10/05/2017
Joey de Leon thinks you're making up your depression

"'Yung depression, gawa-gawa lang ng tao 'yan."

Oh, man, not at this point.

I wasn't angry at Joey de Leon. Sure, it's disappointing to hear this viewpoint on national television, but it is his viewpoint, and I get where he's coming from.

For the record, I disagree. Of course depression is not a thing people make up. It's not something people make up just to get attention. Also, of course, it's something nobody really understands fully. Psychologists and mental health experts may have a better grip of it than most, sure. Those with depression don't. But none of us can really see everything that's going on in someone's brain in real time. Nobody really has a handle on why some people are... see, I don't even know how to put it.

I guess one problem is semantics. Some people equate extreme loneliness with depression. It's so easy to throw words around. I have. I'm sure I used "depressed" to describe being alone at some point - what more those who can say what they think much more easily? People talk about "post-concert depression" like it's an actual condition, when in reality you just don't want to come down from the high of seeing your favorite foreign act live.

I found myself talking to people who are actually diagnosed with depression - won't reveal names - and they describe the condition differently. We were actually discussing about my... let's call it my situation of late.

"Do you still care about things?" this person asked.

"I think so," I replied.

"Good."

I didn't expect that answer.

"Having depression means not caring about anything anymore," this person continued. "I don't. I just live day by day. It's good you're not at that point yet."

And I thought about my situation of late, and wondered whether I was even close to that point. I don't really know. You tend to mix up resistance and submission, after all, when you're in an adrenaline-charged haze. But not caring - that's not sadness. That's not just sadness. And if I'm going to trust anybody about this, it's someone who has the diagnosis, and the antidepressant prescription, to prove it.

I am not angry at Joey de Leon. I was disappointed, sure, but I am not angry. Eat Bulaga! lasting almost four decades on television means it has this weird position of being home to so many viewpoints from its hosts, and those viewpoints having to coexist with each other. Just watch their Juan For All, All For Juan segment: underneath the obvious comedy lies a push and pull between obvious societal problems and government officials supposedly causing the problem, between conservative thinking and newer movements the elders will scoff at - you get the idea.

In this instance, the opposing viewpoint came from one of the newer hosts, Maine Mendoza.

"Hindi biro 'yun, ha, 'yung depression," she said. "Maraming nakakaranas ng gan'on, lalo na sa mga kabataan. Kaya dapat, kapag merong nakakaranas ng gan'on, bigyan natin ng suporta."

"Hindi, hindi," Joey countered. "Huwag ninyong suportahan. Gawa-gawa lang 'yun. Pabayaan ninyo."

This is the stigma at work. This is when you're told, over and over, to move on, put your chin up, and get back to work. This is when you're told that you're not doing enough, or you can still push yourself further, or you are being left behind by your peers and if you don't run a little faster you'll be stuck in this rut. It's the mindset then, in a world of typewriters and vinyl discs. It's the mindset now, in a world of social media and... vinyl discs. Lucky are those who managed to cope; unlucky are those who weren't (by your definition) strong enough to soldier on.

Depression is a thing. And also, depression is a thing people misunderstand.

I am not angry at Joey de Leon. In fact, I agree with him about another thing he said this afternoon. "Kapag mayaman, depression," he said. "Kapag mahirap... wala nang pag-asa!" Granted, there's always this air of... intolerance hovering around it, but as we slowly figure out what this mental health thing is, we realize that degrees of understanding still depend on where you are in life.

When I had mood swings I was often told to go see a therapist - and while I consider myself better off financially than most, I can't really afford a therapist. What more the others who are not as well off, who don't realize they have gone beyond sadness and crept towards not caring at all? The only plausible solution costs thousands of pesos a session, and their more affordable means of support are "huwag ka ngang maarte, lilipas rin 'yan, magdasal ka lang"?

But, yes, I am disappointed. For one, I disagree with his views, but that's it. Also, the reaction to it right now, from other people who are knee-deep in this argument, is verging on anger and disgust. This does not help the conversation along, a conversation we badly need to have - an important conversation that Eat Bulaga! stumbles upon by accident, while attempting to make us laugh with a corny (but funny) joke about one knee being called "one-hod" in Filipino.

And your responses...

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