Love, Mental Health, and Other Everyday Gifts: A (Post) Talang Dalisay Valentine’s Special ❤ | By Karmella Tapia

While Valentine’s Day is not everyone’s cup of tea, the holiday still receives an enormous amount of positive attention for the generous love it celebrates at its very core. Indeed, whatever one’s opinion on bouquets and chocolate boxes is, it’s hard not to be moved by the lengths people will go to in spreading a little more love into this divided world.

To honor the *ahem* well-loved occasion, 10 of Talang Dalisay’s own Student Ambassadors have come forward with their personal experiences and stories of giving or receiving unconditional love in the face of mental health struggles.

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We hope their honest accounts can inspire you, move your heart, and remind you of the power held in the simplest of kind actions:

“Coming from a Chinese school that made mental health struggles seem like something that makes you of lesser value, I had little to no knowledge of what to do when my friend opened up to me about him struggling with his mental health. It was scary, because I felt like I might make the situation worse for him if I didn’t act properly. So I listened to him—I listened to everything he had to say. All the heartaches and regrets. After that, I learned that just giving that person time and showing that you care and that you’re there for him is more than enough. Ever since, I’ve learned to allot time for my friends and check up on them from time to time to ensure that they’re really okay, or at times I’d just give them a hug for no reason. Sometimes, there’s no need for words to express your support and love for the people you care about.” -AC

 

“There was a time earlier this year where I just felt so “low” emotionally, mentally and physically. It was a time where I felt so alone despite having all my friends around me. It was my first time feeling that way and I really didn’t know what to do. But then, one day, I decided to open up to my friend about it, not really expecting much from it. But she was able to say all the right things—things that I didn’t even know I needed to hear. She gave me the strength to really try and get better. Sometimes, I would get relapses and the feeling would come back, but I would remember all the friends who care and love for me, which gives me the strength to try and love myself more.” -Anonymous

 

“Once, one of my lowerbatch friends suddenly burst out in tears during our training, so I did everything I could to make sure that she was okay: I followed her pace and even delayed my workout, to the frustration of my two coaches. I had no idea what suddenly made her hurt so much, but all I knew was that she was hurting. So I pleaded with my coach for us to end the team training a few minutes earlier. I ended up walking with her in silence to the lockers and showers and even fixing up her bath things for her. I gave her advice I now can’t remember and then a long hug when she had to leave. But I think I saw her semi-smile when she entered her car. It got me thinking about how when a bit of someone is taken out, you can’t necessarily fill up the hole where that bit was. You can be there though and soften the edges as they heal themselves, every step of the way, even if it’s only in silence.” -GL

 

“One day around the later months of 2017, I received a call from one of my best friends while I was having a massage. I was actually on the verge of falling asleep but then I heard her voice—she was crying and trembling and judging from the noise of the car engines, she was outside. She was on a balcony; she was saying goodbye to me. I immediately leapt and started talking really fast, convincing her to stop what she was doing. I wanted her to know that there’s still so much more in life to look forward to, and if that wasn’t a good enough reason, then I wanted her to know that her friends would be devastated. In the end, my best friend went back inside; we were both crying. And the masseuse was still confused.” -Anonymous

 

“I see love from other people during the times when my friends would sit me down and make me open up to them just so I don’t feel like I’m alone in facing my problems or struggles. We’re all very busy with school and extracurriculars but they take the time to make sure I’m doing well. Sometimes, it would be a simple talk over our breaks, or a chat. Other times, they’d bring me out to my fave restaurants. Whichever one it is, after every heart-to-heart, I always feel a lot better, remembering there are people really willing to listen and hear me out—even if it’s the same problems over and over again.” -Anonymous

 

“It wouldn’t have been the first thing I thought of doing—helping him out that is. I was already having a hard time as it was. Then again, I realized that with what this classmate of mine has been going through, especially when he wasn’t going to school, this was the kind of love that was needed: someone to watch his back and to be shown that he is cared for. So I thought that I could spare some time with a friend to complete at least part of his graduation write up, and even help him collect his class pictures. He doesn’t owe me, but I hope he sees that someone out there still has him covered.” -YT

