Kamusta

Uy kamusta? Ok ka lang?
Oo naman, ok lang ako.
Buhay pa.
Buhay pa habang ‘yung iba pinapatay,
namamatay, pumapatay.
Pero eto ako ngayon, buhay pa, okay lang.

Uy kamusta? Ok ka lang?
Oo, ok lang ako, lumalaban pa
‘Yung iba nanglaban, kaya pinatay na
Samantalang ako, tulog at pagod lang kinakalaban ko
mga demonyong utak ang may produkto

Uy kamusta? ‘Di ka pumasok kanina?
Ok lang ako, matraffic kasi sa may kanto
May nabaril na bata, ang daming naki-usosyo
Kaya ‘di na lang muna ako pumasok
sayang pamasahe ko

Uy kamusta? Kamusta? Kamusta?
Kasinungalingan, kagaguhan, lokohan
Pero d’yan naman tayo magaling ‘di ba?
Magpanggap na walang nakikita
Magpanggap na walang nararamdaman

Nabubuhay ng ‘di matiwasay
Kinakalaban ang sarili, inaaway ang mundo
May sakit, may trapo, may uto-uto
Ano ang magagawa sa nararamdamang ito
Lahat nagdurusa, lahat nalilito

Uy kamusta? Kamusta ka na?
Ito na sinasabi na ang katotohanan
Ok lang, ok lang ako, magiging ok rin ako
Magiging okay rin tayo.

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The Tragedy of Suicide

Suicide.

The act of killing yourself because you do not want to continue living, according to Miriam Webster dictionary.

Killing one’s self.

There are so many ways to kill yourself. People often ask why. We rarely find any answer, we barely understand it.

It’s a complex issue that most people often mistake as a simple scenario where a person just snapped and offed himself or herself.

It’s not.

People must understand that it is not a snap decision. Call it selfish, call it cowardly, but it is not impulsive. It doesn’t happen right away, it happens over time. It must be realized that it could have been prevented. It should have been prevented.

I do not support suicide, but I also do not want to condemn those who committed it or thought about doing it.

I cannot and do not speak for others, I only speak for myself. I believe that it is natural to fear death, because there is the fear of the unknown. If a person starts to fear living more than dying, then I believe that it is an indication that there is something severely wrong.

Countless of times I have wondered why was I born, and most of the time I wish I could just disappear. Sometimes the desire is so great, yet I am aware that I cannot do it. I cannot kill myself, because I know it is wrong. I remember wishing for death so badly. Shame filled my body at that time, because I know it is wrong, yet I wanted to die. The desire and inability to fulfill the desire caused a lot of dissonance within me. I felt devastated. My doctor asked me why I felt that way. I could only cry, because I could not pinpoint a single event that made me wish it. A lot of things happened, and I couldn’t tell which of them triggered me.

A lot of people would do everything in order to stay alive. I know. They know. That’s even more painful, because we already know it’s wrong and yet we somehow still wish to die. When people try to prevent them from doing it by adding even more guilt and pressure, I would believe that it is very counter-productive.

There are others who romanticize suicide. Stop it. It is not beautiful. It is saddening. It is not the way to send a message, it is not the way to ask for help. There are others who criticize the person who died. Stop it. Some people say that it is a form of victim blaming, and I agree with them. There are ways to stop it, and you are not helping by criticizing it. Give ways to help people who are alive right now, who are contemplating committing it right now. Help by doing what you think should be done. Read up on mental health and illnesses, try to understand it. Try to understand people.

Empathy and compassion goes a long way. Lend an ear to a stranger, give a hug to a friend. Say a good word here and there. Those little things mean a lot in the long run.

It has to be understood and realized that sometimes, they aren’t enough, that professional help is required. The stigma against mental health has taken and ruined a lot of lives. It could have been prevented, it should have been prevented, and yet here we are in our society where people die because of their own hands.

Some would say that suicide is caused by lack of faith in God. In Islam, suicide is condemned. I don’t want to judge, for I believe God has the final say in everything, and indeed He even provided a prayer against suicide.

“Oh Allah, keep me alive until life is good for me and give me death when that is the better for me” [Bukhari, Muslim]

But not everyone has the luxury and blessing of faith. Sometimes, it just get really difficult. That is why realizing and accepting that mental health has to be taken care of is very important.

