Friday, May 31, 2019

Mental Health Awareness

The month of May is Mental Health Awareness month. It is the time where people raise awareness about mental health and mental health issues. It’s the time where several groups try to help erase the stigma of having mental health problems so that help can be given to the people who need it the most.  

I’m glad that there is such a month for raising awareness for mental health, because there are so many people who can benefit from the knowledge that could help others and, more often than not, themselves. 

While there are already several existing groups who advocate for this issue, I think that worldwide there is still a long way to go when it comes to how we view mental health problems. The stereotype that people who suffer from mental illness are of the straight jacket-wearing, institutionalized and to-be-sedated variety because they are “crazy” is still alive and well. The amount of those aware are still widely outnumbered by the ones who are uneducated about this. 

There are so many who suffer from mental health problems who suffer alone and in silence because of these stereotypes. People think that people with these problems are weak or broken but in reality, so many of them are stronger than what we think. Can you imagine being able to do the things like going to work or school and taking care of various responsibilities in spite of issues that weigh them down emotionally and mentally? All this they do without showing others that they have problems. They put on a brave face because there are still so many who don’t understand what mental health issues are about/ There is still a problem with acceptance and support from others which is why many people tend to deal with their problems on their own, without going to the doctor and getting the help they need. 



Full disclosure, I have had (or still have, actually) my own share of issues. There was a time when I was cutting myself, and there were one or two times when I attempted to take my life (but was, obviously, not successful). It came to the point where my doctor had prescribed anti-depressants, although I made the choice to stop taking them and to try alternative methods to feel better. Meditation helps. Talking to people willing to listen and provide support, which I have been blessed enough to have, makes a big difference. I don't think I would still be alive without the people who were there for me during my lowest and darkest moments.

Things are not always perfect: there are still days when I feel like I cannot go on, days when even one simple task feels difficult because of how I feel, moments when everything feels impossible and nothing will ever go right. Moments when even the most light-hearted or well-intentioned comment can make me question myself and my worth. Sometimes the anxiety I feel can be too much that I don't want to leave the comfort of my room because it can cause me to panic and become too dizzy to even stand.

People might misinterpret people with mental health issues as being over dramatic or someone making excuses to get away from responsibility, which has happened to me at work. It's so hard to explain that there are days when what I feel can be too much for me to properly function. There are days when dealing with it on a daily basis can be so exhausting that I find myself envying people who have passed away because they are finally able to rest. Don't get me wrong, I love life and I love being alive and being surrounded with the people I love. I have my good days too. It's just that some days, what I feel can go beyond my control and things can be difficult.

For the most part, I power through what I feel, but it is so challenging that most of the time I feel exhausted at the end of the day. Some days are easier than others and for that I am grateful. I don't know if what I feel will ever go away. But with the help of friends and family who are there for me, I am doing fairly well. Being honest about what I have been going through with my family has also made a big difference and has resulted in me getting the support I need. I know some would say that people with issues like me probably lack enough faith in God. It's not about that. Mental health issues are types of illness... just like the various types of physical illness we experience. It's something that needs to be addressed and treated. Yes, prayer helps, but just like any physical disease, it needs the right approach and treatment. 

It’s a good thing that the country now has a Mental Health Law which can provide affordable mental health services to Filipinos. I think this is a step in the right direction in providing people who need the help and the opportunity to heal. I hope that people can be made aware of this and can be encouraged to take advantage of this law to get the help they need. It’s hard enough to find doctors to help, it is also expensive to get help and pay for the medicine and/or therapy needed. I really hope that this law can help a lot of people and can make others aware of how we can help those who need our support. It may seem as simple as talking to someone and telling them that it'll be OK, but it's not always that way. Knowing how to approach a person to help, knowing and being aware that there is a right approach, would mean a lot to those who need it the most. 

I hope that the step in the right direction with the Mental Health Law and the awareness that is being promoted by occasions such as this can be the way that many who suffer from mental health problems will be able find solutions to help them to feel better.  
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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Keeping Cool

It has been raining a lot lately. According to the weather reports, the rainy season will follow soon after. That is such a relief! I have been having a difficult time dealing with the warm weather and it will be a huge blessing to have more cooler days ahead! 

Blogging has not been as regular as I would like for it to be these days because of the heat. I have nothing going on because I’d rather hide from the sun when I’m not at work. The heat has also made me feel weak lately so sleep has been my default mode when I’m home. Hopefully, my blogging life will resume on a more consistent basis once the weather improves. 

I know that I’ve blogged about this before but I can’t help but do it again because the warm weather has been even more unbearable since my last entry on it. I was telling my sister that if the weather keeps getting hot as the years go then life in the Philippines in the decades to come would be next to impossible during the summer. The government and the private sector need to work together to ensure that measures are taken from both sides to combat Climate Change and to come up with methods to help cool down this side of the planet. 



The sun has been very cruel these past few months. I didn’t realize how cruel it was until I saw sunburn marks on my arms from where the sleeves of my uniform (and my T shirts, for that matter) end. To think that I am not even outdoors that much! I can’t imagine how bad it is for people who work outside on a regular basis! 

Temperatures have been soaring to the point that I prefer to stay inside my room, protected by blackout curtains and with the air conditioner on. I keep suffering from headaches and dizzy spells whenever I’m in an area without air conditioning so I prefer to stay safe in my room whenever I can. Even with a fan on, the heat is hard to tolerate because you can feel the hot air pressing on your skin! 

I hope everyone else is doing what they can to stay safe and healthy in this weather. I’ve heard of colleagues who have suffered from heart attacks and high blood pressure problems because of this heat. The local funeral parlor, as per the owner, said that at one point there were 14 cadavers waiting to be embalmed, which just shows how many people have suffered and died from the alarming weather we’ve been having.  

To my readers who have been feeling the heat in the worst way like me, here are some tips that I’ve tried to cool down in this crazy summer heat: 

Take a Cold Shower – I know we should save water and all that but this is an effective way to cool down if you can’t stay in an air-conditioned room during the day. I shower twice a day, sometimes more. If I feel like saving water, I just dunk my head under the shower so that my head is cooler at least. 

Cooled Water Spray – I keep water in a spray bottle and place it in the refrigerator (or freezer) so that when it’s too hot, I spray it on me or on my bed if I’m in my room because the mattress absorbs so much heat during the day.  

Keep it Light – Try to keep your clothes (and bed sheets) light so that you won’t feel the heat as much. Cotton is your best bet in this weather. 

The Ice in Front of the Fan Trick – Putting a container full of ice in front of a fan will give you cooler air, but it can be a bit messy with the water dripping once all the ice is melted. Another alternative would be to use an air cooler, a device that you put water (or ice) into so that it blows cool air into your room. 

Cool Fever – Yes, it’s for fevers, but it does help cool down your body temperature so why not? Anything that cools you down helps! 

Menthol Shampoo – This is more of a temporary fix since the effect wears off but still a good one to try. I use Head and Shoulders menthol and it does help give a cool feeling to you scalp. I heard there is an extra cool menthol variant, but I haven’t tried that one. It would probably be even better! 

Stay Hydrated – Drink lots of water. Eat fruits like watermelon and veggies like cucumbers to help hydrate you too. 

Lights Off – I find that it’s warmer when there are lights on in my room. Letting the sun and the heat in does the same thing. If you can tolerate it, keep your curtains (blackout, preferably) closed and lights off while you cool down in your room. 

Just a few weeks of heat more (hopefully). Keeping my finger crossed that the rain comes sooner than expected! 
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