 

“My mom has always been my number one supporter in all my endeavors. Ever since I transferred schools, I’ve been experiencing more stress because of the struggle of handling two extracurriculars and my academic work. I’d even have breakdowns once in a while. I almost gave up. However in all of those times, my mom was always there to support me. She would give me space or a helping hand when I needed it.“ -MM

 

“One of my long-time friends has been undergoing mental health struggles for a while now, and sometimes it’s surreal thinking of how much she’s gone through since meeting her in grade school. Still, I can’t help but be proud of how far she’s come and how far our friendship has come along with it. I’ve learned after experiencing who she is during her darkest moments that loving her shouldn’t be conditional. I’ve learned to be grateful of how these experiences are helping her grow as a person! I’m sure that I’ll love her even more once she has grown into the person that she’s meant to be.” -AA

 

“I was really having a hard time managing schoolwork and chores when we didn’t have maids to help us. I started on my schoolwork exhausted and late almost everyday after my extracurriculars. I always had sleepless bad days, and what made it even worse was when people would get mad/blame me for things that I never even did. It was a hard time for me, physically and mentally. I prayed for help, and eventually, I got it. All I needed then was someone to hear me out and just be there for me. I am so thankful that that person was understanding in helping me out. That person changed my perspective towards the challenges that I faced—to see and overcome them with positivity and perseverance, even when trying to overcome them could hurt.” -KC

 

“I remember the first time someone opened up to me; I had no idea what to do, or what to say. I remember I tried to put myself in the shoes of my friend and sympathize with him, but I found it really hard because I didn’t think that his problems were really such a big deal, and I couldn’t understand why it was a problem to begin with. Over time, I began to learn that the best thing that you can do for your friends when they open up to you is to listen, and instead of trying to put yourself in their shoes, just show them love and care. Try to understand them, but if you can’t that’s okay, because at the end of the day you aren’t their therapist—you’re their friend. I just needed to be there for them, and show them that they matter.” -JDM

 

Truly, even when Valentine’s Day is over, love abounds in the everyday! So from all of us at Talang Dalisay: We hope you are able to celebrate today in its fullness! And remember that everyone, struggling or not, deserves love—including you! Belated Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

Note To Self | By Sakshi Sahijwani

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It’s okay to not be okay. Its okay to be conflicted, and to not know what you truly want. It’s okay to be failing in school, to be gaining weight, to isolate yourself from your friends, and to wish that you can just go away for a bit.

You may be at this crossroad of feeling lost and confused, wondering where it all went wrong. How one day it was so good yet the next was terrible.

How one day you were over the moon, and now you don’t even have the energy to go out anymore. How the people who you would once call your family are the same people that you can’t even recognize anymore. Even if there are all these things going through your head, there’s a small voice telling you to push. Telling you that you can get through it, and that it will all pass. This small voice can be classified or interpreted as many things, but I’d like to think of it as God. I believe that God is watching the series of our lives unfold. That He’s the director of this show we call life.

He’s attached to all the characters on the show just waiting for the next episode, the next cliffhanger. That He’s seeing us in our victories, yet He’s also there for us in our struggles. Even though we try to push him away, He stays. He’s the one thing that truly remains constant in a world that’s vastly changing everyday. He has a plan. Now, we don’t exactly know what plans He has in store for us, but that’s the thrill of it all! We don’t know what we signed up for, but He is setting everything into motion. So for everyone out there, who is feeling lost, He’s got you.

I know it’s hard to keep on believing and trusting someone you can’t visually see, but He’s there. He’s right beside you, guiding you in the walk of life. He wouldn’t take you anywhere he knew you couldn’t handle, so believe in Him, and it will all be okay. Maybe not in a day or two, but eventually, it will pass. You are a work in progress, so trust the process.