I dedicate this post to Chester Bennington, who I do not know personally, but his songs have touched my life in ways I cannot describe. He was an artist who spoke from the heart. There is both a tragedy and irony in his works. The world has listened but did not understand.

This is also for all the people who have thought of doing it, and still does.

To all the people suffering out there, there are those who still care, if we could only just reach out.

And you’re angry, and you should be, it’s not fair
Just ’cause you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it, isn’t there

If they say
Who cares if one more light goes out?
In the sky of a million stars
It flickers, flickers
Who cares when someone’s time runs out?
If a moment is all we are
Or quicker, quicker

Who cares if one more light goes out?

Well I do

Help other people, and at the very least, please help yourself.

Twisted Truth

Jaded black eyes stared tiredly at the people walking all around him inside the coffee shop.  A half-empty mug of coffee was placed beside an open red notebook. There were scattered pens, books, and papers all over the table. The owner of the red notebook tapped his fingers on the table, trying to block out the senseless noise he was hearing from the other café patrons.

“I’m worried about Tansy,” a boy said while balancing books in his hands.

“Yeah, me too, I want to help her,” a girl with short hair responded as she walked in front of her friend.

Aloe, a university student, could only sigh deeply and gaze contemptuously at his peers as they passed by him and went out of the establishment. The bell rang signaling the opening and closing of the door. He shook his head and tried to focus on his readings. He was struggling to understand some of the fancy terms in Latin while trying hard not to cringe at the thought of being called in class for the particular topic.

“Yo. Why the long face?” an amused voice disrupted Aloe’s thoughts.

Aloe turned his head and found his friend, standing right behind him with a mug in his hand and looking over the messy table. Aloe craned his neck to look at his blonde-haired friend.

“What? You’re not used to my resting bitch face yet?” Aloe smiled wryly as he waited for his friend to sit across him. Peter hummed as he sat comfortably on the cushioned chair.

“You heard them talking about Tansy?” Peter nonchalantly asked while sipping from his own drink, and the steam from the coffee slightly fogged up the eyeglasses he was wearing. Behind the spectacles, blue eyes peered curiously at Aloe.

“Yeah, I did,” Aloe said in a resigned voice, he ran a hand through his black messy hair.

Silence reigned over the two of them as they were left to their own thoughts. Aloe took comfort in the quietness where he could hear no lies and insincere words. Peter was one of the people Aloe was comfortable with, as the latter was one of the rare people who the former got along with.

The silence was broken when Peter spoke out loud.

“Sometimes, I think you see too much.”

“Do I?” Aloe pretended not to know what Peter was talking about.

“I dunno, do you?” Peter tilted his head at Aloe.

Aloe laughed bitterly. The words spoken by his friend were so near yet so far to the truth of his obscure ability. “No, I don’t. I can’t even find what I’m looking for.”

The two friends went back to studying while pretending to be ordinary students without an ounce of drama in their lives. The rustling of the papers and the scribbling of the pens were the only sound coming from their table.

Moments later, Aloe could feel Peter’s stare. Peter was fidgeting in his seat.

“Nope, not a good idea,” Aloe mentioned offhandedly, continuously writing on his notebook.

“But I haven’t even said anything yet!” Peter exclaimed.

“I just felt like saying it, besides, all of your ideas are stupid by default,” Aloe smirked.

“Hey!” Peter slammed his hand on the table. The other customers shot them nasty looks for the noise. Peter bashfully scratched his blond hair and waved apologetically at them.

Aloe just snickered at his friend.

The next day at the university, the mundane academic life consumed its occupants. Students and professors alike wandering about, ready to face the day filled with lessons.

Aloe walked briskly towards his classroom, noting that he was already late but it didn’t matter. The professor was late as always. Black eyes silently scanned the room as he observed his classmates and hated himself for it. His classmates often steered clear of him, perhaps because he was too frank. Either way he didn’t care.

Aloe proceeded to walk to the back of the classroom where he found Peter chatting with their other classmates.

“Good morning!” Peter greeted with enthusiasm, his hands frantically waving in the air. Aloe could only shake his head at his friend’s antics. “Tone down the brightness, and stop shitting rainbows please.”

