#MentalHealthBlogathon2018: Voices for Change

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Before I start this post, here are some of the mental health services I discovered through the event:

• University of Santo Tomas Psycho-Trauma Clinic (free for all)

• Bahay Aruga

• Mental Health PH Database for services available nationwide

•••

On the Internet, especially on social media, mental health is becoming more commonly discussed. News of celebrity deaths through suicide are on our timelines and feed, it seems, month after month. Suicide hotlines and threads regarding depression and other mental health disorders are shared throughout every social media platform.

I don’t believe that discussion is enough to address the stigma and the issues around mental health. But I believe that discussion elevates awareness, and the more we realize how alarming it is that many Filipinos go undiagnosed, without help, unaware of their own illness or unaware that help is possible, the closer we get to a more sustainable solution for each and every one of them.

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And for that reason, I participated in Mental Health Philippine’ first Blogathon on April 28, 2018. I have had this blog for three years, posting prose, poetry, and the rare personal blog post of an event. This year, I was committed to extending my reach as a writer, and I think having meaningful content to share with my audience, no matter how small, is part of it.

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Treading water

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It comes on days one isn’t likely to expect. 

It crashes down on me like a roaring wave and I’m helpless to the whims of something greater, something deeper, something with its own mind and will.

Then I’m frozen. My chest feels heavy, like there are clouds inside fit to burst into a thunderstorm. My mind is replaying memories I’d rather forget, or empty as I stare at my phone and curl up and let myself be fed with endless information. 

I don’t want to get up. My body aches from being stuck in the same position and I know I’ve got to, but I’m under the sea still; still helpless to the current that’s pulling me farther out; deeper in. 

I’d be in that state for weeks or worse, if I let it. And though every joint in my body creaks no as I get up to have a drink of water, I struggle to do it anyway. I think of how many steps there are from the kitchen to the bathroom, and how a good a shower could feel. I take them, slowly, until I’m under the constant stream of cold water and I finally feel awake. I eat. I make the bed and rearrange my books; I look at the dust that’s gathered in the every corner and sweep the floor. I go out of the door, onto the balcony and look down at the playing children, at the strangers walking, and hear the faint sound of music coming from my neighbor’s door. I breathe.

Slowly, slowly. I swim against the current. I swim out to the shore.