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Foreword.

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Hello, and thank you for visiting my blog. Much as I’ve always wanted to write professionally what’s on my mind, here are some things I need to put clearly so as not to draw extreme criticism or not to cause so much misunderstanding.

First of all, I am a new Psychology major, despite being 5 years in college. As of writing, I have just survived General Psychology. So what I intend to say is, some of my posts can still sometimes be inaccurate and erroneous. Much as I wish to be more expressive of my thoughts, I want to ask favor to please be modest in writing comments that would correct what I write, because I simply am very weak when someone writes angry negative stuff about me and what I do.

I know I’ve barely survived General Psychology, and I know I contain too much bits and pieces of higher psychological knowledge, so please bear with me if my correctness deviates.

Someday, when I re-read my blog entries, I wish to silently cringe over what I wrote in the past, smiling or laughing over it instead of being too crushed by the feeling of embarrassment.

What I intend, by writing in this blog, is to realize along the path of taking a Psychology major what do I want for myself in the future, the philosophies I’d develop and believe on for myself, and what would I do for people. This is simply because, the very young science of the mind (soul), for me, would be for the pursuit of knowledge and for the development of more systems that we can apply to aid humanity.

I do not want to be very grandiose in pursuing a great cause, but at least, I want to contribute a significant difference.

―YST

PS. People may deem me a hypocrite. Oh c’mon, I know that. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why I self-loathe. But what do I do? It is actually a logical fallacy: ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM: TU QUOOQUE. I cannot be deemed invalid just because my beliefs or arguments don’t correspond my actions.

Language “proficiency”

In an era where multilingualism is valued and therefore considered an asset, a multilingual polyglot shares his dilemma.

I can remember our school’s executive vice-president tell us, students, something like, “nowadays, to be globally competitive, one must know at least three [foreign] languages”.

I believe our archipelagic country has citizens who mostly are either bilinguals or trilinguals. I mean, English and Filipino are a must-know language for Filipino citizens, but some people not living in certain parts of Luzon could actually know a different language other than Tagalog.

Note, that I use the word language to refer to those like Hiligaynon, Bicolano, Cebuano, Waray, Ilokano, etc. which are considered to be among the “Filipino languages”.

In my course of living though, I ended up knowing five Filipino languages (Hiligaynon, Bicolano, Bisaya, Kinaray-a, Tagalog). Coupled with English and Japanese, I speak a total of seven languages. Not that this excludes more languages that I just know (Korean, Mandarin, Bahasa Indonesia/Melayu, German, etc.).

However, for a growing adolescent, this has done more  damage than benefit.

Know that when you language and culture are inseparable.

The combination ―or clash― of the languages that I know resulted to a damaged sense of cultural identity.

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Other than a damaged sense of cultural identity, one problem I’ve totally hated realizing is the fact that even as a linguist or someone who has good listening skills, I have poor oral communication skills.

I stutter. I panic. I lose words. I blank out. I use too much speech padding. So much discomfort. So on and so forth.

It’s like, for what use is it that I know sooooo many languages when I can’t even speak them?

One can answer the written communication… still, is it worth it?

I only feel like a child who was neglected and lost ability to speak, slowly deteriorating each and everyday. And it’s not the only thing that is deteriorating in me. Look at how terrible I am at remembering people and events.

I’m becoming weird.

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I’ve started to doubt myself about my “language proficiency” days after I got to see my JLPT N4 certificate.

Am I “proficient“? Really? Just because I passed a written exam with satisfactory ratings I get to enjoy the privilege of being deemed a master of the said language among people who only are amazed and envious but don’t know the cruel story behind why I learned the said language?

Okay. I had to divide that very long sentence to aid people in understanding that. Lock of commas intended.

IELTS does require people who take the test be evaluated for their own spoken language, along with being tested with the wide variation of the language itself.

But I do realize so many things, regarding the seeming linguistic retardation that I suffer.

First, it is a fact that I’ve lived my life learning the Japanese language aloof from my parents’ knowledge. They do know I am into it, but never manifested that I am eventually a pro in it. In fact, even my former classmates’ treatment on my eccentricity made me feel shunned. It made me develop a conditioned response: never show people what I am capable of.

