Mental Health and the Philippines

Our country has a fast growing population. Along with it, may concerns also grow, one of them are concerns regarding mental health. For most Filipinos, treatment and diagnosis of mental illness is still based on superstition and on the albularyo. Growing up in a rural area, I have experienced being treated by an albularyo before being brought to a doctor for a consultation.

Although some treatments done by the albularyo have given some relief, there is still a need to give more focus on the real causes of mental health concerns and not to simply rely on superstition itself. So why isn’t there a mental health law in the Philippines? So far, there are laws that cover concerns regarding mental health. However, these are only part of the laws that have obviously other priorities in its provisions.

On a more personal observation, I think mental health concerns are not considered as major issues in policy-making. Much of our recent policies are mainly focused on economic development rather than on human and social development of which, mental health is an essential part. There are policies that address health concerns, but only few of them focus on mental health.

Passing a law takes much time, especially when not many of those who are needed to pass this law agree to it and because they have their own personal agendas that they need to achieve. It would even take much more time if they come from different political parties and each is trying to outdo the other.

No matter what the reason for the absence of a mental health law in the Philippines is, mental health concerns in the country need to be addressed even though cases related to mental illnesses are few. This would greatly help in promoting a better understanding of mental illnesses and of people who suffer from them.

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My memory, my personality and me

The ways we react to certain events are mostly based on our past experiences or from the things that we’ve learned. Our perception of the world would depend on our personalities.

How would I describe my personality? Generally, I’m a bit of a complicated person. I also don’t trust people too much even though I’ve known them for quite some time. As a result, I don’t get too attached to many people because I have a fear of trusting them. Why? I think that if I trust them and get too emotionally attached, they could use what I’ve shared with them, such as my fears, what I like and don’t like, against me. So in most conversations, they do most of the talking while I just listen and respond in ways that don’t really give them much information about me. To put it simply, no attachments, no pain, no tears. Oh, how melodramatic of me. Doesn’t sound like me at all, huh? I’m usually a very jolly person… on the outside. It wasn’t easy to get the traits that I have now. I learned these the hard way. Mostly high school experiences. I’m not going to talk about it. Don’t ask.

On the brighter side of myself, I’m an optimistic person. “Never give up!” Those are the words that I learned from Naruto. He always seems to say it in almost every episode I’ve watched so I think it just got stuck in my head. I am also fierce. Or at least that’s what they call it. When someone tells me, I don’t have the capabilities to do this or that, I try my best to prove them wrong. Just to show them that I can do what they can as long as I am given a chance. Again, anime is the one to blame. I watch too much of it that I get to remember some quotes that become my favorites. Then I come to apply them in my life. They somewhat become my principles in life.

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The lazy little me

We all have unique personalities. I know that. You know that. It’s a necessity, I guess. Or else the world would be such a boring place to live in if we all had the same personalities. Imagine that? I guess that would be a lot like the Stepford Wives… Brrr… Creepy.

You know what they say about how our personalities define who we are and how we behave? I understand it makes us unique and… Great! The power’s out again. I’ll go get my flashlight first… There… Better. Now, where were we? Oh, right. Our personalities make us unique yet there are times when I just want to change a part of my personality. My laziness, in particular. My laziness mostly keeps me from doing any work at all. That’s what it’s supposed to do, right? Anyway… Most of the time, I end up cramming and doing things at the last minute. We always have to write reflection papers on my major subjects and most of the time, I write them an hour before the class starts. The result? Half-baked homework. Although there are times when I get a perfect score because the last minute is the time when a lot of ideas come to me, I’m getting tired of it. I want to feel useful for a change. Even my desk is a mess, but I still manage to find all my stuff there.
During those times that I’m not doing my homework or I’m not studying for my exam, I draw. I can’t help it. I like, no, I love to draw. I just have so much fun drawing that most of the time, I completely forget about my homework. Sometimes I intentionally forget my homework. It’s not very good.

My laziness is also one major cause why I skip class. It’s just that the whole idea of going to class without any idea what we’re going to discuss just doesn’t appeal to me. I hate sitting there like a lump, but there are times that I enjoy it that way. Sometimes I just skip class if I haven’t done my homework or if I didn’t read our reading assignment. I am careful not to exceed the allowed number of absences though.
I’m rebellious and lazy, I know. Got any tips for me?

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It’s a coffee filled day

Conversation of the day:

Senpai: Hi, Chloe!

Me: Hi!

