The more we don’t talk about it, the more it grows…the more it becomes a problem. The more we ignore it, deny it, the more it creeps up on you in the worst possible way. Whether you have it or not, whether you are suffering from it or know someone – a family member or a friend – who has it, it shouldn’t be ignored. It should be talked about.

Bipolar disorder. Major Depressive Disorder. Borderline Personality Disorder. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Panic Disorder. Autism Spectrum Disorder. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And a host of others. These are all real illnesses. These are all as important as any illnesses that can be seen.

I have been suffering from clinical depression for most of my life. I’ve been around for thirty one years and it was only officially diagnosed in November of 2015, but I always knew I had it. Or something like it. The signs were there: Suicidal thoughts and tendencies. My body feeling so groggy that all I want to do is stay in bed. My head too noisy that I wanted everyone and everything in there to shut the fuck up. Breakdowns over the littlest of things. Frightened about the prospect of having to talk to people. Always avoiding conflicts because I was afraid of what I’d do when I reach my boiling point. And a laundry list that’s too many that it requires a separate entry.

Whenever I had my moments, people would just tell me that I’m being moody again. They’d say that I’d get over it, that I’d be fine the next day. “Think positive,” they say. I even believed it for a time. They convinced me that I can be better by just thinking that I’ll be better. They got me to believe that I’ll be fine the next day. That by letting go, I’d be free of whatever was troubling me. I wasn’t. I wasn’t fine the next day. I tried my damn best to think about positive thoughts, but I’d end up spiraling down even more because I’d overanalyze the thoughts too much.

What they don’t know is that what I have can’t be fixed by thinking of positive thoughts. I can’t get over problems like them, I won’t be fine the next day. And, God, I’m far from being moody. If anything, being moody is a symptom. Depression isn’t just something that you can turn off. I can think about rainbows and unicorns and dancing cats, but it won’t go away. I’ll still dwell on every single shit in my life like it was I was born to do. I don’t want to, but that’s what my brain tells me to do. My brain is broken. In colloquial terms, and to put it bluntly, “sira ulo.” It’s like driving a car 200 kph on a clear expressway with defective headlights. It won’t end well.

With every illness, there are cures. There are ways to relieve the pain, to fix what’s broken. Talking to a professional. Medications. Surrounding yourself with positive people for balance. Even talking to someone who understands and is on the same path to mental health recovery means everything to someone who suffers from mental health disorders. I myself have those people in my life to talk to. Whether it’s just to compare notes or to just vent, they’ve made my life a whole lot better.

It all starts with that: opening up. Open up to someone who shares the same illness. Open up to someone who’s been through the hell you are in. Open up to someone in the same darkness as you. We’re all we have in the darkness.

And to those with friends and family who are suffering, please ask questions. Research. Keep an open mind. Do your part. We need you to at least try to understand us. We need all the help we can get.

Let’s talk about it so it won’t be a problem anymore.

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