Second, it is a fact that I am, in my entire life, going to be uncomfortable with displaying my Japanese language skills. I also have seemed to lack people to converse with the language orally. I know that’s where my degradation came from, but it just feels terrible as it is.

Third, it is a fact that I did not start learning Japanese for my marketability. I wanted a mode of release. I wanted to rant publicly without my words being misunderstood nor understood.

And lastly… I just want to say, that it feels terrible, despite not aiming seriously to be good at Japanese language, that I can’t even converse with it properly, in the 8th year that I’ve been learning it.

Gah,

Triggered?

Yesterday, I bought a cutter for our office needs in the student council office. Now, now… when it was unpacked today due to the immediate need… that’s where I’ve started to get the strange tingely feeling up my spine.

That’s where I realized… no… someone please keep that cutter strictly away from my sight.

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Let’s face it: every person who has cut out of compulsive forces (e.g. depressivity) are very vulnerable with these kind of stimuli. The mere sight could become temptation.

In my case, I was not only upset by seeing that cutter. People playing with it… or one even asking the entire room, “who among you has cut?” simply out of curiosity upon seeing the sharpness of such a new blade.

I had trouble staying calm that time. I ended up having to keep my line of sight on things that would make me busy. It was a desperate attempt to keep myself from noticing the person playing with the cutter (even pretending to start cutting), or people asking me of my mental health disturbances.

For being uncomfortable with seeing a cutter, it was understandable. But what isn’t was why I was extremely uncomfortable with being asked about the my mental status. EVEN to the point about my opinion on psychotherapy, as a psychology student.

I still keep myself shut over what my real opinions on psychotherapy are.

But honestly… do I blame them if they weren’t educated enough on how to deal properly on mental issues― and the afflicted people, themselves.

So next time, I might just politely stand up and leave the room. But I did secure that cutter away from people’s sights since it seems like a terrible attention grabber for some.

Contagion

It is theorized that there is such thing as suicidal contagion― one where suicide seems to be a contagious epidemic among vulnerable people. But in my life, I’ve come to see that suicidality isn’t the only contagious mental issue…

Disclaimer: Before I get potential bashing from people who don’t know, I am a psychology enthusiast more than a knowledgeable psychology student at the moment– at the same time, I’m hypersensitive to rejection (or innuendo thereof). Please refrain the rude language if you ever think of commenting.

I was never suicidal prior to the time I’ve actually started self-harming. It only happened that I’ve already known someone over the internet with serious major depression, who I’ve really considered someone I care for and worry for. In fact, I think the person even was the one who helped me realize I have depression, something that was being denied by my system for nearly a decade.

But the first time I cut was the first time I’ve actually felt like trying to eradicate myself with that means, because of a certain anxious event. I didn’t take into consideration those times I’ve unintentionally starved myself for days, deprived myself of sleep, or thought of wanting to cease existing without dying.

I don’t want to impose blame, but I actually ended up with self-harm because I was exposed to it, along with the budding masochism that time. Imagine, up until now, I can’t even pierce myself with a lancet when trying to extract a drop or two of blood, yet I’ve started with cutting. Maybe, in a psychological standpoint, you can call that conditioning― when you end up less afraid of causing yourself pain in only a certain part of your body.

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Suicide contagion

While writing my research proposal in written communication class, I actually ended up discovering things about suicide, since it is a seemingly inseparable condition to a lot of other disorders.

One of those discoveries is its contagious nature.

I remember reading one article from an advocate, saying that there must be some sense of sensitivity when it comes to reporting suicide cases, along with presenting studies about it that I haven’t read for myself. It also stated that vulnerable people might repeat the act done by another person who attempts to kill themselves.

After reading that one, it was the time I realized I am actually sensitive to news covering suicide acts.

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A seemingly universal pattern

One of the reasons I never divulged up until now why I deleted all my alter ego accounts was the fact that, I felt like I generally always just felt down for very long in the previous months prior to the compulsive account deletions. I’ve noticed that when I start tweeting self-deprecative, mid-existential crisis, or anxious-depressive tweets, a gray cloud seems to loom over people who I mutually follow each other with. I then generally notice that they, too, get affected.

