A letter from Q

Q's co-patient cooling down in his favorite spot in the male section of PGH's Ward 7, Psychiatric department.

Q’s co-patient cooling down in his favorite spot in the male section of PGH’s Ward 7, Psychiatric department.

I found this post on my Facebook news feed. It’s a confession about mental illness. It was written two days ago by a friend of mine from high school and whom I have not seen or talked to for the last eight years. I call her Q, and has inspired a character for one of my stories. She’s an odd little sort that no one really understood. She laughs and smiles a lot. Though anyone who really knew her would know that she was/is facing issues.

I cannot vouch for any authenticity of anything written below. But the emotion and thought (though a little raw, it is after all, just a FB post) are there. 

If Time Burton, Johnny Depp, and Helena Bonham Carter had a love child. Q was it. She’s that strange.


 * * *

I need to out something. No, I don’t have gender issues. I might lose friends or family because of this but heck, I’ll post it anyway.

I have major depression and anxiety disorder/s with occasional panic attacks. I’ve been seeing psychiatrists for two years now and been taking medicines on and off.

Last July 13, I decided to celebrate my birthday at a halfway house that helps kids with cancer. What a brilliant way to inspire and lift myself up, I told myself. It was a happy day… but it didn’t last.

“Yes. I was admitted. In. An. Effin. Psychiatric. Ward.

                                      For two weeks.”

Few hours after the party, something triggering happened. With zero penny in my pocket along with my empty batt mobile phone, I walked my way to PGH’s* emergency room. I decided to admit myself due to suicidal idealizations. Gusto ko tumalon, gusto ko pasagasa, gusto ko maglason (I want to jump, I want to get ran over, I want to poison myself) but nope, I continued walking. It took me 2 hours before I finally had the courage to talk to a nurse. I thought they will snob me and prioritize the physically suffering patients but no, they treated me equally. The doctors were kind enough to help me charge my phone and contact my dad. I never felt discriminated.

Yes. I was admitted. In. An. Effin. Psychiatric. Ward. For two weeks. You’d see naked people running in the hallway. Or hear screams at 3am. Most of the patients are functional. Some are not. I would shout Super Saiyan when I’m bored or scream “Kalayaan!” (freedom) while breaking the fire exit. I would talk endlessly with my tongue out or pester my co-patients. The nurses would tell me: Wag ka tatakas ha. Eh bat naman ako tatakas kung ako nagpasok sa sarili ko diba?! (Don’t try to run off, all right? Why would I want to escape when it was I who admitted myself in?!) I would take my bath in front of my therapist. Nurses would tie a patient up and restrain them in the bed. The stay was helpful. It’s liberating. It was boring. It was fun.

Mental illnesses… they are underrated. People would think we are just plain sad, nagiinarte (childish), papansin (attention-seeker), emo, mahina (weak), tamad (lazy), baliw (crazy). Just like cancer or diabetes, ours are serious too. Not because we are not physically suffering means we are not suffering. We do suffer… just in silence. Our illnesses are not just in our head… we have our own medicines, our own specialty doctor, our own special place in the hospital… our illnesses do exist.

If I did not toughen myself up that day, I think I would’ve already jumped in front of a running train. A lot of people die from suicide everyday. So please, don’t discriminate. Lend your ears. Spare some time. Ask what is wrong. Give a hug. Throw a joke. Don’t be fooled by the smiling faces. Don’t ignore laziness, irritability, isolation, sadness, excessive thinking and low self esteem — they can mean something. Save a life, you can do something about it.

Stop slashing your wrist. Don’t jump in that building. Don’t overdose yourself. Stop thinking about that rope. Suicide seems like an escape but when your impulses pass, you can’t undo it and be alive again. Talk to someone. Hold on… don’t lose hope with the world. Yesterday is world suicide prevention day, hey, why can’t we do it everyday.


 * * *

* Philippine General Hospital.

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