Briones: Going mental

MENTAL disorder is one of those issues that Filipinos would like to sweep under the rug.

That’s why people keep mum when someone in their neighborhood is shackled and locked up in some shed for displaying erratic behavior.

That’s why people look the other way when a stark naked man, or woman, passes them by on the street.

That’s why people ignore the person, who is busy talking to or arguing with himself.

I know the majority of us would like the problem to go away, but, unfortunately, it’s not going anywhere. In fact, it’s all around us.

On Osmeña Blvd., there’s a disheveled man who lives next to the post office right across the PRO 7 headquarters. I say “lives” because that’s where he hangs out during the day and at night.

Sometimes, he disappears for days on end only to reappear to reclaim his post.

Most of the time, he just sits there, stares into space, unmindful of pedestrians, who don’t see him.

There was one instance when he gave me the fright of my life.

He was on his feet. It seemed he was having a heated discussion. With himself. He started shaking his fist and flailing his arms, as he paced back and forth just as I neared him.

It took all my self-control not to run screaming. Had I done that, I might have been mistaken for the loon and not him.

I don’t know what those people have, as there are different kinds of mental disorders.

According to the World Health Organization, the most common ones are major depression, anxiety disorders of which there are three kinds--panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and phobia—and schizophrenia.

It said that depression “is a common mental disorder that affects more than 300 million people worldwide. In the Philippines, there were 2,588 reported cases of suicide in 2012. Of that number, 550 were females while 2,009 were males.”

A noontime show host probably didn’t expect the viral flak that flooded after he brushed aside “depression” as a made-up illness.

After all, he was just expressing what most of us who were born before 2000 think.

Come on, admit it. If we had friends or relatives who displayed symptoms of depression, such as “feelings of extreme sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, decreased energy, feeling of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite and poor concentration,” we’d probably think they’re just being OA.

We’ve always believed that our support system—be they immediate relatives and extended families and friends-- could carry us through any trial and tribulation that life throws our way. But when substance abuse enters the equation, it’s a whole different ballgame.
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