The course of true love, and mental health too

In William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lysander said this realist take on love to Hermia, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” I do not know why I remembered this quotation while thinking of mental health. I did not have any idea, but perhaps subconsciously, I was:

  • flexing that I have read some Shakespearean plays, mostly tragedies, but I would build my case that Romeo and Juliet is not the best one, so date me.
  • calling to mind the time I was cast as Puck/Robin Goodfellow/Hobgoblin on our school play production of “Midsummer” and I felt the most adorably cute guy in class when I got the role (except that there was a scarcity of male English majors, so poor female classmates, they had to dress as men). FUN TIMES!
  • struggling to ransack my mental list of Shakespeare quotes about mental health to give this piece an edgy, adorkable vibe;
  • destined to build on this introductory part to either drive away my readers or pique their interest by comparing love to mental healing.
William Shakespeare also said, “Check the label.”

I’d never disrespect Shakespeare, and I’d say he has a point. The course-of-true-love-starter-pack consists of intersections, detours, bumpy roads, dust, a herd of cows crossing the street, what have you. Sometimes, you will have to start over, because your Waze has directed you to a cul-de-sac. Mental health could use a road trip metaphor to relate to the slow steps toward healing: denial, finances, change of behavior, radical decisions, letting go, attitudinal changes, healthy lifestyle, developing a supportive community, and courage. However quixotic and disorderly these juxtapositions are, I am holding on to what my doctor said. That I’d be cured. Or if not, I’d outgrow my depression, PTSD, anxiety disorder, and suicidal predispositions.

Darling, I am no therapist, and I would never claim to fully understand you or your friend. I’m just a simple anxious blogger with a sophomoric cadence out of a solid idol worship of gods: Virginia Woolf, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, Immanuel Kant, Arundhati Roy, and Rachel Bloom. Sure, there are a lot of ways and therapies I would never come across in a one-time mental health meditation, but I am going to write the things that worked well. I went to a psychiatrist, I formed coping mechanisms, and I’m starting the conversation and wasting your precious time.

(ASIDE: So you are not depressive. How assuming of me to conclude that you are automatically mentally unstable just because you are reading this. For all I know, you are in love with me and my dry wit and anti-literary writing, or you are an asset or identity theft snooping around to track my contact information, bank account number, pictures and favorite motto. You may not be living with any illnesses, but I am happy to welcome you here and learn about our aggravations, because everyone should be educated on mental health. Even if you are a fucking stalker. Get a life, and get off me, you creepy stalker!)

Take me to therapy!

On my previous post, “I’m a good person“, I already told you my futile history and boyhood in the world that allowed symptoms of sickness. When I was in first year high school, I felt pressured being pitted against all the valedictorians and salutatorians and rich kids and tall guys and basketball players that I stopped going to school for days and told Mom I want to end this. I was not diagnosed with anything, but I’m sure to be insecure and all that.

Then on college, I broke hearts and got my heart broken, and cried and got discouraged with life, streaming Secondhand Serenade/Panic! At the Disco/MYMP to feel all this magical thinking. Then when I graduated not getting a Latin honor nor a Loyalty Award (despite not being a cheater that time), nobody saw me crying walking home, because I was like, the hell, my aunt’s expecting me to have a medal because he’s been asking my shirt size. But one good friend hinted my frustration through a Desiderata verse I lifted on Facebook.

Then when I worked as a teacher at age 19, I was nearly kicked out of my job because of a conspiracy theory as factual as a unicorn sighting (Promise, this story deserves another funny and borderline libelous essay!).  Then when I transferred to teach to another school, I was cyberbullied both by my own young students and a workmate for being tagged a terrorist (Promise, I can’t for the life of me waste my time coming for fascist enablers that they don’t deserve a funny and libelous essay but a fucking Pulitzer-worthy memoir!). These experiences broke my heart, of course, but then I needed not to go to therapy. Maybe I was good at concealing them, and perhaps, I have learned to forgive their imperfections because I cannot please all people and not all people are compassionate and smart.

But on the onset of my volatility that is 2019, I decided to consult a psychiatrist and be medicated.

(NOTE: I will be interchanging the words ‘doctor,’ ‘psychiatrist,’ and its fancy umbrella term ‘therapist,’ but I am referring to just one fine woman. However, I’m more comfortable to use ‘psychiatrist’ to normalize mental health checkups.)

