The good life

By Clint Holton Potestas |October 17,2016 - 10:32 AM

I AM thrilled now because I have a list of names of those who did tear my heart. I’d enumerate them at the podium and—to save my face from shame—escape thereafter through the back door of the gymnasium of the University of San Carlos (USC) Downtown Campus.

But just when I am about to raise my hand to express my interest, I’ve immediately terminated the plan when a question is raised to usher in a subject that society is constantly confused with—suicide, the terminal result of a broken heart.

“Nagmahal, nasaktan, na-depressed.”

The visual slides that open the second part of the forum reads—a nod to the online trend that narrates a three-part, one-word serial transformation of people more often ignited by heartbreak. And it’s not just a romantic partnership. It could mean grief, loss or stress.

“Have you been brokenhearted?” asks Sherryl Abellanosa, Abnormal Psychology instructor at USC, during the Mental Health Awareness Week seminar in October. She also holds a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology degree from the same academic institution.

But it ends here.

Depression is a mood dilemma, which affects basic human operations. Its severity is identified after two weeks. Few of its common signs are sleep disturbances—insomnia or hypersomnia—impairment of the intrapersonal ability, irritability and drastic weight changes.

“Discussing it openly is one the most effective solutions, and taking it seriously helps ease those who have suicide thoughts,” Abellanosa continues. She debunks major beliefs such as the conundrum of insanity among depressive individuals. “Depression leads to suicide. It’s a mistake to say only insane people are suicidal. They’re not. They may feel hopeless, but they’re in touch with reality. They actually do not want to end their lives. They just want to end their pain.”

Cases are no longer limited to a certain age range. According to her, in the last 30 years, contrasting against a previous data that assures us that only the elders are vulnerable to suicide, reported incidents now include those in between age 15 and 24. Therefore, maturity is less of a matter here.

“Depression is the least understood condition because people tend to disregard what they cannot physically see,” she adds. “You could be right. Those who post suicidal thoughts on Facebook or Twitter are just seeking for attention. But it does not hurt us if we give it to them. Always take it
seriously.”

A happy life

Niel Steve Kintanar, a registered psychologist and assistant professor at the USC Department of Psychology, says one of the major cores of mental health is maintaining a positive mind. As simple as engaging in activities that we are passionate about defines life’s meaning. His research proves that optimists live seven years longer than pessimists based on the diary entries of the respondents.

“Kining mga negative emotions, we are wired to easily feel them for survival,” explains Kintanar, also the founder of Flourishing Beings Psychological Services and Consultancy. He completed Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the Adamson University in 2000 and completed his Master of Arts in Psychology major in Counseling at the Ateneo de Manila University in 2010. “So meaning, we have to practice our mind to look for positive things, mao bitaw ng mag exercise ta kay dili ta anad to think positive things, murag kapoy o bug-at, lisud kayo, pero kun ma-anad na gani ta, dali nalang kaayo ‘ta ka spot ug mga positive things.”

When can money buy happiness?

“Positivity is not only about emotion. Money can buy happiness when it is spent for experiential things—a driving lesson as a gift, a dinner treat for friends or when you spend it for someone else and has lasting memories,” he replies.

For him, establishing good vibes can be exercised in three A’s: acknowledge, appreciate and amplify. The habit should begin with the recognition of positive moments in one’s life; its plainest form is a list. To appreciate them, introspection is the key: Why are they beneficial to you?

Tell them the good news. If you’re active on social media, he suggests posting about it, or else, you may share your story to your family and friends. Another approach is traveling to places where you would feel “smaller” and the world is “bigger,” say, on top of a mountain where you can have a wider view of nature. Pilgrim sites can give the same effect. Yet, Kintanar defines two closely similar concepts: “In psychology, we differentiated being spiritual and religious. Spiritual is the relationship with a God, a higher source; religious is being a follower to the traditions, teachings and practices of a group. For example, when we are down sometimes or experience adversity, we question God, and that affects our thinking, feelings and behavior.”

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