As someone who graduated a university life, I was able to reflect back on some of major life events I experienced in my almost four year stay. I would say life is difficult and I am no exception to its complexity. The excitement entering the University of the Philippines-Diliman filled with enthusiasm and passion to learn slowly turned into insatiable curiosity on things about life. The shallow goal to graduate and have a good job slowly becoming a way beyond goal crafted by deeper understand of the inner self.The new environment my seeker self wants to discover exponentially became a universe for me to explore. The group I previously want to belong in seems to be nomads with various places to go and can leave me behind.
The above serves as the context for one of the most important thing I reflected finishing this current chapter of my life. Amidst the positive achievements and personal experiences, I still still feel unhappy from time to time. I know that we can all feel this but recognizing its life threatening implications for prolonged period of times is something we should all be aware significant. Why? Each one of us is vulnerable to depression (Major Depressive Disorder), a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how we feel, think and act.
Generally, depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year and one in six people (16.6%) will experience it at some time in their life which on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s (Psychiatry.org, 2018). Citing statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Professor Clarita Carlos however revealed that rapid social and economic changes had made older people feel isolated and thus prone to depression leading to suicide contrary to belief that older people enjoyed emotional stability and well-being because of their age making it the biggest challenge for older people who continues to grow in population (Philippine Daily Inquirer 2017) The exact cause is unknown but “combination of genes and stress can affect brain chemistry and reduce the ability to maintain mood stability” (Kerr, 2017). Since we cannot do anything about the genetic makeup composing our body, we can only do something in controlling stress and associated factors leading it. It maybe cliche to say but since ‘no man is an island’, being alone is I believe one of the major contributors of it bringing loneliness or unhappiness at least personally.
Being different or unique can be a source of aloneness or maybe isolation. Growing up, I know that I am different. I even felt at one point that I was very unlucky to be the one among the thousands of people passing through my life, and I am not wrong about this. I have a rare condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) which affects 1 in 10,000 people and makes the patients’ mobility and strength limited. Although being diagnosed with a unique disorder, I do believe I share the same feelings with those differently-abled like me especially wheelchair users.who are alienated by the current existing society in some ways. It is an issue rather than just a trouble. Lack of appropriate infrastructure for us is one of the primary source of unhappiness. Because of this, I still question our capability as human to completely empathize and serve the needs of all people. It is saddening that I still find out places which do not adhere to BP 344 or “Accessibility Law of the Philippines signed in 1893 which states the following: “In order to promote the realization of the rights of disabled persons to participate fully in the social life and the development of the societies in which they live and the enjoyment of the opportunities available to other citizens, no license or permit for the construction, repair or renovation of public and private buildings for public use” (Batas Pambansa 344 n.d.). As a result, I definitely envy fellow students who enjoy certain activities such as tambay in organizations, bondings, competitions, as well as facilities for value adding talks and seminars. I find myself most of the time alone wishing I can do what they do. The lonely feeling I still experience even in UP itself despite as the institution upholding equality and values of “Excellence and Integrity” has more things to improve to become fully inclusive especially for PWDs who also aspire to be contributor in nation building. Moreover, outside UP, the reality we face in terms of infrastructure not only serves as a difficult barrier for someone like us to feel empowered and not discriminated.
Beyond the personal level of institutional critique I have above, problems will not that be too difficult to handle if one is just surrounded by right and kind people. Just before the end of my siblings school year, my dad and I discussed on the issue of a student who died due to sudden spike in sugar levels. Hearing more about the story uncovered allegations of bullying the parents revealed and may have trigger the said medical condition unprecedented before. It was revealed that the student loss interest to go to school, insulted and even isolated from groupings as well as environment. These I feel serve as stressors being also a victim of almost similar situation in which I even fell from my wheelchair in high school due to drifting horse play by a a classmate. I also worked alone given the by pair grouping despite the class population is an odd number in college.
