#VoicesOfHope: The Mind’s Cancer


Hello Friend,

Call me Katherine. I will be turning 23 years old soon, but to be honest, I wish I won’t. I believe I don’t deserve to live. I have been battling my mental illness since I was in high school, until now that I am an adult with a job, living far away from my parents.

Throughout the years, I have fallen into the pit of depression and got out of it multiple times. This is the reason why I call mental illness the mind’s cancer: once you think you’re getting better, it comes back. I was formally diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (with psychotic features) when I was 17 years old. My parents flew back to the Philippines (we were expatriates, but I stayed here for college) to see what was wrong with me after a breakdown. I ran around in front my grandparents’ house while repeatedly screaming, “I want to die!” My aunt told me she saw me slamming my head on my study desk like a robot. I barely have a clear recollection of that.

Before being put on medication, I spent a few months suffering from intense and constant low mood; hopelessness; animosity towards myself; suicidal ideation; the extreme guilt of things I strongly believed I caused, which range from natural disasters and horrible world events to personal turmoils of my friends and family. I also suffered physically: I was unable to get out of bed for days on end without any food; I became extremely forgetful and unable to process information like how I used to; I would either sleep for 18 hours straight or stay awake for 48 hours straight despite being lethargic. There were days that I had no memory of and days where I’m so detached that I’d feel like I’m observing myself do tasks.

The violence I directed to myself through self-harm became intense compared to when I was in high school. My academic, social life and spirituality followed suit to the ongoing nosedive to the gutter. I made meticulous plans on killing myself, up to the point of having a last will and testament. I call this Part One.

As I started to get back on my feet while I was on medication, I made the stupid decision when I abruptly stopped taking them without my psychiatrist’s knowledge. I thought I was back! I thought I was okay! I was proven wrong when another depressive stretch kicked me square on my face. I call this Part Two.

It was bad enough that my parents had to fly me back on 2013 so I can heal. My memory was so badly affected that I had to sit down with my mother to list down the major events of every year in my life that had happened since I was born. I felt withered and ghostly. I had to clean up the mess that I made out of myself. After some time and slowly, I started to feel more human. I continued college via a home school program. I even got a job! Although the physical symptoms started to fade, I felt extremely guilty and angry towards myself because of being mentally ill. Sadly, I carried the stigma that was so unfortunately drilled into my system by the culture I grew up with.

After the recuperation, Part Three happened that I had to go back on medication. Same grind. Same crap. However, since I already know my red flags, I managed to catch this one early that it was relatively easy to manage. Just like the ones in high school, Part One, Part Two, I managed to get up again.

Right now, I am going through Part Four. I have been seeing a psychiatrist and am on medication since February this year, although the symptoms started to pop up again in August 2016. Part Four is especially hard. I have gone back to hurting myself after more than a year of not doing so; I almost got fired from my job due to underperforming (cognitive functions are yet again affected); it was like Part One all over again, although this time I have more responsibility on my shoulders. With so much shame, I have turned to drinking, too.

Throughout Part One until Four, I have been fighting off strong suicidal thoughts and irrational guilt even on good days. I may look like I’m okay and steady, but I am still rotting inside. I know that my story is dark and it doesn’t seem like what you’d expect to see from this page, but I’m writing this because you can learn something from my battle.

But the periods of light in between the darkness I was in is enough proof that things do get better no matter how deep you are in your battle

After all the suffering I have gone through the Parts, after the suffering that I am going through right now, things always looked up in between. I would be lying if I say that I am not afraid of how long Part Four will last, or the fact that I may have Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven. I don’t know. Who knows? But the periods of light in between the darkness I was in is enough proof that things do get better no matter how deep you are in your battle. This knowledge gives me so much comfort.

Nobody is completely alone. I have people who stay, who care, who have no other hope that I get out of a Part alive and ready to get well. Whenever my mind tells me I have no one and when I become suspicious, I have the fact that I am not alone. I am so sure that you have people, too. Nobody is alone. You are not alone. Mental illness is not a light thing to take, but I have learned to treat this as a survival game that I need to win. Although I feel so weary and am always so, so, so close to giving up, I think about this as a battle that I have to win. I need to win for the people I love.

My friend, if you are suffering, please don’t be afraid to get help. If you are getting help, please do not quit. I am proud of you for fighting, and please take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people are with you. You are not alone. I know this because I thought I was, but I was proven so wrong every day.

Right now, I am struggling with suicidal thoughts, hopelessness, being extremely emotional. I tried to kill myself on a Tuesday in the past two weeks, but a friend pulled me back. I cry secretly. I am rotting inside. But, you know what? I am letting what’s left of my sanity take the wheel to remind me that this is just a Part, and Parts are…well, Parts. They end. They always do. Always. Always. This is an illness, and it does not define me. Illnesses can be won over. Always. Always. When you lose hope, will you think of my story? Will you think of all the other people who are fighting, too? You are not alone. Please keep fighting. Keep fighting with us. I hope that you’ll be the one writing something like this in the near future. Keep on. You are loved. Always. Always. I love you.

Will always remain,


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