Life | Mental | 5 mins read

July 21, 2023

A Dark Alley

It's pitch black that I can't see where I'm going

I came across a friend’s blog again, after I saw some FB posts about illustrations, which prompted me to search for him to see what’s his latest works are on the internet as he deactivated his social media account. In any case, I stumbled across his blog, and got troubled with a couple of his blog posts (posted almost a year ago), and I really wish that everything goes well on his end.

This is a tricky feeling though, as although I genuinely want to help him, the fact that he’s struggling with his mental health (depression) makes me remember that I should try to figure out my brother first. My older brother is struggling with depression too, and I have no clue how to help him.

Hermano

Although I have to admit that my family is doing well financially as I turned out to be a driven individual against all odds, naks naman, buhat chair, driven parang kotse lang… I cannot say the same for my parents and brother. My father is suffering from Parkinson’s (an illness that I see myself getting in the future as I’m exhibiting the same symptoms as what my father had when he was younger, I was even rushed to ER last week, “ok” experience, 6/10, some room for improvement, but that’s another story for another time) thus his medications are quite pricey. My brother does not have a regular job, and I’m not even sure if he has any means to earn right now, and there are times that his situation is causing him to spiral deeper into depression. He would message me at times about this, and although I want to help, I have no idea how.

Although I want to help, I have no idea how.

The thing about just listening is that it is, to be honest, taxing too for the listener, especially if the listener views the person as someone important. The feeling of helplessness is unavoidable, as anything you do does not seem to help at all. You’ll be there one day, listening to all what he says, and then after a few days, I’ll learn from my father that he tried to hang himself.

Did “just” listening help? I’m not even sure at all at this point.

I’m a software engineer, throw me a problem, and I’ll give you the solution based on the problem statement. You’re feeling sad because you got no job? Well, let’s try to find you a job. The job market is tough right now, but the BPO industry so far seems to be able to withstand the effects of the recession. I suggested him about trying that out, but he preferred to work at home. A part of me wanted to scold him that he’s not really in a position to be picky, but another part of me just held it back because I do not fully understand the gravity of mental illnesses like depression.

The unknowns make it really hard for me to connect with him in a way that can be helpful. Heck, I don’t even know if I’m in any way helpful to him by just conversing with him. What if he hates having a conversation with me? It’s a legitimate thought, as I’m the younger brother, I can’t help but think that being in the position that I am right now is contributing to the negative thoughts in his head, presumptuous yes, but a legitimate thought that came across my mind at times. But I digress, this post isn’t about me, I’ll probably share about this aspect some other time.

He messaged me a number of times about his thoughts of ending it all. He messaged me numerous times about his feeling of sinking back into darkness.

What do I do?

How can I help?

I feel like a blind man hearing someone crying for help. I want to help, I can hear the direction of the plea, but I cannot even move my feet a step closer.

What happened to him? Did he trip? Or is he hanging by a cliff? If I take this step, will I step on him and hurt him? Or will I slip and fall into the same pit myself too?

Look, socializing was always my weakest trait, and now I have to go figure out how a person with mental illness thinks and feels in order to somehow help them. It’s a daunting task.

This feeling is at odds with everything else. I’ve been helping, or trying my best to help others. Strangers, people I never knew before. I am quite religous and I share to strangers whenever I get the chance. It’s not only helping others through ministry either as I also got involved monetarily in unicef and sos for almost a decade straight now, and yet, I can’t even help my own kin.

Do I stop helping others because I cannot even help my own blood?

I wanted to insert some positive note here, or a self-deprecating joke to lighten up the mood, pero wala e, nagugulumihanan na nalulungkot na nanlulumo na di ko alam how to describe this feeling anymore.

No conclusion

How about the friend I mentioned at the introduction? He got his creative talent, and yet he feels that it’s not good enough. He used to work in industries related to his talent and passion. It’s already one step further than my brother, who struggled to keep straight ever since dropping out of Mapua.

If I’d cross paths with him someday, I’d love to grab some coffee or hot choco with him, but when that time comes, I hope I know how to properly help people suffering from mental illnesses.

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