“Somebody is cranky. Forgot your meds today?” Peter teased while waiting for Aloe to finish setting his things down on the table. Loud laughter distracted the two males, both of them turned their heads at the boisterous sounds coming from their classmates from the front. Amidst the cheerful banter, a person stood out from the crowd.

“Hey Tansy, you look sick, are you ok?” One of their classmates asked with concern in his voice, Aloe recognized the male as the one he saw in the cafe.

“Yeah,” Tansy she blandly replied at her classmates as she tucked her red hair behind her ears. There were dark circles around her green eyes.

Aloe took a deep breath and turned his head away from the scene. He was getting exhausted so easily nowadays. He blinked rapidly when he noticed two hands waving in front of him.

“Hello, earth to Aloe. Hi. Hello. Hey that rhymes,” Peter joked jovially, his blue eyes looking at Aloe. Before he could reply, the door opened which caused the noise to die down, and all the students simultaneously stood up.

The professor walked in, heels clacking against the floor.

She stopped in front of the teacher’s table and placed her bag on the table. She waved her right hand gracefully.  The students sat down and waited for their imminent fate.

“Good morning,” she greeted the class, “So, let’s begin with the next topic,”

She retrieved a bundle of yellow cards in her bag. Eyes carefully followed her hands as she shuffled them.

There was tension in the room. Most of the people anticipating on who would be called. Aloe observed with indifference. Before the professor could call out the name on the card she finally picked, Aloe elbowed Peter.

Blue eyes glared at Aloe for his actions. “What–“

“Peter,” the professor called out. Stunned, Peter slowly stood up from his seat. “Yes ma’am?”

The long time battle between the students and professor began. Almost all of them sincerely praying they be spared for the day. Hours felt like years for the students, waiting for the clock to turn faster.

Chris, one of the active members of their class, was called next for recitation. He stood confidently, his brown eyes stared bravely at his professor as he answered fluidly.

“Good job Chrysanthemum,” their professor, knowing that Chris disliked his full name, teased him.

“Thanks ma’am,” Chris scratched the back his brown cropped hair, a sign of his awkwardness.

Unfortunately for Tansy, she was the next one chosen to parry the questions of their professor. Aloe took note of Tansy’s fidgeting form as she sat in front near the teacher’s table.

“Ma’am, a-according to article 19, uhm,“ She stuttered as her hands were flipping her notes rapidly. She kept on going though, despite her apparent desire to stop. The glaring difference between Chris’s performance and Tansy’ own performance made it worse for her.

“Tansy, please sit down,” Tansy could only nod meekly and sit slowly in her seat.

Aloe furtively glanced around the room, and clenched his hands when one of his classmates whispered to one another. “It’s none of my business, none,” Aloe convinced himself.

Class was almost over to the relief of the people. Aloe was already arranging his things before the bell rang.

“I’ll see you next meeting,” their professor announced, gathering the class cards in her hands. “Tansy, please see me in my office,” she said gently to the girl who was slightly shaking. She walked out of the room as the students fixed their things to go home.

Within minutes, the room was almost empty leaving only Aloe, Peter, and a handful of students. The pair that Aloe previously saw in the café were talking loudly near the exit of the room. They were subtly looking at Tansy who was sitting alone dejectedly in her chair.  Aloe rolled his eyes, he was sick of seeing and hearing them everywhere.

“Worrying does nothing, why don’t you try to give a helpful advice instead of just, “describing the situation” according to your terms,” Aloe casually directed at the short-haired girl as he walked outside the door, looking at them at the corner of his black eyes. He left his classmates dumbfounded and confused.

“What was that about?” Peter asked Aloe. Peter looked back at his classmates who were suddenly quiet and staring at Aloe with trepidation, while the cause of their unease was just sauntering away and unfazed by what just happened.

“Nothing. Just pointing out inconsistencies,” Aloe shrugged.

“Uh, didn’t you just do the same? Giving useless advice?” Peter poked Aloe.

“I’m pained that you call my advice useless,” Aloe placed a hand on his heart in faux hurt.

