Not a Black Sheep: Depression in a Filipino Family

It has been a year since I have been diagnosed with clinical depression. The first two months of that semester was rough, and my professor suggested that I seek medical help. I opened up to my parents about this, and their response was surprising—they were supportive of my decision to see a doctor. They are very much conservative, but their response was probably because of the fact that we have a family member who experience the same thing.

It has been a year since—a year of medication, therapy, and “self-redemption”. It’s also been a year since my family started treating me differently. In this family, I don’t belong. I am an outcast.

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I’m sorry I’m not who I used to be.

My parents always point out that I used to be a very jolly child, all “bibo” and active when it came to school activities. I used to be an overachiever, and I never failed them, not even once. They used to be proud of me. I always did my best to please them. It was always for them. I may have pushed myself too far to the point that I broke my limit. But me breaking my limit did not please them, and made me bad in their eyes instead.

“Hindi ka dapat ganito, hindi ka dapat ganyan, hindi ganyan ang panganay na babae,” they now tell me.

It’s hard to move in a world where they expect too much of you, but you have only a little left to give.

No, I don’t lack faith in God.

I remember the heart-to-heart talk we had when I opened up about my intention to consult a psychiatrist. I explained to them that there were certain events the past semester that have affected me and my performance in school. The only advice they gave me was to pray to God because I lack faith.

But I do pray every night. I go to Sunday masses. I never stopped asking God for help. And yet, in their eyes I’m still a bad person. Having depression does not make me bad. 

(READ: Please Stop Telling Me Prayers Will Cure My Mental Health Problems)

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I appreciate your concern, but sometimes, it gets hurtful.

There comes a time when weeks get too loaded with academic and extracurricular work, and I just need time to recharge myself. Being an extreme introvert, my only way of doing that is to spend some time with myself, alone. I remember opening up to them about my desire to spend some time alone so that I could recharge myself, but I was saddened by their response—“Ano na namang dinadrama mo?”

I really wish it was just some drama I can stop right away.

Believe me, I’m trying.

I follow my medication schedule religiously, I go to therapy regularly, and I find healthier ways on coping with stress. I’m slowly trying to get out of my box and discover the world which I hid from for years because of my low self-esteem. But it seems that, despite all the efforts I make, for you I am but a sick child, and you think putting myself out there would just damage me, so you’d rather keep me inside.

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ALSO READ: Need some help? Here’s Our Directory For Mental Health Hotlines

But I am not giving up on you.

You accepting my decision to get professional help was a good start. Now, what I’m asking you is a little more compassion, a little more understanding. I know it’s hard to fully grasp a situation if you’re not directly experiencing it, but I am not expecting you to fully understand. Rather, be a little more empathetic. It’s hard making you understand, especially with the beliefs and traditions that have been imbibed in you since your childhood. To be honest, it’s tiring, since what I’m fighting against here are your beliefs, which you grew up with. But it’s never too late—I will never stop making you understand. I hope you give the same energy and never stop understanding my situation.

I hope you don’t give up on me, too.

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