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Saturday, November 5, 2016

A year of sharing

November 4, 2015. This was the day my friend Pam and I first wrote about our struggle with mental illness on our respective blogs. Fighting an invisible war, as I had called it. I have, since that day, written about my experience of dealing with bipolar disorder. I didn't hold anything back (and I am not planning to). I have opened myself up to the world. I have let myself become vulnerable. And I have shown how I can be both weak and strong at the same time--weak in often succumbing to a variety of triggers that pull me into a dark, downward spiral, but also strong in a sense that I still manage to hold on even to the thinnest of strings that connect me to my sanity.

To be at war with one's own mind is probably one of the most difficult battles out there. For how can you protect yourself from your own thoughts? How can you shield yourself from your mind's violent attacks that cut, wound, bruise, and maim you? Oftentimes, I just want to lock myself in a bathroom stall or hide under my pillows and blankets just so I would feel protected from the vicious attacks of my chaotic mind. But every day, every time my phone alarm rings, I know I will be facing another 24 hours of unpredictable moods.

Whenever people send me messages of support on Facebook, I can't help but be thankful. But I think the most beautiful thing that came out of my blogging about my condition is how friends of mine became open to talking about their respective struggles. Mental health and mental illness are, let's face it, still considered taboo and are not openly talked about. Even I didn't tell a soul when I first sought the help of a psychologist (and later on, a psychiatrist). But when everything got so overwhelming and the thought that what if someone out there is looking for company dawned on me, I decided to write about my own struggles on my blog so in my own way, I could tell that someone that hey, I'm here and we're on the same boat.

I've been receiving psychiatric treatment for a year and a half already. I am not in a position to assess myself, to say if I have improved or not. But all I can say is that I saw and felt the difference between my pre-treatment self and my current self. My medicines have done a great deal in improving my mood, even if I still sink into depression from time to time. I swing back and forth, from being okay to not being okay, from being terribly anxious and restless to being calm, from being happy and cheerful to being down. I swing back and forth every single day. This is the reality of my condition that I have come to accept.

But God is kind, and He has sent angels my way. I have my boyfriend PM, who has absorbed a great deal of all this; my hotline friend Pam, whose number I dial whenever I am in an emotional emergency; my family, who tries their very best to understand me; my aunt who has been so generous in giving me financial support; and other people from whom I've received kind and encouraging words.

This war may be invisible, but it doesn't mean we have to fight it alone. Let us not live in fear and shame. Let's get all the help that we need, and let's be there for each other. The whole world may ignore us, may judge us even, but if we have each other, we got this.

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