The same applies to people who are prone to feeling depressed. When they, too, start to tweet/post depressive stuff, my mood is also affected.

I am yet to start looking into this, but it seems that it is not only depression, but mood (to feel, to do), in general.

Stress

I cannot believe the recent physical (body) reactions I was having to the stress and overthinking I’ve been receiving lately.

I’ve been living with anxiety for so long, but I believe this was the first time I’ve totally upset my stomach, to the point that my body wants any of vomiting or expelling its contents through bowel movement. Which, luckily, didn’t end up with vomiting, as it is the most unpleasant feeling to get afterwards.

Let’s say the recent events in this country causes me stress, along the clashing opinions and apparent lack of unity the citizens are showing. And the apparent opportunistic politicizing of the events by politicians and partisan people. AND the logically fallacious comments here and there.

And there are problems I’d rather keep to myself, which I want to bear responsibility for, since I’ve been too much of a procrastinator. Something I’ve kept postponing now is a major problem on my side, and I simply don’t want people involved.

But what I’m afraid of is that, these stuff I hide from people, I don’t want them to know about them. But there’s constant threat that it will be known.

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My secretive nature

I know my secretive nature. It is an extremely tight security system of me that I’d love to keep things to myself. Anything that is a breach to my security or privacy or secrecy is considered a threat to my life, by my body. I snap, get angry or extremely irritable when things get terribly messed on, or even just an inch on attempting to delve deep in me could still do the same.

And yeah, while I don’t like my privacy to be breached, I practice the other way for other people. I am very meticulous in respecting their privacy much as I want mine to be respected.

I grew up secretive, and I think I am a man of mystery to all people who’ve ever known me. The secretive nature became part of my identity.

And as far as it became my identity, I think it is also part of my personality, especially with the way I try to deal with my problems.

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Merely being secretive?

I don’t think it was the secretive nature of mine that is the cause of my lone wolf approach to problems. I think it stemmed out from upbringing: Getting scolded to great lengths when I get into problems.

This getting scolded can sometimes be borderline to verbal abuse. It is something detestable, a feeling of extreme shame and guilt when I get scolded for not doing things right. I think that it is the source of my secretive nature in the first place, and this situation persists even in this age, considering I’m still under my parents’ roof.

And the more I shoulder my own problems, the more I get burdened. The more I create self-defeating behaviors. And these self-defeating behaviors never change despite I grow old as years pass by.

A cruel cycle.

Constantly wanting to be helped, but the treatment before/while being helped is a torment, itself.

Hence, avoiding leaking the problem.

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There’s so much stress buildup and I don’t know what to do anymore.

“To The Wasted Time, Goodbye”

To The Wasted Time, Goodbye

by: Yves Tedera
October 30, 2012

To the wasted time, goodbye
Just memories drift by…
Though to forget, we may crave for
We’ll still remember what was before.

Though silence isn’t helpful
And is never beautiful
But in a world of noise
It gives you all the joys

Memories are not to be forgotten
Like promises not meant to be broken
But if it leaves us inner sorrow
Let’s leave it now, move to tomorrow.

Though Yesterday was fun
And Today it was put to waste
I hope when Tomorrow comes
Pain doesn’t set in with haste

When Future says “You’re wrong”
I hope I would be strong
And hoping that I could surpass
These feelings through words can’t pass

If given a chance to go back
Will I return? Or shouldn’t I?
Others may say I must repeat
But conscience says it is history

Was it wrong? Was it right?
We’re supposed to think over, not fuss
Decisions are made by fools like us
And future sprouts out out of it.

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This poem is written October 2012, the time when I had to go back to Iloilo very early in the middle of the semestral break. That was my first academic blunder in my life, and of course, other than that, I was already struggling on my interpersonal relationships.

It pretty much encompasses my philosophies of that time, and some of them are still how I put my thoughts into words. But somehow, I cannot help but think about how helpless I used to be, to the point that I just wanted to help him by going back in time. But well, we all know we can’t travel backwards.

