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

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13 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking Any of Your Opinions (Published on Candy Mag)

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of hate comments about the show all over the internet. And because we are all entitled to voice out our opinion, I listed the 13 reasons why I don’t understand all the hate.

  1. Mental illness is not one of those “stupid little reasons.”

Taking away your life because you were raped and bullied or because depression consumed your whole being is not a stupid little reason. You know what’s a stupid little reason? Hating on the show just because you don’t understand it.

  1. Not everyone who watches the show watches it just because.

Let’s face it, most viewers started watching it because it trended and got on their radar. And there’s nothing wrong with that. TBH, Netflix should thank them for creating buzz on social media. On the other hand, other people watch the show because they can relate to it or they find the story interesting and comforting. No need to judge people for their reasons.

  1. Talking about your struggles openly doesn’t mean you’re romanticizing them.

While it’s true that the less you talk about your problems, the less anxious you get, it is never right to say that a person who openly talks about his problems is glorifying them. Been there, done that.

As a person who’s been through depression and anxiety, I find comfort in putting my emotions and thoughts into words. Whenever the monsters would come knocking on my door, I’d grab my phone or laptop and write what I feel. This process helps me heal. So if you think writing or talking about depression or suicide means we’re romanticizing mental illness, unfollow or unfriend us on social media, filter the posts that you see on your feed, and just leave us be.

  1. If you hate the show, do yourself a favor and stop watching it.

If you hate the show, that’s okay. We can’t (and shouldn’t) force anyone to fall head over heels for the series in the same way that you can’t (and shouldn’t) force anyone to hate it the same way you do.

  1. If you hate the show, don’t hate people who like it.

You know what they say, you know too much psychology when you can’t get mad because you understand everyone’s reasons for doing everything.

  1. If you hate the show, you’re free to voice out your thoughts but be open to other people’s opinions, too.

Because unless you’re willing to listen to our thoughts, we won’t listen to yours.

  1. Do not assume that you know how other people feel.

You think you know what it feels like to be raped, bullied, and depressed? Even if you went through the same hell as these people, remember that each battle is unique and your story isn’t a snapshot of theirs. If you can handle things on your own now after going through these things, we’re happy for you. However, never assume that you know how other people feel and what they’ve been through.

  1. Don’t be a know-it-all.

Unless you’re this omnipresent and omnipotent greater being, nailing your exams or graduating with flying colors does not give you a free pass to assuming that you know everything. If you’re voicing out your opinions online (or literally anywhere), don’t be a know-it-all because chances are, you don’t know it all.

  1. Don’t belittle the battles of others.

So this one girl took her own life because her boyfriend dated another girl and you judged her for having that reason for committing suicide? While you are a pseudo-intellectual who can handle yourself so perfectly well, you have to accept the fact that you don’t know the whole story and that you don’t know what she’s been through.

 

  1. Do not say that other people have it worse.

Dealing with mental illness is no joke. When you say that other people have it worse, you’re just making matters worse. It’s like saying they have to thank the gods because these battles are a no-brainer.

Belittling other people’s battles won’t make them feel better. It’s like saying they need to grow up and get a life instead of wallowing in self-pity or depressing thoughts, which is hard to do if you ask me. And while I’m willing to write about their struggles, there’s no use unless you open your mind and remove your prejudices first.

  1. Just because you’re strong doesn’t mean they can be, too.

Consider these points: you all grew up under different settings. And while you may have the same mental illness, your experiences and struggles are unique. If you can manage to wake up early in the morning and go to work on time while dealing with depression, there are others who can’t even find the strength to get out of bed.

Don’t even think they’re lazy. Sometimes, they can’t find a reason to wake up at all. Because when everything around you is chaotic, no one understands, and you can’t find your purpose, the last thing you’ll want to do is get out of bed. TBH, when you are at your most vulnerable and you begin thinking about giving up the fight, it’s even harder to see the light.

  1. Don’t miss the whole point of the series.

Obviously, the point of the series is to spread awareness about mental health. The production team wants us to realize that sometimes, we do things subconsciously that hurt other people.

They want us to be kind to one another because we have no idea what’s going on with other people’s lives.

In a time where more and more teens are committing suicide, what we need is to be reminded of our responsibility to be kind to one another. If we can’t be there for them to lift them up at times of need, we can at least avoid making things worse for them.

  1. You may be one of the reasons why.

You want to know the truth? It’s because of careless people that more and more people, teenagers especially, are taking their own lives. I don’t understand why you need to insist that they are weak, that they’re making a big deal out of the stupidest reasons, and that they need to be thankful because some people have it worse.

Instead of judging them for having suicidal tendencies, the least you can do is to stop commenting on social media about them. Please stop spreading hate. Until you do that, there’s a big chance you’re one of the reasons why.

(This was originally published on Candy Magazine)

A Thank You Note From a Muggle: How J.K. Rowling Saved Me (Published on Candy Mag)

This week’s writing prompt is “favorite superhero.” If we’re talking about Marvel, DC, folklore, local, or mythical, I don’t have any. I could write about the people who saved me, but I’ll save that for later. Right now, I guess I’ll settle for my favorite author.

Let me tell you a story.

My sophomore year in college was revolutionary. Life-changing. Soul-shattering. Heart-wrenching. You name it. I began to see what life really is about, which is far from the fairytale stories that they made me believe when I was younger. Thanks to my depression, I became a drunken bookworm.

