Sunday, October 29, 2017

Causes and Common Symptoms of Mental Illness

Mental Health

I've been talking about anxiety and depression on my previous posts. I think it's high time for us to know more about these illnesses, their causes, symptoms and cures.

"Mental illness are wide range of mental health condition - disorders that affects your mood, thinking and behavior." -

People are often experiencing mental health concerns from time to time. Almost everyday we use the word "anxious" and "depressed". There are times that we feel anxious and depressed about our exams, our work, the deadline that we have to meet, even just going out to a party, sadness or grief because of failed exams, lost relationships etc. But they are deeper than that. A mental health concern become mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect our ability to function. The feelings become so overwhelming that we have difficulty with our day-to-day activities such as work, school, leisure time or even maintaining relationships.

There are different kinds of mental disorder. Some of the major types are depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, trauma and eating disorders. Extreme cases are the people who suffers from mental illness have difficulty even on simple tasks such as getting out of bed, taking a bath, take care of themselves, or even get out of the house.

The following are the most common symptoms of having mental illness:

  • Feeling sad or down
  • Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
  • Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
  • Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
  • Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
  • Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Major changes in eating habits
  • Sex drive changes
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violence
  • Suicidal thinking


What causes mental illness? Although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, it is becoming clear through research that many of these conditions are caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors -- not personal weakness or a character defect -- and recovery from a mental illness is not simply a matter of will and self-discipline.

Heredity (genetics): Many mental illnesses run in families, suggesting they may be passed on from parents to children through genes. Genes contain instructions for the function of each cell in the body and are responsible for how we look, act, think, etc. However, just because your mother or father may have or had a mental illness doesn't mean you will have one. Hereditary just means that you are more likely to get the condition than if you didn't have an affected family member. Experts believe that many mental conditions are linked to problems in multiple genes -- not just one, as with many diseases -- which is why a person inherits a susceptibility to a mental disorder but doesn't always develop the condition. The disorder itself occurs from the interaction of these genes and other factors -- such as psychological trauma and environmental stressors -- which can influence, or trigger, the illness in a person who has inherited a susceptibility to it.
Biology: Some mental illnesses have been linked to an abnormal balance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other. If these chemicals are out of balance or are not working properly, messages may not make it through the brain correctly, leading to symptoms of mental illness. In addition, defects in or injury to certain areas of the brain also have been linked to some mental conditions.
Psychological trauma: Some mental illnesses may be triggered by psychological trauma suffered as a child, such as severe emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; a significant early loss, such as the loss of a parent; and neglect.
Environmental stressors: Certain stressors -- such as a death or divorce, a dysfunctional family life, changing jobs or schools, and substance abuse -- can trigger a disorder in a person who may be at risk for developing a mental illness.

I cannot say that people with mental illness will be cured. Yes, mental illness can be treated. This means that many people who have a mental illness, and are treated, recover well or even completely. However, because there are many different factors contributing to the development of each illness, it can sometimes be difficult to predict how, when, or to what degree someone is going to get better.
I guess that it will be an ongoing treatment until one gets better. Again, there are times that we feel good, and there are times that we don't. Medicines helped me cope up with my day to day activities. There are several treatments that people with mental disorders can try such as medication, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavior therapy, and community support programs.

For people who have mental disorders, there is help out there. There are methods to approaching and gaining control over your negative thoughts. If I can be of help, please, please let me know. Let your loved one know. Keep fighting. We will win.

"The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us but those who win battles we know nothing about."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

I was clinically diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder by my psychiatrist. But before that, I was referred to her by our cardiologist. I was already seeing a doctor near our house because of possible vertigo (I was prescribed to drink anti vertigo medicine). It worked alright but the dizziness did not disappear. Plus I was having a terrible cough that time. It was around January 2016 when I decided to go to a pulmonologist to check if there is something wrong with my lungs as I was having difficulty in breathing normally. I even thought that it was asthma.

I went to the best pulmonologist in our city. The doctor is a bit old (hey hey, I'm not discriminating here). He has a secretary that will do the writing and all. They gave me something that I need to blow (up to now, I'm still not sure if that was to check if I have asthma or not as they did not disclosed this to me). They also checked my blood to know if I have allergies that time and alas, I do have. He prescribed me anti allergy (Prednisone) to drink for 2 weeks. I grabbed that chance to ask him about hyperventilation. He told me that he knows that hyperventilation is only a symptom not an illness per se. I came back a week after and asked him to change the medicine as my stomach cannot handle its side effects. He then gave me Montelukast (anti-allergy) which to be taken for 1 week. I only drank the medicine for 3 days as I was shaking so bad and had palpitations whenever I drink it.

Just a few weeks after that, my sister suffered Anaphylactic shock (allergy shock) and almost died. Good thing my mother knows a 24 hour clinic near our house. This was when I had another severe hyperventilation attack that I was rushed to a hospital. Unlike my first hyperventilation episode, the hospital did not inject medicine to calm me instead, they just waited out my hyperventilation and had me take an ECG (electrocardiography). This is when we decided to see our family cardiologist on the said hospital.