And the photo in the cover picture is also the photo on the same page of this poem. That road is now a cemented highway. Wow. Time flew.

Involvement as rehabilitation

Maybe… just maybe… if I involve myself further, I could develop and rehabilitate myself and become better.

I don’t think I’ve ever stated the actual reason why I joined the student council in our college.

Simple. I just wanted positive credentials that would write off the negative implications of my four years of ‘wasted’ time in my former university― a reputable one on top of that.

Another one was to ease myself into the school’s microcosm, and make me feel less of social anxiety.

But just recently, I feel more than that.

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Of course, some of the things I love to feel is the feeling of being needed, and the feeling of being fulfilled. And our activity last Friday, despite tiring, proved to go beyond what was expected (by my pessimism, of course) and became a success. In fact, it was very happy to be busy. I had no time to be intimidated by crowds. All I do at home is just live the life of a hermit, since it seems to be my tendency.

I don’t know how many times have I written about my envy for busy people in the past, but it looks like I can graduate from that.

It is now beyond what I can write on my curriculum vitae as an involvement for a show. I feel like I am in the process of rehabilitating myself from my brokenness in my own efforts. It makes me happy. Awwwww.

Ulterior motives turned psychologically beneficial.

Although, the conflicts weren’t inevitable. I’ve been writing about them subliminally in this blog. It was because I have to keep my personal issues away and not wreak havoc.

I know terribly how my emotional outbursts can sometimes tear apart organizations, or even families.

Still, I commend myself for keeping my outbursts at bay.

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Let’s face it, our school is perceived as mediocre. And my brilliance might shine only there because I am a mediocre once I set out of the rurality I lived the most of my life in.

If given an opportunity, I want to go on with being part of the student council for the next three years that I’ll be staying in this institution. That sounds like another plan aside from feeling like teaching first to save up for Med school (which I really am still unsure of for the last four years).

Sensitive information?

Do we really have to be that ashamed of our own mental health issues?

Yesterday, I ended up thinking of that question, but I wasn’t able to write it immediately due to fatigue. Fatigue due to wholesome reasons, by the way.

There were days I was fine with disclosing my mental health issues. Or rather, I’m using that term as a better-sounding term for my disorders. But I’ve also ended up thinking disclosing them isn’t worth it, because not even students taking up psychology would understand the struggle.

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Somehow, almost a year after my last regular visit to my psychiatrist in the province I used to stay and study, I still remember the times I had to medicate every day. My Timehop (May 2016, yeah) even brought back to me my struggles going to the city just to come to appointments, which I frequently find difficulty in meeting up on time, and even sometimes missing my appointments.

Now, I’m still not meeting my psychologist since the start of the year because… somehow I don’t want to say it, but it’s something I’d definitely feel hurt in the future if my clients told me this. So yeah, not gonna say it.

Even in my daily living in my new school… before, as a transferee, I get asked why did I transfer. I answer, I failed so many subjects. They ask if it was really that difficult, and I answer I just ended up stopping from coming to class. And the next follow-up questions hurt both my ego and my superego.

It got to the point I had to fess up my mental health issues because of sheer curiosity of one of those who I am currently close with. But eventually, when I saw that it wasn’t really worth opening it up, I stopped making my issues significant and focused on surviving the semester.

But an incident setup all my triggers, and subsequently led me to doing something uncalled for. And before I knew it, I knew I am going to be ridiculed, ostracized and set apart again. This is too painful, because all my life, it was how I felt like I ruined my reputation repeatedly, countless of times.

And I found out that this incident made certain people scrutinize me, like individually analyzing strands of muscles of corned beef.

Or even that same friend who had to disclose my mental health issues to our instructor, after my consecutive absences. When the same instructor in a different class (Philosophy) casually asked me about me going to the psychiatrist as part of his lesson, I felt terribly ashamed.

Now I ask myself: Given those instances that I feel ashamed when other people bring up my mental health issues, what makes me ashamed of it?

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Perhaps the stigma?

Mental health receives so much stigma, especially as it is filled with assumptions and uneducated people having more power to cause societal pressure.