I held on to books as if my life depended on them. And by books, I mean To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Looking for Alaska, The Women’s Room, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Thirteen Reasons Why, and the likes. These books justified the realities of life and existence of all the bullshits—evil, racism, loneliness, aloneness, depression, societal sexism, injustice, failures, and death. These coming-of-age realizations made me want to disappear from the world completely. They knocked down my studies, relationships, and above all, my emotional, physical, and mental health.

All of a sudden, alcohol became my constant companion. My favorite pastime was to drink the night away with my college friends. I wanted to leave the city and disappear forever like Margo in Paper Towns, but I didn’t have money. Even if I did, I didn’t have the courage to leave. One day, I decided I’d be Alaska Young. I thought that perhaps if I smoked and drank too much, I could suffer from a serious disease and die. Still, I didn’t. I was like Marla in Fight Club. My philosophy in life, like her, was that I could die at any moment—the tragedy was that I didn’t.

Then I decided to read everybody’s favorite—the Harry Potter series. For a girl with great disdain for mainstream stuff, I admit that I have fallen head over heels for this series.

I was lucky I became acquainted with these witches and wizards. In the times when the Death Eaters cast unforgivable curses on me, I buried myself between the pages of the books and lived in fantasy. In the moments when the Dementors tried to kiss me, I relived the movie scenes in my head and became happy. At school, my friends and I even formed a friendship as strong as the Dumbledore’s Army. To make the long story short, the Harry Potter series became my ultimate escape from reality.

So thank you, J.K. Rowling, for saving me from real-life Dementors when they kissed my soul and sucked all the happiness out of me. You are the Sirius who inspired me to keep fighting while the Slytherins awaited my downfall. You are the Ron and Hermione who cheered for me when Draco caught the Golden Snitch. You are the Professor McGonagall when Snape closed the door to the Headmaster’s office. Yet you are also Snape who saved me from the worst enemy of all.

You were like me once—the aspiring author who suffered from depression and chose to write her way through life instead. You are the Molly to my Ginny and the Lily to my Harry. You are the Mad-Eye Moody who inspired me to become an Auror. You are also Dumbledore, the greatest Headmaster I’ve ever known.

Thank you for creating all these characters that became my companion during my life’s darkest hours. Thanks for teaching me Defense Against the Dark Arts to prepare for Voldemort’s returns to power.

Thanks to you, I am now on a journey to find the Deathly Hallows and destroy the seven Horcruxes. Thanks to you and your magical spells, I am now ready to battle against the Dark Lord.

This was originally published on Candy Magazine, was featured on Mogul, and was also published on Thought Catalog 

Airen Petalbert Blog

I Don’t Need Saving, I’m Not Sally (Published on Candy Mag)

Here’s an open letter to the guy who told me I was just being too emotional when I almost killed myself.

I know things are not going well in your life lately, but let me take this moment to say that I am sorry. I’m sorry for shouting at you. I’m sorry for not keeping my cool that day.  I’m sorry for calling you stupid. I’m sorry for giving up trying to explain to you what I feel. I’m sorry I can’t make you see what this all means. I’m sorry if I keep blaming you for not being able to know exactly what to say and do at exactly the right time.

Lastly, I’m sorry I am not sorry for thinking you’re an insensitive human being. To be honest, I still think that you are.

You laughed at me when I was on the verge of crying. I hope someday you’ll realize that mental health is no laughing matter. I will always remember the day when you told me to just get over it. I want you to know that I won’t.

Depression is an illness just like how cancer is an illness.

Like a 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. You’ll feel like your days are numbered, so you’ll think you’re better off dead.

Have you ever wondered why some wealthy cancer patients refuse to undergo chemotherapy? Have you ever wondered why many people kill themselves? Please think about it.

You told me that I wouldn’t be a drama queen if I didn’t read too many books and watch too many films. I want you to know that I think it’s the other way around. Perhaps you don’t understand depression because you have not read enough books or watched too many movies. Perhaps you have no idea what mental health means because the only time you were forced to read something about it was through textbooks. And that was back in high school. Perhaps you don’t feel what I feel because you have not seen more of life. Perhaps you don’t pay much attention to the world.

And perhaps it’s about time that you do.

You judged me for having suicidal tendencies instead of singing me to sleep. You could have saved the day if you just kept silent–the words that you said were like a poison that could ruin me anytime.

Still, I forgive you.

I hope to God that this won’t happen to you, and when it does, I will feed you with my love and let you know that I am here no matter what happens, especially when this happens. I won’t be mean like you were once to me; I will be here to listen, or if you don’t want to talk about it, I’ll wait patiently until you open up to me.

I will be the friend that I needed when I almost gave up–not the friend that you were to me when I wanted to disappear from the world.

You left me when I was at my most vulnerable and told me you’d come back once I’ve gotten over my depression. You chose to leave me in fragments because I refused to believe you when you said that other people had it worse. To tell you the truth, they did not. You told me that this was just a phase and that I’d get over it. That I needed to stop being too melodramatic. You thought that by saying those words to me, you could save me from my misery.

You were wrong, but thank you.

It’s because of you that I am a stronger person now. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t realize that I am the best friend that I could have. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t know that I am the superhero that I needed.

To the guy who thought he could save me, thank you, but I don’t need saving.

This was originally published on Candy Magazine