#VoicesOfHope: Time to See the Ghost


“There are ghosts in the walls and they crawl in your head through your ear,” La Dispute’s Such Small Hands are blaring through my headphones as I shut the whole world up while they are enjoying the school Christmas party. I saw the Christmas Spirit has written all over their smiles as they were exchanging their gifts and opening them up. I saw the Christmas Spirit all over their shoulders as they hugged each other, saying, “Thank you, Merry Christmas.”

As I feel the Christmas Spirit and feel them glow, I felt my social soul drifting into the unknown and leaving a space as it bid it’s goodbye to the Christmas break while Aunt Anxiety, with her companion, Uncle Depression, took my Sanity’s job for the holidays. I opened up about this and all I received was, “It’s all in your head.”

I was in 5th grade when my siblings started calling me “Bipolar”. I didn’t have any idea what mental health was back then and all I know is that I am moody and I turn into a passive-aggressive kid when I’m hungry and I self-harm just to feel the stinging sensation of being alive. While I was in 7th grade, I started to think about death and during my 8th grade, I attempted to befriend death itself.

I had to study what mental health was all about, because being trapped in your own mind isn’t as pleasant as daydreaming about your crush. Later on, I have learned about Bipolar Disorder and how it has two major episodes; the depressive episode and the manic episode where you either feel depressed for a long period of time or feel hyperactive. And when I was in 9th grade, I decided to try online counseling and I was diagnosed back then that I am experiencing major symptoms of Bipolar Disorder 2; the severe type and that I need to get regular check-up with a Mental Health professional.

As I isolate myself from my family, my classmates, and my friends. I decided to self-harm as a way of coping and it went on for years. I have drowned myself in thoughts I can’t comprehend and questions that I can’t answer properly. I was suicidal and I never had a chance to be checked by a psychologist or psychiatrist because I don’t know how will I explain to my parents that I’m suffering from a Mental Health illness and that illness can’t be measured by thermometers or be cured by ointments. How can I tell them without them telling me, “Why? Only addicts go to psychiatrists”. How can I tell them without getting told that I’m only overreacting.

It’s an everyday battle I have to fight and it’s never easy. Not until one drunken night, I had a major meltdown and I begged my mom to have me checked by a mental health professional. There, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1.

Then I start to wonder about the other teenagers or even adults who are suffering with the same illness as mine. How can they cope up with such battles?

Every day I update myself about how the suicide rate in the Philippines is slowly rising and I can’t help but be saddened by the thought that many people are suffering and they think that they can’t get professional help.

When will we notice the ghosts that are not existing in our traditional horror stories? When will we notice the ghosts that don’t haunt us in our sleep but in social occasions?

Mental Health issue is the ghost when we fail to believe in Mental Health, even if there are scientific facts out there. Mental Health issue is the ghost in our walls and it may crawl in our head through our ears. And perhaps today, it’s time to see the ghost.

#VoiceofHope: Time to See the Ghost by Shree Mena Ornopia

#MentalHealthPH believes that you and your story will help empower other people living with mental health problems and fight the stigma linked to it. Be a voice of hope! Submit your story here: bit.ly/VOHstory

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