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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Why Kristel Tejada turned to suicide and how you can avoid the same fate

[a personal note to all UP students and young achievers]

Aya Tantiangco wrote about Kristel Tejada's death as a wake-up call to the deeper issue of "the decreasing amount of compassion in our society." Kristel took her own life because she was depressed; she no longer saw hope in her predicament of poverty.

Let me tell you my story.

As a UP engineering sophomore at 17, my world literally "turned gray". I was afraid to go to school everyday, so much so that I would pretend to go to school but hang out at the city library instead. I had anxiety attacks. I almost gave in to literal insanity; to being a modern "Sisa" roaming the streets in search of salvation.

Why?

Because I was struggling against poverty.
Because I was insecure.
Because I was lonely.
Because I felt helpless.
Because I was too proud to accept that I was experiencing hell and that I needed to tell it to those closest to me.

Depression can kill but when I think about it, it is actually a combination of social apathy, and the victim's own unwillingness to persistently find a helping hand that does the killing. Sadly in UP, it is easier to feel that there are more trees to talk to than actual compassionate people who will really care to listen.

I also consulted the University Guidance Center the way Kristel did during those days of darkness. I bravely voiced out my concerns but in the end, it was like a classic psychological couch session. You are left to answer your own self-probing questions.  

From my experience, the University's own unyielding tradition of excellence has this paradoxical effect on young scholars that has not yet the maturity to understand that not all forms of weakness is mediocrity, and therefore should not be a cause for shame. That what makes it so hard to make it in UP is not because the subjects are hard and the professors are crazy and that you have this crazy ensemble of geeks and coños as classmates, but because this community of achievers is expected to always excel in everything, and pressure from such high expectations is at times really unbearable. That tradition be damned, one just has to choose to survive and maintain his sanity even if it means not graduating, or else die trying. That it is alright to, sometimes, just give up the fight for the moment, and continue the struggle at a later time when you are already so much stronger.    

In the middle of such inner turmoil, how does one survive?

You just decide to live. You decide every moment of every day. You look at the details of your life and find one thing every day that can be improved upon and work on that, all the while refusing to look at and listen to and dwell on things that can make you feel vulnerable. You decide to live and as you find out just how to do that, you protect yourself.

Oh, and always keep positive inspiring music (heed the lyrics) running in the background. It is a must. #30

If you need someone to talk to about academic problems, kindly send me a message over at Gmail, or on Twitter.

* * *

"Hope is believing you have both the will and the way to accomplish your goals, whatever they may be." 
- C.R. Snyder, American Psychologist from the book Emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman, c1997

August Bernadette 


kaigachi is a conjugation of the Japanese term "kigaicha" or crazy. It roughly translates as "crazy about something."

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious." - C.Jung

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