Tag Archives: depression

The turning leaves of November

“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” – Coco Chanel

November feels different this year. Yes, everything is askew now because of COVID-19, but this November is a tad more somber than usual. The change in the air is more palpable, the silence, more overwhelming. Same time last year my family and I were grappling with the inevitable: after months of seeing mom slowly waste away, we knew that she would leave us soon.

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La Gatita is back and she’s here to stay!

They say that invention is the mother of necessity, but for me it’s really reinvention. When you are stuck in a rut, sometimes you don’t need to throw everything out and start anew. What you need to do is step back, turn everything on it’s head and give a fresh view of what you already have.

In the first quarter of 2017, I hit en emotional rock-bottom. I was teaching and practicing art, doing everything I thought I wanted, and yet I was exhausted and depressed. It was probably due to a combination of a lot of different things: I had been working non-stop for about 4 years. No vacation, no weekends. I said that it was okay since I was doing things that I loved, but we all have our tipping point.

By December of that year, I was begging for a reprieve. I wanted to stop feeling every emotion and wanted some sort of normalcy. So I threw everything out the window and took a full-time job. I could not control my life, so I passed the reins to someone else. I needed a fixed schedule, a steady income, and I needed to get away from myself.

I was terrified because I was swimming in uncharted waters. I cannot count how many times I cried in the locker room and bathroom. They had their own language (what’s up with all the acronyms?) and I had to learn how to use a worksheet. I was surrounded by young, intelligent Millenials who were not only sharp, but street smart as well. I felt like a clumsy dinosaur with a pea-sized brain next to them. 😂 It was scary, but comforting. I didn’t feel the need to be like them (duh… that was impossible!), so I could just be myself and fly under the radar. I may be a dino, but I love learning new things, so I just jumped in without looking.

It took a while, but I finally got into the rhythm of things. I was comfortable—and dare I say it?—happy. I even set a goal for myself and reached it. But, the Man Upstairs (or the Universe, whatever you want to call it) has a way of pulling you back to the path where you’re supposed to be. I could have stayed there except for the tiny reminders that Universe kept throwing at me. I needed to be reminded of who I was.

I wasn’t really happy, no? I was just not unhappy. I realized that what I was was numb, so I was not only not unhappy, but I was devoid of other emotions as well. Slowly but surely, I could see that there was a disconnect. Where was I in all of this? I could not stay there, but I stubbornly held on. No, no, no. Nobody’s taking my security blanket away from me. I’m staying put.

And then the pandemic happened and I was forced to question the meaning of my existence. It took the death of a confidant to drive the message through. Life is too short. Is this really what you think you’re meant to do?

And so I am retracing my steps back to myself. It’s been 17 days since I left the company and I am stopping myself from getting into the the trap of “busyness.” I don’t know if I’ll ever get the opportunity to get a fresh start, to reinvent my own story, so I want to keep it slow. I sit still and listen. I don’t want to go back to the way things were; I need to reinvent things so I don’t fall back into the things that drained me.

So I write to find my voice. I have gone back keeping a visual diary. I would also like to revamp this blog. Meow is back, but she’s now La Gatita. She’s more gentle with herself. I feel sorry that I abandoned her; she was fine the way she was, but needed rest and rebooting. All she needs now is gentle coaxing so she would come out, fresh, new, and finally be at home with herself.

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Okay, enough TV. Let’s play.

(I haven’t painted in… 2 or 3 years? More about that next time. Need to face my fears right now. Yes, let’s feed the soul and not the fears.)


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The Return

Lock down started in the Philippines on the 15th of March. That’s 65 days of being quarantined with my six cats. It’s been one heck of a roller-coaster ride. It’s mind blowing to think that the whole world is going through this shared experience of isolation, together.

I started writing in my journal about a couple of days after the General Community Quarantine started. It was not easy. I was dealing with a lot of uncertainty, of sadness. I am lucky enough, though, to work for a company that allowed its employees to work from home. That kept me busy, plus I didn’t have to worry about losing my job. A lot of people were not so lucky.

Being in a Fight or Flight mode for a sustained period of time is stressful on the psyche. I was having nightmares each time I tried to go to bed and I would suffer through little anxiety attacks throughout the day. I ended up missing work for a week because of migraine and vertigo. The body and mind could only take so much stress.