Fighting the Burnout Culture | By Raine Rivas

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It’s a scenario that’s likely become all too familiar to us– you ask a friend how they are, and they say, “I don’t know. I’m just… tired.” It’s the kind of tired that goes way beyond physical exhaustion, the kind of tired that settles into every aspect of your life. It’s hard to track, and even harder to beat. Luckily, it does have a name: burnout.

Burnout isn’t a completely new concept. The difficulty that comes with trying to switch off the little voice that says “keep working, keep working, keep working” is something that most people usually go through. However, it’s time that we opened up even more extensive dialogue about it, since wearing yourself out to the point of exhaustion could do some serious damage– physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Being in a constant state of tiredness can prevent you from living fully. Also, feeling burnout isn’t sustainable at all. As humans, we all have our breaking points, and the less we hover dangerously close to them, the better.

Perhaps the worst part of burnout is the inner conflict it starts inside you. The ever-so-challenging question of “when do I stop?” can set off an internal argument that just keeps playing on a loop. On one side: “I need to rest. I should rest. Nothing’s working anymore,” and on the other side: “You’re being lazy. Keep pushing. Just work.” Here’s a useful tip– identify the phrase that reveals it all: nothing’s working anymore. The first step to getting over burnout is acknowledging the fact that something’s gone wrong, and that it needs to be fixed before you can carry on with your responsibilities.

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A common metaphor that’s been used to describe burnout is that of a vehicle. Whether you’re a student or someone who’s already working, go ahead and liken yourself to a car. In the same way that it’s foolish to ignore smoke coming out of the hood, it’s not right to feel burnt out and just assume that you can keep going and going. I was able to speak to a friend (a fellow high school senior) about their experience with burnout and how it manifests itself in everyday student life.

They mentioned how it can actually feel like “laziness on steroids”, characterized by increased difficulty in doing schoolwork and a general loss of interest. Coming back to the internal argument I mentioned earlier, well– this is what it can look like on the outside. While the fight continues inside your mind, you might find yourself just blankly staring at your laptop screen, or staying in bed, unable to do anything.

Everyone ends up using their own strategies to lessen burnout, but all of these definitely involves taking a step back and doing a major life re-evaluation. This actually isn’t as daunting as it seems– as long as you start the process with an open mind and a clear intent to change things for the better, you’ll find your way to becoming someone who is on fire for the life they live, not burnt out.

In any case, take this as a sign that: it’s time to give yourself a break.

To see a representation of what burnout can feel like (in the form of a cute comic!) visit:

https://www.facebook.com/CollegeHumor/photos/pcb.10156303442412807/10156303441112807/?type=3&theater

For the Class of 2019: Don’t Get Senioritis – It’s a Block | By Therese Lombos

Senioritis is usually defined as the lax attitude students in their final year of high school take on. While it has been something I’ve anticipated for my whole academic life, I’ve come to the realization that it may be hindering me from making the most of the only year in high school I’ve got left. My whole high school career has led up to taking the college entrance exams, and now that they’ve passed, I’ve been granted the opportunity to enjoy what school has left to offer. Sadly, my constant anticipation for the future, coupled with my senioritis, has transformed my outlook into one of dread rather than excitement.

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Right from the get-go, I intended to cast my senior year aside. “Lose a battle, win the war.” The battle being my academics and the war being CET’s. While I don’t think it was necessarily a bad decision given that you can only take an entrance exam once, it was when I began overcompensating myself for the struggle of maintaining my grades. My scores dipped, and I tried my best to ignore my instinctual panic and urge to make up for it. I turned off the switch it my brain that made me care about school and shifted my focus towards the future.

This wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if it remained temporary. However, by the time CET’s were over, I felt as though it would be too difficult to bring up my grades, and just gave up little by little. I hated going to school, and I constantly ranted about how I hated wasting time. Classes seemed irrelevant, and I just went through the motions. I was slightly losing my mind— I was so bored and I couldn’t find anything I deemed worthy enough to stimulate my brain.

It was only when results came out that I came to the realization that this was my last year, and I was taking it for granted. My friends are headed in different directions, and I won’t be able to go back to the present moment. I had a High School Musical moment— high school wasn’t meant to last forever.

