#SuicideAwarenessDay

That moment when you’re so eager to write about something you feel so strongly about that a million words are begging to burst out and be written but at the same time as the pen hovers over the paper, nothing comes out- not a single word, well I’m having one such moment. I’m just unsure of how to begin this. Do I start with statistics or quotes or pictures or my own experience or someone else’s that has helped shape my own? Something compelling enough to interest you but honest still that it remains as meaningful as it should. Let me start with this:

Suspend your judgments. Suicide isn’t just about statistics, it’s about stories.

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Some of you will judge this entry the same way you judge every person who committed suicide or have tried to, with extreme prejudice and I ask for the sake of this day and this discussion that you open your mind to opinions other than your own. The fault of this bunch, which I don’t find a fault at all but many will, is how we see things. You see them at eye level, for what it is. We see them from overhead, standing on a table and seeing ourselves in comparison to others, in association with things we don’t have or the person we can never be, happy.

I will not generalize the neigh sayers, they come from different backgrounds and varied beliefs, nor will I stereotype those who have had this problem. Trust me they’re not always the guy with the heavy eyeliner make up and a blade pendant secured around his neck. It’s not as plain and black and white as that. Sometimes it’s the town’s golden girl who maintains straight As and is quietly drowning in the pressure of perfection or maybe the quiet kid who sits at the back of the class who is invisible to everyone but the restroom mirror where he spends his lunch dismantling a sharpener.

I'm scared | via Tumblr

To them suicide is a way out, not selfish but reasonable. To stay in a cycle where you’re constantly unhappy and alone, feeling either like a huge disappointment or anonymous is not worth living over every single day. That thought consumes you and dulls every form of happiness most people savor. TELLING US TO GET IT TOGETHER AND DISMISSING OUR WORRIES WON’T HELP BECAUSE REALLY WHEN YOU DO THAT, YOU’RE BRUSHING US OFF. Were you even listening or were you too busy judging us and labeling our problem  non existent because it’s not cancer or ebola virus?

I am in no way advocating for suicide, not because it’s cowardly but because YOU’RE WORTH A LIFE. Trust me when I say that no matter how bleak and dark your life is right now, I need you to hang in there. YOU ARE WORTH EVERYDAY YOU FIGHT FOR. YOU WILL FIND HAPPINESS ONE DAY AND IT WILL BE EVEN MORE WORTH IT BECAUSE YOU KNOW HOW HARD YOU FOUGHT FOR IT. I’m sorry you had to in the first place but trust that your strong enough to overcome this and know that wherever you are, no matter how alone you feel, you never are. 

And to those whose made it and are now happier and better, I am so proud of you. You deserve every praise for deciding to stay and choosing to stick with it every single day since. I wish you the happiest of days, you deserve no less for the courage and strength you’ve shown. There may still be rough patches ahead but find comfort in the fact that the enemy you fought already lost a few times before and you have the upper hand because you’re stronger than all you demons.

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My friend mentioned a few days ago how pointless suicide hotlines are because if you really wanna kill yourself, why would you want someone to stop you? She has a good point actually and I’ve considered coming up with alternatives. Although I’d like to think that it’s because most of them, deep down just want a reason to stay. Here’s one:

Everyone is worth saving. YOU ARE WORTH SAVING.

So be it on #SuicideAwarenessDay or any other day of the year, if you ever feel like throwing in the towel, talk to someone. Sometimes we only need reminding of how much we’re worth. There’s no shame in that.

And to everyone else reading this post, I hope you’ll find it in your heart to be nicer, more open-minded and understanding of people whose circumstances may be far from your own. Give that shy guy beside you a chance. Talk to the girl who consciously fiddles with her shorts at gym class. Avoid stereotyping the abrasive jock loitering the hallway. Tweet someone you’ve never talked to words encouragement when she seems down and ask about her day. Get to know to know them and give them more reasons to love the lives the they have and the people that they are. A simple act of care and kindness will go a long way especially to someone who doubts he’ll ever get any.

You matter.

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#depression

I realised.. IM HERE FOR YOU ♡♥♡

One morning I woke up with an unfamiliar material draped securely on my back. It was heavy and cold and it very much resembled a cloak- like in one of those old Hollywood movies. The fabric clung to me like second skin, choking, smothering and weighing me down while it slyly remains invisible to the eyes of even those staring right at me. No matter how hard I fidget, move my body like a convulsing freak, grab at it, try to tear it away from my body with all the strength my man hands could muster, it remains rigid and unrelenting. There are days when I feel the grip tightening, leaving steady marks on my skin that will remind me of how it possessed me for as long as I live.

