I am Som DePol, currently working as an in-house lawyer for three (3) corporations by day, but a writer, poet, composer and artist by heart. I am proud to say that I found HAPPINESS on being a BIPOLAR and having CLINICAL DEPRESSION. I found HAPPINESS to have experienced MANIC DEPRESSION.
Why am I happy with being bipolar and depressed? To others such statement is an oxymoron. Before you judge me, I am going to explain myself through a story about my journey to being diagnosed by a psychiatrist as a bipolar and having depression.
I found HAPPINESS on being a BIPOLAR and having CLINICAL DEPRESSION. I found HAPPINESS to have experienced MANIC DEPRESSION.
THE APPOINTMENT: PART 1
On 31 January 2019, I had an appointment with a psychiatrist to address a mental health problem I was experiencing since I was a child. I got myself checked not only for the purpose of being diagnosed and treated, but more importantly, to validate and confirm the feeling I had for many years that I had a mental health problem.
While waiting for my first scheduled check-up with my psychiatrist, I thought of all the events which led me sitting in front of a psychiatrist’s clinic.
THE INDEFINITE EXIT
The date was January 24, 2019, around 10:00 A.M. on a Thursday. The work day had just begun but I was already leaving the office with my mind going berserk. I was out of sorts and my mind was beyond chaotic.
About 9:00 A.M. that day, I arrived at our office and immediately went to the pantry for my usual coffee and smoke at the building’s roof deck. At that time, I was already feeling stressed, anxious, bothered and frozen. In fact, while driving to work that day, my mind was telling me to go home. I did not have the energy and motivation to work or to do any kind of activity that day. I was feeling mentally and physically lousy. Worse, I was distraught because every time I tried touching my company-issued laptop, I literally froze and felt very anxious.
Since the end of the 2018 I was facing enormous amounts of stress with the amount of work that I haven’t finished yet. Come 2019, I was still feeling tired, stressed and anxious which was unusual since I took an eleven (11) day vacation during the holidays prior to coming back to the office on 2 January 2019.
For the first two weeks of 2019, I was doing my job adequately but I felt that there was something wrong with me. However, from the 21st of January (Monday), I felt awkward. I was in an enormous stressed, anxious, mentally lousy, and exhausted disposition. It was weird since I had already been practicing my profession for six (6) years now and this was the first time (as I remembered correctly) that I could not manage or handle stress. It was the first time I had difficulty handling the pressures of work. It is this time I felt the light of my candle was flickering out. I was burning out.
I attempted to work, but as soon as I saw my company-issued laptop, I literally froze. It was a VICIOUS and DEADLY CYCLE. How can I reduce my workload if my body is telling me that it does not want to do anything? I WAS LITERALLY FROZEN AND HAVING JITTERS! I neither had the WILL to do work nor engage in personal activities (including fun activities).
I KNEW I NEEDED TO DO SOMETHING! However, our Managing Director was on site visit and was set to return only on 24 January 2019. I had to wait for three (3) more days to discuss with him my problem.
On the 24th of January 2019 at 9:30 A.M., I entered the office of our Managing Director to talk to him personally. I was visibly shaken and having a hard time breathing. Before I entered his office, I knocked on the door to get his attention (even though the door of his office was open). He told me as I entered his room “You seem to look nervous!” He was right. I was nervous. As I sat down I told him “Boss, I am getting professional help. I think I have some mental health issues which I should have addressed a long time ago and now it is affecting my performance here in the office. I do not want to fail you or cause any problems for the office because of my incompetency to perform my tasks given my mental health concerns”
Thankfully, he immediately understood my situation. He instructed me to leave the office immediately to seek help and file for an indefinite leave. From that time until the time I am writing this essay, I am still on indefinite leave and it is for the better.
As I was driving away from the office, my mind was cluttered with ideas and thoughts. I found myself thinking “What is wrong with me?”, “What is happening with me?”, “Why me?”, “Am I not strong enough as I thought I was?” and “I utterly failed my company and myself.”
One of the questions that did not cross my mind that day was “How was I sure that I had a mental health problem”?
