Feelings, Self-esteem

Cardiac Conundrum

Navigating the turbulent waves just to see what ‘the other fish in the sea’ have to offer (aka, dating) turned me into an outwardly cynical but secretly hopeless romantic person, into a cynic through and through. It’s not that I have difficulty finding people (kind of hard when there are 103.3 million people in the Philippines alone, as of 2016)….I just have difficulty finding people to connect with. People with no ulterior motives. People who will not pretend to be interested in you, then when they sense you are under their spell, string you along and leave you hanging, wondering what the fuck is happening, sending your already overworked mind into overdrive. People who, after a few exchanges, think you owe them your body and soul.

Online dating further complicates things, because, while it broadens your options and you’d meet people you won’t otherwise meet, being situated in two different parts of the world (this is how I met one of my dearest friends!), the number of people who might unashamedly take advantage of you also increases. Especially since it’s easier to be a horrible person online than in the real world, due to lesser repercussions and the beauty of anonymity and the block button.

Due to lack of time in the real world and my own preferences, I begrudgingly continue to find myself treading this toxic environment, to fulfill my psychosocial need for intimacy, as recommended by Erik Erikson. Just kidding. I’m a human being, and while I enjoy my time alone more than most people, I, too, crave intimacy like any other person. I wish I didn’t, because I honestly find it so exhausting. It also makes me feel more isolated, given the impersonal modes of communication utilized. I’m also conflicted between giving up on this entirely, accepting my fate of being the kooky single polyglot aunt who travels the world, and not giving up on my search, knowing that THE ONE is there somewhere, although Lord knows why we haven’t crossed paths yet (I think).

There is also the fact that when I do find a connection, everybody else just seems like background noise, fuzzy colorful blobs wherein the only one clear is the person I like. In this day and age, ESPECIALLY in this day and age, this is a terrible approach to dating, unless of course, you’re lucky enough to find someone who also sees fuzzy blobs instead of walking bobs and vagene. My mind hasn’t caught on to this yet, in spite of major heartache caused by this approach. I will probably make a terrible investor, given my already terrible history of investing all my ‘currency’ on the one person (I say investor because it seems more refined than gambling). Wise investment dictates that you should not put all your money into something volatile and uncertain, even though you feel strongly about it. Surefire way of making sure your heart won’t be left wounded and bleeding when it does not work out.

However, no matter how much I try taking this approach to dating, I. JUST. CAN’T. DO. IT. Mainly because I don’t see people as stocks. Also because due to the rarity of finding whom I perceive to be my person, my neurons go on a frenzy, thinking “OH, YES, WOMAN, THIS IS THE ONE.” Loyalty is a good trait, but it honestly depends on where your loyalties lie, because it can have negative effects. For example, it’s good to be loyal to your significant other when you are exclusive; it is incredibly stupid to put yourself off the market (so to speak) once you feel that connection.

When it all boils down to it, to quote the blog post I made elsewhere in 2014, the biggest mistake one could make, besides putting all of your eggs in one basket in this day and age of hook-ups, Tinder, ghosting, bread crumbing, benching, and whatever millenial dating term there is, is making that person a huge part of your life so much so that you lose your sense of self, no matter how great that person is. One, it can get suffocating for the other person, for you to depend on him/her for your personal happiness. Imagine the pressure, having a whole other adult human’s happiness and validation lie on your shoulders? Not only is it draining, it is unattractive. I base this on personal experience, being on the receiving end of it. (Imagine having someone repeatedly tell you they’re not feeling well because you haven’t texted them when they wanted you to. Even if it were my partner, it would turn my attraction down a notch, all empathy and unconditional positive regard aside).

Second, there is only one person who can make you happy, and it is YOURSELF. At the end of the day, people come and go, until, worst case scenario, the only person left in your corner is you. This is extremely difficult to apply in daily life, and it is something I struggle with, though that hasn’t really deterred me from trying. And this is probably one of the few situations when my pessimism leads to optimistic results (i.e. Love yourself, because every person you love will leave sooner or later, or something to that effect).

Huh, it seems like the kooky single aunt option sounds more appealing by the minute. I’m only human, though, and by God if giving love doesn’t feel good (and if it is being reciprocated, even better!).