Last year was not good to me. Yes, I got a promotion, but the was the only bright spot in 2019. My mom was diagnosed with cancer and was in and out of the hospital throughout the year. My dad broke a femor and needed surgery. Work was tumultuous and I had to deal with vicious slime balls. I ventured into a business with a friend. About a month or 2 after that, we closed shop and I  lost that friend. Mom passed away at the end of November and right before Christmas, my darling little Itom, my adopted black cat from PAWS Philippines, died from liver disease. I was glad to say goodbye to 2019 and was eagerly awaiting for 2020 to commence.

And here we are.

I have to say, that all of this madness is forcing me to stop and face a lot of things. With no other place to go but within, I can now allow myself to grieve. I hit the ground running after the funeral. I didn’t give myself time to process my thoughts and emotions. I keep thinking now: if I get infected and dying alone at home, would I say that I lived my life to the fullest or did I just did my best to just exist?

So 65 days in, I have decided to shake things up. I’m going to start blogging again. I’ll probably just have a lot of verbal diarrhea and spew out whatever that crosses my mind. I probably won’t have any readers, but who cares, right? I am doing this for myself. I should not be afraid of not being perfect, of being vulnerable, of living.

So here’s to Day 1 of my return, to myself and to me.

Twister can look straight into my soul.

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It seems easy enough to escape Quicksand. You just need to keep your cool, stay in the present, make room for yourself, float, and stand when you are able to do it on your own. You can’t expect people to pull you out of it because they can’t and they shouldn’t. It’s something that you have to do and figure out on your own.

I have never seen quicksand and, being a hermit that I am, I don’t know if I ever will. But it’s good to know; there is a life lesson here. I feel like I have been roosting in some form of bog of my own for a long time now. I have been living in a void that I have kneaded and fed, helped expand, and have allowed to swallow me whole. And, much like what they said about trying to escape quicksand, the more I struggle, the more viscous and constricting it gets.

I’ve been getting it all wrong, I think. I haven’t been making time to do things that spark delight in me. I have been too focused on struggling to survive, to make a living, that I have let my eyes wander off away from the prize. I have been settling for things when I should have settled within myself and listened to Steph. Is this really how I want to be for the rest of my existence? I need to find time again to do things that give me true joy; things that would give me room to expand and help me rise again. And, yes, I shouldn’t be afraid to lose my shoes or any other thing along the way. They are just objects, nothing of consequence. Life should not be about survival, but more about being alive.

I have lost my way and getting stuck in this quagmire was probably the best thing that could have happen to me. If you walk around without looking or without purpose or without being present, you are never going to get anywhere and, perhaps, you’ll never even know that you have been going around in circles, in a daze. Running on empty and on autopilot can only sustain you for some time. I should be grateful be in this sticky situation instead of wandering around aimlessly.

It will take some time to get out of this murky sinkhole, I know. Patience is crucial. It is quite daunting, to be honest, to try to get away from this. But maybe it would not be as overwhelming if I think less of it as a “escaping” and more of break, an opportunity to rest and just be. I’ve alway asked the world to stop from spinning so I could get off. Well, here it is. The goal is to trust enough so that I could float and stand on my feet again. I hope I don’t have to break my back like that cartoon guy did, but I am willing to roll on the ground and crawl if I have to. Then maybe if I let go–maybe, just maybe–I won’t just find solid ground to walk on, but be it would be strong enough for me to run on, lift off, and fly again.

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On losing my voice

From September 2006. Almost didn’t recognize myself.


Child of Saturn

Something clicked into place inside me. I awoke with a start, jumped out of bed as the sun rose, and started cleaning my room. I threw open all the windows, scrubbed the floorboards, dusted my bookshelves, and changed the sheets. I rearranged the furniture with Herculean determination; I would have torn down walls and transplanted my room to a sunnier spot had I not realized that I was only renting a room and did not own the place. General cleaning was in order.

This could be the effect of the Full Moon or it could be that I just got tired of being tired. I spent the whole day yesterday in bed, nursing a colossal hangover. I didn’t really drink that much; with two bottles of beer and a sip of cheap red wine, I willed myself into drunkenness. I was desperate for a reprieve from that barren child who had been spending endless hours splayed on the floor, defeated, reeking with suffocating saturnine malaise and dripping with melancholy.