WHO I AM.
A Unique Personality
Since I was a kid, I had the gut feeling that there was something genuinely wrong with my mind. It’s not that I felt I was insane or demented, but I felt that my mind was functioning differently. In fact, I was feeling this way since I was in elementary school around the 2nd Grade when I felt I had my own world. Aside from having a photographic memory I had a lot of ideas freely flowing inside my mind which I wanted to act upon. In fact, my thoughts moved rapidly that after a few seconds, they would be fleeting away.
At the same time, I was a happy-go-lucky kid who can sometimes be found walking around (sometimes skipping) our classroom to check on my classmates like a stereotypical supervisor would do to his subordinates. I was also the class clown and always ended my sentences with a laugh or a smirk. I wanted to be friends with every single classmate of mine in school. However, not everyone wanted to be a friend of mine. When that happens, I just brushed it off in front of them but there will be lingering thoughts as to why they did not want to become friends with me.
I was also an enthusiastic and energetic kid but there will be moments that I will find myself with so much energy, specially, when I was in the mood to perform an activity or a hobby. I will be so much focused that I feel I was alone in the world and I would totally disregard everything else. I would bring this trait until now as an adult. In fact, it’s already 2:49 A.M. and I am still writing this essay because I have the momentum and do not want to stop. The downside is that I find myself lacking sleep since I choose staying up late just to complete an activity. In contrast, there will be moments in school and mostly at our home that I will be staring at a distance contemplating about my life, my failures or dwelling on negative things that happened to me at school. I enjoyed these moments as I thought this was my moment of profoundness. There will be also moments that I do not have the will to do the simplest of task or it will take me a longer period of time to complete a task.
However, for the longest time I saw my personality as a unique quality that I had which helped me cope with the environment in our school. I was getting good grades in elementary school even if most of my time was spent drawing, day dreaming or looking outside of the window. This was my unique way of listening to my teacher. I remember my mom telling me that my teachers were impressed since I was able to answer recitations and get good grades during exams even though I was not listening or giving them my undivided attention. Sometimes I felt I was a genius because a lot of unique ideas were coming inside my head but I just do not know how to execute them all at the same time. I felt like I was Renaissance man like Da Vinci, Tesla, Rizal, or Edison because of all the thoughts running inside my head.
Unsurprisingly, these “unique qualities” of mine led me to being the subject of bullying in school. Aside from the aforementioned “unique qualities” I was always the smallest kid in our class, chubby, bubbly, and a mama’s boy. In fact, my mom was quite known in our elementary school since she was always there to pick me up from school. I was the typical kid being bullied back in 90’s. In addition to that, I was generally insecure because I was neither cool nor popular nor a stand out from the crowd. In fact I would normally walk with my head down and my shoulders all hunched.
My Inferiority Complex
When I was a kid I developed an inferiority complex. What added to my inferiority complex was the retirement of my dad when I was in the 5th Grade. He was already fifty-seven (57) years old at that time. Even with the savings of my dad from his work abroad, we had limited resources to support my studies and three of my other sisters. My eldest sister instead became the breadwinner of the family who would support us and help fund our studies.
Since we had limited resources, I did not have the coolest school supplies or toys compared to my classmates. My books were usually hand me downs from my fourth sister. I had packed lunch and twenty pesos (less than a $1.00 back then) as lunch money. I had to compensate by saving up my lunch money to buy cool stuff for me. In fact, all the mobile phones I had were bought from my own life savings. The drawback, I was not able to go spend much time with my friends and classmates outside of school since I needed to save money. I seldom went out with them and it will only be during times I have some savings to spend on a limited scale. That’s a choice I made for myself and I had no regrets about it.
Despite our financial struggles, our dad wanted us to finish with good degrees and become professionals. My elder sister graduated with a degree in Accountancy, the second to the eldest is a Pediatrician, my third sister is a Dentist, the fourth eldest (who was still in highschool back then) is both a license Pharmacist and Dermatologist, , and I eventually became a Lawyer.