I knew I cannot erase stigma right when I first learned that word in a sociology (as a general education program) course. It is a force that you cannot go against, it’s like a drop of water facing the gravity of a waterfall.

However, I honestly do not know what other people think of my generation in the locality think about depression or anxiety. Others don’t even know what anxiety is, chiefly because their English vocabulary isn’t as well-built as mine.

Stigma isn’t physically painful. But it still hurts somewhere in the body, at least subjectively.

People can assume that your depression isn’t real, or you have no reason to be depressed, having been pampered with all the love and support.

I tell you, not all positives cancel the negatives, especially in a ten-dimensional universe. Positives cancelling negatives only happen in a one-dimensional world, a number line perhaps.

The berating and ostracism you receive cannot be replaced by luxuries and privileges given to you, because something unpleasant cannot simply be upturned.

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Perhaps, “you do not have the right to be depressed”

One thing I am assuming from my side is the fact that people will really assume that I don’t have the right.

“You could eat three meals a day, there are people out there who are starving”, they might say. But depression can make you go skip meals for as long as a week. At least they have the desperation to keep living.

“You could afford the education others are deprived of,” they might say. I tell you, I’d rather be a moronic idiot in exchange for happiness in life. Ignorance is bliss, the adage is true.

“You have an intact family, others have a broken home,” they might say. Well look, if my parents at least treat me better than I currently feel, I might have not ended up with depression.

Depression, in fact, is a chronic illness. No one falls in an endogenous in a mere instant. You could be happy for a social status, or a momentary luxury. But depression is a consequence. It happens as a result of years of mental instability, personal incapacity, etcetera.

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Perhaps, something that can be used against me

Now, I know how paranoid I can get occasionally.

I know that there are really a myriad of reasons why mental issues can be a terrible rumor, and depression can be an indication of personal incapacity for some, well… self-claimed competent authorities. And when this happens, stigma will work.

I know it has been a struggle, living with depression. It started with my denial. I told myself, “I’m immune to suicidal thoughts because of…” well, reasons I now forgot. And when I never acknowledged that my compulsion, my inner desire to stop existing [without dying], I delayed salvation.

Being depressed is different from having depression. Being depressed it the state of depression itself. Having depression means it is an intermittent phases of being depressed and not depressed. And in my case, I have depression.

Perhaps it is not purely something “it can be used against me”. It may be something that things just end up as.

For example, if someone were to spread it all over the place, I might end up losing morale and motivation just because the prejudice I’ve tried to run away my whole life just keeps on knocking at my door. Clearly, that isn’t a direct “used against me”.

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Sensitivity with the language

Lastly, I think it is also my fear of being told things that would feel insensitive. It may really set me off, frustrate me or… well, cause me to be more upset.

Sensitivity with the language has various meanings.

It could mean something like, being cautious not to offend.

It could also mean, being cautious not to cause violent reactions in individuals with differently-wired brains.

And most of all, the language that we used can sometimes be a piercing spear when not used properly, especially when we let out of our mouths things that can really evoke a terrible reaction, emotion or compulsion.

That’s why, I’d rather not let people know I have mental issues.

I want to keep my struggle to myself if I don’t know how do they help me cope with living everyday.

Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice)

A movie released in 2016 but was released today in Philippine theaters, one cannot help but be awed with the beautiful characterization and depiction of human struggle in adolescence in a single film.

A film I gave a 10/10 on MyAnimeList just now.

Despite not really making me cry because that was what I wanted as catharsis for this week.

Koe no Katachi is an animated film in 2016 adapted from a manga of the same title. It features two prominent characters: A girl who suffers from hearing disability, and a boy who bullies her and eventually becomes the one bullied. Remorse brings them together, or is it not yet too late.

Spoilers up ahead!

Continue reading “Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice)”

Braving certain triggers

Popular culture and media frequently trend to include sensitive and potentially triggering issues such as bullying and suicide, along with the causes and the consequences. There are those works of fiction where it was written constructively and meant to raise awareness or make use of human nature and capture that nature in its raw form.

Perhaps there are instances that you want to watch a series, a movie, or anything like a video or book for its content (e.g. plot, story)… but you know you will be triggered to some certain extent. How does that feel?