Senpai: You didn’t eat breakfast again?

Me: No… I had a paper to write.

Senpai: So, what did you have?

Me: Coffee.

Senpai: Did you eat lunch?

Me: No. Just coffee.

Senpai: What are you drinking right now?

Me: Coffee.

Senpai: (Sits down) Oh… What’s that you’re reading?

Me: Stimulants. Caffeine. Coffee.

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The Degenerative Stage of Cognitive Development: The Possible Fifth Stage of Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development has four stages. The sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. During the sensorimotor stage, infants learn through physical and sensory experiences. In the preoperational stage, the child learns to use symbols, and there is the presence of animism. The concrete operational stage is where the child is able to perform mental operations, but still needs concrete objects, since the child still has difficulty in understanding abstract concepts. The formal operational stage is where able to understand abstract concepts, perform logical reasoning, and apply what he/she has learned to hypothetical situations.  Each stage occurs at a specific age and certain changes occur, but what if it had a fifth stage? This should be fun. Okay, I’m not Piaget and I am most certainly not genius enough to even come close to come up with a theory of development. However, since I have been given this opportunity, I would take it and suggest a fifth stage of cognitive development.

The fifth stage would be called the Degenerative Stage of Cognitive Development. This stage occurs during late adulthood until a person’s death. During this stage, a person continues to accumulate more skills and he/she gains more general knowledge and has enhanced abstract reasoning. However, later in this stage; he/she begins to experience difficulty or inability to perform certain mental and physical functions. In this stage, a person experiences loss of memory and deterioration of motor skills. Adults in this stage of cognitive development have difficulty in remembering or are completely unable to remember certain things. They also experience deterioration in sensory functions, such as difficulty in hearing and seeing. A person may also experience regression and will have difficulty in adjusting to and accepting changes in the society.

Well, that’s my idea of a possible fifth stage of cognitive development. It’s not a stage I’m really looking forward to, but let’s see what happens.

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To sleep or not to sleep

Image source: http://www.animekon.com/gallery/2008/03/101937241406.jpg

Okay, so while I’m writing this, I’m having my third cup of coffee, and I’m trying hard not to fall asleep. Speaking of coffee and sleep, I remembered a conversation that I had with one of my seniors when I was in my first year. “So,” she said. “Do you drink coffee?”

I answered, “Yes, but only a little”.

She nodded. Then, she told me, “Good. That’s good. It’ll be your best friend sooner or later”.

So far, it has been true in my case. I used to sleep for about seven to eight hours before I went to college, but now I normally sleep for five and a half to six hours or sometimes seven hours at most. I usually sleep at midnight and wake up at five thirty or six in the morning, the perfect time for high speed downloads (Yeah! All the manga, latest anime episodes, and movies you can possibly download). I used to have difficulty in waking up after only five hours of sleep, and it usually took literally about a dozen alarms or more to wake me up. Picture this: The alarm clock rings. I open my eyes and reset it. I say, “Five minutes”, and who knows how many “five minutes” later, I get up, but with the idea of sleeping a bit longer still tempting me. It takes a lot of effort, but once you get used to it, you don’t need an alarm clock to bother you and your roommates. That is, if there isn’t much work to do. Of course there comes a time when my sleep pattern is interrupted. It’s usually interrupted on weekends because of movie marathons. So on weekends, I sleep at six thirty or seven in the morning and wake up at eleven thirty. For the rest of the day, I feel so lazy to do anything and I just end up watching TV or drawing, and sleeping again in the afternoon. Then, I only start to feel like I’m actually awake at night. However, no matter how much I don’t feel like sleeping at eleven thirty in the evening on a Sunday, I have to force myself to sleep just to be able to wake up early the next day.

When finals week a.k.a. “hell week” comes, I only get about four to four and a half hours of sleep. As much as I’m tempted not to sleep, I have to or else I’ll end up not being able to think straight and feeling like I’m floating the next day or worse, I have palpitations. Deadlines today, exams tomorrow or both of them on the same day! That’s the usual scenario… And it’s still a surprise that I find myself not wearing a strait jacket. Well anyway, it’s during times like these that I don’t get enough sleep. As a result, after taking the exam or passing all the papers that I need to pass, I go back to the dorm and sleep again for about two to three hours, and then I start reviewing for my next exam.