I idolized my dad for achieving the impossible task of getting all of us good education despite the restraints, at times, the absence of financial resources. He willed and guided us to become who we are today. However, while I find it admirable and unbelievable that my dad succeeded in achieving his dream for us with such limited sources, I sometimes dwelled on the fact that I did not feel any kind of love from him. I was not close to him. I did not have heart-to-heart conversations with him regarding my life or problems. More importantly, the love language I wanted to receive was affirmation and touch. Those are things which I neither received from my parents nor from my sisters. For my family, it was academic for me to perform good things and to excel. It was expected from me to perform well in school. It was a norm for us that no one says “I love you” with each other. I was the most expressive of my affection through my constant (sometimes forceful) hugging and kissing of my sisters and mom. Dad was not appreciative of that when I was young.
As time went by, I somehow shook off my inferiority complex. I became self-confident, specially, when I became a lawyer. Sometimes I became too confident for my own good which strained certain relationships I had with people. However, there were still moments that I found myself inferior to others. I always compared myself with other people physically, mentally and emotionally.
Weirdly, enough I had never felt GENUINE HAPPINESS OR HAPPINESS and GENUINE LOVE. I recognized the presence of family, friends and partners but I never felt that anyone had genuinely loved and cared for me. It always bothered me. Most of my nights were spent thinking about that and teaching myself that there are people who care for me. Despite that, I still to this day never felt happy or loved, and that made me insecure.
Conversely, I never felt that I GENUINELY LOVE another human being. I seldom cry when losing a loved one or I never cried during a breakup. To be honest, it’s a weird feeling to have. I often get jealous of people crying tears of joy or tears of sadness for a loved one. When I like or care about someone I will go the extra mile to serve them but at the end of the day I always question myself if I truly feel love for them. This made me feel less insecure and less of a human.
Through the years, I harbored a lot of resentments which I never spoke about or communicated until today:
- No one ever genuinely asked me “How are you?” Most of the time when someone would ask me how I was it was followed up with a legal question or a favor they needed me to do.
- Nobody seems to care genuinely about how I felt. I never felt genuinely appreciated and loved. I never felt people being genuinely happy with my presence. I felt no one cared about me. It really sucks.
- I never wanted to be a lawyer. I originally wanted to become a Fine Arts Graduate. I LOVE drawing and sketching. In fact, I made comic books back when I was a kid and during high school. I love writing poetry and composing songs. I resent the fact that I was never asked what I wanted to do in my life.
- I was a shoulder to cry on for a lot of people. A lot of friends who had their hearts broken used me as a shoulder to cry on. However, when the time comes that they managed to pull themselves together they will forget about me. Some would shrug my messages off or worse, would not even acknowledge my help. There will be times that I would not even hear words of appreciation from them for the help I rendered to them. People only appreciated my presence during their darkest moments but not the sunniest days of their life.
- When I get tasks or favors done I never received any form of affirmation from some people. It was a thankless service for them. It was expected of me to help them.
- EVERY ONE ASSUMES THAT I AM ALRIGHT BECAUSE I AM JOLLY PERSON AND A COMEDIAN. Nobody takes me seriously when I tell people that I am not fine. They will just brush it off as something light since they and the world have bigger problems than me.
- I resented that fact that I missed spending time with my classmates back then or doing what I WANTED to do because I had to study hard so I can have good grades to impress my parents (They seem to acknowledge me better when I achieve good grades and achieve the things that they wanted for me and not the things that I want). I also had to disregard my dreams since I needed to finish law school within four years to avoid additional unnecessary expenses for my family if I graduated later than the time expected of me to accomplish my course.
THE FALLACY OF BEING STRONG
I always felt I was a strong individual. In fact, I felt I needed to be strong for many reasons.
I had to be strong in our home since my family needed support during times of struggle and I never wanted them to worry about me. If I had any kind of problems outside I never shared it with my family. I never shared the times I was bullied, I was sad, I was anxious, I was stressed, I was angry, or when I was worried. All that I showed them was I was happy and was never bothered about anything.
