Active Imagination

During my psychologist appointment last week, we delved into my unconscious. I told him of a recurring dream I have:


There’s this vast house that I’ve practically memorized already. There’s a wing on the upper floor that fills me with fright. In the dream, every single time I get closer to that wing, I get this sense of fear and dread.

It’s the kind of fear that I get from watching horror movies. Like there’s something evil in that wing.

Continue reading “Active Imagination”

Quick Update – 12/19/2019

It’s been an odd two years or so. I haven’t updated this blog as much as I would have wanted to. I’m a writer first and foremost and I consider it a betrayal to my nature to have let this space linger with nigh emptiness.


First update – the site address may change to the one with wordpress at the end. My bank’s debit card has foolishly blocked all online transactions so I am not able to renew the domain name.


Second update – I am now seeing, in addition to a psychiatrist, a psychologist as well. It’s been fruitful, to say the least. I have recently become almost obsessed with Carl Jung’s concepts and ideas on psychology and psychiatry, and as fate would have it, my psychologist is a Jung fanboy. Synchronicity at play.


Third update – I’m still on a cocktail of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. After a month-long love affair with Lamotrigine, I unfortunately had to stop taking it as I was developing bouts of itchiness that I can’t bear any longer. I’m back to Aripiprazole. It’s somewhat ineffective, but it keeps me alive so I’ll have to take it until my psychiatrist and I find a better one.


Fourth update – I am still alive, obviously. But suicide ideation has greatly lessened this year. I’ve fortified my mental faculties a great deal, and along with the medications, I’d like to imagine that I’m much better than before. Despite having to drop all things that I once considered as safety nets – nostalgia being one of them.


Fifth update – I’ll be regularly updating this space starting today, hopefully. Or, at the very least, starting January. I may have opened up a door into my psyche that I’ve once unconsciously locked for reasons of survival. Words and emotions are starting to trickle in, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give my unconscious an outlet to exist. I’ve also been feeling that urge to write fiction again.


Yeah, that’s about it. See you in the next post!

MS Word Recovered Document – 11/29/2018

I’m unsure if my change in disposition went unnoticed by the world at large. I barely publicly talk about my mental health anymore. I barely had the same passion as I once had for most things, especially, and most importantly, my mental health advocacy. The same lack of passion extended to my photography and my music.


I stopped creating art and beauty. I stopped being a fan of art and beauty. And without that love for art and beauty, without my own artistry, I found myself lacking an identity as being an artist – in whatever capacity, be it as a writer, a musician, as a photographer. Being that is all I’ve known of myself. Been one since I was a teenager writing poetry that’s now been lost on the annals of time.


I’ve sporadically put it out there to the world that the lack of personal identity has caused me a great amount of confusion and pain. I became a man without steady ground to stand on. I became a man completely hovering aimlessly, directionless.



It was not for a lack of trying. I tried to be the person I was, I tried to be the person who made me who I am. Early this year, I once again decided to go the music route – the route that I set for myself in 2012, the time I started writing songs. I even invested in the tools that would help me with that. But circumstances discouraged me, again, from finally accomplishing the goal I had. I sold of those tools, as I’m inclined to do once a roadblock manifests on the path.


A few months later, I decided to go back to something that once gave me the stability that I’ve often craved for ever since I was a child battling my inner demons. I went back to familiar, safe grounds, one that I excelled at – photography. I can’t, for the life of me, remember why my re-attempt on photography didn’t take. I had a borrowed camera. I invested in new lens. I was, for all intents and purposes, back to form. I was back in my comfort zone.


But as I mentioned, it just didn’t take. The emotions I felt when I was in the process of capturing life as it happened weren’t there anymore. It made me feel like a fraud with a camera. It made me feel like I was past my prime, that I didn’t have what it takes anymore. Me being me, mental illness and all, got discouraged and just stopped taking photographs again. I surmised that, perhaps, it just wasn’t for me anymore.


Of course, the assumptions I had for the failed resuscitations of what I loved doing were merely justifications as to why I quote-unquote quit. Admittedly, I am easily discouraged. But there was another factor at play – one that involved the pills that were supposed to make me feel better, make me feel living instead of just alive.


In the early part of the year, the mood stabilizers I was on, Abdin, was slowly losing its effect on me. It happens as time goes by. There’s really no one pill to cure them all, after all. That factored in with the decisions I had made to drop things that I was inherently passionate about.


And so a change of medications were in order. I was on lithium (just like the classic Nirvana song.)


The lithium was a godsend. It did what the previous meds I was prescribed wasn’t able to do – it limited my emotions. There was suddenly a wall between me and my emotions. The lithium did was it was intended to do, to stabilize my mood. However, it had initial drawbacks.


Not the pills per se, but how I reacted to them. As a depressive, my emotions and feelings are heightened. Amplified. I feel too much, even to less at times. I feel things more than normal people do. Something goes wrong, I consider it the end of the world. It leads me to an abyss of desperation wherein the only way out is to lead my physical body out of the realm of the living.