It’s daunting to admit how much it’s affecting a full grown person with rationality and control. The fear of judgment and ridicule in society where the easiest response would be to ask if the cloak truly exists or if I made it up because I’m either crazy or in CRAZY need of attention. Either way I will be labelled a freak and avoided like a plague or talked to behind my back. To the few who care enough to consider that there MAY be a cloak, they’ll look you from head to toe and when they see no physical manifestations of a life threatening cloak. They walk away claiming that you’re lucky it won’t require surgery. At that moment, I wish it did. Maybe I’ll get more help if people can physically see the pain an invisible cloak is causing me.

You might know the cloak by its common name, depression.

its not fair how i see everyone breathing.

Yes my lovely readers, how timely right? Just as the world is  confused, bewildered and pained by Robin Williams’ death, one caused by this cloak itself, I decide to write about it. Well to be honest this entry was inspired by him. I have been struggling to write anything on this subject for years, ever since I started this blog actually, but I never had the courage, words or inspiration to even start. That changed when I was aimlessly browsing through my twitter feeds and froze on one of the trends. I think we all know which trend it was.

#RIPRobinWilliams

A thousand RTs, skimmed articles and a full blown movie marathon later, I decided I need to write something about this. Screw inhibitions and fear, depression is a real thing and it has to be talked about because more and more people are falling victim to it and very few seem to take it seriously. The most infuriating yet common reaction we get is it’ll pass or get over it. Those are the words of an ignorant person brushing off something purely because he has no clue what it is. The same words that will make the lot of us, already depressed, consider ourselves even bigger freaks than we already think.

I doesnt.

Depression, unlike physical illnesses with very visible manifestations, is often treated as a whim of some attention seeking person who is bored of his own life that’s why he needs to make up some disease that cannot be visually assessed. The truth however is depression gnaws at you from the inside, turning every thought, every memory, every experience into a black hole that sucks the life out of you while you seem completely a-okay on the outside. You feel disabled without the advantage of a parking space. In  two  very cliché words : it sucks.

so fucking true

There is no standard to depression. It varies for each one and I could spend the whole day discussing to you the many kinds but really what those going through this need from you is just one thing, your understanding.

UNDERSTANDING

It may sound so easy, so fundamental in fact but to truly understand someone who goes through that requires for you to suspend your prejudices and preconceived notion fed by some exaggerated movie or oblivious hearsay. We don’t all cut or binge or drink meds or listen to sad songs or plaster a frown on our faces. Often even a smile is the most believable lie one gets to tell. Funny though, almost everyone falls for it. Depression too is not to be stereotyped.

For those still trapped in their cloaks, hang in there and stay strong. Fight to be happy because you’re worth no less. Find comfort in the promise that you’re not alone and somebody on the other end of this screen understands and appreciates you.  I do care and I’ll keep fighting, I’d love for you join me. –winks-

perhaps?

commas and periods (a tribute to the How I Met Your Mother Finale)

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched the final episode of How I Met Your Mother Season 9 yet then reading this entry is probably not the best idea but if you don’t mind spoilers at all or have fallen victim to other spoilers  (like what my twitter followers did to me) then go right ahead. 

First things first.

WE DO KNOW WHO THE MOTHER IS and yes, Ted married the mother after some years and 2 kids. Barney and Robin got divorced, tried to stay friends but ended up following their own pre-wedding patterns. Barney wrote his second Playbook and Robin became an international news anchor. Although Lily tried to keep the gang together, their meet- ups got rarer and rarer which was expected for most friends with families, careers and responsibilities. Barney’s old ways finally caught up with him when he got someone pregnant. He was quite apprehensive at first but then we saw the Barney that Robin fell inlove with when he finally saw his daughter for the first time.  

And then after some blissful time together, Tracy got sick and passed away. In the end, Ted is shown finally concluding his 9 season long story about how he met the mother to his 2 kids. His kids point out that although he labeled the story to be about the mother, it was really about how he has kept his feelings for Robin all these years. They’ve always had some sort of a spark and the kids, well now teens, are okay with that and they give him their blessing to go after Robin finally.

