Op-Ed

What you don’t know about us…

Sadness cannot necessarily be equated with depression. Depression is not only exclusively epitomized by sadness. Sadness and depression are often interchanged by most who has either little understanding of it, or has not gone through a phase of clinical depression.

IMAGE BY PIXABAY.COM FROM PEXELS.COM

Most of us refuse to recognize the gravity of depression as a health condition. In a report made by the National Poison Management and Control Center of the Philippine General Hospital, it was cited that there are 2,558 cases of suicide in the Philippines in 2012. In 2016, the US Department of Health and Services reported that suicide rate in lesbian, gay and bisexual people are four times higher than those of straight individuals. Meanwhile, a study in England made by Sarah Croxford of the Public Health Office, claimed that 2% of HIV/AIDS-related deaths could be attributed to suicide. While the last two figures are foreign-based, I’d say this could also be close to reality in our country. And so let these figures be the foundation of this entry.

Alarming, yes.

After all, what do you know about depression?

And perhaps just as important, what do you know about us?

A year after my HIV diagnosis, I decided to seek professional help, as I had recurring disturbing thoughts. I was diagnosed. My doctor said I have “major depressive disorder”. This diagnosis came after an hour-long conversation between a doctor and a patient.

My case was said to be connected to my complicated family history that just branched out.

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But let’s go beyond what is not known to most.

I submit to the fact that everyone has his/her share of unfavorable days. Everyone feels sadness, despair, pain, anger and joy. Who doesn’t? But is it the same for all us?

Most persons suffering from depression feel unwanted by families, friends, and sometimes even by society. Some ask why. I couldn’t precisely think of the better words to contextualize the reason behind it, but this is predicated on what we see from people surrounding us. It is how their actions reflect upon us. Perhaps we may have taken it in a different light, but it is how it dawned on us. Hence the multiple cry for help.

I say listen though wisdom and not just by ears. See through emotions not just by sight.

I have heard insensitive responses to our call for help – That it’s the “diva” within us, and that it’s our incessant need for attention… then the blaring silence.

Not surprisingly, there are some who did not get the chance to be heard just called it a night and never saw the sunshine again. Most of these individuals only wanted – even needed – time for their stories to be heard. And let all the pain stuck in their hearts be pulled to liberate them.
All they needed was one person willing to listen.
None wanted to be called diva, attention-seeker, or be merely ignored.
This was adding insult to injury; too much for some to take.

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Just as unacceptable is having your experiences be compared to ours. You may have experienced death in your family, heartbreaks, academically flunked, frustration, or whatever… the list goes on and on.

But could you logically say you know exactly how it feels to be in our situation?

This is not be possible at any rate, as our coping mechanisms vary individually.

I have come to believe that there are only two persons in the world: Those who were born emotionally strong, and people who were just born. But I also believe that while this is so, this could be changed, as emotional strength is something that is learned through the test of time. And in the process, there are some who accumulates the skills to become emotionally strong. But again, not everyone does. Most of us fight back while we continuously wallow until the day we learn; but some never gain the courage, and instead, fearlessly faced defeat.

Not everyone was born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth. That alone could speak a lot of how life experiences could vary from one person to another. Life is such, and such is life. But rather than being callous bordering on being monstrous, please have the heart of a (wo)man that feels and a mind that understands.

What you do not know about us are our stories being different from yours. What you do not know about us is that there’s no gauge that could prove our pain are with the same intensity. What you do not know about us is the fact that we do not exist to outdo the emotions of one over the other; we continue to exist because we still want to experience life, that is. What you do not know about us is that we need help.

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Life is never fair, yes; but life can be made easier. What have you personally done to contribute in restoring faith in humanity? Now, humanely use what you know about us in reducing the rising death rates caused by suicide.

How does this story make you feel?
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