(The columnist gives way to Dixie Busacay, a Grade 12 student from St. Mary’s School of Sagada, who writes about mental health issues that affect people her age.)
IF I present you with a problem that meets the mental health of people my age, would you listen?
Have you felt the need to escape but can’t because this is reality? There’s always going to be a balance of happiness and sadness, a matter of giving up and living in the moment. A saying that says, “the amount of happiness you get today is the same amount of sadness you get tomorrow,” and when you think of it, it happens. How do we live in a world where we are expected to handle things maturely, being the bigger person and acting like adults when we’re treated like children?
Most ask what the hiatus is all about, the drama, and the reason for pulling yourself away from people. Most people see how much you’ve changed. But no one checks on you, not until you say you’re tired. We have mastered avoiding the entire concept of mental health. Humans are meant to meet emotions, we are meant to feel something. It isn’t something we should consider “unacceptable.” We have convinced ourselves no one’s going to listen because of the way people act around us, and we have allowed ourselves to go through silent battles alone. A lot of people my age are victims of these battles. How are we supposed to empty the feeling when we’re more likely to get judged than listened to?
We are given high expectations that are difficult to reach, we educate ourselves under pressure, we have anger issues, we have specific attitudes towards specific people, we act more social, we keep to ourselves. Sometimes they all come together like a bubble that’s ready to explode. The fact that many of us try to empty it out at night is a lot harder. We can’t stop fighting thoughts and feelings, and it scares you because it’s feeding you and you don’t know how to face it because no one knows how to face it either. We feel like we’re on our own and no one’s going to lend a hand. There is the exhaustion of being in the same cycle every day, hiding behind smiles and laughter.
Most of us are still brave enough to be “therapists” for certain people, because no one deserves the lack of empathy, to not give value to what they’re going through. We go about viewing the world as a place where nobody is entitled to their own emotions, that there are right and wrong emotions. But there is no such thing as a right or wrong emotion – there’s only right or wrong action.
Society has set high standards for us: they get to choose how we must look, how much to weigh and how to dress, how the family should be, and how money works. But they cannot acknowledge the other side of what we are going through – sometimes they call it drama and a call for attention. And it’s tiring to fit in; so, sometimes we just do what we know we should do, because society will judge anyway.
Life is not short; in fact, life is long. We can’t enjoy it because of the trauma, pressure, and stress we get from the environment. We don’t get to love life and to live to the fullest at this very moment. Mental health is an issue unresolved. Everybody suffers from it one way or another but we can’t pinpoint the people who suffer. It’s a mask you cannot remove. Either way, kindness matters.
To you who have made it this far – forgive yourself for the things you have done and the versions of yourself that helped you survive. It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s never okay to suffer in silence. Please call for help.
This is for the people whose trauma didn’t give them thicker skin, for those who are fighting silent battles, for the people who have to pull themselves out time and time again. Do you know the kind of strength that takes? And yet you’re still met with lines like “You’re lazy,” and “Why are you always tired?”
You are exhausted because you are doing some of the world’s hardest work. And that is internal work. You’re doing a great job. Stay focused, small steps, you’re doing just fine. You matter. Kasiyana!