I always wanted to be open about my mental health. Talking about it makes it less painful, less difficult to accept, and more bearable. Addressing the struggles and accepting that you have fragile parts of yourself you didn’t choose to have is never a weak decision. It was hard to embrace this strange part of me. I even tried to hide it in my deepest senses, tried to lock the concept of it off my mind, and tried to live a more normal life. Yet, it came back more damaging, and always will.

The day I first stepped into the university, I never really imagined that it could be that diverse and not welcoming at all, it daunted me. It was as if it’s certain to make someone feel small and less. The buildings, benches full of students in their groups, corridors filled with strangers talking about strange things and more. I felt alone. But everything around me was endurable until my episodes started to knock me off again like a surging wave of emotions. It was mid-school year when I realized that I undoubtedly needed help.

Therefore, I asked my mother (she knows my condition) to take me to a psychologist because I’ve been too out of myself again. I was glad that I did not need to explain more. She later contacted the clinic where my brother had been before, and made an appointment for me.

As the day of my first appointment with a psychologist came closer, questions started bubbling in my head. Such as — What actually happens during the therapy?Others were, “Do I really have to tell everything?”, “Will the therapist judge me? Understand me truly?”, “What if he/she only makes me feel more invalidated?”, “Should I ask things like this or that?”, “What if my friends or classmates discover that I’m in psychotherapy?”, “Am I considered crazy or weak now because I go to a therapist?”, “Do I really need to?” These questions bugged me until I can already provide answers.

I was nervous because I never even met a real psychologist once. Thus, I had doubts if It’ll work, but I encouraged myself to try, so I did.

That day, I wore a pink dress, drive to the clinic with my mother, arrived and waited for a few minutes. But when I finally entered the room, it surprised me that I felt less anxious.

What actually happens during therapy?

“Do you want your mother to accompany you inside?” this was the first questioned the psychologist asked me, and I answered no. I just think that it’s more comfortable to talk to your doctor without someone you know is listening. It’s easier for you to voice out what you feel and/or anything that you think is a must to say.

The doctor will ask you about why you’re there seeking therapy. They may ask you about the issues you’d like to address. They will tell you to talk about your feelings, or feelings toward certain issues or situations and how you deal with it. As well as your diagnosis if you’re already diagnosed before.

I think you should not be worried at all too much because they won’t force you to say something you’re not yet comfortable to talk about.

After some talks, I was asked to answer a questionnaire. They let my mother inside, and with her, we discussed the treatment that I need. And one thing, before the session ended, the psychologist encouraged me to write all my worries and anxious thoughts every day until the second meeting. That was it.

Do I really have to tell everything?

You seriously have to be honest with your doctor I must say.

Will the therapist judge me? Understand me truly? What if he/she only makes me feel more invalidated?

NO, the therapist won’t judge you. The doctor may not relate to you, but he/she will surely understand you. I guess If you feel uncomfortable with the therapist, maybe just look for another?

Should I ask things like this or that?

You should! That’s better, I think. Ask them things you wanted to know about your condition or anything related. I once asked my therapist about how exercise and meditation is good for our mental health.

What if my friends or classmates discover that I’m in psychotherapy?

Just ignore them if they use it negatively against you. It isn’t a bad thing. You need not be ashamed of it. In my case, some of my classmates knew, and asked me questions about it. I was glad that they were understanding, and never asked me in offensive ways.

Am I considered crazy or weak now because I go to a psychologist?

Definitely, no. That’s just what the stigma around mental illness is telling us.

Now that you have a slight idea of psychotherapy, and you think it’s the better option for you, then go. Or if you think medications is more effective for you, go to a psychiatrist. But if you think both medication and therapy is the best option for you, go get what you need.

How much did it cost?

                The first session was for one thousand and five hundred pesos (P1500). While the succeeding ones will only cost five hundred pesos (P500).

Where? Who?

I did some research, and here’s a short list of psychological service providers. Anyway, get help folks if you feel like you need one.

Dr. Romeo Yu Enriquez– Angeles University Foundation, Pampanga

Contact:09338504541

Dra. Luz Katigbak – Makati Med (PHP2000/session)

Contact: 09234946673

Dr. Constantine Della– WESTGATE Clinic, Alabang

Contact: 09179333446

Dr. Myrna Astillero– Pampanga

Contact: 09278125905

Here is the full list.

Acceptance is important because once you finally accept what you have, you can know more about it. As a result, it will also be easier to accept that you may need help.

Resources:

Mental Health in the Philippines

Free Online Emotional Support

Online Telehealth Services

Read more:

let’s #moveformentalhealth | world mental health day 2020

this pandemic is hurting the mental health of filipino youth

pwd id for bipolar and other mental health conditions

applications for anxiety and depression

an open letter to all those fighting battles in silence

i regret talking to our school’s guidance counselor

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