Of course, you’d be torn… whether you’d risk your mental well-being for pieces of work that are uncertain if they could give you satisfaction that could gain back what you sacrificed or not.

Today, I went to watch “Koe no Katachi” (A Silent Voice, 2016) in the movie theater. It tackled bullying and suicide. The bullying was centered on having disabilities.

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Bullying

After realizing only after many years of that phase in life that I was actually bullied, one thing I ended up developing was the sense of vindictive justice. And rather than being a sense, it is actually an erroneous pattern of thinking.

When I see someone getting picked on or being bullied, I get upset. I may feel symptoms like increased heart rate, increased body temperature, irritability and uneasiness. The urge of getting on the bullied person’s side is also strong.

In fact, only a few months after I realized I was bullied, the words “bullying“, “bully” and “bullied” became taboo. Just hearing or seeing these words can upset me. Yes, I am going through a tough time writing this whole post. Although, I do not get a response if it was worded as “picked on”.

Bullying surely is a serious issue. Bullying can ruin a person’s psyche, both for the bullied and the bully. I do not know if I correctly remember stuff I read before, but there are significant effects: The bullied may end up suffering from stress (or trauma, up to the extent of stress disorders), lose self-confidence (suggestive of personality disorders), may end up doubting their existence (hence, suicide), and most of all, they may end up prone to various types of mental disorders. The bully, on the other hand, may have certain similar consequences. They may also be prone to certain personality disorders (e.g. antisocial personality disorder), or they might end up with a wide range of mental disorders for the shame, regret, remorse and guilt (e.g. depression), hence also prone to suicidality.

Another interesting thing about bullying, when written in fiction, is when it becomes a projective depiction: what happens after the bullying, specifically to both the bullied and the bully?

In a humanistic point-of-view, bullying can be a common phenomenon. You may end up curious of its after-effects. Some people may actually want to delve deeper (in individual cases) as to the reason why a certain person bullies, or why a certain person was bullied.

Bullying is a phenomenon where you instinctively beg for personal growth, both for the bullied and the bully.

It may be deemed an appeal to pity either the bully or the bullied, but I still want to explore humans. Personally, I want to see how people grow up, cope with problems, or see them with their raw emotions instead of the consequential structure.

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Suicide

I already wrote something about suicide, and I’m afraid I’ll have to write about this more triggering concept.

The words “suicide” and “suicidal” weren’t taboo to me up until I became suicidal, myself. It was a very recent time… probably the late 2015. Well I’m thankful I’m not perceiving the Japanese word of it, 自殺 (jisatsu), like the word suicide itself.

I, myself, tried to kill myself with serious intent but without sufficient strength in the method at least thrice, coupled with so many instances of self-harming, by cutting, intoxication or starvation/binging. Of course, the word ‘suicide‘ will only remind me of those instances that I’ve seriously tried on my own life.

However, suicide is a very complicated thing, and there will be a myriad of causes as to why people want to cease existing. A few generalizations I see in popular media would be: losing all hope in life or in a specific endeavor, or being overcome by ill-feelings such as guilt, regret and remorse. It is more like a consequence.

Sometimes, I want to really advocate that including such topic is something producers must be extremely wary of. They cannot casually include it when there is no significance of such theme to their work other than evoke the viewers’ sympathy. Example would be killing off a character in a love triangle just to make the main pair become canon. Now that’s extremely unsightly.

On a different perspective, including a character who tried to die by suicide with the goal of showing people that there is hope is a valiant thing.

The movie I watched today, Koe no Katachi*, started with the main character who almost jumped off a bridge after selling off all their belongings and paying all their debts. Another one that I watched in 2014 was Colorful*, in which the main character was a soul of someone who passed away and was given a chance to live once more― in the body of a lad who almost died by suicide.

Although… I have to be honest. Not all perceive hopeful scenes to be beautiful or hopeful enough. There will be times there are people who will experience envy and frustration over their own lives as they are unable to move on and feel hope, which leads to something like getting triggered.

