BRAVING THE STIGMA

Sometimes it felt like I was losing my identity. I was trapped in a world I could not get out of, all alone because no one understood.

Early this year, Claudine Barretto (a famous Filipino actress) revealed to the world the state of her mental health for the past 20 years. There was commotion on social media and all the judging people immediately and easily branded her “baliw” (crazy) after she admitted in a television interview that she is suffering from Panic Disorder after the death of Rico Yan, her deceased boyfriend.

She had to see a psychiatrist to help understand the depression she was going through and the bursts of intense fear and anger she could not manage. She needed healing from the pain she did not have time to grieve with. Her world collapsed and the people around her, even the ones she trusted, made things worse by looking at her like another psyche case.

Her story is not new to many other stories across the world, but more imminently in our own country. Many are stereotyped, judged, pitied, and mortified simply because they have mental issues. In worst cases, they are treated as social pariahs— rejected, disrespected, and not trusted.

I know all these because I know a lot of people who struggle with mental conditions and I, for one, am suffering from it.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder in 2014 after a misdiagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder in 2013. I was already an adult when I got to know what was wrong with me. However, the symptoms were already manifested when I was in my teenage years but I did not know what was wrong then. I was very unpredictable, moody, made wrong choices and even committed suicide twice. The people around me thought that my teenage hormones were just taking its toll on me and that was it. They were in complete denial that I was sick. I began to get confused of who I was. I had alternating bouts of mania and depression; and became unmindful of my thoughts and actions. Sometimes it felt like I was losing my identity. I was trapped in a world I could not get out of, all alone because no one understood.

Along the course of my adulthood, I tried to live through it and managed to keep my sanity even in the oddest of times but when the pressure at work started to cloud my mind and consumed me emotionally, my condition came back and this time I needed to seek help from a specialist.

I used to work in the BPO industry and I handled the complaints of our clients. Though dealing with them was just part of “work” but I was inevitably affected since I have absorbed all the negativity.

My doctor gave me my medications for the treatment but not to cure it because there is no cure after all. Bipolar Disorder is treatable but not curable which means that this will be with me until my deathbed.

Revealing this to the world would definitely draw judgments and humiliations from those who do not understand the condition. I have to be strong to take the flak as long as people would know that many go through mental health issues but most choose to ignore, hide, or deny that they, too, need help, they are just scared to let it out to the world.  

I am standing along with many others who are struggling with the same disorder. Let us help each other and make the world a better place, free of judgment and social stigma.

 

ROCHELLE DERILO

Bipolar Disorder

Batch 21

Marikina City

 
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