In addition, for the sake of others I tried to appear to be always happy and strong. I never wanted others to worry about me. As I mentioned before, I was the shoulder to cry on by other people. A lot of people come to me to ask for advice, counselling and guidance. If I showed them any kind of vulnerability they will not be uplifted. Who would they run to, when they have problems when they become aware I had problems? I wanted to bring joy to other people by being a joker and staying positive. I felt this was my mission in this world. My mission was to help others become happy and inspire them to become better people. However, I forgot about myself in the process.
Furthermore, since I was a kid I repressed a lot of emotions. Whenever I felt sad, angry, stressed, anxious, or felt any kind of negative emotion, I had them all bottled up. I tried to remain positive. I did not share what I felt or what I thought with others that much. If I shared stories about me or what I felt about things they were mostly filtered because I was afraid of being judged, criticized, or being shut down. I was afraid that people will not understand what I felt or what my opinion about certain things was. I was afraid that my ideas will be disregarded.
SELF-DIAGNOSIS AND FEAR
The above-mentioned things led me to conclude that there was something mentally wrong with me. My original resolution was to handle it by myself and find a way to solve them. However, as time went by, It took a toll on me. Aside from my own mental problems, for years I have been carrying burden for other people. The strike that broke the camel’s back or broke the dam was the stress I went through during 2018 and the early part of January 2019.
Before the events of 2018 and 2019, I was afraid to validate or confirm whether or not I had a mental health problem. I was afraid to exhibit any kind of weakness. I looked at mental health problems before as weakness which made me vulnerable. However, all the negative emotions, the resentment and unresolved issues that got bottled up for years all spilled out which led me to my current journey right now. I am in such deep pain right now that I need to let everything out.
THE APPOINTMENT: PART 2
Before I was called in by my psychiatrist, I felt nervous not because I was afraid to find out that I had a mental health problem. I was just anxious about what kind of mental health problem I had. However, unlike before, I had resolved to face my mental health problem head on, embrace it as a part of myself, and improve myself for the better.
When the psychiatrist told me that I had a mood disorder particularly bipolar II and depression I felt genuine relief. I know what you’re thinking, “How can I be relieved in being diagnosed with a mental health illness?” The answer is simple. I finally confirmed what I felt for a long time. In fact, the self-diagnosis I had was pretty much spot on. If you look into the symptoms of bipolar II, it pretty much sums up who I am.
I am proud to say that I am BIPOLAR II and I have DEPRESSION.
HAPPINESS IN DEPRESSION
I treat my condition as a blessing rather than a curse since the confirmation of existence will lead me to become a better person, at the end of the day. I finally know what I am facing, confront it and tell it “Come here, let me give you a hug. It’s been so long, I finally formally met you. It’s time for us to get to know each other.”
Finding out I have a mental health problem was a sigh of relief for me. I made the resolve and now I want to face the unknown world of depression. It is really hard to explain what’s inside my head right now but I’m telling you, it just made me a better person.
I now find myself on a new journey. I am like a teenager going on puberty again. As I confront being a bipolar II and depressed, I understood the things which bothered me all these years. That I was finally released of years of unresolved issues and unresolved emotions.
As a way to cope with my recently discovered condition, I made a Facebook Page named “Depressed Express” and this blog will openly release my repressed emotions. In addition, I mentioned that I was a frustrated poet, writer, composer and artist. I will take this moment to show the world what I got and express my emotions through the medium of writing and art.
Mental Health Problems are not a problems at all. In fact, the moment we recognize and embrace its existence we get to discover who we really are. We will also get the chance to explain to other people our condition for their better understanding of who we are. The moment we repress our emotions and thoughts is the moment we start killing ourselves figuratively and sometimes literally. Find a way to spill out your emotions. This blog was my way. In fact, if you have time you might want to check the Facebook Page I created. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/DepressedExpress/. Let’s all come together in this journey and create a community of people embracing themselves and being true to everyone.
Real Happiness is finding your true and genuine self.
I found my HAPPINESS when I confirmed I have DEPRESSION.