[YS Tedera]

Today, I went to the movie theater not knowing that aside from the bullying, it would actually start with someone about to jump off a bridge. Still, my curiosity was because it was a story of “redemption”, something very remarkable right off the synopsis.

As someone who has a very deep interest in the interplay of psychology, sociology and literature, tackling these bizarre concepts will pique my interest despite my tendency to end up upset. To me, these are my thrills in the field of entertainment.

A piece of literature, or say, fiction, is also is something like a reflection of a writer’s idealism. It is a very interesting thing to try to explore a writer’s idealism in a piece of work, at the same time, it gets me awestruck when authors produce fiction that is complex and at the same time easy to understand. Well to be honest, a large part of it is my envy, wishing I can also procure an intricately-produced work of fiction.

Nonetheless… everyone wants to watch movies or series that have an appeal to their own emotions.

.YSTEDERA


Postscript

Well… I had to write this separately from an upcoming post. I thought of this as something I had to emphasize or point out, as it may apply in so many different works of fiction that I will still be encountering in the future.

I do not want my uncontrollable inner forces from inhibiting me from enjoying works that could potentially be beautiful. And glad as I may be, I keep on finding works that make me love to analyze the plot and the characters, and the beauty and artistry of the writers and creators to produce such wonderful works.

*click the links for a professionally-written, spoiler-free synopses.

Social Anxiety

Writing as part of the Mental Health Awareness Month, I recall my own experiences growing up with one common type of anxiety everyone has: Social anxiety. While this is a common type of anxiety, certain people have it more terrible; however, these struggles must never be compared.

Maintaining eye contact feels like I jogged a kilometer.

That’s how awkward I can get, but I force myself, enduring it as I sacrifice comfort for my courtesy.

In return, I also resort to various alibis, avoiding responsibilities and events just to achieve comfort.

That’s how it is.

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Social anxiety vs. Agoraphobia

Social anxiety, or social phobia, is defined as the state of being [extremely] uncomfortable in social situations, regardless whether it is a public space or a one-on-one talk. Agoraphobia, on the other hand, is the state of being [extremely] uncomfortable in public spaces, as the word agora meant “marketplace” in Greek, which is a public place. Thus, agoraphobia literally is fear of public, wide spaces.

We can compare agoraphobia to claustrophobia, the fear of closed spaces, but I do not know if they are exact opposites of each other.

While I have been deeming myself to be suffering from agoraphobia years ago, it was a recent discovery that I was able to distinguish what I was afraid of was not the public space, but the associated stimulus, “I feel like I’m constantly watched”. Thus, it was not the public space, but other people that may be judging me.

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Social anxiety vs. Avoidant Personality Disorder

I believe there has been a lot of debate regarding the difference between Social anxiety and Avoidant Personality Disorder. In fact, I saw it too difficult to distinguish… until just recently.

Social anxiety is the fear of being judged, ridiculed and ostracized, to the point that an individual avoids social interactions along with the fear of embarrassment. On the other hand, avoidant personality disorder (AvPD) is the fear of criticism and rejection, which sprouts from the fear of negative evaluation, to the extent of avoidance from social interaction, and in general, creating friends and relationships.

I believe that still doesn’t set a difference between the two, since it displays that the two have very similar features. But as I tried to understand personality disorders before, that’s where I found the difference.

I thought being too distrustful of everything in the surroundings would correspond to paranoid personality disorder. However, I was wrong; it pertained to an individual’s pervasive distrust with their friends, family and romantic partners, thinking they are being manipulated or taken advantage of.

Thus, I saw a generalized pattern of the disorders in the personality disorders section, and they pertained to the individual’s personality and relationships rather than merely a cognitive process.

Now let me post this midway, that as far as I am someone still exploring the world of psychology, I might be wrong with my choice of words, and I give you the opportunity to comment any correction, if you may, please.

Avoidant personality meant that a person persistently doubts their own value in the eyes of the people surrounding them. They consider themselves inferior, unworthy, unappealing and will be hypersensitive to ridicule, humiliation and getting disliked.