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In light of this, I’ve come up with a new definition for senioritis. Senioritis (n) – a hindrance to the optimization of a senior’s final year of high school; an attitude that prevents one from treasuring their day-to-day lives as high school students. I’ve decided to make my final report card the prettiest one, not because of my grades, but because of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my whole high school journey.

It’s 2019! Talang Dalisay’s 2018 Highlight Reel | By Margaret Lee

Happy happy new year! 2018 is finally over and it has definitely been a very great year for us at Talang Dalisay.

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Last year, we were able to get over 10+ partnerships with other non-profits, receive responses from over 200+ potential student ambassadors, and receive donations of over 30,000 pesos.

Aside from all those numbers, we were also able to open up new programs for people to take part in. New volunteer researchers for wave 2 emerged, as well as our new program for volunteer artists showcasing very critical mental health issues in a creative manner.

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We would also like to thank our old and new partnerships the UP Diliman PsychSoc, PAREF Woodrose School, and the Southeville International School for their never-ending support and invitations to us for helping spread more mental health awareness.

 

So what’s there to look forward to in 2019?

Well, the release of our official shirts will be out this January! All proceeds will go to our special needs scholar. If you would like to order, please visit our merchandise page. Keep your eyes peeled as well for our student ambassadors’ official shoot photos and videos, as they will be modeling our shirts. How exciting!

More than this, we will be faithfully following schedule for our monthly outreaches with our partner schools and communities. To stay up to date with that, please visit our Facebook page.

Lastly, we have a very exciting collaboration with DevSoc (formerly known as Developer’s Society) that is coming up very soon! We can’t wait for you to know all about it.

From the whole team and I, we wish you a very prosperous 2019! I personally had an extremely difficult 2018 so far. I encountered so many hurdles in and out of school. It’s very easy to get swayed and disheartened. But never let your current situation bring you down. Always stay vigilantly positive even at your lowest points. Like my teacher once told me, never quit just because it’s hard. True character is forged in fire. 

Again, thank you so much for your continuous support for Talang Dalisay and what this organization stands for. I am very excited to see it grow more in the future. We would not be anywhere without YOU. Thank you.

Love and light always, 

Margaret Lee

Founder & Executive

365 New Days, 365 New Chances | By Dani Antonio

A new year is a new beginning. It is as if our lives are a series of books; each with 12 chapters and 365 pages. Each page is our chance. Our chance to change, to learn, and to grow.

Every year, we make new year’s resolutions. Most choose to make simple resolutions like smiling more, doing a kind act each day, or throwing trash properly. However, this new year, you could choose to make a resolution, which will not only benefit you but also those around you.

Mental health has become one of the fastest rising problems in our world today. Attitudes such as self-care, self-love, and self-confidence have been lacking in most individuals, but this new year could mean a new you.

Here are 5 new year’s resolutions you could do this 2019:

 

  • Make a Motivation Jar

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A motivation jar is something simple that can easily brighten up your day. All you need is a mason jar, post-its, and a pen. On the pieces of paper, you can write words of affirmation, motivational quotes, bible verses, etc. Once you’ve written on the post-its, fill the jar with them, and open one up if you’re ever feeling down.

 

  • Start your #HealthyLiving

 

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Healthy living doesn’t necessarily mean going on a strict diet or exercising every day rather, it is a change of lifestyle. You could start by adding fruits and vegetables to your daily meals and including exercise in your weekly routines. These future habits may seem like an impossible task, but by the time you know it, you’ll be feeling better both on the inside and outside.

 

  • Schedule a Self-care Day

 

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With busy schedules and prior commitments, individuals usually lack time for themselves. This new year, you could allocate a day every month just for yourself. You could schedule a massage, you could bake, or you could simply sleep. Do anything that will make YOU feel happy.

 

  • Daily Moments of  Mindfulness + Mindfulness Jar

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Stress and anxiety are definitely two factors of our lives that may hinder us from taking care of ourselves. By doing daily moments of mindfulness, this year, you will be able to learn how to take a breather. In addition to doing moments of mindfulness, you can make your own mindfulness jar, which is known to help people relax and calm down.