I had hit the lowest pit of sadness, I have been thinking of the best way to die, I have shunned close circles, and I have physical symptoms, like hyperventilating, headaches, sleeplessness/drowsiness, unexplained/imagined/real tummy aches while walking, and so on. All of these were adverse signs that I really needed saving.

For almost 30 years, I’ve known something was wrong
But Mom said weakness causes bloating, so I tried to be strong
Fake it till you make it, that’s how I got by

I went to see a psychiatrist last June, noontime. I was crippled with anxiety at the waiting room. Thoughts: Why is this cute kid staring at me? Woah woah woah woah I am not crazy! Necessarily. What if my doctor would care about the money over me? What if she’s going to intrude into my childhood and adulthood traumas, and then spread rumors against me? What if I won’t be honest enough? Why is every session taking so so so so so long? Why does the country have few therapists? What excuse will I tell my parents that I spent late nights? What’s for dinner?

“What happened to you?” She asked.

I never got ashamed of my psychiatrist and became so honest with her, told her my signs, symptoms, my triggers, and all those unfortunate events. I had to take advantage of her professional fee. So she listened intently, and then as she spoke to me for two minutes, my eyes welled with tears. I was wailing nonstop, because I agreed with her. And because I thought I don’t deserve a person like her. Then she prescribed medicines I am still taking on a daily basis. She took away my money, and I was like, if she won’t get me well, I’ll find her car and drill a hole on its wheel.

The first time I took the medicine, there are a lot of side effects: palpitations, drowsiness, and a decreased libido. Or maybe there weren’t, I just got paranoid googling everything on the internet.

Acceptance was not easy to me, that when I came back to my second session to ask for another prescription, I told her I love the drugs and I hope she’d medicate me more so I’d be cured ASAP. Then I whined like a kid, because there was no change from the undiagnosed Kloyde to the Kloyde 2.0 who lost weight and now looks like fucking Aladdin or Devon Sawa from Casper.

So she talked to me again, like a guidance counselor talking to a boy who stuck a bubble gum on a girl’s hair. On the sessions I have had with her, I always feel lighter and more understanding on things. I may have a cherry-picked set of Christian beliefs and a rolodex of swearwords unlike my calm and collected psychiatrist, but I always found myself nodding and saying amen or signing ‘rock on’ whenever she says her tips.  

I love talk therapy so much I want to have sex with talk therapy. Is there any paper ring I can purchase on Amazon so I can marry talk therapy and maybe have kids who are liberal, healthy, and smart? Therapy is like church to me, something that I look forward to because there’s one evening spent for me to improve my life, with the help of my psychiatrist. It’s like me acknowledging that I do not know all things, I may not necessarily resort to blaming, and there’s hope.

When I started to come forward and write about mental health, I have many readers who slid into my Messenger confiding about their confusion about this illness. Others have a diagnosis, but are afraid of the medicines they are to take. Yes, it’s true that there is a variety of ways, like those reiki shits and yoga and other forms of meditation that may not need tablets. Yes, it’s true that the pill is no magic. There were times I do not take medicines because I’m so angry of myself for being depressive, but at the end of the day, I end up pinning my trust to my licensed psychiatrist. She didn’t have to use a trust potion.

I had sought help already and I had been there many times, so why will I still be afraid? I’m still alive, and still adorkable, so what’s the fuss? Sometimes I tell myself these when I slip down. Many times. There is no sign yet of me being totally cured, and my memories and triggers still attack me. I may have to shell out fund for my medicines and give up Starbucks and traveling. But I will still take and take my medications as prescribed. Because I am motivated to be well, and I have a very good relationship with my psychiatrist.

“Yes, everyone is special, that’s usually the sitch
But when it comes to meds, you’re such a basic bitch”

Trivia: Kathryn Burns, the choreographer of “Antidepressants” and “Don’t be a lawyer,” won the 2019 Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming!🏆

If I polyamory be normalized, I’d also marry my medications and the three of us would live under one roof.

Busy as a bee

What other people may not tell you is this: mental illnesses are a daily struggle. No pill can take out those emotions right away. Sometimes, I think I am the problem why all of these are still haunting me. My psychiatrist once became an estimation expert and cautioned me that medications are good. They’re 70% drivers toward healing. Meanwhile, the remaining 30% lies on me, what I decide to be doing in my life. And even if I am religiously taking medicines and paying my therapist to talk to me, then I will only get 70%. Still a failing grade.

