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It is About Time



The only author that inspired me the most is none other than Paulo Coelho. He had written the iconic line, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”


It is about time that I write about everything I know about Mental Wellness-- albeit from a patient’s perspective. At the end of the day, there would not be psychiatrists, psychologists, orderlies, nurses, and the whole nine yards without us.


Paulo Coelho writes:


“I’ve written a book about a mental institution,” I said to my 85-year-old father. ‘It’s a fictional work, but there are a couple of pages where I speak as myself. It means going public about the time I spent in mental hospitals.’


My father looked me in the eye and said:


‘Are you sure it won’t harm you in any way?’


‘Yes, I’m sure.’


‘Then go ahead. I’m tired of secrets.’


In my case, it will all be non-fiction. Names and places will all be declared. No holds barred. Why? Because I am writing this for my friends-- my co-patients. Incidentally, I just learned today that my Counselor from Cefam, Anita C. Pecson, passed away last February 17, 2023. May she rest in peace. Amen.


If I would sum up everything I learned from Ms. Pecson it would be an analogy about how elephants are tamed at a young age. They are chained to a tree, hence, they can not escape. Ms. Pecson figuratively, trained me that now, that you are a bull elephant you can literally, break the chains that are holding your leg to break free. Certainly, inspiring. Helpful strategy. Powerless to powerful. I am free. Forever.


When I was employed by Bicol Mail, the Publisher told me that, initially, he really wanted me to be an Investigative Journalist. Little did he know that I do want to be an Investigative Journalist. My father was the Philippine Director of the National Bureau of Investigation the equivalent of the U.S.’ F.B.I. Providentially, I am a chip off the old block. He worked in Counter-Intelligence during the Hukbalahap war. He led his team without losing any comrade.


So, from the time I was writing for Bicol Mail up to this day I have been gathering observations and evidences and anything to everything about Mental Wellness. Truth be known now, I also had done significant social experiments regarding our reality. For example, in mid-day I sat on the ledge of the Mabolo Bridge here in the City of Naga. I made myself look like I was contemplating on jumping off the bridge. Passersby just ignored me. One man, seated at the back of a ‘Tuk-tuk’ (Tricycle), even laughed at me.


Lack of Awareness for Mental Health Emergencies


In stark contrast, in San Francisco, U.S.A. at the Golden Gate Bridge there are emergency personnel who would talk to “jumpers”. Yes, people who are endangering themselves in high places are called as “jumpers”. In knowledge-starved countries it is even taboo to talk about these things. The Media is even requested by grief-stricken families to not publicize self-caused-deaths.


There was a low-point in my life that I needed someone to talk to and someone to listen to me, desperately I tried calling a crisis-help-line. A female voice took the call. She was well-trained. She remained anonymous and professional. I do not remember what she told me but I just remember now that it felt good. From my experience, it works. It was my first and last call.


Sharing is caring


If you do need counseling, do not be ashamed, do not be embarrassed, do not be afraid, and do not be impatient. It is a case-to-case-basis. Ms Pecson always told me find your own style. In counseling, you have to trust the process. Believe me, there is not only light at the end of the tunnel but within the tunnel.


Why am I doing this? Because not a lot of people can afford counseling. In my own experience going to a clinician and a counselor works hand in hand with my mental strength.


For now all you have to recall is that a clinician prescribes the medicines and the counselor programs the coping-mechanisms.


In the final analysis, Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Divine Healer. As inspired by Paulo Coelho, when you want to be healed, all the universe conspires in helping you to be healed. Let us heal each other. Blessings!


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