*To make a mindfulness jar mix together liquid glue, hot water, and glitter. Shake the jar and watch the glitter go down.*

 

  • Lessen your Screen Time

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The use of technology has become even more prevalent in the present day, and most of us have forgotten how toxic the use of technology can be. By lessening your screen time, you will have the ability to disconnect to reconnect.

With these new year’s resolutions, this new year, you may truly be a “new me”!

“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” – Diane Von Furstenberg

A Snapshot Of Anxiety Disorders | By Karmella Tapia

“It feels like I’m drowning. Like I’m slowly being strangled and I wanna scream, but I’m in a bubble, and no sound is coming out. You lose feeling in your body for a while, becoming numb so much that you can’t hold your own weight. It feels like the world won’t stop spinning–like it will never stop. This is your new norm, and you have to get used to it.” (Description of a panic attack taken from an interview)

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On a worldwide scale, statistics say roughly one out of four people will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. With such a large percent of the population affected, it’s only natural that the subject of anxiety tends to come up in discussions of mental health. But for the rest of the population without anxiety, chances are the particulars of anxiety are rather murky.

Everyone experiences anxiety occasionally. Fear and apprehension because of an impending crisis or stressful situation are all part of the natural fight-or-flight response humans have developed to survive. It is an entirely different situation, however, when these episodes of anxiety repeatedly interfere with one’s normal activities and occur intensely out-of-proportion to the real danger. Such is the struggle of those with anxiety disorders. Beyond the severe and prolonged feelings of fear, anxiety disorders can involve symptoms like panic, trembling, hyperventilation, gastrointestinal problems, increased heart rate, trouble sleeping, and difficulty concentrating. Whether the disorder comes from medical causes, environmental stressors, family genetics, or past trauma, anxiety as a mental illness is a very real obstacle faced by millions of people—including those in our own social circles.

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A big part of what we do here at Talang Dalisay is try to build an environment where honest, safe discussion on mental health and illness can happen regularly—where understanding the experiences of people similar or different to ourselves becomes easier, and we are able to say with sincerity, “You are not alone.” In an effort to bring to light the real stories of people who have or have had an anxiety disorder, here are a few experiences and insights from a few sources (who will remain anonymous for privacy reasons) with first-hand knowledge on the subject:

When did you first realize that your anxiety was beyond the normal?

Source 1: It was more of a process than a moment. Grade 7 was the first time I started worrying about myself. I remember feeling something stopping me from talking to people who I felt were more popular or who would judge me. But then, I remember being able to act confident for this one social event, so I told myself, okay, you’re fine. Then the next year, I had a super hard time socializing with older people for school things, but I kind of just dismissed it as me being really shy. The thing is, I knew other people who were shy—this didn’t feel like the same thing. I was never shy as a child, so having difficulty in social situations seemed to come out of nowhere. I’m usually really loud, and I have no problem performing in class. The inconsistent shyness was starting to alarm me enough. Eventually, through Tumblr and research, I learned about social anxiety; my mindset then was like: look at it, read, don’t self diagnose, and try to confirm that it’s not you. So I did. But afterwards, the question was still there. By the start of 2017, I asked my dad what he knew about social anxiety. Ten months later, I decided to get help.

What do you struggle with the most regarding your anxiety?

Source 1: I think the worst part is when I get stuck in a bad chain of thoughts. What will happen is, if it gets really bad, all my thoughts will contradict each other. As in, I’ll have bad thoughts, and then I’ll try to fight them and prove them wrong—but then the bad thoughts kind of just assert themselves more. There will suddenly be a new argument for why I’ll fail or why whatever bad thing might happen will come true. Whenever I feel bad, all I want is a break to just rest, but I know the rest of the world won’t wait for me to stop feeling anxious. Then, I start worrying about the fact that I’m worrying. I guess it’s like a virus that spreads beyond what I’m actually immediately having a problem with. To me, it ends up feeling like my anxiety bleeds into other things.