 

 

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Feelings, Self-love 2018, Slice of life, Writing

Reclamation Manifesto

2017 was a year of growth. It was the punch in the gut, blow in the head that I needed to come to my senses in certain aspects of my life. While it was painful to endure what I have been through last year (safe to say it was not a good year for me), I feel fortunate that, in a way, I was able to learn so much. Once again, I believe in the adage that you really do have to wade through a storm to see a rainbow, and after that you have to journey to the end of the rainbow to get a pot of gold. I may or may not have made up the last part in an attempt to create a metaphor.

Because it has only been almost 24 hours since 2017, I am still, and will probably, for quite awhile, recovering from the wounds it left. I am, however, genuinely grateful, for the first time in my life, actually, to be alive on the first day of the year. I am grateful that I am given the chance to redeem myself. Thus, the main theme for 2018, for me personally, at least, is SELF-LOVE.

How?

  1. By knowing my worth, and sticking to it.
  2. Accepting the things I cannot control (like the weather, unless you are a conspiracy theorist and you believe that global warming is a farce concocted by a shady country’s government).
  3. Being considerate of other people’s opinions, but ultimately making up my own mind after careful discernment, weighing the pros and cons, No impulse, follow-your-heart-and-your-loins decisions.
  4. Being more grateful for the little things, no matter how simple (for this, I plan to create a ‘Grateful Bank’ from an old piggy bank, wherein I will, at the end of every day, no matter how bad, write down all the nouns that made the day less shitty).
  5. Accepting my body shape enough to want to take care of it— not to conform to beauty standards, but to be healthy
  6. Not being too critical about myself and focusing on developing my positive aspects.
  7. Cutting ties with people who bring nothing but toxicity in my life. The only toxicity I will accept is work, school, or Britney-related.
  8.  Not accepting affection I know I don’t deserve in the hopes that the other person will see the light.
  9. Being more assertive.
  10. Keeping a mood tracker to document when darkness my old friend decides to pay me a visit. There should be a pattern; and once I discover it, I will know how to deal with it.

BONUS: Being more diligent in chronicling this self-love journey through this blog. It is always fun to look back on previous blogs to see how different I was and how much I’ve grown. I hope I am able to document my 2018 eloquently and efficiently through words and insightful entries. Social media has spoiled me by allowing me to express myself in (mainly shitty filtered) photos and 280-character announcements, which is all trumped by the nostalgic butterflies you get from reading blog entries.

Wish me luck.

 

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Feelings, Slice of life

Road to Redemption

Published August 4, 2017 in Thought Catalog as: When They Hurt You But You Should Have Been Better

Owning up to making mistakes is not easy to do, especially if one is used to following the rules and doing the right thing.

I think, however, that admitting your mistake and trying to make amends (if you can), is one of the first things you can do to heal your troubled soul.

I turned into someone I am not very proud of these past few days. While it is true that it takes two to tango, I would still like to blame myself for bringing this upon me, and for not stopping when my mind suddenly went into dangerous territory: infatuation.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been infatuated before, but certainly not to this degree. I suddenly found myself acting like someone I would have told to “grow a spine” (but in a nice way, of course). I was addicted to being affirmed. Perhaps I was a) feeling lonely after suddenly having too much free time (I am on summer break from school), and b) trying to recreate the love story I always imagined I would have. B was completely unfair to him. He was a real human being. No matter how badly he treated me, I should have been the better and wiser person.

But I wasn’t. Like an addict going through stages of withdrawal, I exhausted all means to get a fix, once this blew all over me. I felt helpless without his admittedly scarce texts, and his phone calls devoid of any emotional affection. Still, I didn’t care. I wanted to feel that ‘high’ again, even though I knew this was detrimental to my psyche. Hell, even he knew my attachment to him was unhealthy. He should have cut ties with me early on, but I guess he kept me around for the ego boost, and because I put up with his distant behavior.

