September 16, 2013.
I remember my parents hailing a taxi to take us to that same hospital I dreaded going back to. But I was comforted by the fact that there were four of us in the car and that they wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me.
When the sun started showing up in the skies, I finally had the chance to take a look around the place. It is a large compound with different buildings. I personally liked the bridge over the man-made river where kois were swimming in. I suddenly felt at ease.
My mom and sister went up to the cashier to pay for my fees. While waiting, I saw the patients I came in with: individuals from children to adults in their late fifties acting weird or just being silent. Curiously, they didn’t look strange to me.
Later that day, I learned that I was required to visit the psychiatrist every month. That from mild schizophrenia, my case was then later classified under clinical depression. I was required to take anti-psychotic pills and anti-depressants for the duration of the therapy.
September 30, 2013.
My sister and I walked up to the tricycle terminal near the MRT-Shaw station. My sister asked a driver to take us to the hospital.
“What hospital?” the driver asked.
“Mental,” my sister quipped.
The driver laughed. “Who are you with?”
But my sister just stepped inside the sidecar and ignored him. I looked at myself. I didn’t look like someone who needs to go there. I felt sorry that my case doesn’t seem valid to some people.
That day, the psychiatrist asked me why I wanted to die.
“I think people hate me. I have no real friends,” I said.
“You don’t have friends? Is your sister not your friend? Am I not your friend?”
I didn’t reply.
“Don’t you know you wouldn’t end up in heaven if you committed suicide?”
Again, I didn’t reply.
She also confirmed that I can hear voices inside my head despite the fact that I have a severe hearing impairment. I was given instructions to not drink coffee, tea, softdrinks, and chocolates. That I should try to sleep early and avoid getting stressed. How I would be able to do that and still live, I had no idea. But I survived the first few weeks so I guess it worked.
Later that day, I saw a girl talking to herself. At first I thought she was speaking to me, only that I didn’t hear her murmurs. But my suspicion became clear to me when my sister heard the conversation of the girl’s companion and another patient. “She was raped. She kept saying curses and dirty words. She was gang raped,” my sister said. I felt so sorry for her, so much that I wanted to hug her that very moment.
October 30, 2013.
I’ve become immune from the nasty comments of the tricycle drivers around the place. When we alighted and proceeded to enter the gate of the hospital, the guard asked who we were visiting. My sister said that I have an appointment with my doctor. I saw their curious looks. I am convinced that I didn’t look like someone who has gone bonkers. I looked like a normie. I looked okay. That’s what they think.
That day, my psychiatrist advised us to visit her in another clinic, also in Mandaluyong. I thought the doctor knew the implications of me seeing my co-patients who have much serious cases than mine.
Four years later….
I was accompanied by my two sisters last September 2. I introduced my other sister to my doctor and she allowed her to join our conversation. When we were about to leave, I asked the same sister to accompany me to the comfort room. When I got out and had my turn to guard her, I noticed the patients under home care. They sat there getting some sunshine while others were doing repetitive movements like shaking their arms. I said hi and waved at them. They just stared blankly. I noticed the barbed wires above the gates. That was the only time I paid attention to the main gate of the clinic; it always has to be locked. Despite that, the place really looks like a haven to me and to the other patients—at least that’s what I think.
As I walked away, I realized, it was the anniversary of my second chance at life. That God has given me another chance to live a life free from stress, disappointments, anxiety, and fears. That He wanted me to serve as an inspiration to all those who are grappling with their illnesses, whether physical or mental. And I won’t be saying this unless I’ve seen enough of goodness in God. He spared me from being totally incapacitated by depression.
I want you guys to know, that just because a person looks okay doesn’t mean they’re indeed okay inside out. Everyone is hurting, everyone is pining, and everyone goes through a cycle of depressive thoughts. Let’s all be considerate and kind to one another. That’s the least thing you can do to help people like me.