“Well, it was unsolicited,” Peter remarked, he was getting used to Aloe’s strangeness. Aloe snorted and just continued walking while Peter cheerfully followed.

Left alone in their room was the red-haired girl.

Tansy stared blankly into space, her red bangs partially covering her green eyes. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. The ringing in her ears still haven’t subsided.

She sluggishly fixed her things, and prepared to go to her professor’s room. She checked her phone. She read a message from her brother which made her grimace. She could feel the tears prickling her eyes.

She stepped out to the corridor and slowly walked towards the room of her professor. She hesitated when she arrived at the door with the sign of her professor’s name. She was about to knock when the door suddenly opened.

“Oh, Tansy, come in,” the kind professor ushered her in. “Please, sit.”

Tansy did what she was told, and sat on the chair in front of her professor’s desk while placing her bag beside her on the floor.

“Tansy, I’m sorry to say this, but you’re not doing well in my class right now,” her professor gently told Tansy, she was looking at Tansy’s class card. “I also noticed you’re failing in your other classes.”

The young girl stayed quiet, and refused to make eye contact.

“You have to keep your grades up if you want to stay in this college,” her professor appraised the student in front of her.

“Yes, ma’am,” Tansy politely answered, her hands clasped together, laying on her lap.

“Do you have any problems understanding the lesson? Problems at home?” Her professor prodded.

Tansy fiddled with her hands harder at the mention of home. She answered in the negative to all her professor’s questions. Tansy glanced at her professor.

“I’ll do my best, I’m just,” Tansy’s voice broke as she struggled to find the words to express herself. “I’ll do my best,” she repeated weakly.

“Tansy, if you have any problems, please don’t be shy and just approach me.”

Tansy nodded, and stiffly stood up. “Thank you ma’am,” She bowed and bid farewell to her professor while picking up her bag. Her green eyes were glossy.

She hurriedly walked out of the stifling room and almost ran into the restroom. Luckily, there was nobody else in the place. She locked the door. She tried to control her breathing. Her ears were ringing and her chest hurt badly from the rapid beating of her heart.

She covered her mouth as she stifled her sobs. Her whole body was shaking violently.

“I want to die, but I can’t,” Tansy miserably whispered to herself. “How pathetic is that,”

Moments have passed before her breathing gradually slowed down. She finally breathed in deeply and calmed herself. She wiped her tears away and walked out of the cubicle. Green eyes glared at the girl in front of the mirror. After habitually washing her hands, she strode out of the restroom.

Surprised, she took a few steps back when she saw Aloe standing alone in the middle of the corridor, his black eyes looking at her intensely, as if waiting for her.

Embarrassment flooding her at being caught in an uncomfortable situation, Tansy tried to pretend she didn’t see him and walked away until Aloe was behind her.

“She genuinely cares for her students,” Aloe said mildly,

Tansy stopped, but she didn’t turn to face Aloe.

“You should accept help when it’s offered,” Aloe’s voiced out his thoughts. Tansy could feel her heart pick up its pace again when Aloe’s words were too close to her secret.

She ignored Aloe, then continued to walk away. She was about to exit the building when she saw Chris.

Chris waved at her which she politely returned. She was blinded by Chris’ questionable friendliness that it somehow irked her. Chris approached her and started to make small talk.

“You did well in class,” Chris carelessly said to her.

“It sucked,” Tansy retorted, annoyed that Chris could blatantly lie to her face in attempts of comforting her.

“Stop fishing for complements Chris,” Green eyes glared at brown eyes.

Chris only laughed, and ruffled his brown hair. “Sorry, my bad, but I do think that you did ok if not good,”

“Yeah, whatever, bye,” Tansy dismissed Chris and walked down the front staircase of the building and into the road.

Chris watched the sunset for a few minutes. His surrounding were bathed in red-orange light. Chris exhaled loudly. He was about to leave when he heard someone call out to him. “Chris!”

He turned and saw Aloe waving at him where Tansy previously stood. Chris beamed and returned the gesture. He went towards the parking lot. He opened his car and drove home.

Chris arrived at his house, all was silent except for the dull noise coming for the television which was tuned to the news station.

“I’m home,” Chris called out. Nobody answered. He went straight to his room and changed his clothes.