The lithium prevents that from happening. It blocks me from feeling too much so I won’t get overwhelmed by emotions. However, in the early months of being on the pills, I was confused as to what was happening to me. The changes in my mental health was foreign to me, considering that I’ve spent decades living with enhanced emotions. I was so confused that I translated the changes as me losing every bit of me that made me who I was. It was nerve wracking, to say the least. Bouts of insanity became the norm. I was fighting what was happening to me.


I wasn’t as passionate as I once was. I stopped becoming a mental health advocate. Is stopped being a photographer. I stopped creating art and beauty. I stopped creating the one thing that has saved my life time and time again – music. I felt as though those weren’t in me anymore due to how the lithium nullified my capacity to feel passion.


And as a person who’s lived his entire life being a creative (and I don’t mean to use the term as just a buzzword,) I was shattered. I was in hell.


And then…days before my thirty fourth birthday, I was gifted with a revelation that I never considered in those hellish months. I received the best gift I’ve ever had in recent memory as it effectively made sense of what seemed excruciatingly senseless.


I relayed to a friend the hell I was experiencing with the lithium, how it blocks my emotions, how it was preventing me to feel “normal.” Her response was monumental and enlightening. What she said was that perhaps what the lithium does to me is what makes me normal now. For all intents and purposes, the lithium makes me feel things normally. Normal, in such a way that every normal person – those not afflicted with mental health issues – feel. All this time since I started on the lithium, I was actually feeling emotions the way they’re supposed to be felt by normal people.


I’ve lived decades feeling emotions in an intensified way, and in an instant, the emotions are filtered. That’s a mental culture shock, if there ever was one.


So now I’m coming to grips with these new processes. I’m adjusting to the massive changes in my mind. And I must say, so far, so good. I’m doing my best not to let the emotions cripple me. There are still relapses, of course, especially in matters of the heart. But I’ll make it out of it.


So what can I expect from myself in my thirty fourth year of existence? One, to live more. Two, to finally accomplish the goals I’ve set out with much delayed music. I mean I’ve already accomplished my goals in photography, so it’s time to finish what I started with my music.


It’s a new era. Time to do all I can for it. It’s time, once again, to live as much as I can.

Facebook Status Update dated February 9, 2019



“Don’t post that, it’s embarrassing!” “Don’t tell anyone what you did or where you are!” “Insanity doesn’t run in the family!”

My name is John Mari A Marcelo. I’m a mental health advocate. If I don’t talk about my experiences with my own mental health, then what’s the point of being an advocate? If my experiences can help people, then I’ll share them. I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not embarrassed.

I have to lead by example.

My name is John Mari A Marcelo, and a few weeks ago, I tried to kill myself. Not once, but twice – with a mere 24 hours in between. I had the means, the motive, and the opportunity. I had the pills, I was feeling an overwhelming sense of loneliness, I was alone.

I was alone in a sense that I didn’t consider my own self as company. I felt empty at the time I took 28pcs of Xanor that first time. I was empty when I took 30pcs of lithium that second time. Capped them off with a cigarette and messages to people.

On the first try, I messaged a friend what I did. The Xanor blurred me already. My text messages were illegible. I mumbled even on text messages. But the message got through, as friends orchestrated a rescue. A good friend came to my place and took me to the ER. I was blacked out at a time, my subconscious ran my body.

I wok up that noon not knowing what happened, or how I ended up in my bed. That whole day was honestly a blur that of it weren’t for photos I took on my phone, I wouldn’t remember a single moment. It is still unsure if it’s the Xanor residue in my system, or a manic high, but I felt too alive that day. I was so energetic that I barely stuttered.

My constants and I had dinner out. Went to Tagaytay after. Both events are a blur to me.

Once we were done, i drove them home. Got home, grabbed my Lithium blister packs, sat on my bed beside the lamp, opened the Lithium, took half, gulped water, took half, gulped water.

I smoked and slept.

I woke up at noon remembering what I did. I was still alive from my crime. Didn’t even eat, I asked my guardian to drive me to the same ER I was taken during the first OD. A constant friend followed later.

I was transferred to another hospital in Ortigas at around 5pm. Better facilities, perhaps? I spent a day and a half on the ER connected to more IV drips. The lithium was being washed away.

Around midnight, i was told that a room was ready for me. “My own room, how awesome. Hope it has a view,” i thought. But no, my hospital bed carried me to the doors of the psych ward, a floor below the ER.

I spent a seven and a half days in there, and it was the most important week of my life. I saw what could happen to me, saw reflections of myself. Once I settled in, a realization came.

I’ve made homes out of places, made homes out of people. But I never really felt like i belonged anywhere, until i settled in in there. I felt like I was in a place where I actually fit in. I was surrounded by people with various mental illnesses and I felt safe and secure.