Coping mechanisms have become a buzzword as we talk about mental illnesses. These are any set of activities that will distract me from thinking about my clownery. They are things I do that are making me satisfied and worthy. This may not be necessarily important, but these are some ‘happy changes’ that my friends have noticed since I decided to confront my demons, and they become happy that I’m happy too.

When anxiety strikes me mostly on public places, I would manage it by deep breathing. It’s fundamental to know how to breathe. Anxiety is something negative like a ghost, so I would instead recognize it, like letting it inside my room, but I would ignore it. I’d shove essential oils on my nostrils and close my eyes and just remember happy happy thoughts, like how Silky Nutmeg Ganache is so wrong she becomes right for my mental health.

I have a violent tendency, so my way of managing anxiety was pulling my hair, saying ‘fuck you bitch’ to anxiety, and sometimes, I punch myself and punch the pillows. I’m trying to avoid these.

Coping mechanisms are tiny beautiful sparkles toward a better sense of self. We may have different interests, but my idea of what constitutes a healthy, long-term mechanism is: 1. it has to be productive; 2. it must not abuse others; 3. it’s promoting health and wellness; 4. it’s utilizing and improving my talents; 5. it’s a habit I’m not ashamed to do or share; 6. it’s something I can encourage other people to do; and 6. it’s allowing me to discover myself.

I make running a regular workout. I run from 5 kilometers to 21 kilometers. Then on my last kilometer, I would sprint and shout like a karate player and yell. That’s my favorite part of the routine. Because kids stare at me with wonder.

I cook pasta for my parents and neighbors and little cousins. I also cook steak. Pasta of choice, creamy carbonara or pasta aglio olio with Spanish sardines. So far, I have named them, called them Creamy Nutmeg Ganache, Spicy Nutmeg Ganache, Cheesy Nutmeg Ganache, or Oily Nutmeg Ganache. Depends on the ingredients.

Meet Fishy Nutmeg Ganache.

I love listing down my tasks for the day and putting them in the planner. I love picking up quotes from a book and writing them on a blank space, despite my love-hate relationship with my penmanship.

One of the highlights of my 2019, something my mental illnesses won’t take away from me: joining a book launch on our book Young Blood 7. Click here to buy our book.

I became well-read and I revel on any genre of book, may it be prose or poetry, fiction or nonfiction (I have biases on nonfiction though, especially on celebrity tidbits and lives fucked up), graphic novels or longform with font size 8, Comic Sans. I am also involved in a reading club by Kate Bowler called The Everything Happens Book Club. I love our monthly selection!

In a month, I can read eight to ten books, but now that I’m blogging, I can’t focus!

I love to be involved in any health-related forums and newsletters. I signed up on the following: World Health Organization, George Ezra’s Journal, Healthline, The Mighty, Aleteia, Talkspace, and 52 Small Things. I also ugly cry on these podcasts: Terrible, Thanks for Asking, Race Chaser, New York Times’ Modern Love, and my newest discovery is Alessandra Torresani’s EmotionAL Support, where she has all her guest celebrities discussing mental health in a funny, unfiltered way, making us remember that people living with mental illnesses are persons first.

Most of all, I blog. I write most of what I feel, beautiful and ugly. I love being read and being engaged to all my readers. Blogging fits perfectly to my criteria of a coping mechanism, but as to writing talent, it’s yet to be found. Sometimes though I harass my friends and link them my pieces they do not read. No biggie.

Winston Churchill likens depression to a black dog that grows over time. It sometimes interrupts us on our prime years. Still we feed it and feed it by running away, or letting it in our doorstep. It sits on our lap, it licks our face. We feed it that it becomes large and tall and strong that it can consume us. For days we can’t stand up because its strong-ass legs are stepping on our chest. We stay in our room picking up the shits it produced. But it can be trained. It can learn tricks, like chasing the ball we throw far away, so you can go on and not be distracted. You can also put it in a cage, because you have so many things to do. You can also put it on a leash. Here’s to hoping that someday, we will be able to control and accept it because much is to be learned from a black dog.

That’s why I am a cat person.

“Why have cats, over time, become synonymous with loneliness?” And Churchill’s black dog.

Coming forward

I am coming forward because no one wants to talk about it. I am coming forward because not everyone can talk about it. I am coming forward because I want to talk to somebody. I am coming forward because somebody wants to talk to someone. I am coming forward because you are not talking to me. I am coming forward because I am not talking to you. I am coming forward because, fuck it Thailand, I am not afraid of risks anymore, of judgments, of stigma and crazy-calling because their actions speak more about them than they speak about me. I am coming forward because somehow, perhaps there are people who do not necessarily need professional help but someone to talk to. I am coming forward because I am noisy, I am too much, I am sharp-witted, I am woke, I am irreverent, and because I can. I am coming forward because some people love me for being noisy, being too much, being sharp-witted, being woke, being irreverent, and because I can. I am coming forward because, well, it’s here already.

