It Was A Struggle (Dealing with Depression Part 2)

There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.

Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss

Remaining at the ER for more than 5 hours and having needles in my hand was not my ideal kind of rest. I was just there to get my sick leave certificate; however, they found out I was having a Hypertensive Crisis and had to be treated immediately with intravenous medications. They had to guarantee my blood pressure was normal, including all my vital signs. After 5 hours, I was advised to go home and take rest for two more days but need to go back to the hospital should I experience anything unpleasant.

I felt so tired as soon as I went home, but I couldn’t sleep. I had lots on my mind that sleep couldn’t get through me. It was strange, though; I felt my mind was about to explode with all the thoughts, but there was not even one particular thought or topic my mind could concentrate on. My mind was like television; someone got the remote and just endlessly changed the channels. My head hurt so bad, and I felt my eyes — though closed — moving non-stop, which worsened the headache. It went on for days, and when I resumed work, I was sleep-deprived most of the time. I couldn’t help it; I had to continue with my life.

After a week or so, the headache was gone, but I still couldn’t sleep straight. Sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night and would feel sad and cry. And then it came, so suddenly, I grabbed my phone, browsed the net and looked for the easiest ways to die. I was checking my house for the perfect place to execute the deed. It felt weird thinking about it, but it felt okay as well. For days I fell asleep having those thoughts in my head; they intensified more after two weeks, and it already became a burden, as if forcing me to act on it urgently. I knew something was wrong with my brain, yet I couldn’t or wouldn’t tell anyone. I acted normal and okay outside my home. That was not normal to think about killing yourself without considering the daughter that would be left behind. I reached that point where I didn’t care at all; I just wanted to die.

I reached out to a friend and asked her how she was during the pandemic, and she told me that she was going through mild depression. She asked me the same, and I told her what I was going through then. She said I should consider asking for help since the situation was not looking good for me — I was living alone, my daughter was thousands of miles away, and my condition was deteriorating daily. I told her I’d check the numbers to call to ask for help.

I called the national health hotline and asked if I could be referred to a mental health professional or to anyone who could be of assistance to me. They took my information and advised me that someone would contact me as soon as possible; true enough, my phone rang after 30 minutes, and a counsellor was on the other line. She told me she needed to ask me some questions to assess my situation. After the assessment, she told me I have severe depression and a high risk for injury since I was already contemplating hurting myself. She then asked me to tell her what was happening to me or how it started, and even before I opened my mouth, I just bursted into tears and cried while talking. She was so calm and patient in listening to me, and it helped me release all those bottled-up emotions I had inside. The call finished after almost two hours, with me just ranting and the counsellor patiently listening, though sometimes she would give tips or advice to help me through my situation.

I just wanted to disappear.

After that initial call with the counsellor, I felt good, as if someone lifted some of the burdens off me. She then booked me for a required weekly call to ensure I wouldn’t be doing anything stupid. My health status in the government was “At Risk For Injury”, and they had to monitor me until I was no longer a threat to myself. Every week I received a call from my dedicated counsellor to talk about things I did for the past week. She would give me some activities to free up my mind from destructive thoughts and how to divert negative feelings. She would assess me before the ending the call and advise me when her next call would be.

It started as a weekly schedule and then changed to every two weeks. The bi-monthly was changed to monthly when my counsellor noticed I had improved a lot in handling the daily struggles of life. It lasted for ten months — from October 2020 until around July 2021. Because I overcame my inner demons in such a short time, there was an instance they asked for my help. Another Filipina had been going through the same issue, and talking with me might help her, but the lady refused. Also, when talking to my counsellor, I never got the chance to ask her name. I knew she told me her name at the initial call, but I forgot it and never had the opportunity to ask it again.

They said it is better to talk to strangers than to those who know you. You can pour your whole self out to a stranger, and there won’t be any prejudices. And it’s true, and you wouldn’t care at all if you told that person your darkest secrets and they judged you — they don’t know you personally.

Depression is a life-long illness, and there’s currently no cure, but there are ways to treat the symptoms (link). Once you have it, it will be with you forever; you have to learn how to manage it and accept that it comes back now and then to try to overtake your mind. It wasn’t an easy journey going through that phase of my life. Since then, it has been a constant struggle and a game of tug-of-war. It is usual for people to feel down once in a while, but if you have depression, the feeling is magnified ten times. Having the support of your family and friends, colleagues and your strength and motivation will help you get through those times.

It is not a death sentence for those with depression, it is manageable, and we can still live a good life. Have a positive outlook that all trials and challenges in life are temporary and will eventually pass. Good things await if we persevere and keep holding on to our faith and the love of our families and friends.

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