And as personality is defined as a “characteristic pattern of thoughts, behavior and emotion that a person has”, it thus pertains to an uniquely individual struggle to want to belong and be acceptable, but pervasively avoids anything that will lead to unwanted stimulus, by all means.

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Social anxiety is just at the cognitive level; an individual can identify situations that are supposed to be normal for others to be uncomfortable for them. They may avoid these situations, but it can be noted that social anxiety is endurable. However, it comes with the somatic (physical) manifestations of anxiety: profuse sweating, trembling, increased heart rate and being tense most of the time.

The main stimulus is embarrassment. One is afraid of being embarrassed in social situations. Things that can cause embarrassment could be stuttering, slurring, awkwardness, being exposed without preparation to a public crowd, etc.

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Personal experience

Without any affirmation from someone competent in this field, I actually concluded that I may be suffering from social anxiety. This is mainly because of so many of my behaviors that could be associated with social anxiety.

When it comes to having to prepare for a public appearance, it gets tough. I have to look presentable. This is a high contrast with my depression, where I end up negligent of my hygiene when it hits.

I also have to rehearse things I have to say countless of times inside my mind. I can’t afford to be embarrassed, because I cannot always laugh it off and pretend it isn’t a serious mistake. I am very conscious that through years of self-isolation, I ended up with my speech partly degraded of some sort. Written communication is my forte, but I still worry a lot of times whether I said something in a sufficient manner.

I avoid eye contact except when I have to pretend I am interested with the person. However, it is very uncomfortable. It even gets to the point that I avoid looking at someone and pretend not seeing them, because even having to exchange greetings is a torment for me.

Yes, I’d rather be in a place that no one knows of me. That was how I was able to distinguish agoraphobia from social anxiety. The fact that I could be in a crowded place for as long as nobody in the crowd knows of me, I would be fine.

Sometimes I get too conscious of my own attire, mannerisms, behaviors or cleanliness, perhaps because there are associated ugly memories with it. Perhaps those instances that people of my age actually made me realize I looked unkempt, or whatever. Personally, I don’t even look at the mirror ever since I was young. I didn’t groom myself, more like, I didn’t have to.

Sometimes it can get to feeling inadequate. “Did I perform enough?” is a question I frequently ask myself. Things that I need to submit are always subject to my doubts and skepticism lest I be rejected.

And what has persistently affected me lately is the social media: personal messaging, Twitter and conversations. I go as far as not reading stuff unless I have readied myself, because there’s the “Seen” function. I have to respond seriously or whatever sufficient.

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Not an excuse.

And as my social anxiety grows over my normal activities, a part of it is being told “you don’t have social anxiety because you are conscious of it”. Or, “you’re just self-diagnosing”.

Friends, why would well-educated people self-diagnose with social anxiety if they are not struggling with it?

Like I said in my previous post, Label, which is subject to a second part after I was enlightened with a lot of things in the past month… there are people who want to see their enemy. They want to know what kind of entity is their enemy and what do they do to be able to beat it.

True. For as long as people uneducated of these psychological disorders exist, there will be people full of presumptions, full of false beliefs, and those who want to have this or that disorder because it sounds cool.

No. Mental illnesses are NOT COOL. They are a bunch of labels of struggles certain people have or had to face, and it will be a self-defeating battle towards remaining sane.

Being mentally ill is not a privilege. In fact, Being neuronormative is the one that feels like a privilege nowadays. However, this is not to say that neuronormatives do not have struggles with their lives. Because after all, all humans are endowed with problems in their entire lives.

Mental Health applies to all. Neuronormative and non-neuronormative alike.

There are times that it worked like a hypnotic mantra: I can endure social anxiety by being aware that I have social anxiety and I will have to face the physical and cognitive manifestations for as long as I am alive.

I wrote randomly about Social Anxiety as part of my efforts to spread awareness on mental health month, particularly of my personal struggle in this matter.

I do acknowledge that mental health not only focuses on the abnormal psychology, but also the positive self-help and positive practices. But I know, for someone who once restricted himself from expressiveness, I want to say that being expressive is healthy and liberating.

I want to affirm myself that feeling this way is alright. I also want to assure others that being anxious is alright, and is beyond their control as of the moment.