#VoicesOfHope: The Forbidden Past

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Our parents made sure that we were raised with manners and discipline. We were punished for committing mistakes and breaking the rules by my father. My fear and feelings of inferiority then emerged at a young age. With this, I had to keep secrets from my family such as being homosexual (gay) as this adds more fear towards my father. Another secret that I hid from them was I became my neighbor’s victim– he took advantage of me. I did everything that he asked me to do as I was scared and felt as if this took my innocence as a child. Only my friends knew about all this. Carrying this experience through time was difficult for me.

A huge shift in my life happened when I graduated from college and had to search for a job. For the first time, I was away from my family and I had to deal with everything alone in Cebu City. Culture shock is real. The city is beautiful and a lot of things were happening in my life but this was also that point where my mental health started to deteriorate.

My frustrations and rejections from job hunting triggered this. I could not sleep at night, tend to overthink everything, felt excessively worried, sad, and unable to focus. My cousins pointed out that these were symptoms of a mental health problem. They immediately informed my mother about my condition.

After almost 2 months in Cebu, I was sent back home because they thought this would help me out. But my condition only worsened and by this time, I experienced deeper anxiety and depression. Majority of my family were not well-informed about mental health problems and how to address them. They brought me to fake doctors and “faith healers” but of course, none of these helped. Finally, my mother decided to look for a psychiatrist. Once we found one in Iligan City, I was prescribed medication to treat my condition. I saw to it that I took my medicine and even tried to change my lifestyle. I thought everything was going to be easy just like that.. But it was not. I decided to cut my medication since I felt like there was no development. Everything was a trial and I constantly asked myself when will all this come to an end. I felt pity for myself every time I thought about the possibility of recovery.

I remembered my guidance counselor from our campus who was a nun. I reached out to her to talk about my condition and asked if she could help me out. She then invited me to talk and without hesitation, she did help me out by giving advice and strategies to cope. Since then, I started to see a different perspective and felt encouraged to change. I listened to calm music, read stories of people who also suffered with mental health problems, and watched testimonies. The best thing that happened was she introduced me back to God and acknowledged His love and presence.

It was a tough journey overcoming my mental health problems. I thought it would not end. Surprisingly, God did it in mysterious ways. I feel better than before. I feel validated and assured that having mental health problems is not the end for me… that there is still hope. My family and friends also became supportive and did their part to help me stand and believe that I can overcome all this. It was a big deal to help me recover. I cannot completely say that I am already free from my condition but I am writing this to tell you all who are in the same situation as I am that there is hope and you will overcome this too.

For everyone who is suffering and has felt so much sadness, we are here.. Somewhere around the world, fighting this battle with you. And each of us may have different stories and situations, but it is comforting to know that we have this common ground. Believe that there is light in the midst of the storm and if I am able to overcome this… then so can you. God is always watching over you, my friend. He never fails to.

 

Editor’s note: Faith and spirituality is known to be a coping mechanism for problems related to mental health. Aside from this, peer support, professional counseling and even physical exercise has been proven to help people with different mental health issues. Please visit our directory for a list of extensive mental health services available in the Philippines or call the NCMH hotline (09178998727) for emergencies.
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