September 10 Is World Suicide Prevention Day

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. The funny thing is, it’s also my birthday. Could it get more ironic than this?

As you know, I’ve been vocal about my mental sufferings in my blog. For months, I did nothing but wallow in suicidal thoughts, going back and forth from being a cliche suicidal teen to a mental health advocate. 

The perspective of my writings keeps shifting from being The Nega Star (ever-pessimist-human-who-wants-to-stay-positive-but-couldn’t-thanks-to-my-depression) to The Advocate (the-writer-who-writes-about-depression-without-shame-to-supposedly-inspire-others-to-hashtag-never-give-up).

Thanks to this blog, I found refuge whenever I needed to let out my thoughts and emotions. But just because it has seen an almost-month-long hiatus from yours truly, doesn’t mean I’m suffering no more.

Truth is, the depressive cycle is not yet over.

The battle is not over yet.

And because I like to make a big deal out of trivial things, I want to make up a reason behind all this: of all the days in the year, why did the universe choose my birthday to celebrate suicide prevention?

When I first heard about this, I wasn’t okay with the idea. My first reaction was, “Are you fucking kidding me?’

But as I became used to it, I started making myself believe that it happened because I was ~destined~ to become The Advocate, not The Nega Star.

I’d like to believe that The Great Universe conspired so that every September 10, I am reminded of two things: first, my existence and second, the reason why I shouldn’t cease to exist.

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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.

If You Want to Keep Me, Love Every Bit of Me Including My Anxiety (Published on Thought Catalog)

Me and my anxiety, we’re inseparable. It makes me do things I wouldn’t do under normal conditions. The thing is, my anxiety is so clingy it keeps squeezing itself into my daily routine. What was once an unusual feeling now became a norm. I become so used to it that I’m afraid it’s already part of who I am.

So I’m taking this chance to say sorry for all the things I did when I’m anxious. I just want you to bear this in mind: if you want to keep me, you need to love every bit of me including my anxiety.

I’m sorry I flooded your phone with messages when you forgot to text me last night. I was worried. The last time it happened, your phone got snatched from you. Can you blame me? I stayed up all night waiting for you. I wanted to hear from you, to know that you’re safe and sound. I’m sorry I worry too much. I guess that’s just the way I am.

Please bear with me if I say I love you too often. I know I can be annoying at times, but let me tell you this: the reason why my love for you is so big is because I know the world may end any moment and if I were to die, I would find comfort in knowing that the last words I uttered were “I love you.” I’m sorry I’m too sentimental. Perhaps I was born that way.

Forgive me for being such a pessimist. I always expect the worst. Disappointments trigger my depression and expecting the worst case scenarios prepares me for what’s ahead.

I’m sorry for always imagining that we won’t end up together. That’s my worst nightmare, do you know that? There are days when I talk about our future without the other and I only ask that you bear with me whenever this happens. If we’re breaking up soon, at least I’m ready. I’m sorry for making you listen to my negative thoughts, but I just can’t help it. My mind simply won’t cooperate.

Trust me: you may not see it yet, but I’m trying to fight it.

I only ask that you don’t mistake my anxiety for being crazy, needy, or clingy—I am far from those things. If you just learn to love me for who I am, you’ll see that I am more than just an anxious girlfriend.

I am more than my anxiety.

This was originally published on Thought Catalog

When I Ran Out of Courage to Keep Fighting, I Wrote My Way Through Depression (Published on Thought Catalog)

Last month was the worst.

Every night, I would try to shut my brain for the day and tell myself tomorrow is another day. Unfortunately, as if the Great Universe conspired to bully me and belittle my battleground skills, unwanted thoughts would always get in the way.

I would take a deep breath, stare at the ceiling, try to fight the pain, but the demons would always win. I always came into the battlefield defenseless, but I was never hopeless. Hope is the only anchor that keeps me alive.

And then I would wake up feeling empty, like there’s a hole in my chest that I can’t explain. I won’t tell you about the hell I went through, but if you’re a girl who always get catcalled slash poor writer slash anxious, you’ll get the picture. To say that I couldn’t find the motivation to get out of bed was an understatement. Long ago, I started to accept that perhaps I am an eternally lazy human being. But I was far from that–my family and co-workers can attest to that. As the symptoms became crystal clear, I found out that I’ve always been depressed.

Because when you can’t find a reason to go on, would you even want to face the world? Or worse, get out of bed to do the same old things? Work like a robot in the office, go home, try to sleep, repeat until dead.

I could try to talk with my best friend who lives on the other side of the globe, but we both know that trying to comfort each other through the screens of our phones is not a permanent cure. We can’t be physically there for each other, after all. I can hear Taylor Swift whispering in my ears: bandaids don’t fix bullet holes, bitch.

When the pain becomes unbearable to the point that my eyes become watery and it becomes even more difficult to breathe for no apparent reason, I would console myself by putting my emotion into words.

I won’t care if my sentence construction, grammar, and punctuation marks are correct. As a writer, you would expect me to become conscious of those rules, but when it comes to writing my pain, those shits don’t exist. I would let the words flow non-stop as if my life depended on them and I won’t stop until the tears aren’t there anymore and my breathing becomes normal again. Funnily enough, I even had the guts to submit those writeups to several platforms. That’s what happens when you’re depressed–you’re vulnerable and yo do crazy things you wouldn’t even consider doing in the first place when you’re fine. And then it dawned on me:

Last month was one of the best.

Looking back, I realized that despite being the worst month of my life, March has also been one of the best. I even wrote a blog post about thanking the Great Universe for all the wonderful things that took place last month and to be honest, I almost forgot about the days I cried in public and nights I fought the monsters inside my head when I realized that. All 11 writeups I submitted was published on those platforms, and I couldn’t find the right words to describe what I felt when I realized this.

At the times when I couldn’t find the courage to keep fighting, I wrote my way through depression. Writing has always been my therapy and it hasn’t failed me ever since I published my first post in my personal blog. I’ve always known this, but I never knew that it could help me overcome the worst month of my life. And boy, what a month.

I welcomed April praying that this feeling wasn’t just the Great Universe’s way of fooling me. And even if it was, I know what to do now. If the monsters were to come to my door again (which is very likely), I’d turn my depression into art and hold on to the belief that if writing saved me last time, it would keep me sane today and for the rest of my life.

(This was originally published on Thought Catalog)