I was only able to slip away from her tight grip for a couple of hours. When I opened my eyes she was roosting on my chest, scratching the lint on my shirt with muddied claws, staring at the black moth that somehow got into my room. I wonder if she would let it escape. Too exhausted to move, I allowed myself to be swallowed by darkness. An hour later and I was up. She had moved to a corner, her scraggly head resting on a pile of dirty clothes. The moth was gone.

I rummaged through the fridge for nourishment. I opened a bag of fresh greens. My body was screaming for meat, but I couldn’t be bothered to cook. I finished half a gallon of water hoping that would flush down the toxins and cobwebs from my system. There was still no running water (it was the third day; the manager of the building said it would be back by tomorrow) and the electricity was low. I could turn on the fan but not the lights, the telly but not the computer. Frustrated, I return to my room. Mélancolie, as I now start calling her, coaxed me to return to bed. With nothing to do, I gave in. Sleep took over instantly.

It was dark outside when I woke up. The lights were still not working; I turn on the TV. Not even the Sports News could rouse an emotion from me. Spain lost to Northern Ireland? I turn my head the other way and face the wretched creature that has been siphoning my energy. I study her face with indifference—her slithery hair shining in half light, weathered skin that was both greasy and parched, pudgy and taut, her eyes drowning in darkened sockets. She was not malevolent in any way, I realized. She was just devoid of everything; a useless lump of mass occupying space for no reason at all.

I began talking to her, asking her questions. She remained in her wraith-like state, more interested in flicking specks of dirt from her nails than speaking to me. I poked, I prodded. WHY ARE YOU HERE?!? Her apathy enraged me. I started pulling her at her yellow-stained sleeves. I pushed her off the bed. I grabbed her neck and threw her against the night table. WHY? WHY? WHY? Not a screech, a whimper, a moan. WILL YOU EVER LET ME GO? My head started to throb. I wanted to kill.

I stepped back and started to weep. The scream that was thrashing inside my lungs for days was no longer silent. Primordial anger, hate, sorrow, pride, guilt, and wrath pulsated within my shell, erupting from my chest, tearing down the stone cold moor around my heart. I am sorry. I was wrong.

I sat in front of her; I am shivering. She doesn’t ask for comfort or care; I offer her none. I reached for the nearest trinket on the table, a half-eaten chocolate bar, and left it beside her. I bid her goodnight.

Something clicked into place within me this morning. She is gone. Saturn’s child will be back someday. In the meantime I am alone again. I am free to open the windows and air out my soul.

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August Redux

I just had the worst August in my entire life. I can’t wait for September to begin so I can reboot and start anew. Funny how I keep going back to my post from ages ago. It still holds true after all these years. I’m praying that things will get better after today. Come on, September! Be nice.



I always have mixed feelings about August. It’s the time of year when the sun mercilessly blazes the whole day without relief, while the nights grow balmy and indigo dark. It is accompanied by volatile and indecisive weather; monsoon rains and tropical depressions form in the east and heat waves reign in the west. It’s as if the earth is heaving with anticipation for the coming birth pains—its nine months is almost up. It’s time to give it up.

It doesn’t matter where I am; August still feels the same way. It’s melancholy and silent, like someone tethering on a wire over a precipice. You are all alone and you could fall and no one would hear you or you could fly and your wings would bring you closer to the sun.

I can’t say that I am crazy about August, but I can definitely say that I can’t live without it. I was born on this month some odd years ago. Which is probably the reason why I have so much affinity and dislike for it; sometimes I can burst into flames with so much passion and intensity for everyone to see or I could disappear into a cesspool of murky, uneven shadows where no one dares to follow.

This month has always brought me changes. For one thing, I turn a year older every year. What have I got show for, I ask myself sometimes, when that day comes. And on some years, like this one, I couldn’t care less that it happened once again. We all have to grow old anyways.