With experiences happened and can happen to anyone that might lead to depression, I like to put forward two things which I believe important to ask and can make the difference with possible propositions. First, why we tend to take for granted our ability to do what we want? In the case of bullying, we can see this existing in cyberspace where people take for granted the right to say anything despite being fake, subjective and most importantly hurtful. Second, why we should not take this life for granted, overcome depression and just do it?
To further expand my personal thoughts for the first question, I like to believe that we became part of the society because we recognize that the “nature of man is solitary, nasty, brutish and short” (Hobbes, 1651). Given the said context, it is significant to examine ourselves today and recognize how dangerous we can become. I look forward for civil and advocacy groups to strengthen calls for proper implementation of laws as well as its compliance. As a citizen, I hope we can continue to uphold the rule of law.
For the second question, I like to put forward that we sometimes take for granted our family and those who loved us. I like to assert that everytime we are confounded with negative thoughts especially suicide, we should remember the people who are always there for and we are just sometimes forget and take for granted. Personally, my parents and siblings are my primary source of strength. I would be honest that I previously take for granted their efforts to help me pursue my goals because I am definitely a responsibility. However, I was able to recognize moving forward that life is more than just a responsibility. It is sacrifice and love amidst all the trials, misunderstandings and challenges. Moreover, we can extend this perspective to the people who continuously come to assist us in this world. For my case, I like to include in it professors, security guards, utilities, fellow students and others who continue to become part of my journey and share in my aspirations.
With the previous paragraph, I like to give emphasis on what was put forward by Anthony Giddens about “Democracy of Emotions” or relationships based on equalitarianism, respect, communication, active trust and self-disclosure beyond traditional family relationships (Felix and Shehan 2007:296). I do hope that we will be able to respect and value both equality and dignity of others. From this I believe will allow us to have deeper understanding and possibly fill up what is missing in another’s life. The depression one is experiencing is a product of lack of deep understanding or depth-ression. As a result, one experiencing it misses a depth in understanding life and the challenges.
Personally, I can reflect with the discussion of sacred canopy by Peter Berger (Coleman 2007:299) and Sigmund Freud’s view of religion as an attempt to deal with problem of human existence (Coleman 2007:300). I view it as something positive and helped me in this chapter of my life. I am not a perfect person. I commit mistakes and only human. Just like the song, I breathe and I fall down but I was able to recognize a higher purpose. I was able to reflect that we are God’s instruments. Each of our unique challenges serves as opportunities for us to contribute something new in this world. If no one experience the situation where we are right now, no one will put forward a solution. As a result, others may face the same situation we have. We are always in the pursuit of a better place and a better world.
In conclusion, I believe that we are all made to contribute something good in this world. The least we can do is to respect and understand one another and assure that no one is left behind. Isolation can lead to depression and deeper understanding of someone is crucial. And to emphasize, it will be helpful that we always ask these two questions: “why we tend to take for granted our ability to do what we want?” to control our possible hurtful action towards another and “why we should not take this life for granted, overcome depression and just do it?” in order to preserve our life for the creation of a better world.
Batas Pambansa 344. n.d . Retrieved April 14, 2018
Berardo, Felix M. and Constance L. Shehan. 2007. “Family Sociology in the 21st Century .”Pp. 289-296 in 21st Century Sociology, edited by Bryant, Clifton D. and Dennis L. Peck SAGE Publications
Coleman, James William . 2007. “The Sociology of Religion.” Pp. 297-304 in 21st Century Sociology, edited by Bryant, Clifton D. and Dennis L. Peck SAGE Publications
Hobbes, Thomas. 1651. Leviathan
Kerr, Michael. 2017. “Major Depressive Disorder (Clinical Depression).” Retrieved April 14, 2018 (https://www.healthline.com/health/clinical-depression)
Philippine Daily Inquirer. 2017. “Suicide rate among elderly steadily increasing.” Retrieved April 14, 2018 (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/891020/suicide-rate-among- elderly- steadily -increasing#ixzz5Cr8ZmxCf )
Psychiatry.org. 2018. “What Is Depression?”. Retrieved April 14, 2018