Our society today has become more open about stories on suicide, depression, and other mental illnesses.
Young people in particular have been braver about coming out with their condition.
ABS-CBN news anchor TJ Manotoc is the latest public personality to come forward and open up about his personal struggle with depression.
Through a personal video project called You Will Be Alright, the veteran sportscaster recounts his bout with depression and anxiety disorder when he was in high school.
“It’s hard to describe how you feel when you got through depression…” TJ begins in the video.
“Physically, I get sweaty palms, I get palpitations; my heart races fast. I just feel paranoid.
“I feel like a zombie sometimes, and I really lack sleep.
“I’m going through, you know, stretch of days that I’m having anxiety attacks and insomnia coupled with my depression...
“Oftentimes, you’re sad for no reason at all.
“Your emotions can go to such a downward spiral and you hit rock bottom, and you ask yourself: ‘What got me here? What’s this I’m so sad about?’
“And you just can’t figure it out. You can’t understand.
“It’s just an empty, empty sad feeling and that pretty much, for me, is what depression felt like…”
MOTHER'S SUPPORT. TJ narrates that throughout his struggle with depression, his mother, Aurora Pijuan, became his anchor.
“My mom was a big part of everything. Her strength, her courage was huge, considering the fact that she was alone.
“Just her mere presence and her strength beside me was really a big boost in helping me recover.
“It kind of boosted my courage, it boosted my confidence that I can do it.”
TJ concedes that his personal struggle with depression, as dark as it had been for him, helped him understand and appreciate more the value of parental love and support in fostering a child’s mental health.
This was the gist of his message during his guest appearance in the ANC show, TalkBack, last January 22.
He began, “[Parents] are so paranoid about kids getting physically hurt. ‘Oh, don’t go out to the rain, you’re gonna get sick’ or ‘Don’t get hamog in your head, you’re gonna get trangkaso...’ things like that.
“And that’s an innate thing for parents. They don’t want to get their kids physically sick.
“But the question now is, ‘How worried are parents in terms of their kids getting mentally ill?’
“When does that come to form? Because now we’re seeing that there are so many out there…
“I’d probably argue: if they’re paranoid about their kids getting pneumonia, walking out in the rain, I’ll put it out there that there are more kids with depression than pneumonia.
“So, at what point do we start getting worried about mental illnesses and be really cautious of the things they are into?
“I wanna start planting seeds for a mindset change for parents out there.
“Maybe your child is not going to be healthy by studying six hours a day at night until one in the morning because you want to get into the honor’s list, you know?”
OPEN COMMUNICATION. TJ then related what he told his teenage daughter when she asked if depression would ever touch her.
He told her, “I can’t guarantee whether you’ll get it or not.
“We don’t know, but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that whatever you get into, we won’t stress you out too much.
“We won’t put you in an extremely stressful environment.
“I’ll be watching out for you.”
A conscientious parent, TJ zealously watches over his daughter.
“It’s just really constantly talking to them. I might be asking her, ‘How are you?’ or ‘How’s your day?’
“But there will be times that, you know, teenagers will be teenagers, and they’ll just kinda ignore you or tune out and do their own thing.”
He reminded parents to be on guard for signs of depression among their children as it can hit anyone, even young people.
His advice: “Again, as much as you can, talk to them and make them aware that this is a possibility."