Was it hard to ask for help?

Source 2: Definitely. I didn’t really know what I was asking help for! It was something I couldn’t describe yet, so I struggled to relay it to other people. Mostly, I would just keep to myself until I found a way to describe it which took quite a long time. I ended up approaching mostly my barkada in school first—not all of them though, just a select few. Even then, it took me more than a year to be transparent with them. It helped a lot though because then I had someone to run to when I would have panic attacks in school. I didn’t have to deal with it alone anymore. I guess what made it so hard to reach out was that fear that they might misunderstand me, that people would think I was just looking for attention or making stuff up.

How important is a support system for you? How has your support system helped you?

Source 3: My friends were very important in the sort of release I needed, especially on bad days—a sort of exercise for my brain. In addition to giving me the the opportunity to freely express my thoughts, they also asked me questions that led to a deeper understanding of what I was really feeling. Honestly, sometimes, what I needed was more than a group of people who listen. Being listened to is super valuable, of course, but at times, what I really needed was friends who would “call me out”. Dealing with my anxiety, sometimes I would get a little off track  with my life—caught up in my worries. In a really loving and thoughtful way, they would bring me back to reality. Without my support system, I really think that I would have, in a sense, shut myself off from the rest of the world. I was tired of being afraid of daily life, of both the present and the future. It was starting to take a toll on my other relationships. Of course, I was worried that I would be a burden to them or that talking to them about my own struggle would affect them too much. But they reassured me that they would always be there to help me through my anxiety.

What’s the one thing you wish you could tell other people with anxiety?

Source 3: If you feel like your anxiety is weighing you down, don’t be afraid to reach out to other people and steady yourself. Draw your strength from the good things and the good people in your life. The most important thing to know is that you’ll never be alone. I myself am still in the process of opening myself up to sharing, even on those days when I feel like I’m about to be swallowed whole by the ground or “insert other doomsday scenario”. We can do this, you guys. Think of it this way… anxiety isn’t some dragon you have to kill just to prove that you’re okay. It’s actually just one you have to become the master of.

What’s the one thing you wish you could tell people who don’t have anxiety but want to understand it?

Source 2: When someone with anxiety tells you about their state of mind, please don’t shut them down right away. Please know it probably took them months to come clean to you. Just try your best to understand and be present for them.


 

For more information on anxiety disorders, visit https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961

Building Yourself Back Up After a Mental Breakdown | By Dani Antonio

Everyday, life throws challenges at us when we least expect it. It’s as if everyday, we’re riding an endless rollercoaster ride with all its abrupt loops, twists, and turns. Undoubtedly, our daily hurdles and impediments can result to a spectrum of emotions. As a 21st century high school student, I can definitely vouch for this. With the tsunami of workload given to us, mental breakdowns are very common within our generation. I can’t count the amount of times when my batch mates and I have cried (with hagulgol) due to all our academic stress, pressures, and frustrations, but with this, we must remember that after experiencing a breakdown, we must learn to build ourselves back up again.                                

Building yourself back up after a mental breakdown is not easy. It takes great perseverance and determination for one to bounce back after experiencing a rough patch in his or her life. From taking a nap to running a marathon, you could create your own rainbow after the rain.

Here is a “break down” of seven strategies you can use to build yourself back up after experiencing a mental breakdown:

1. Meditate

Meditation is a long-standing technique carried out by people all around the world to calm one’s nerves, find balance within one’s emotions, and attain one’s center and focus. In relation to mental breakdowns, meditation may be a sufficient and effective strategy for you to get back on track from any obstacles you may have faced.

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2. Do Something You Love to Do

Another way to move forward from any adversity is to do something you love to do. Everyone is different – we all have different passions, hobbies, and talents. Discover what you love to do, then use it as an outlet to release any stress or worries that you may have.

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3. Eat

One of the most common causes of mental breakdowns is fatigue and stress, meaning: you’re tired. Eating can definitely help you get back on track after a breakdown, as food gives you energy and can make you happy, but you must remember that stress-eating and over-eating can be damaging to your health.