Now what does that story have to do with commas and periods? Don’t worry this entry isn’t just an excuse to vent out my frustration about match airing fails and spoilers. I know there are some readers here who aren’t fans of the show but I’ve been following that HIMYM since I was a freshman in high school. It was always funny but more than that it has a way of introducing life lessons that’s subtle but isn’t lost in translation. 

So here’s my take on it.

You know how period is always the goal of the sentence and commas, although they’re important, they’re just marks that come before it all ultimately ends with a period. I always thought that the mother, when she was introduced would be Ted’s period. She will be the answer to his 9 seasons-worth of mishaps, insane women and thank-goodness-it’s-over experiences. For awhile it seemed like she was. All the mysteries in all the 10 years it has aired led to their meeting  by the train stop. It makes sense because the way they built her character, she was really what he thought he’d end up with but never met. They were happy and it seemed like she was the period to his messy but definitely interesting sentence.

Then…

Tracy died and Ted finds his way back to Robin. The mother, the character to which his entire story was leading towards, isn’t the period after all. She was just one of the commas along the way, granted maybe a more important and a more strategically placed comma but a comma nevertheless. It seems that Robin was ALWAYS the love of Ted’s life and although I have been a supporter of their relationship from the start, it got me to thinking.

Is the comma okay with being just another step towards the period?

Because to be quite honest, even if I’m not sure I even have a romantic bone in my body, I’d like to believe that I deserve to be a period in someone’s life too. I deserve to be a Robin to a lucky Ted. 

 

CUT NO MORE

Someone in the world commits suicide every 40 seconds.

That is a terrifying number, as if encountering one suicide attempt in your lifetime isn’t traumatic enough. I was in a senior in high school when it happened. Before the commotion, all I could remember was being sleepy in Math class, seated beside my best friend and trying my hardest to look the least bit interested. Then we heard screams and feet running. Because we had quiet hallways, you immediately knew something was up.

I tugged at my friend and motioned towards the door to check it out. Half the class, including my teacher was headed to the same direction. Most of us thought it was a drill or a school emergency. Very few, if not none, would have guessed what we were to see next.

In the middle of a four storey building was a student holding on to the ledge already about to jump. At that moment, I thought I was seeing everything in slow motion. She was struggling to maintain her balance as there was very little foothold on the other side of the ledge while her hands were slowly slipping from gripping the safety bars too tight. Students from our side of the building were running towards her in a desperate attempt to help her because it won’t take long for her to fall off. If she does, it doesn’t look good. There are a bunch of decorative rocks and statues in the middle of the garden where she’ll fall. We already know she might do it as she has always been depressed and we often see her with cut marks on her arms so we were all hoping for a miracle.

Miracle there was.  James and Ken, guys from our batch, came swooping in and carefully lifted her away from the ledge and into safety. She was still crying and inconsolable though- according to my friends who were right there with her as I did not get to see her up close. After our math teacher ushered us back in, I remember thinking to myself what if she did jump?

photo from theeonlyeexceeption.blogspot.com

I’ve had my personal battles with depression and what it reduces you to but this isn’t the time for me to talk about that. I’m still trying to muster the courage to narrate difficult times in my life, times when I was too vulnerable for my own liking and too devoid of understanding to be better. I wanted to share this story not just to show you that there are people who feel as hopeless or as depressed but to persuade you to think twice or thrice or a million times before you hurt yourself.

I know it seems that nobody cares, that nobody understands. The latter may be true, the pain may be unique to your experience but I don’t have to understand the premise for you pain to care about you, to be here for you, to just hug you and tell you I love you. At that moment when she was about to jump, I wanted her to know someone cares. Someone always cares- often more than you think they do.

The next time you feel like hurting yourself or ending it altogether, give me call or send me message. I’ll tell you how big a loss you will be, not just to stop you but because it’s the truth.

You’re worth a life.

November 1st

A few months ago I did a tribute entry for my grandfather who passed away. Well here in the Philippines, we take celebrating All Saints and All Souls day to heart. It was something Papa (that’s what I call my grandfather) inculcated in us very well too. We’d go to the cemetery bearing flowers, candles and food on the first of November. We’d spend the night praying and talking about how the people who passed away lived their lives and how it affected ours.

It’s a time of recalling, honoring and celebrating.

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This is the first time we won’t be able to do it with Papa instead we’ll be doing it for him. I can’t say it’s easy when this time last year he’d be the one fuzzing over the preparations. Where are the candles? Did you buy the flowers yet? What time are we leaving? He’d keep badgering us til we’re finally ready. This year, no more questions, no more badgering, only the quiet knowledge that we have to continue this tradition in his honor. We have to continue to celebrate his life and everything that he has taught us.

