Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The sad and scary mystery that is depression

My Facebook feed is filled with sadness over Robin Williams's death. I'm so sad, too. He was such a funny guy and yet I always wondered why he had such sad eyes. Turns out he was suffering depression. Was it because he never recovered from a lonely childhood, no matter how privileged? Was it because he used to be a fat kid? Was it because he was afraid he'd fail? No one knows. That's the thing with depression. No one knows what causes it.

Depression is very scary. I had a mild taste of it when Vito was born, exactly four years ago today. There I was—happy marriage, great career, good health, new mother to a perfect baby boy—and I wept every single day for six long weeks. It was terrifying to be in that dark place, especially since no one understood. People I told were confused, exasperated, annoyed, dismissive. What I hated hearing most was, "You should be grateful and happy. How can you think only of yourself?" I knew that already. I wasn't stupid. I knew my life was amazing. That's why the overwhelming sadness I felt made me afraid for my sanity. It just didn't make sense! Why was I so unhappy?! It was one of the most terrible times of my life, made sadder by the fact that it should've been the happiest. I'm grateful my husband stood by me throughout that time. He never called me out, never told me to get over it. He just took a month off work to be with me, he helped take care of our baby, and when I finally climbed out of my depression, he was there to welcome me back into the world. 

When I talked about this with my OBG, she said that what I felt was just the baby blues, a mild form of post partum depression. Mild? It was awful! Apparently, when you have PPD, you think about harming yourself or the baby. Since I wasn't in total despair, I was apparently okay.

So thank God my experience was "mild" even though it was certainly alarming for me. And thank goodness it was temporary, an after-effect of pregnancy hormones. For many people with depression, it is a constant battle. Sometimes, like Mr. Williams, they lose. 

If someone you know is depressed, please don't dismiss him. Depressed people need help but are scared to ask because nothing is scarier than being called crazy. If you are depressed, you're not crazy. Just please tell someone and continue asking for help till someone acknowledges you. It's this world that's crazy, but some people do care, and some people are brave enough to help. Please be brave enough to ask for help. 

Got this helpful information from Survivors of Suicide:
If you have just lost someone to suicide and need help with coping,

If you are currently feeling suicidal, please read this first:

If you are in emotional crisis, need counselors to talk to about suicide and mental health, or are having suicidal thoughts, call the 24/7 ICIC HOPELINE for confidential listening: 
(632) 804-HOPE (4673)
0917-558-HOPE (4673)
0917-852-HOPE (4673)
2919 (toll-free number for GLOBE and TM subscribers)

You may also call the CRISIS LINE anytime for non-sectarian, non-judgmental telephone counseling:
Landline: (02) 893-7603
Globe Duo: 0917-8001123 / 0917-5067314
Sun Double Unlimited: 0922-8938944 / 0922-3468776 

For mental awareness, visit:

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  1. I hear you, Frances. I experienced the same thing when I gave birth. I had everything but I feel sad every single day. Depression is real. You don't accept it unless you yourself experience it e.

  2. what happened to Robin Williams was truly devastating and surprising, to be honest. I've always loved him since most of his movies are heartwarming and very funny. I had a close friend who experienced PPD. She shared to me that there was a point that she actually wanted to throw her baby off the stairs. Was just glad that she sought help from a professional right away when I she noticed there was something wrong with her.
    Random Beauty by Hollie

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Frances!

    I was diagnosed with depression a couple of years back, but I was told that I've had it since I was little, only it was manifesting in other symptoms that were shrugged off as "sumpong".

    One of the worst things I was told was by a person whom I once considered a friend: "There are bigger things in the world than your problems." I was also told to snap out of it and that I'll be okay and "Wala yan!". Useless, useless words. Harmful, even.

    I've been in that dark, dark place where I honestly wanted to end it all. Talking to friends, family, and doctors, I would always hear, "Isipin mo nalang..." But what I try to explain to them is that when you're in that place, it isn't logical. You don't think about anything else but wanting to die and how to do it. You don't feel anything else but immense pain and sadness. And that oftentimes, you don't even know where the sadness is coming from.


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