There’s always something about Maurice Sendak’s books that I find fascinating. While most people would say that his books were of darker themes and somewhat challenging to be even considered as children’s literature, his works are the kind that makes you rediscover something new each time you decide opening his books. One of my undeniable favorites is ‘Where the Wild Things Are’.
I remember the last time I opened this book, I took it to read to my students in school. I wanted to share the books I loved with them and “Where the Wild Things Are” seemed perfect. It encapsulated everything I loved about children’s literature, the wonderful art, the story that leaves you with a deeper sense of meaning and many more. However, reading it that morning left me with an ache and a realization.
Dear mama, I left home that day without saying goodbye to you. We were having arguments for days. It wasn’t new, I couldn’t even remember where it started and what is it all about. We often have those once in a while. I, like “Max” am a wild thing—difficult to tame, shoved with temper beyond one’s understanding, always looking for a world beyond to escape. But wherever I went, whoever I met, I often found that true happiness and love is beyond recognition in the faces of temporary fathomless people. Life has left me with a void. And like Max, it left me feeling lonely and “wanting to be where someone loved him (me) best of all”. Mama, I often think of how much you didn’t love me and hated me for being the contrary of what a mother’s child should be—I always thought that. But thoughts are thoughts and I am often full of myself with it without reason. Like Max’s mom, you wait for me to be “back” in my own room and in myself—always with a hot bowl of supper ready, welcoming back the prodigal daughter. I have looked at love in so many places, but love is truly where you are—in the spaces where I least expect you to be, you knock on my door and you remind me. There is no place like home.
I know you may find everything I wrote down difficult to understand, but I guess, to make it short, what I really want to tell you is thank you for loving me despite everything. I love you mama.
I’ve had my fair share of going against Google maps and Waze. Sometimes you just feel too confident than technology and you begin to trust your instincts, throw caution to the wind. Later, you arrive at your destination safely with no extra added milage on your meter or unnecessary burnt up gas. It feels so great to prove to yourself that what you had in mind was right. Taking that left turn on that fork was the best decision in your life when you only had 10 minutes left to spare before the theater door closes in a musical.
But you don’t always win in life. The accidental turns happen much more often than you think as you trust your instincts. Most days, you lose all confidence in yourself in each failure. You’ve missed the first act of the musical because you arrived a minute too late and doors were immediately shut. You feel some sort of anger towards yourself whenever these happens. You begin to feel regret on what could’ve happened if you just followed what was prescribed.
I’d like to think of my life like that. A series of turns. Turns that I end up deciding to take or not at a specific moment because, at that time, it felt like it was the right exit to where I’m heading. Two blocks later, I’d find out the road was closed and I’d have to take my time driving back to the traffic to manually re-do the fucked up turn.
But life is like that… When you end up taking the wrong turn, you find a U-turn slot, turn around, and learn from your choices, you don’t take the same path you don’t want to find yourself ending up in again (unless you want to). We might not arrive at our destinations at the time we expect ourselves to be in, but there is comfort in knowing that one way or another, we’ll all arrive there someday. It may not be the same route everyone is taking as we end up taking detours along the way, but we’ll get there. There are no wrong ways and wrong turns. There are only paths to journeys, whether they be streets, avenues, highways or one-way alleys. There will always be a turn that will bring you closer to your destination.
It has been quite sometime since I found myself in front of my laptop trying to navigate through thoughts. There’s a space on the screen waiting to be filled with words and I somehow find myself at a loss where to begin. It’s the same thing feeling every time I end up having therapy with any of my doctors. A question of “How are you?” gives me the slightest of anxieties and I ramble on a mental treadmill, trying to look for events in my life that seem relevant after months of no session. I always find myself saying “I’m okay. Not entirely well, but managing.” And that is true. I cannot remember the last time I felt really happy, well or fine without the haunting thoughts that come and go.
The last few months have been a whirlwind. Things were going well for me since the last time I tried typing words. I remember going off Rivotril and trying my best to get sleep on my own. I remember being happy finally being able to meet someone who even as early as then felt so significant in my life. There was the weight gain in medication that honestly was beginning to feel “okay” for me. I accepted the consequence that it gave at it has given me some liberty from the “ghosts” inside my head. It wasn’t perfect but it was a wonderful past 7 months. I remember seeing my psychiatrist and only going in for our session for less than an hour. I remember not having the need to go to the hospital other than buying the meds I needed when I ran out of my supplies or whenever there was a new symptom (usually physical) that needed to be addressed. Not to be mistaken as perfectly fine, but I still had my issues once in a while but I was able to “manage” it. I was in a better place than I was before and I couldn’t help but be thankful for the people who came into my life to J, to my new psychologist, to the people I’ve met at my new work. They have seen some of my struggles despite meeting them for the briefest of time, yet they stayed. For that, I thought to myself that “if other people stayed, then I must do the same for myself.” In one of my sessions with my psychologist I remember him discussing the need to be “kind” to myself as he thought I wasn’t being kind enough to me. To be honest, when he pointed that out, that’s when I realized how difficult, hard and unforgiving I was to myself. The goodness that people showed me these past few months enabled me to be a better individual. It has given me new lenses to view myself with goodness and kindness, to treat myself better and lovingly. And with that I felt some part of the lost me, found. Even when I thought my light was too dim, someone sees it. The appreciation that people have showered me these past few months made me look in the mirror and beam with worthiness. “I must be worthy of life.”
