It’s December again. The anniversary of my manic-depressive episode in Ateneo. It’s probably most timely to write about why I left Ateneo in the first place. But mostly because I want to say my piece, in reaction to all the people’s scorn at how I basically “wasted my education”. To those people I say you don’t know what the hell I’ve been through.
On the official paperwork, I wrote “medical reason” as to why I had to leave. Which is the major reason why I skadoodled out of Ateneo as a matter of fact. I basically lost it last December. And I would’ve totally lost it if it wasn’t for my department head who referred me to a psychiatrist, who then diagnosed me with Bipolar I disorder.
Bipolar I is a mood disorder. It means you have had at least one manic episode and a depressive episode. That is why it’s called “bi-polar”. Because you move from two opposite mood poles—one that is very high, then one that is extremely low. I had that. I went from not sleeping for days to sleeping all day.
Let’s start with my manic phase.
In my manic phase I was very hyperactive. I would speak so fast, and in incoherent sentences sometimes. I would sleep for a minute and I would be refreshed instantly. I would go outside at 4am and start punching and kicking trees. Doing cartwheels and running at top speed. I was infinitely happy, and very confident. I was so confident that I started doing things I thought I could never do, like hit a high note, or sing in tune, or flirt with boys, or do 50 pushups, swim really fast, or dance ballet, or at least a bastardized version of ballet. I was out of myself.
Hallucinations were another symptom. Although I’m not sure whether they were hallucinations or delusions. I didn’t hallucinate anything visually. Audibly however, that I did. I was hearing voices everywhere. Again, I don’t know whether they were hallucinations or it was just noisy.
Which brings me to my next symptom: delusions. I had one pervading delusion in my mind in my manic phase and that it was that people could read minds. I was so sure that I cracked the code of the world that time. That I had somehow discovered the secret that everyone was hiding from me. That finally I was “in the club”. I could communicate with people telepathically. I was so sure of this fact because whenever I would think of something people would respond audibly to what I say. I remember the night I was enlightened by this realization. To make sure I was legitimately able to transmit messages from my brain, I started to think about all the bad things that happened to me in the past. I started to think about how my previous roommate violated my privacy, and how I got my heartbroken when I was in high school, things of that nature. And then people from the 2nd floor of the dormitory I was staying in and from the girls dormitory across the street started to react to what I was thinking; like they were mad at the people who hurt me. Probably because I was “part of the club” already, and somehow we all must protect each other like a family. After figuring out that we were “family” I started to think about a metaphor to describe this family. That we were a pack of wolves or dogs, and that I was a puppy, starting out in the world. I then heard a collective “awww” sound from the girl’s dormitory. You can just imagine how freaked out I was. I now know that these were just coincidences, along with my other telepathic conversations with many other people. I had so many coincidences of this nature that I really believed that people could read my mind for about 2 months (December and January). The telepathy was cool at first, and then it got annoying. I had people reacting violently and judging me everywhere because of the thoughts I would think. I would have telepathic conversations with my teacher, and because of something he said or did which I thought was directed at me, I would start to cry. I once thought that my theology teacher was trying to communicate with me via her test questions, and then I started to cry because I thought she understood what I was going through. The delusion was haunting me everywhere. Even when I got home to the dorm, the people outside playing basketball were “attacking me verbally”. It was so horrible. I started to think not to think my thoughts, which only made it worse. I thought my head was going to explode at that time.
Another delusion I had was that I thought I was a dog, because I somehow acquired a heightened sense of smell. I also thought I was a ninja. Because I was very quiet in my movements, and that I had special ninja powers. I really thought I was a ninja. So much so, that I started wearing a small bell on my belt just like the character Itachi from Naruto (a Japanese anime about ninjas). Itachi is the older brother of one of the main characters in Naruto who had special eyes. His eyes gave him power. And that was one of my delusions. I thought I had “Sharingan eyes” as they call it, because I could see things other people can’t. I would look at the paint linings of the basketball court in our dormitory and the colors of the linings would start rising from the ground. I also thought I was a secret spy. I started searching for clues everywhere and give bizarre interpretations to these “clues”. Like when I found brown feathers on the porter’s table, I interpreted that as me being an angel sent by God to spread his message of salvation. And then when I found this plastic bag with Japanese characters on it, I thought it was a sign that I was part-Japanese since I’ve always loved anime and always had an interest on the language. I also thought I could prophesize things. I was able to do this by fulfilling everything on my to-do-list. Which I realize now is quite a mundane task and people fulfill things in their to-do-lists all the time.
Another delusion I had was that people were clamoring for me. I was somehow suddenly in everyone’s wanted list. That people on Facebook were talking about me in their status messages. People on Twitter, especially the celebrities, were looking for me, and were gossiping about me. The TV shows were talking about me. I once thought, as I was turning channels and landed on Eat Bulaga, that the hosts were talking about me. How I was so special, and that I would bring pride to the Philippines. And so they presented a feast for me by bringing out all these food to display on the show. It’s a crazy thought I know.
And then I thought I was playing a game with Ateneo. So it was me versus Ateneo. Everyone was against me, the dorm janitors, my dorm head, my spiritual counselor, my department head, my friends, my teachers. Everyone was against me. They were spewing things out from their mouths that I’ve never heard them say before, and worse, they were somehow “directed at me”. Strange things started to happen like I wouldn’t be able to go to the CR because all the CRs were closed by “Ateneo”. And that people would roll down their car windows to see me, and check up on me, like I was some kind of public enemy. People would curse at me behind my back, say bad things about me, and up until I do not know whether they were really directed at me or not. Whatever it is, it still stings whenever I think about it, especially when it comes from your close friends and people I look up to. It was a horrible feeling, thinking that the entire Ateneo campus, and possibly even the entire world hated me.
When the head of our dormitory started to notice that I wasn’t sleeping anymore, he contacted my department head to help me out. He then gave me medicine to stabilize me. I got my old sleeping pattern again. And then I got depressed. I didn’t want to get out of bed anymore. I would have crying spells, just because. I regretted everything I did when I was manic. I felt like I was such a shame. I didn’t want to eat anything. I started thinking about suicide because I was so unhappy. I felt a sense of hopelessness. I was at rock bottom. At this state, I couldn’t do my assignments anymore, I couldn’t read handouts, I couldn’t concentrate in class, I started performing poorly. My judgment was impaired. It was like all the life was sucked out of me. I didn’t want to show my face to my friends and teachers anymore.
I wanted to go home badly. I needed my parents’ support. I didn’t want to take my life. I chose to start a brand new life back home in Cagayan de Oro. A new and refreshed me.
And that my friends is why I left Ateneo. One day at mass, the priest talked about how God’s plan is so much better than ours. I did not plan for me to leave Ateneo. I surely wish that the things that happened to me, didn’t happen at all. I would have been able to graduate this March. But there’s a brighter side to everything. At least I didn’t commit suicide. At least now, I’m stable. I am in the arms of my parents. Now, I have a part-time job as an online English tutor to Japanese people. I finished a sem in another school with smashing grades. I have new friends. I have a great doctor here in CDO. And I can say to myself, that I went through a dark time in my life, and I got through it. And that is probably the best thing I got from my experience.