He got his books and laid them on his study table cluttered with pens and highlighters of different colors. He read for a while before suddenly throwing his book in frustration.

He decided to sleep when he couldn’t understand anything anymore. He closed the lights and let the darkness cover him.

He laid down on his bed. He stared blankly at his ceiling that was covered with glow-in-the-dark stickers. Sleep wouldn’t come to him as he tossed and turned in his bed. He watched the darkness slowly turn into light. Chris closed his eyes, only to be disturbed by his alarm clock.

When morning came, Chris ate breakfast with his family, his older brother absent because he was abroad participating in a contest.

Chris sat in silence, before clearing his throat. “I got a high score yesterday in our quiz, and my recitation was also good,” Chris proudly reported to his parents.

“I should hope so. Your older brother got a perfect grade in his class,” Chris’ father disinterestedly said while flipping the newspaper he was holding. A half-eaten toast and a steaming mug of coffee sat near his dad.

Chris’s smile almost fell. He just took a sip from his orange juice and averted his gaze.

His mom suddenly placed a plate with freshly cooked eggs in front of him. “Good job Chris!” she hugged her son.

She leaned and whispered into his ears, “Don’t mind your father, he’s just cranky today.”

Chris blinked and smiled genuinely at her. Chris played with the food in front of him. His appetite almost non-existent at that time. His mother nudged him on the head, a warning for him to eat breakfast.

“Well, I’m off to work,” his dad coldly announced and stood up from the dining table.

“Bye dear, take care,” Chris’ mom kissed the father on his cheeks. Chris only looked at his father exiting the dining room.

“Chrysanthemum, do you know what your name means?” His mom asked out of the blue.

Chris only chewed his eggs and shook his head no.

“I know it’s a girly name, but you have to be proud of it,” Her tone was wistful. “Your name means cheerfulness and good spirit, we were so happy when you were born in this world”

Chris snorted, and almost choked on his food. His mother slapped him on his back.

“Your father loves you too, you know, he just has a different way of showing it,”

Chris looked away from his mom. “Oh look at the time, I’m late, gotta go now.” Chris abruptly stood up similar to the way his dad exited.

Chris arrived at school, and was immediately bombarded by some of his classmates when he got to the room.

“Yo! I heard your brother won the competition, you guys are so amazing,” Peter greeted Chris.

Chris stilled slightly but he immediately grinned and accepted the greetings from them. “It’s in the genes man, it’s in the genes,” Chris exclaimed

“You mean your pants? Where can I buy one?” Peter joked.

“Shut up,” Peter was punched on the arm by Aloe.

“Ignore him Chris, he got high on coffee again,” Aloe said sarcastically, placing Peter’s head in a headlock.

“What, I’m not!” Peter struggled to get out of Aloe’s hold.

The banter among his friends went on, while Chris became subdued, and almost nobody noticed it. Aloe witnessed the change in Chris’s mood. Aloe opened his mouth, hesitating to say something, but he didn’t proceed.

Aloe merely placed a hand on Chris’ shoulder. Chris nodded and his lips slightly tilted upwards at the corner.

Classes began once again, and nothing much changed.

Months after Tansy was called out by their professor, the semester was almost over, with only two weeks remaining before final examinations.

Everyone collectively breathed out when the professor announced that they were finished with the whole subject. They were glad that the day was finally over. Students broke off into groups, each one planning on how to de-stress after a long week. Almost half of the class was gone.

“Hey! Chris! We’re hanging out tonight, wanna come?”

“Nah, sorry I’m busy, I have to do something,” Chris smiled at his friends while walking past them.

“Oh come on! It’s a Friday!” One of his friends shouted at his retreating back. Chris merely raised his right hand without looking at them.

“I’ll just see you guys later,”

Aloe almost faltered in his steps. His heart was beating faster inside his chest. He started to go towards Chris when he was stopped by Peter. “Where are you going?”

Aloe stood motionless, staring at the direction where Chris went. “I’m not so sure.”

“Well, let’s go then,” Peter tugged Aloe’s shirt. “I want to watch a movie,”

“Okay,” Aloe hesitantly agreed, his gaze never left Chris. Peter noticed Aloe’s fixation and grabbed the latter’s shoulders to turn him in the other direction.