Recently, my sleep pattern has again been going crazy. This time though, I’ve been sleeping longer than usual. There are times that I sleep for eight to ten hours and it usually happens when I have a lot of papers that I need to pass. It’s not very good. So what I do is that I try reflecting on my day. What did I eat? What sort of things did I do? And all of those questions that might lead to an explanation about my sudden desire to somewhat hibernate. I found out that on days that I sleep for longer hours, it’s either I ate too much sweets or I studied or did my homework in my room. So now, I try to minimize eating too much of the sweet stuff. Now, I make use of the dorm’s study area. It’s working for me, so far. From time to time, I also take a little walk or do a little stretching. It helps in keeping me awake. It also helps me in better understanding whatever I’m reading especially when the words no longer seem to make sense after reading for a long time. It gives the eyes some rest. Speaking of which, I think I’ll give mine some rest now… Ja ne! ^__^

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Just smile and forget it for a while

Image source: http://e-shuushuu.net/images/04-10-2005-42.png

It was Sunday. A friend and I were making our way to an eatery and we were talking about all the things that we needed to do that day. It was already 5:15 in the afternoon and we weren’t even half-way done with our home works. She hasn’t even started reviewing for her exam this week. We passed Hall 1 (the dormitory for freshmen) and then, we heard singing.

Her: Wow, they’re so lucky. They have time for that.

Me: Yeah… I miss being a freshman *depressed mode*

Her: You know, I used to think I had so many problems. Now, I know that upperclassmen have even more. I wish I could go back to being a freshman.

Me: I wish I could go back to being a baby.

Her: (Pats my back) You go back there alone.

Me: Okay, let’s go back to being first graders.

Her: Yeah, let’s go!

Both: TIME WARP!!!

Then we just laughed and joked about a lot of stuff after that. We totally forgot about our problems until we got back to the dorm again.

When you think about it, it is a big problem when you’re not even half-way done with your home work, but we still managed to take things lightly and just enjoy ourselves even for a while. We try to find ways to temporarily escape serious situations, something we all need to do every once in a while to keep ourselves from going crazy.

It’s a wonder how one can still manage a joke or two when you’re supposed to be panicking. Yep. Most of the time I just take it for granted, but it’s a human behavior that puzzles me. So is it a form of defense mechanism? Maybe. I also think it’s an adaptive human behavior. It helps you relax and it clears your head. Who knows, from one of those jokes, you might be able to answer that mind boggling question for that paper you’ve been worrying about for two weeks. Or you might suddenly remember where you kept those notes that you desperately need for your exam. One of my seniors recently commented: “I like your lifestyle. It’s so simple. You don’t seem to have any problems at all. You always seem to be having fun.”

I said, “I only worry about my problems in my dreams”

That’s not entirely true, but I choose not to take everything too seriously. I think I’ll go crazy if I do that.

So, I’ll give you a piece of advice. Try to stop and enjoy life every once in a while. Don’t worry about a lot of things too much.

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Make way, brain parts! We have a new member on the house!

The human brain is wonderful… and complicated. It makes you wonder how everything inside it works and how signals from our sense receptors could reach it and get it processed for you in a snap. Well, way faster than a snap.

Watching all those videos that talk about the brain and how the different parts produce chemicals that make us behave in certain ways makes it a bit like a laboratory although, this is a laboratory where you don’t want to mess up in mixing chemicals. If there was a part of the brain that I’d like to add or change, what would be?

Exams are coming up and aside from that, we all have so many deadlines to meet. Papers, reports, long exams, final exams and we’re all complaining about not getting enough sleep. As a result, we end up being too sleepy to do anything or worse, fall asleep in class. Staying awake and alert is very important at times like these. So if I were to design my own brain, I would add another part. A gland that produces stimulants, caffeine to be specific, but only in limited amounts and you can actually control when the gland will secrete the stimulant. Sort of like a built-in coffee machine. This way, I wouldn’t have to drink up liters (I don’t mean literally) of coffee in order to stay awake. It will help me stay alert in class too. It’s always a struggle for me to stay awake, no matter how interested I am in the subject; especially in the morning since I am an evening person or nocturnal if you’d like to call it. I definitely need that since I don’t know where my mind wanders off to, and I often have trouble tracking it down and in trying to drag it back to reality (in much simpler terms, I have fallen asleep).

Maybe in the future we can have that gland. How, you ask? Who knows? Maybe through genetic mutation or maybe the scientist can create it in a lab then just implant it into anyone who wants to have it. Oooh…

How about you? How would like to redesign your brain?

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