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4. Allocate Time for Yourself

“Me Time” is very important for one’s self-care routine. After a mental breakdown, allocating time for yourself is one great way to reflect on what has happened and what needs to be done. In addition, you also have the opportunity to calm yourself down and relax your mind.

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5. Disconnect to Reconnect

With social media taking up most of our time, we forget that there is a world outside of our phones. After a breakdown, one simple action you can do is unplug from social media. Though social media can be a good platform for empowerment, this can also have great impacts on your mental health, with all of the set standards and expectations. Sometimes, you need to take a breather from your gadgets to take care of yourself.

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6. Exercise

Although most people don’t enjoy exercising, studies have revealed that this activity does not only positively affect one’s physical health, but also one’s mental health. When you exercise, your body releases hormones called endorphins. Endorphins trigger feelings of positivity throughout your body, which may help you renew and refresh yourself after a breakdown..

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7. Sleep

Sleep is definitely something we all need, but with all our commitments and activities, most of us don’t get any of it. As impossible as it may seem, you need to TRY to get at least eight hours of sleep. After having a breakdown, sleep will really help with your attentiveness, alertness, and your mental health overall.

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“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again”

– Buddha –

An Attitude of Gratitude | By Maureen Cambay

With so much negativity from all that we’re reading from across the internet, I decided to start the month with making a list of the things that I’m thankful about. Although it seems not fit for the occasion of the month (Halloween), I thought that I could start sharing my “gratitude list” as one to combat my feelings of sadness.

A gratitude list does not require deep thinking. You can start by looking at the simple things that you encounter during the day or the past few weeks. Just pause for a while and bring with you a pen and a paper and write your thoughts down. It can also be done on a notes app or for instance, I used the Textgram app on Google Playstore. Here is a sample:

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Before writing the list, I thought that nothing good was ever happening to me, I focused on the things I cannot do anymore and even compared my life to other people. 

I thought this is not a healthy habit and after a few days of pondering, I believed that there is a way to change. I also remembered this video of Kylie Verzosa in finding pleasure in simple things to deal with feelings of sadness. You might as well find this video helpful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iM6NmT9KH20

May we not forget the simple treasures in life and most importantly, the greatest gift of God which is life. 🍃🌻

Thank you, supermom! | by Margaret Lee

How would you describe a supermom? For some it may mean being able to have perfect time management with household chores and work. For others it may mean being able to bake the best pastries and cook the most delicious food for everyday meals. For me however, being a supermom means making the most out of what one has and being able to prioritize and love her children wholeheartedly above anything else.

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My entrepreneurship and business research teacher, Ms. Melissa Do, is a great example of what it means to be a supermom.

Ms. Melissa Do is a teacher, businesswoman, and mother of three. She continuously juggles teaching high school students, handling her businesses, and taking care of her children every single day. However, it’s even more of a challenge for her since her youngest daughter and son are both diagnosed with autism and is a single mom. How does she do it? She shares with us her journey and valuable insights below.

When did you find out that your two kids had autism? What was your initial reaction?

I have a daughter who is 8 and a son who is 9 years old. After I had my daughter in 2009, I had my son the year after. My daughter was delayed for 3 years and 6 months and was diagnosed with GDD. A year later, I consulted a different doctor and confirmed that she had autism. My son is more functional and was also diagnosed. When I found out they had autism, I was initially in denial. It was hard for me to accept. They looked so normal, and I couldn’t believe it so I talked to doctors and they told me the same thing. I thought they were just late bloomers and I didn’t want to accept the reality. However, I just tried to rationalize my situation and just make sense out of it. I would educate myself to learn more about people within the autism spectrum by reading more about them.

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Did you encounter any signs prior to this that made you think that your children were different?

There were many signs that made me think that my children were different. When my daughter was in her developmental stage, she wasn’t able to do certain things her peers could do. She doesn’t sleep so well at night. I thought it was because of her excema at first since she had rashes all the time. But what really kept her up was her nature and inability to keep still. She also doesn’t really listen when you call her name and is very restless in general. My son is similar to my daughter, although he did more things. When you call him, he doesn’t look back and took him awhile until he was more aware of his name.