“Don’t worry about Chris, he’s probably just going to study. Such a nerd.” Peter jested, he tried to alleviate Aloe’s concern.

It was Monday again. Aloe entered the room and immediately looked for his brown-haired classmate. He began to worry when he noticed Chris was not there.

“That’s strange, Chris is late today?” Peter turned his head, trying to look for their classmate.

“I hope so,” Aloe muttered. He fixed

“He’s usually so early, I needed to ask him something,” Peter moaned with disappointed.

Chris didn’t attend class that day. The next day, Chris was absent again.

“Maybe he’s sick?” Peter mused. The color from Aloe’s face withdrew and he closed his eyes as he struggled to remain calm.

A week has passed before they learned of Chris’ whereabouts. The news was announced after their class.

“Class, Chris is at the hospital right now, if you want to visit him I can give you the hospital where he is staying at,”

Aloe froze in his seat. He tried to block out the words that the professors were saying. The voices in his head got louder and harder to ignore.

“Holy cow. Did you guys hear? I think he tried to kill himself,” one of their classmates whispered.

“Wasn’t it an accident? Somebody said that he bought the wrong medicine,” the person said in a confused voice.

“Poor guy, never expected him to do it,” a boy said while shaking his head.

“Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it! Chris?”

“Hey, you shouldn’t talk about him like that,” Peter intervened and tried to quell the rumors. “We only know he is in the hospital, we should pay respect.”

“Yeah, but we’re all just surprised. Aren’t you?”

“I am, he was a happy and energetic guy, and I know he would never try to kill himself,” Peter stated with conviction.

Aloe turned his head to Peter, who was proudly proclaiming how much he knew Chris when he was so ignorant of what truly happened. Aloe felt something dark crawl into his heart. He didn’t know where Peter got his ideas. He didn’t see it coming.

“He was just weak. That’s the plain truth. Weak or stupid,” Tansy brazenly spoke. Everyone in the vicinity who hear cringed and looked away from Tansy.

“Tansy, you’re not supposed to say something bad about people,” Peter gently reminded her. Aloe clenched his fist.

“Guess we better plan something for him,”

Aloe gritted his teeth, his feelings were a mess. He could have done something. He should have done something. He never felt so helpless and betrayed before. He angrily picked up his bag and walked out. Peter followed him outside the room.

“Hey, Aloe, are you okay?” Peter asked, worry tinged his voice, as he placed a hand on Aloe’s shoulder.

“Am I?” Aloe mockingly asked. He shrugged Peter’s hand off his person.

“I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking,” Peter defensively answered.

Aloe finally snapped. “Why are you people like that?”

“Like what?” Peter asked incredulously.

“You people are so fake!” Aloe fished a pen from his pockets. “See this pen? You’re all like this. PLASTIC.” Aloe threw the pen at Peter’s chest.

Peter could only stare at Aloe in astonishment. Before Aloe could stop himself, the dam of resentment burst out, and dark words flowed from his mouth, uncaring of the audience they suddenly had.

“Of all the people. I thought you would understand. You act so nicely. I thought you were decent,” Aloe said, his voice so deep that Peter almost didn’t hear him. “I thought you were genuine.”

“I thought you were real,” Peter didn’t move or say a word. “I expected better from you.”

“How could you think that Chris was weak?! You don’t know what’s going on with him! You don’t know him!”

“Why? Why are you people like this?” Aloe begged him to answer. The air was heavy with pressure.

“Oh stop being so melodramatic,” Peter uncharacteristically deadpanned, finally having the courage to answer Aloe.

“What?”

“I said stop it. You act so high and mighty. You can’t ask for something, you can’t give.”

“What are you talking about?!”

“You ask for something genuine. You’re not,” Peter continued. “I’m sorry, but I know you’re not.”

Aloe stood motionless as a statue. Everything in his world was slowly being turned upside down. His feelings of guilt, betrayal, hurt, and resentment festered deep inside him. His friend just called him a hypocrite without any basis.