So to all those who are celebrating their loved ones’ lives with us, my prayers are with you and I’m hoping that you’ll pray for us and those we’ve lost too.

 

***

By the way, I know you guys must be thinking that November 2 is all Souls Day so we should visit cemeteries then but for other people that date isn’t a holiday. They’d have to skip work to pay their respects so most of us just decide to do it on November 1st.

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earthquake in the Philippines

While having lunch, I heard my uncle’s fiance say there has been an earthquake in Visayas (that’s a group of islands south from where I live, Luzon). I couldn’t process it at first thinking we couldn’t be going through another calamity right after the series of typhoons and landslides in the past weeks. But then she started saying how she needed to call some of her relatives just to make sure they’re okay. That made it very real for me. We didn’t feel it from here in Manila but I was extremely scared for those who were there, my friends and their families.

According to the news, the intensity 7.2 earthquake that was greatly felt by majority of the Visayas provinces left many structures destroyed and has so far claimed 85 lives. It has greatly damaged few of the oldest churches in the Philippines like the Basilica Del Sto. Nino in Cebu and the Church of San Pedro in Bohol. Malls, bridges, homes and other buildings were also damaged.

SEVERE DAMAGE. The centuries-old Loboc Church in Loboc, Bohol shows its collapsed roof after a magnitude 7.2 quake in the region, 15 October 2013. Photo courtesy of Robert Michael Poole (@tokyodrastic)

photo by Robert Poole

It’s terrifying to keep watching these videos while knowing full well how scared the people in the area still are because of the aftershocks, the fear of not knowing which areas are safe evacuation centers and the all around brownouts that disallow them from contacting their families and friends.

Living in the Philippines my whole life, I’ve experienced a couple earthquakes myself- none as bad as this one, thank God. That feeling of being helpless, even if we’ve gone through dozen of drills, still shakes you and keeps you paranoid for some time. Although the government has made plans already on how to handle this, the civil society’s help and prayers will still be much needed and appreciated.

when we’ve gone

beep

beep

beep

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Gone. Passed. Left. In a better place. Floating. Waiting. Reborn.

What happens to us when we’ve passed? What is there after we’ve breathed our last and closed our eyes one final time?

Do we just disappear, into nothingness like we never existed, like we have never been? Quite frankly that’s depressing and comforting all at the same time. Depressing as the 70, if we’re lucky, years that we have is all that we have. There is nothing more. But it’s also comforting. No more worrying about what comes next, what is after death. That’s just it, it’s over.

Do we just leave? Do we pass on to a better a place where angels, if you went to Sunday school, play harps just over the pearly white gates? Is there a state of paradise that we can look forward to after the inescapable labyrinth of suffering here on Earth? Many of us who were raised believers of a certain faith hold the promise of paradise very close to our hearts. I remember reading Dante Alighieri’s Paradiso and just thinking why people hate dying so much. Eternal life in paradise seems so much more promising that the repetitive boredom they paint human life to be.

Are we in between? Perhaps we are not nothing but not someone either. We’re just floating and waiting. For what? I am not sure. I just heard once that death is an eternal suspension where nothing is real but everything seems like it’s happening. Confusing, undefined but existing.

Do we get to live again, reborn, alive but different? Like Buddha’s promise of living life over and over again until we reach nirvana. We get to live the life that we deserve after we’ve lived the life before that. As enticing as this may seem, do we not get tired of living life til eternity ends? If it ends at all. This is why I think immortality is pointless. Fear and urgency brought about by the knowledge that life may end and nothing may come after that, allows us to pursue the spontaneous, the free and the risky. It persuades us to live, and I mean truly live because we may not get the chance again.

Whatever death may be, I hope that when it comes knocking on my door, I would have lived a full and happy life. I will work everyday starting now to make that happen. Maybe you should too.

***

TO MY READERS

You may be wondering why the sudden post on death. I’ve sat in a hospital room this past week watching my grand father regress before me. 3 times. 3 times this week he flat lined right in front of me and I kept thinking, ‘What would become of him after this? ‘ Where would he go?  Thus this post.

As you are reading this, he may have gone already. I may be in one corner suppressing my tears. Please, if you pray, pray for him, his soul. It would mean so much to me.