How were they when they were younger? What are their hobbies? Are they more into sports, arts, etc.?

My girl is into arts. She likes cooking, playing with animal toys (especially girraffes), and making crowns (the ones for princesses). She has a really wide imagination and enjoys pretend play. Sometimes she would even put makeup on our yaya! She is also more social with others. My boy on the other hand is really into musical games. He’s into patterns. He is very good at those iPad piano games and plays the drums whenever he goes to Timezone. He has great hand-eye coordination and is really fast. My boy usually plays by himself. Both my kids are into totally different things and they each have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Since they’re both so different, the don’t play together that much. They have OT, speech, and special school; teachers and counsellors deal with them differently.

How do you balance taking care of your children, teaching high school students, and handling a business at the same time?

It’s honestly really hard to balance. My kids need to go to school so I can work. Aside from teaching, I also need to handle my business well. Before, my husband used to oversee it. Since his passing, it got a whole lot harder. I get lots of help from the nannies since they help with alot of the household chores. As soon as I get home from work, I spend time with all my children most especially on the weekends. I try my best to avoid them from using gadgets and have quality time with them. So far, it’s been okay. I haven’t really reached my limits but it’s still difficult. I’m still firguring things out; it’s a continuous process for me. When my husband was alive it was like a well oiled machine. Now, there’s an imbalance with the time that I spend. I have to adjust the time I spend on a certain thing. I have to respond fast to situations or else things change. I also have to adapt to my kids. They also change throughout time. They grow up and each have different problems.

Did you encounter people who were apathetic to your children’s behavior? How did you feel?

Yes! People were apathetic. I would sometimes think to myself, how heartless can they be? They try to impose rules on people like my kids like they have the authority to do so. They don’t understand my situation and people within the spectrum. I personally felt upset and embarrassed. Throughout time, you just learn and you dont think about those people; my kids are more important. I’ve come to that point wherein I don’t care what people think anymore; if people stare they aren’t educated enough. They should know and be aware of kids with special needs. People have to get used to them because that’s reality.
How can people understand people with autism better? What do you think the youth and adults can do to create an understanding environment to people within the spectrum?

There should be more movements that promote awareness. I personally think it should start with companies.

Last December in 2016 my son wanted to order McDonald’s since it was one of his favorite foods. It was the 31st; it was New Year’s Eve and McDo closed earlier. My son along with his nanny got there at 8 pm and discovered McDo was closed. They asked if they could order just a box of fries. However, they dont want to open anymore. If there’s anything one needs to know about kids with autism is that they are OC; he wanted to get fries specifically from McDonald’s. My son pleaded and cried on the floor in front of the store. He tried pushing himself to enter and even the yaya and tried going in. My yaya just asked for a box and explained my son’s condition and they wouldnt give it. No one was there to help her. No one around cared at all.

I drove fast from Ddsa and picked him up and went to another McDonald’s branch in Greenbelt. Luckily, they gave me a box there. This whole situation made me sad since McDo is such a big corporation and they aren’t aware of people with special needs and the fact that they offer PWD discounts is just ironic.

I hope that awareness and more understanding doesn’t only stem from corporations but also to different individuals. I hope one day people learn how to incorporate them in society to learn how to act and behave towards people within the spectrum.

If establishments knew how to handle these people, it would be so much easier for moms and families like me who have kids or relatives with autism since we get to handle in public easier. I tried emailing organizations in the past and but there was no action at all. There was no follow up or reply whatsoever. In all honesty, half measures and discounts for PWD’s don’t help. There should be full awareness and understanding from society. For me, that’s what really matters.

After interviewing my teacher, I was really left in awe. All this time I had no idea what she had been going through. I was really enlightened and touched by her story. I hope this inspires you to keep going no matter what kind of hardship life throws at you. And never forget that your own mom is always there for you no matter what.

Here’s to all moms all around the world! You all are super amazing in every way.

Thank you, supermom!