“I could notice you judging us, acting as if you’re above us. You’re not,” Peter laughed harshly. “You can’t read minds Aloe, you can’t,”

“Stop. You act like we hurt you,” Peter pointed at him. “No, you hurt yourself,”

Aloe was staring down at Peter before both of them even realized it. Peter gingerly held his face with his left hand, his glasses lying on the floor. Peter’s blue eyes widened in shock. Aloe towered over him with this right hand clenched in a fist and bruised.

“You know nothing,” Aloe hissed.

Aloe then looked at the eye of each and every one of them who were watching their fight. He stared at them coldly, his black eyes glittering.

“Chris wasn’t weak. Chris wasn’t happy,” His voice cracked. “You were all just trapped in your own little words like selfish bastards that you are. We all were.”

“And now you think it’s a fucking burden to even visit him in the hospital, I don’t blame you though, you all have your priorities.”

The crowd shivered from the insult in Aloe’s words. They were dispersed when one of the professors arrived at the scene. “Aloe, Peter. Please follow me to the Dean’s office.”

Peter stood up and dusted his clothes. Aloe had finally calmed down. He was suddenly aloof and indifferent. The two of them followed the professor to their impending doom.

“People like you disgust me,” Aloe said coolly to Peter while they were walking. “People who think that it’s wrong to say the truth out loud.”

Peter turned pale, finally realizing that Aloe seems to know more than the ordinary person. The two of them walked soundlessly towards the Dean’s office.

“Sit down, wait for the dean. She is currently in a meeting,” the professor said brusquely.  Aloe and Peter sat in front of a table filled with papers and calendar. “No fighting in this office,” she warned the two students.

Peter looked at Aloe who was sitting placidly, all of his anger seemingly disappeared.

“Why?” Peter returned the question to Aloe. Weary black eyes looked at Peter. Peter’s blue eyes suddenly averted his gaze.

“Tansy was admiring Chris for his bravery. For doing something she couldn’t do,” Aloe said softly, he fiddled with his fingers. “Did you know? Yet she thinks he’s stupid for failing. Ask her. She’ll tell you. She won’t lie about it.”

Peter sighed and hunched over. He placed his head in his two hands. He ignored the pain that he could feel on his left cheeks.

Things were getting out in the open. Aloe continued and ignored Peter’s distress at his revelations.

“You didn’t talk to Chris. I’m not talking about mere small talk. Nobody ever thinks of talking to the cheerful guy with the seemingly perfect life.”

“You even thought he was weak for trying to kill himself,” Aloe accused. Peter only shook his head, his blond hair covering his face.

“It’s not my story to tell, but nobody sees. Nobody listens.” Aloe whispered.  “Somebody needs to say it.”

Aloe’s voice started to shake. “I could have stopped him. I knew he planned it. He fucking planned it because he was tired of it. So tired of it. I don’t blame him at all,” Aloe clenched his hands together. “I wanted to stop him but I didn’t.”

Peter looked worriedly at Aloe. “Aloe, Aloe stop, it’s not your fault,”

“I wish the others who are half of a person that he is killed themselves. Why do people like him think they’re the ones that need to disappear?” Aloe could only ask bitterly.

“I’m sorry,” Peter sorrowfully said. “I’m sorry for what I said earlier Aloe, I’m sorry,”

“They don’t need pity. I don’t. They need help,” Aloe snapped. “Help that nobody gave, help that I didn’t give because I was too scared,” Aloe ran a hand through his black hair.

“Aloe, it’s okay,” Peter tried to placate his friend.

“All I hear are lies.” Aloe said resignedly. “Sometimes I wish I knew they weren’t lies.”

TBT: Personality and Psychological Disorder

Note: I wrote this in 2014 as a requirement for my Psych101 (Introduction to Psychology) Class. Since it is a Thursday here, it’s throwback Thursday! This is an edited and filtered version. Lol. Also, please support #MHActNow. Looking back, I was such a weird kid. Haha. I still kinda am.

