Today (or yesterday as it’s past midnight already), Facebook exploded after Joey de Leon (a famous Filipino celebrity) made comments about how depression is not really a disability or illness, and people should not sympathize with those who have it or are going through it. According to him, it’s just something that these people make up and they or it should not be taken seriously.
I was beyond speechless.
I was annoyed. I was disappointed. I was—am fucking pissed off. But mostly, I’m just sad. The reality is, there is a stigma around mental disabilities and illnesses here in the Philippines. And people joke about and around it like it’s such a tiny matter to deal with; like it doesn’t even matter; like it hasn’t taken lives of millions of people around the world.
Most Filipinos associate depression, anxiety, panic attacks to nothing but “pag-iinarte” or the mere act of seeking other people’s attention. And that’s just bullshit, and it needs to end soon, if not now.
I’ll let you in on a little secret.
When I was in high school, I was diagnosed with Atypical Depression and was later on diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). I was constantly struggling with even the simple act of getting up from bed and going to school, or anywhere for that matter. I was always down and lonely. I was irritable and experienced severe mood swings. I was constantly having anxiety and panic attacks. I was suicidal. (Actually, no, scratch that was as I still am all of these things.)
But nobody noticed.
I was the quiet one then but also the one who was always the attention whore or the papansin one. I didn’t know what to feel or how to feel most of the time. And more often than I wanted, all I really thought about was just disappearing and not coming back.
I would often “daydream” about what it would be like if I died. And in between those daydreams, I would cut or hurt myself.
I wanted so badly to just get over the whole thing, but I didn’t know how. I didn’t even know where to begin. Antidepressants helped but only to an extent.
After years, I surrounded myself with friends. I joked around a lot, laughed my ass off, and pretended that the voices in my head didn’t exist. For the most part, I could manage and continue pretending that nothing’s wrong.
Until I no longer couldn’t and all that’s in my head are ways on how I could end my life—end it all.
Nobody knew, then. And only a handful of people know now.
I’m the person who jokes around a lot and often laughs her ass off. But as much as I try to push it off, as much as I want to not feel it, I still do. And it’s not a figment of my imagination. It’s not something that I made up in order to get people’s attention and sympathy (because if I did then I should have told every person that I know).
This is my life. This is my daily struggle. And for someone—anyone—to step on that and condemn me and people like me who go through this rough road on a daily basis, is beyond words. It’s beyond disappointment. It’s beyond anger.
You, Joey de Leon, are nothing short of an imbecile. You, sir, are a disgrace to the human race.
If you’re curious, below is an excerpt of what he said.