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.
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!