Honestly speaking, my blog started to be my selfish form of therapy. I never planned to talk about my illness openly because I am afraid of judgment. My first post, Keeping a Journal, has hinted my battle with suicide and all that shit, but it was all unclear. I used to be satisfied that I have only three readers: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But maybe my friends missed me and my rambling posts that it had received a modest amount of encouragements and sharing of same journey/interests. I liked the fact that when I started opening up, the entities listening to me are not only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

So I said on my next blog post, no pressure. But be honest. I posted essays on my problematic runs, my anxiety attacks on a sacred time, the books that saved my soul in some ways, and others. I will not deny that I like being liked, but the real bliss of this whole journey is that there are a lot of people who feel the same way, and are now encouraging me to write more.

I will not claim to be an exquisite writer, but what really matters to me are your engagements. You didn’t have to open up to me but you are telling me now that you also are on the brink of losing yourself, and now, we’re helping each other. This coming forward has a worth.

I said to myself, if I can help one person cope with this beautiful, ambiguous world, then I can help two, or three, or hundreds.

And you can, too. You may not create a four-part essay-speech if you feel writing is difficult. Talk to someone. Join them on lunchtime. Hug them, but only with consent. Say, como esta, but make sure you are sincere. Be self-aware, and guard your language. It’s never bad to be good.

Where to start? Damn, there’s no rule! There are many questions we need to talk about. Right now. Like, why are people dying by suicide? Where are my elementary classmates now? Why is happiness overrated? Why do we not explore sadness? Who am I? Who are you? Where is Crispin and Basilio?

Doing so, never stopping learning, would just amaze you. Before, I had the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as readers. Now I have college students I forced, high school friends, long-time no-see friends, co-advocates, mental health practitioners, reader from Namibia, from Canada, and the director of our university’s human resource. Promise, this story deserves another funny and non-libelous essay.


PS: This is the fourth part of my speech titled “The situation is a lot more nuanced than that: A meditation on mental health through Crazy ex-girlfriend” delivered at an NSTP class of Notre Dame of Marbel University on August 24, 2019. This is the part where I had no script because I ran out of preparation time. So I heavily relied on my powerpoint presentation on writing this. Anyway, if you are a teacher/student and wants a copy of my powerpoint presentation, don’t be afraid to approach me in the comment section so I may be able to send you one. Anyway, I ended up my speech with this:

Can I have a favor to ask from the NSTP batch? Can someone volunteer? Please stand up. Please stand up if you promise to end the stigma on mental health on this gymnasium. Stand up if you believe that mental illnesses are real illnesses. (Don’t ruin this and humiliate me, freshies!) Stand up if you believe that everyone deserves to be taken care of. Stand up if you are willing to listen to someone share his or her situations. Stand up if you believe this gymnasium is a batch of competent leader, of good teachers, of future health professionals, of good parents, of promising advocates of mental health. Continue to stand up and pretend that this is a standing ovation for my rambling speech. Good morning to everyone.

PPS: If you are from Mindanao, you can turn to the Facebook page of the Mindanao Youth for Mental Health (MYMH) and Aqilah. Other mental health orgs in the country include Youth for Mental Health CoalitionHealing Minds PHSilakbo PH#MentalHealthPHTayo; Tayo ProjectTALA: Mental WellnessArooga Health; and Play it Forward (focused on children’s post-disaster mental health). Looking for the nearest locations of mental health facilities and services in the Philippines? Here’s Mental Health AWHEREness.

Join the Conversation

4 Comments

    1. Hello J. It’s my pleasure that my effort’s reciprocated through the people reading me and sending me nice words. Anyway, as said in the post, it’s my fourth and final part of the speech I delivered. If you may want to read the other parts of the whole, I’m giving the links to you: part 1: https://kloydecaday.wordpress.com/2019/08/24/the-situation-is-a-lot-more-nuanced-than-that/;
      part 2: https://kloydecaday.wordpress.com/2019/09/06/im-a-good-person/; part 3:
      https://kloydecaday.wordpress.com/2019/08/27/debunking-mental-health-stigma/. Hope to see you soon!

      Like

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