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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Some end-of-the-year thoughts

When a year comes to a close, people tend to post their reflections and throwbacks on blogs and social media. Before our newsfeeds get filled with all these musings, allow me to post mine.

A huge part of my 2016 has been devoted to dealing with my psychiatric condition. Having bipolar disorder is no joke. Dealing with sudden mood changes is difficult, especially when I'm plunged into a depressive episode that lasts for weeks, months even. And a huge part of my depressive episodes involves my insecurity toward Z. Forgive me for sounding like a broken record talking about Z again and again in this blog. I don't even know whether I'm depressed because I'm insecure of Z, or I'm insecure of Z that's why I am depressed. I don't know which causes what. All I know is that those two go together. 

This is why when I learned to love myself more, I couldn't be happier. After several therapy sessions, dosage adjustments, and countless advice to friends who understand what I'm going through, I finally learned to stop feeling small and stop comparing myself with Z. We're different. 

I also made new friends this year. Some of PM's friends and fraternity brothers became my friends, too. In our boarding house, my roommates and I got closer. We bore witness to the blossoming of our respective romantic relationships. Grazielle got married. PM and I celebrated our first anniversary (of being together) and we're going strong. Lea and Camille found love in the last quarter of 2016. For us, 2016 has been full of love, and for this, we are thankful.

It is interesting to note, though, that while I gained new friends, I also lost some. Maybe that's part of growing up. Maybe that's part of #adulting. It's not about the number of friends you have but it's more of having true friends around. Life isn't a Ms. Popular competition. You don't have to be friends with everyone. I don't have to be friends with everyone.

We're down to the last day of the year. Tomorrow, it's 2017. While I'm anxious and a bit scared, I'm also looking forward to the new year. I'm excited to do things I haven't done before. I'm looking forward to getting better as I continue to have slow but steady improvement in the psychiatric department. I'm looking forward to another year full of love and happiness. No matter how shitty 2016 has been, everyone has a chance to reset in 2017. And that's what I am going to do. 


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Self-love

My session with Dr. G last December 12 went well. This is probably the third or fourth session in a row that went well. Every time I leave her clinic calm and composed, every time I leave her clinic happy as if I just came from a nice conversation with a friend, I count that as an achievement.

I've been making slow but steady progress ever since Dr. G and I discussed cognitive distortions. Now, whenever I feel that negative thoughts are starting to cloud my mind, I am now able to step back and evaluate those thoughts. I don't tell myself that my thoughts and my feelings are wrong. I even acknowledge that I have a right to feel those. But now, I have learned to stop blaming myself all the time and have started to accept that some things are beyond my control. I am not the one to blame all the time. Not everything is my fault.

I also go back to my conversation with Dr. T, PM's friend whom I met last month, every time I feel bad about myself. She gave me an important piece of advice--that learning to love oneself is a process. It isn't done overnight, so I should be patient with myself. That even if I fail to love myself every single day, I should forgive myself, and then try again.

Her advice played a huge part in helping me deal with my insecurity, too. She knows Z personally, so I value her opinion whenever she says there is no reason for me to be insecure of her. A lot of people tell me that, but because it came from her, I feel it has more weight. I also got the same input from Dr. C (another friend of PM). Both of them know Z personally, so their opinions have a huge effect on me and my thinking. It's as if Dr. C's and Dr. T's opinions signed and sealed all other opinions I've heard and made them more valid and official.

Now, I feel that I am no longer as insecure of Z as I was before. I still am, but I have learned to love myself more. I now give myself the appreciation it deserves--appreciation for my talents, my skills, and even the way I think and talk to people. Dr. T said that this is even better, because the change didn't come from Z. It was not "based" on her. It was based on how I now feel towards her. This is a remarkable progress, and I am happy about it.

I still can't go out without makeup. I'm still scared of bumping into Z, and I don't want to look plain when that happens. But I am being patient with myself. Getting over this is another process, and I'm taking it one step at a time.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Stories of insecurity

Around this time last year, my anxiety level was so high it probably went beyond the stratosphere. I was to meet Z in a few days, and I was so jittery. I was so insecure of her that when we got introduced, I wasn't able to eat even if there were countless of sumptuous dishes on the buffet table.

I remembered this because last weekend, a good friend of mine talked to me about her insecurity. Like me, she's insecure of a girl. The thought of her makes her feel small and inadequate, just the way Z makes me feel so small. I can relate to every part of her story. When we were talking last Saturday, I got transported to that dinner party where I met Z for the first time.

I've talked about my insecurity a lot on this blog, with my boyfriend PM, and with a few close friends. Sometimes, I feel they are already tired of me telling them how insecure I am of Z. If I can get over it by sheer willpower, I will. But unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

I once told PM that maybe it would help if I talk about my insecurity with other people who know Z personally. PM agreed, so I talked to two people who know her. Even if we're not particularly close, I appreciate these two friends (Dr. C and Dr. T) of mine who took the time to listen to my story. Both of them gave me the same piece of advice: that I should love myself. That there is no reason for me to be insecure of her.

PM helps me with my insecurity by telling me the qualities that he likes about me. He even greets me with "Hey, Pretty!" or "Good morning, Pretty!" I appreciate every bit of it because it makes me feel good about myself. But ultimately, this appreciation should come from deep within me. Self-love, as what my two doctor friends have advised.

A year after meeting Z, I am still insecure of her. But now, I am finding less reasons to feel that way. I have started to love myself more. I wear my favorite deep red lipstick when I need a boost. But I still can't go out without makeup. I am afraid of bumping into Z without looking my best. Maybe this will pass, too. And when that happens, I will be wearing makeup for the sheer joy of doing so and not because I am insecure of Z.

It took me quite a long time to make this small progress. Battling with insecurity is a long (and painful) process. It involves a lot of tears and a lot of talking with close friends and loved ones. If I would give my friend who talked to me last Saturday an advice, I would tell her to just hold on. Nobody can set a deadline for someone to get over her insecurity. I am still not done with my battle. But eventually, I will. And so will my friend.