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. 🙂

-Nicole

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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 the 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 where I would write about sometimes flapping my arms and relating it to a favorite character.  I was sixteen. I found humor in everything.

– Nicole xx

 

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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. In the meantime, if you’ve ever seen me cry and tell it to my face, I will probably want to make YOU cry. Sorry, it’s not you, it’s all those years of being forced not to cry so as not to endure a harder punishment.

Wow, I did not mean for that to sound so dark. I had a good childhood, I swear.

– Nicole xx

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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.

– Nicole xx

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Writing

Relaunch

Today marks the end of my long(ish)-term hiatus from writing/blogging, after suffering from chronic writer’s block. As I am just trying to get back into shape, forgive me if my writing comes off as rusty and riddled with grammatical errors. I do try to proofread, but sometimes a nasty grammatical error still manages to sneak itself in, and when I realize it, it’s too late and I just inwardly gasp in horror. Then I try to reassure myself that these things happen even to the most prolific of writers.

Not that I am a writer. It is actually quite strange for me to acknowledge and say that. I have always identified myself as a writer ever since I wrote and illustrated a series of fairy tales when I was six (published by my own publishing house, Crown Tales, and printed in Manila, 1998. Yes, my ‘books’ had a proper copyright page and everything). Now, after coming back from a dry spell where I can’t seem to squeeze fresh ideas out of my cerebrum or, worse, find myself unable to perfectly weave the right words to what could have been a brilliant piece, I am not so sure I deserve the title anymore.

Perhaps I am just overthinking (as usual) things. I mean, it’s not like other writers haven’t experienced the same problem. I think it is actually a pretty common occurrence. It can also be because a part of me still wants to do this (writing) for a living but, knowing how hard it is to make it as a writer and how there are a shit ton of better writers out there, I try to distance myself from it so I don’t get too disappointed at my lack of belief in my abilities. Even if I know I am really just being honest. Despite my overactive imagination, I am pretty pragmatic when it comes to the future, especially my future.

So I guess I am just doing this for documentation purposes, venting, and as practice to steady the ebb and flow of my writing until it becomes something I will actually enjoy going back to without cringing.

I just hope I remember to update as much as possible, as my worst sin is I am rubbish at maintaining blogs. Trivia: I have around 70+. I’ve been blogging since 2001, if that helps. And don’t get me started on the scattered pieces of notebooks, diaries and scraps of paper lying around, containing at least a decade and a half’s worth of memories.

– Nicole xx

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