Therapy has been wonderful as I regain trust in myself and in the process that I’ll be able to manage who I am. It hasn’t been easy. I remember being at the first few sessions and thinking to myself how “these” processes would even help me be better. As much as I read about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in the past, the process of undergoing session seem inorganic at first. The life mantras, the words of affirmation–I saw it as a stupid rehearsal. I remember telling my psychologist how I don’t trust him for events in my life I linked he had something to do. Eventually I realised it was the paranoia and anxiety mixing up the thoughts inside my head with reality. I worked on it. Asked for help from my psychiatrist on how to “attack” these issues in my life. I was determined to be better and I wanted the therapy to work. If I cared less for me, I wanted to be better at least for the people who have given me trust in my life back–my family, J, and the wonderful support system I found myself running to every crisis.
Last January 2018, I somehow lost myself thinking that I would end up giving up on life. I’ve had countless dreams of taking my life as soon as I reach my 27th birthday. Fears settled in but then again, I found myself with great support system who made me trust in myself. I wouldn’t say that the thought has entirely disappeared. 5 months in my 27th year and thoughts still rush once in a while like an impulse that’s difficult to put a halt on.
On March 5, I stopped taking my meds in my doctor’s fear that I have been too dependent on it already. I had fears to what will happen as the last few times I chose not to drink my medication ended up with me in a crisis and in conflict that people that mattered. However, the difference that this date made is that I was more determined than ever to be well. I had thoughts of plans in the future, wanting to have a family of my own and being a better person for my partner then. I had so many things in my head I was looking forward to. It was a good thing and it felt like a good moment. I knew it was going to be struggle without the training wheels that the medication provided but I would rather be bruised than not lived life fully. I took a chance and I have never been better as before. I wouldn’t say everything was fairy dust and magic, but looking back on those sessions I had with my therapists, I am who I am now because of it. Those sessions helped me manage myself and the thoughts that continue to come. It helped me regain confidence in myself to handle myself. That I can be independent. That I can say that it is because of me that I am feeling well.
Just when I thought that everything was being put in its right place, problems rose. I lost a good friend and a lover who has been a huge part of who I have become for the past few months. The past few days of being together was a rough patch but I wouldn’t exchange that for the best months I’ve had while struggling though mania and depression. The moments were the truest I have ever been and I was afraid of the thought that in losing him, I’d lose myself. Losing someone I love dearly made me question myself and the decisions I made. Somehow I knew a huge chunk came missing when I turned my cheek the other way and decided “enough” was the option. There was a space that couldn’t be filled with any void or comfort from anyone who came close to claiming that life would be better without him. I wanted to mute the world who voiced their thoughts in my already foggy head. Who would know if life would or wouldn’t be better without him? I certainly, don’t know, but I had to be strong enough for myself to push through. I was glad enough that during that time, I found pieces of myself along the way that served as a scaffold to my breaking self–destructive, unforgiving, unkind and a person full of hate. I reminded myself of the things I had to go though to be who I “am” now. I had to tell myself that despite the mourning and the blame, I need to be better for myself… And if I don’t love myself well enough to live, I owe it at least to the people and him to be thankful for the life they have breathed into me when I was oxygen deprived and at a loss. I am glad that despite that event in my life happening, I was able to learn that I am able to love myself and choose to be better than who I was before. That in the loses, I found parts of myself.
Again, not entirely well but finding myself piece by piece.
It was a long goodbye, and we were lingering, stuck in tentative adieu. Like ants storing for rainy days, we were trying to take everything in, remember the moment and hoard memories to sustain us until we meet again in God knows how many more years… After you left, I must have sat there in silence for a long time.
I’ve done several roses in the past all in impressionistic style so this is my first try at hand with trying to make it as realistic as possible. I’m quite at a loss with how to do the leaves but I’m glad with how the petals turned out
More than a year under treatment, I thought to myself that I was finally able to get a hold back of my life. Kaya ko na and for the first time again I was finally able to function back. 3 weeks ago, I woke up and suddenly felt myself sink back in the hole for no apparent reason. Two steps forward and three steps back, that was what it felt like. In the silence of the morning, I found myself in war with my thoughts. I felt giving up again. In that hour, I thought of ways on how I’d write a letter of apology on how I’d end my life. I thought of ways on how to ease the suffering. That hour felt like one of the longest hours with mental battle to hold on to life and be thankful of the small things. The night before that, I was happily talking to my mom about my plans in life, but the morning after I ended up almost giving up. I guess this is what they say about depression having no face. Depression has no warnings. It just happens. No matter how positive, loving and passionate you are about life, depression robs you of all of those and replaces all hope with defeat and loss. It’s unfortunate that despite the happiness and laughter, there will always be a incomprehensible side from within that people may find difficult to understand when you suffer from depression.
Started with new medication last September 5. Body adjusting. Headaches, mood swings. Attacks happening more frequent than usual. Anxiety tremors back. A constant battle with the shakes again. Back to trial and error phase. It was not an easy week battling with my thoughts but I have so much to be thankful of and for.