I promised to write only of happy things, but I can’t pass up this chance to write something I love talking about, my causes and advocacies.
Recently, I stumbled upon an article in Cosmopolitan Philippines , Here’s Why Semicolon Tattoos Are a Thing, and it was about the reason why people were posting photos of semicolon tattoos on social media sites. For some reason, I was absent from Instagram for quite a number of days, almost a week and wasn’t aware of this. But reading through the article, I learned that it was posted by people who wanted to make a stand against discrimination , spread awareness on Mental Health and the stigma that comes with it.
I have very been vocal about my battle with the disease, yes, it is a medical condition and not just a social disease, although sometimes people associate it more with the latter. I have written a lot about my experiences to raise awareness and somehow to be able to help others speak out and seek for help.
The movement was initiated by The Semicolon Project, a faith-based organization whose main objective is to raise awareness of depression and the other things that comes with it like self-harm, addiction and suicide , encouraging people to draw semicolon on their wrists to show support , encourage and most of all love.
“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”
– Project Semicolon
Photo: Death to Stock Photo
I honor movements or organizations like this because this is a lifeline to victims of depression and other mental health problems. Depression is no laughing matter and the more people ignore the manifestations of being depressed , the more it becomes dangerous to the person experiencing it. Someone told me that it is just a state of mind and can be “cured” by changing one’s perspective.
I dared to disagree because I know for a fact that there is something deeper than that. It just showed me that many, including people who loved me, did not really understand what I was trying to convey to them during my depressed period. Nobody would really understand depression unless they have been depressed themselves.
I am not a psychiatrist , nor do I present myself as an expert on mental health, but in my humble opinion, the years that I’ve suffered (and until now, I still have such bouts, although controllable), is enough for me to say that I know how it really feels like to be on that end.
Self-harming, cutting and overdosing on pills was the pinnacle of my depressive state. It was the darkest moments in my life. I can say that I would not truly have healed myself had I not held on to my faith. Of course, the road to recovery or complete healing cannot be achieved by one type of “treatment” only. It should be a combination or equal parts of faith-based activities (prayer, spiritual awareness), the right medication with medical supervision, counseling and empowerment, physical activities such as exercise and most of all establishing a reason for living which is summed up in one word, “self-worth”.
In the Philippines alone, there is a greater stigma because of the ignorance of the subject. In an excerpt from my paper for the course Social Context of Mental Health which I took from the University of Toronto through Coursera , I wrote…
“Stigma is the number one reason why people choose to keep the state of their or a loved-one’s mental health a secret. In the Philippines where mental illness is considered either a curse or “bad luck”, people with mental health problems are most of the time kept inside the homes if the family cannot afford treatment.
Ignorance on the subject of mental health can also lead to the suffering of mentally-ill persons from taunting because of their child-like behaviour.”
Read more of that paper here.
I am healed through my own efforts, of having the desire to be well. My life was placed in a situation where my mental health was challenged by some people to prove my capacity to raise my kids. Maybe that was the turning point where I had the reason for my existence. I found my self-worth by going through that ordeal. And most of all I had my renewed faith in God.
There is a long way to go for people with depression. Acceptance and erasing the stigma is still a far sight. But the most important thing is that people are helping people, educating , empowering, accepting and loving one another with one noble motive, to raise awareness and helping one another overcome this.
Bottomline, all is not lost. There is hope. Seek help.