This is something I would rather keep to myself to maintain my squeaky clean image of being a sensible, level-headed woman, but I have since realized that even the most intelligent people can become susceptible to acting irrationally. It is useless to try and cover this up; the best way is to own up to it, learn from it, move forward, and avoid making the same mistake again. That is precisely what I am trying to do as I type this entry. If I could, I would reach out and apologize to him, but sometimes, we get no closure. Besides, I have no means of reaching out to him without seeming stalker-ish, and I am not going down that road again. And anyway, no amount of apology can also undo or lessen his negative feelings (which are valid and I completely emphathize with) towards me.

So now I am trying to spin this incredibly embarrassing blunder into something that will help me grow as a person, by listing my realizations:

1. Admitting one’s mistake is difficult, but shows emotional maturity. I behaved immaturely, and this is the first step towards becoming a more mature individual.

2. My self-worth should not heavily rely on someone else. I’m happy I was able to re-evaluate how I perceive myself, why I have developed this perception of myself, and how I can improve.

3. It is unfair to project your fantasies on the person you are seeing, and get heavily upset when he does not meet your expectations.

4. Do not ignore red flags just because he said the right things. Actions speak louder than words.

5. Before plunging into the chaotic chasm we like to call ‘romantic love’, we have to make sure we are whole, so the other person does not become a piece of the puzzle we desperately need (more often than not, the puzzle piece doesn’t fit).

I will still have my bad days, and will grieve about this failed pseudo-relationship, but I will try my very best to emerge from this a stronger, better, wiser, and kinder human being.

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Depression

A Patient Psychologist

Allow me to explain why I am opening this up to scrutinizing netizens, potential employers, and academic professors (although the likelihood of the latter two randomly stumbling upon a blog like mine is 1 out of 50000). I am not doing this for attention, as I worry people might assume. As a student in clinical psychology, nurse, research assistant for a study on mental health, and basically a concerned human being, I believe it is my duty to raise awareness on mental health issues and to reduce the stigma that comes with it, especially for something as common as mood disorders. I hope that, by sharing my experiences, people will understand that mental illness can happen to anyone, and it does not always automatically equate ‘psychotic’/out of touch with reality.

One of the many things that keep me up at night is worrying about whether I will be an effective clinical psychologist, given my condition.

I have a mood disorder and some form of anxiety disorder, generalized, I think. I was diagnosed in 2011, after seeking help when I realized I was so close to believing what my inner demons were making me feel.

I am considerably in a more consistently better mood now, thanks to a combination of medication, therapy, and a support system, although I still have bad days. Keeping to myself most of the time does not help, either, but during these bad days, I find it really hard to go out of bed and face people, especially crowds, because I feel suffocated and bare, like I am being laid out like a choice cut of beef shank in a butcher shop for discerning, loyal customers.

Because of this overwhelming difficulty trying to interact with human beings, I sometimes wonder whether I can interact with my potential patients suffering from the exact same disorder, whether I can help a depressed person when I cannot even help myself, not really. What comes after this are discouraging automatic thoughts like, “Face it, you should stop while you still can. You are just too psychologically unstable to help the unstable. It’s like the blind leading the blind!”, and “What makes you think you can be the authority for mental health when you have gone through it?”

I am fortunate that my line of work gives me opportunities to expand my knowledge regarding therapy, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Combined with the principles of CBT, depression forums and websites, and my fondness for constructive arguments, I formulated a series of rebuttals for these intrusive automatic thoughts.

Basically, whenever I start doubting myself and my capabilities, I get my strength from my knowledge. I read that it can actually be helpful if a therapist has suffered from a depressive episode. Similar to the principle of former alcoholics facilitating an Alcoholics Anonymous charter, as a patient myself, I can easily step into my patient’s shoes and get the picture of what he/she is feeling/not feeling, because I have been there, and when I say I understand how you feel, I am not only spouting out recommended phrases for therapeutic communication, I really do understand how you feel.

My automatic thoughts are telling me I sound conceited for thinking that I can be good at this. Go figure. I automatically shoot back with the only retort I can think of during this time, “Fuck off”. It’s weird arguing with myself, but basically, that is what I usually experience in a depressive episode. A battle with myself. A battle I hope to someday overcome and not become the casualty. I don’t know if it’s the interplay of neurochemicals, satiation, and the positive encouragement by people over psych forums over mentally ill psychologists, but I think I just might. 🙂

 

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Writing

Back and Here Again

Due to bursts of creative writing energy at the worst possible time (just before bedtime), I have decided to return to blogging. I initially wanted to start a whole new blog (an old habit of mine), but I really have no time to micromanage it. Plus, I want to continue what I have already started here.