Personality and Psychological Disorder

When we were discussing defense mechanisms by Freud in class, I couldn’t help but think: “Ay weh, ‘yun pala ginagawa ko.” (Oh, That’s what I’m doing right now). I was (and maybe still am) guilty of various types of defense mechanism mentioned by Freud. There was a time when I was so frustrated and with a batch mate of mine. He was a shiftee from an engineering course, and he was so good at numbers and at studying, but I was angry at the fact that he shifted to accounting when I think he should have stayed in his original course because that’s where his skills and talents can be fully utilized, but no, he just had to shift to a course where he’s really not needed because a lot of people are trying to get into that course already. Then I realized that first of all, what he does with his life is really none of my concern, because we’re not even friends and second, I was just projecting my annoyance and frustrations at myself from shifting from economics to accounting because I think I was good at economics. I was so bitter about my choice because I believed that I could have done more if I stayed at my previous course. There are times when I still feel that way (especially since I got removed from accounting), but it’s a lesson that I’m still trying to learn: that we have to move on and make do with what we have and where we are right now.

I am guilty of a lot of other defense mechanisms, but that’s just who I am I guess, an amalgamation of defense mechanisms in order to survive this world.

The criteria of normality are efficient perception of reality, ability to exercise voluntary control over one’s behavior, self-esteem and acceptance, ability to form affectionate relationships and productivity.

I was still able to do all of the five criteria, so I considered myself normal. Sure I sometimes worry over things more than my peers, and sometimes I would stop functioning properly when I agonized over situations (it would only last for a short time), and I do get distressed by a lot of things. I knew I was a bit neurotic since I was a kid. But deep down, I knew that there was nothing wrong with me, I just have a higher standards and a different way of thinking than others. I’d cry, get tired, and rant about things; complain about my lazy group mates and all that but in the end I would still be able to get the results that I want. People would think I had a problem with my self-esteem and self-acceptance, but I was just good at impression management and expectation setting (they wouldn’t expect too much if I told them that I was a bad at something that I already know I can’t do well, would they?). I was proud of myself for being responsible in things that I cared for and I knew how to handle myself. I had control over my actions. Most of all, I was happy with how productive I was no matter what happened, and I was able to make a lot of friends. I created a lot of coping mechanisms for the shortcomings that I knew I had, like planning and doing my school work early because I’m forgetful and I am also bad at cramming things I’m not good at.

The three criteria of abnormal behavior as mentioned in class are deviance, maladaptiveness, and personal distress.

I didn’t fully notice how my behavior went from normal to abnormal because it was gradual. It didn’t just spring on me one day like a nasty flu. I thought I was still normal, because I thought it was just how I am usually. My reactions over simple things became deviant from the social norms (a normal student wouldn’t be cry, get hysterical, and hyperventilate over getting a terror professor for a long time like I did, they’d just rant about their rotten luck and try to move on). I wasn’t able to function effectively anymore. My personal distress reached a new high record. My parents finally decided to have me checked by a doctor (much to my horror, relief, and mostly embarrassment at having to reach that point) who prescribed my some medicines and told me that it wasn’t really my fault (I still have doubts about that), that I have to stop pleasing other people and to be honest with myself. After a few checkups, the doctor deemed that I was “better” but that I “had to be careful”. My self-acceptance and esteem really took a blow since then, because I still couldn’t fully distinguish which part was my personality, and which part of it was just a “disorder”.

Currently, I’m still trying to accept the fact that what I had was something I couldn’t control and that it’s not really my fault, or at least not totally my fault. With my personality, I am predisposed to feel and act in a certain way but that doesn’t mean that it’s not normal and that it would automatically mean I’d behave abnormally. I have a choice to improve myself and get rid of any illness that I may have. It’s not hopeless. It was never hopeless, and people should never give up. One time, we were required to watch a movie for a class, and the movie ended at 8pm. I was stuck waiting at school ‘til 9pm because my parents were only able to fetch me at that time. For an hour, all I could feel was anxiety and fear, and negative thoughts would enter my head (what if somebody attacks me? Hala wala ng tao, isasara na yung building! Papalaysin na ko ni kuya guard huhu) (Oh no, there are no more people around, they’re going to ask me to leave the building), because it was dark and I was all alone except for the guard and the occasional grad students passing by. It struck me at that exact moment that it was what I felt for the whole time last year, and it was not normal to feel that way every day. It’s not normal, should never be normal and nobody should ever feel that way. Psychological disorders may manifest differently from physical disorders, but it doesn’t make it any less threatening or harmful. “It’s just in your mind”, yes, it is, but people must learn when exactly it’s normal and abnormal.