off. Even though I still miss annoying little details when I comb through my own works, I am now happily making money from my hobby.

Autocorrecting a grammar mistake when I see one has been imprinted in my personality, so having a nine-to-five job that involves editing and proofreading is a no-brainer job for me. It’s like doing what I do best but being paid to do it. The best part? I have more time to spare for the people and things I love.

At first, I was hesitant to pursue this career because I wanted a challenging job that would allow me to develop my full potential. Later, I found out it was a wise decision, especially because I wanted to pursue blogging and do side gigs at the same time. A boring nine-to-five job allows me to be more creative, apparently. With more downtimes on my plate, I constantly want to challenge myself and have the urge to do other things outside my full-time job. Really, it sounds like a dream come true for me.

If you are a Grammar Nazi at heart and you want to pursue your creative endeavors, I encourage you to get a full-time editing or proofreading job. I hope that would work wonders for you as it had for me.