Here I am, then, back to my favorite writing exercise (writing about myself. Does that sound conceited or is it socially acceptable since for me it is technically the written equivalent of ‘selfies’?). I am now fortunately in a field that allows me to be verbose, albeit scientifically. I am also now in a field that challenges me to hone all of my communication skills. As a nurse, this is important, but as a psychologist, good communication is what you have to rely on to best help your clients.

I guess the snippets of the missing year (2015) will probably creep into some entries, and I added a whole new category for when I get consumed by dementors and lament about everything (to analyze my thoughts and to have something to show on the next therapy session), although my late night muse is inclined to pitch issues affecting the country today, a huge upgrade from old blog entries (thank heavens for maturity!).

 

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Feelings

No More Tears

I watched Miracle on Cell # 7, a wad of tissues and a pillow on either side of me. I was fully expecting to sob, as it is a touching story about a father and his daughter. Stories that heavily feature father-daughter relationships make me sad, because while I know from my childhood memories (the ones I can vividly remember) that my dad loved me very much, I did not get to spend a lot of time with him, thanks to the illness he tried to fight for almost a decade, but eventually claimed him.

This outflow of feelings is making me uncomfortable, so I shall try getting to the point.

Sure enough, I felt the proverbial tugging at the heartstrings, but not enough to bring on the waterworks. Thing is, I know for sure that letting it all out makes me feel better, but years of trying to repress my emotions have rendered me unable to fully show how I really feel. I can only comfortably show my feelings to a certain extent; more than that and I will try veering towards a different subject. Case in point, the sentence above this paragraph.

What I find strange is that, in spite of this, I am touted as sensitive, as in, my feelings get hurt easily. Apparently, it’s all over my face, whatever emotion I may be feeling. Sans the tears. So maybe I’m not as repressed as I think I am. Still, I know for sure that I have a long way to go in getting the hang of this.

I know bursting into tears isn’t an indicator of me getting a hold of my feelings (the irony in that statement), but for me, it is a very, very big step.

 

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Feelings

Greasing Up Those Bets and Betters

Sometimes, whenever I’m in the middle of doing something, I get this nagging feeling that I ought to be doing something else, that I am wasting away precious time doing whatever task I’m doing at that moment. I try not to let it get to me, lest I overthink and be guaranteed to fall (yet again) into the vortex of doldrums. The thing is, I am very, VERY aware of what I am supposed to do. I even have a checklist of goals and objectives for it! But sometimes, things get delayed and you’re at a crossroads as to whether you should continue to pursue it, or erase it and change it to something more feasible to the circumstances you’re in. I am looking at other options, but the thing is, I have so many options to look at, I can’t decide which one would bring me closer to my goal. So I just end up singing the Scissor Sisters’ ‘I Can’t Decide a la John Simm’s The Master (Doctor Who). It does help ease the anxiety that comes with being confused, but it does nothing to put a check on that perfect square checkbox beside one of my objectives.

As I am writing this down, the nagging feeling creeps in again, as if to tell me, “Stop writing and focus on me instead”. I think whatever is nagging me is my impatient side. I am a very impatient person. I detest long queues. Whenever I ask someone to do something for me, I try to hold back on telling them to finish it immediately. Strange thing is, while I am very impatient, I am also a huge procrastinator. To tell you the truth, I practically crammed my way through school, from elementary to university, even until the board exam. And yet, I’ve never had the nagging feeling as strong as the one I keep having.

Maybe I should finally do something about it, to at least give me a peace of mind. It started creeping into my dreams, and I want it to stop, because I am very in touch with any residual feelings from my dreams, good or bad. It’s enough to bother me all day, hell, when I was a teenager, it was enough for me to develop a full-fledged crush!

Yes, I will finally do something about it. Tomorrow. I haven’t really kicked the procrastinating habit yet. It’s on my to-do list, though, which I have yet to do, naturally.

 

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