I learned so much about the human condition. I learned so much about myself and about people. I watched, observed, and analyzed every but of information that was within sight. I listened to the whispers and conversations and morning sirens who sang like they were in a concert.

I have always been fascinated by psychology and I was in a place where it came alive. The psych ward was heaven for me. It was Elysium.

When I got discharged, I was driven straight to a rehab facility. And God, I’ve been learning so much about myself in here. I learn lessons not just from myself, but from others as well. I learn from their experiences and wisdom. I learn from observing the people around me. And I’ve been applying almost all that I’ve learned so far to my life here. And, hopefully, to my life when I get back on my path.

I probably died those two nights. The Psych Ward, and where I am now, this is my purgatory. Purgatory is where I learn to be a much better person, where i get to work on my low self worth and confidence. Where I work on being the best version of myself.

My name is John Mari A Marcelo. I’m in purgatory to heal and become better. And when I get out, everything will be alright.




Waltz #2

So, I’m still alive. Still hanging on. It’s been a tough couple of months for me – hell, it’s been a tough couple of years, but I’m alive. And that’s what matters. I’m alive and I’m still making progress.


I’m not on Aripiprazole anymore. It was barely working for me as time went by. I’m now on Lithium. Day five. It has some untoward effects, as with most new medications, but nothing I can’t handle. Had a bad mental health day yesterday because of the change of meds, but I survived. I’m sure I’ll have more days like that, but I’ll survive them also. I always do.




I’m still on Escitalopram. Still can’t cry because of it. So that’s a bummer. I miss crying. Can’t even remember the last time I cried. I honestly don’t know if it’s still working, but there’s gotta be a reason my doc kept me on it.


Oh, I was rediagnosed by my PDoc. Apparently I have Bipolar Depression cos I wasn’t responding to the anti depressants.


Anyway, just wanted to update this blog and whoever reads it.

Whatever I’ll lose, I can regain.

Going in on yesterday’s therapy, I considered having my doc up my dosage of mood stabilizers. Or, perhaps, try a new anti-depressant. I need the extra mental reinforcement. I need my mental foundation to be stronger. I still consider the foundations I have now to be weak, as it’s been shaky the past months.


But as my doctor and I talked, the more I realized that I’m letting my impatience take over. Despite the attacks and episodes, I’m still very much in control of them. I may have resorted to oversleeping lately so the attacks would cease, but that’s part of me taking control. That’s me using whatever I have in my disposal to combat the attacks.


Of course, the strategies I’ve concocted recently has its pitfalls, but I’ll reassess the situations I’m in. I’ll reassess the strategies, see what works with my current environment and my current path back to being a full-time photographer. I’ll have to make adjustments again to my lifestyle and how I operate. I’ll make mistakes, I’ll make errors in judgement, but nothing I can’t correct. That’s par for the course in being a depressive on recovery – learning from trial and error.


My life since I started treatment has been an experimentation. I was reborn that first time I walked into my psychiatrist’s office. I’ve gained much. I’ve also lost many. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve also unlearned lessons and attitudes that were harmful for me.


Maybe my life will forever be like this. Maybe this is a cycle that I’m bound to live with for all my life. That I’ll have clinical depression until the day I’m gone. Maybe it’s more manageable than incurable. But I’m willing to stay the course and fight til life permits me to.


What have I got to lose, anyway? My sanity? That’s been decaying and rebuilding itself for decades. My life? I’ve been on multiple lives already, got a lot more of that in the tank. Whatever I’ll lose, I can regain.

A stable life balances an unstable mind

2016 was a peak year for me. It was the era when I was at my most stable. Had a career as a music photographer. Had a girl. Had a guaranteed support system. Had a life – a real one where I was actually living. I was, for all intents and purposes, a functional human being with a clear direction.


I knew what I was waking up to in those days. I had reasons to wake up to, instead of waking up out of necessity. I wanted to live, not just ‘need to live.’


These days, even most of last year, everything’s a God damend mess. Nothing’s affixed. Nothing lasts longer than it should. Thought I’d restart a music career. Went nowhere. Lost the momentum and finally accepted that music isn’t for me. Now I’m back to film photography, and I am once again doubting if it’s the right path to take.


Hell, it’s the only path right now. Not that I have any qualms about it – I was a better photographer than anything I’ve ever done, really. Photography is second nature to me.


I do, right now, feel the need to reclaim the state I was in back in 2016. That’s been the goal, anyway – stability. A stable life balances an unstable mind. Got to thinking that I should recreate the state I was in. Sell my old car and purchase a digital camera and photography gear and go back to being “John Mari A. Marcelo, Photographer.” I do sorely miss digital photography. I can do film photography for personal projects, digital for work.


Sounds like a plan, right? But is it feasible? Is it doable? Damned if I know. I’ve been uncertain of too many things lately.