Most of my plans come into fruition or end in August—I moved back to the Philippines twice, moved out of 3 apartments (or is it 4?), received acceptance and rejection letters from schools, awarded two scholarships, etc, etc. Dreams are born at the same time hope is discarded. I go along with the year. I always feel the need to purge and reap the fruits of my labor and to face the repercussions of my actions. Time’s up. Now I have to move on.

The month is almost over and I am still undecided if I want it to end. September brings a different set of feelings and responsibilities. Am I ready for my new life? Am I ready for the end of the year? Am I ready for the birth pains? I don’t really know, but I have 12 days to find out.


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From behind the veil


It’s hard to think back; so much has happened since my last entry.
February seems like a lifetime ago. I wish I could say that it has all
been good that’s why I haven’t had time to post. It has been quite the
contrary, actually. I’ve been spending the past four months in a haze,
a sinkhole that is chronic fatigue and multiple sclerosis. I had been
forced into silence, too self absorbed and too embattled to function.
I still tried to keep up a happy front—I only post about the
travails of my cats. But even that has not been spared from misery.
Astroboy and Wednesday were diagnosed with FLUTD and were confined for
days at the vet.

Work has been… has been what? I don’t really know. I turned on the
autopilot and had forgotten to turn it off. I feel nothing.

After a scattered and unsteady and jagged start of the year, I must
salvage the next six months, find my own center again and get back to
habit of creating.

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Last weekend was tough and today was such a doozy! It started on a very sour note and it just snowballed from there. I even dropped my phone at one point and it stopped working properly after! Lovely!

To sweeten my night (or should I say, fatten it!), I dined on Special Ilocos empanada (deep fried with veggies, longganisa, egg, and cheese! Yeah!) from Farinas. Yummy, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that again soon!


After drowning my sorrows in cholesterol, I’m now numbing my senses by answering online quizzes and watching cute cat videos. White noise can be addicting. Astroboy is bored by all my drama and has fallen asleep. Guess it’s time for me to log off, too! I get a clean slate tomorrow! Whoohoo!


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Going (Senti)Mental

My day didn’t turn out the way I planned it. All my classes were cancelled for some reason or another, that means I earned zilch today. It’s not going to ruin me, but for a freelance tutor, every hour counts. Sigh. Así es la vida. It is what it is. So what do I do on a sunny Saturday?

Initially I wanted to stay home and catch up on my sleep. I’m always bone tired and the heat was not really helping. And then, as I was getting ready to take a nap, I started thinking about doing something unexpected. I’ve been in a rut the past— month, two months?—and have tried a number of things to get out of it and, so far, nothing has helped. So I called up a friend and decided to meet up in UP (the University of the Philippines). I haven’t been there in ages and wanted to revisit my old haunts.

In 2008 I entered the College of Fine Arts’ Masters Degree program. I couldn’t study full time; I only had classes twice a week. Before UP I’ve had the privilege of studying at the Ateneo de Manila University, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, and la Universidad de Barcelona. I love all of these institutions, I’ve met some wonderful people there, learned different lessons in and out of the classrooms, and each one has its distinct feel, culture, quirks. UP was no different. I even had a bit of culture shock—yeah, in my own country!—during my first semester. It was all good, but my stint at the national university ended after two years. I decided to take an indefinite leave of absence from the program. That’s one loooong story I don’t really want to get into right now.

ANYWAY, back to today. 🙂 I put on my brand new trainers and headed to UP. I walked a bit before meeting up with my friend. We skipped the jeepney and just sauntered through the campus while talking about our memories of the place, our current lives (her move and BF, and my cats and angst about art and life in general), and just enjoying the view and the vibe of the campus. We didn’t really do anything outrageous or ground breaking —ate late lunch at Rodic’s, had isaw and creamy, yummy ice cream, and just talked non-stop—but it was exactly what I needed to feel relaxed and happy in my head again. What I needed was a simple, carefree walk down memory lane to help me focus again. Or maybe it was just the UP effect—the last place where I did major grappling with my life as an artist. I went there to visit old hangouts but ended up digging into old mines in my head.

Okay, it’s not a magic pill and I know the happy molecules are probably going to lose their effect tomorrow, but I think things are going to clear up soon. At least that’s what I hope would happen. Hope springs eternal, right?


(This little Piggie went to Rodic’s, had great tapsilog, and oinked with glee all the way home! Wheee!)

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