Doctor Tan, our cardiologist, interviewed me regarding my illness. I told him all the symptoms I was experiencing, stomach pains, what happened to my sister, my miscarriage and the hyperventilation. He explained to me what hyperventilation is. He also made it clear that the most severe case of hyperventilation can lead to loss of consciousness (yeah I know, it's still frightening, but I was able to breathe freely when he made sure that the attack will not lead to death). He also referred me to his colleague - a psychiatrist. At first I was hesitant and asked my mother about this, and she said that it's okay to go.

I guess it was around April 2016 when I went to see a psychiatrist. Again, I told her everything, all that I've said to Doctor Tan. She prescribed me Xanax and anti-depressant. It was a monthly check up before. All my savings went to the medicines and the doctor's fee. I almost got broke because of this. It actually added frustration and stress but I can say that I'm still a bit lucky that I have parents that are supportive financially and emotionally. I can assure you that this is not an easy battle like what other people say. It's more serious that it was shown on TV - side effects of the medicine, adjusting does, and the anxiety and depression itself. I cannot say I was cured, but at least the attacks lessen and I'm slowly getting better. Finally, after 6 months, she removed the Xanax though I'm still maintaining the anti-depressant. I guess it's to control all the thoughts that I have.

I'm not suicidal, though I think of suicide. There are times that I feel down, times that I need to smile and times that I just want to cry. I guess, it's part of the illness. I'm still fighting this battle and will fight as long as I live. So for people who invalidates us, sufferers of mental illness, please be a little more kind. Your words and actions only adds up to what we already think and feel. We already suffers mentally, physically and emotionally. Please be more gentle.

"Remember that you were given this life because you're strong enough to live it."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

My First Hyperventilation Episode

Wow! It’s been so long since I last updated this blog. Life got quite busy after my last post – resigned from my job, got pregnant, had a miscarriage, clinically diagnosed with Generalized AnxietyDisorder, and been taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds for almost 2 years.

Mostly people do not know what mental illness is about. They sometimes make fun of it. But hardly do they know that people are really suffering from this illness. At first, I was skeptical about writing about mental illness as my current employer does not know that I’m suffering from it. But as time goes on, I’m really having a hard time keeping it to myself and would like my friends, coworkers and even the bosses, to know that mental illness does exist and I do suffer from it.

Photo from

It was around 1:00 am of February 17, 2015 when I asked my boyfriend to take me to the hospital because I cannot breathe. I really thought that I was dying. I told him several times of how much I love him (it sounds funny now, but not during that time). When we got there, the doctor took necessary steps to know what is wrong with me as I am having difficulty in breathing, numbness/tingling sensations on my hands, feet, stomach and mouth and vomited while waiting for a cab to arrive. Then they told me to lie down and relax. They put a brown bag covering my mouth and nose and told me to breathe slowly. The nurse then injected me something, maybe something to calm my nerves.  Slowly but surely, I was able to breathe properly and everything was gone - the storm has already passed. But just what really happened? Am I dying? Why did I feel something like that?

The doctor approached me and told me that I should always bring brown bag and use it if ever I had trouble breathing. She told me that I have Hyperventilation and that was the first time I’ve heard about it. I thought, what is hyperventilation? Is it a terminal illness? Is it curable? Why prescribe me with only brown paper bag?

Photo from

I was discharged after 3 hours of breathing in a paper bag in the emergency room. On our way home, I was thinking what did I do to feel that way? I need to know more about hyperventilation.  And so I researched.

Hyperventilation or over breathing is a condition in which you start to breathe very fast. It is although you feel that you don’t have enough oxygen, but it’s the opposite – your body has too much oxygen. Common symptoms are shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, chest pains and numbness of hands and feet – all of which, I felt during my “episode”.

I changed my lifestyle after that incident. I quit smoking, drinking caffeinated drinks and even started to sleep earlier than I used to (I’m a night owl/evening person). I thought that by doing so, I will not experience it again. But I was wrong.  I still experience it up to this day. Saying that I’m kind of used to it is an understatement. I will never get used to it. Every day is a struggle, but I survived and still surviving.

I know this article is incomplete. I will write another one about my miscarriage, hyperventilation and how I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. My mind is racing with different thoughts right now so I need to hibernate. Until next post!

"Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Spending Valentines in Singapore: Where to Dine

Spending Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart in Singapore? There are plenty of places you could go to, depending on preference and taste—yours and those of your partner’s. Does she love Mexican food? Can he live on pizza? Does she want soup, dimsum, and some congee? Do you want meatballs and spaghetti?

If you have no idea where to start, why not research online? Try reading all the food blogs you think offer meaty suggestions. Start with just one food blog in Singapore you think is interesting. By the time you finish the entire lot, you’ll notice a lot of the same favorites or mainstays on many food blogger lists of Valentine’s Day date places. 
Here are a few: 
Italian restaurants. One of them, Ristorante Pietrasanta, is located in 5B Portsdown Road, and open from Wednesdays to Mondays on a 11:30 am to 2:30 pm schedule, as well as from 6pm to 10 pm. If you want to go for spaghetti and wine surrounded with the romantic ambiance of the place, this is your pick. 

Japanese restaurants. Fukuichi is one of the many popular choices. It offers set meals at wonderful rates, so you won’t have to burn through a month’s cash just to give your sweetheart a good time.  It’s located at 111 Somerset Road. Ask around the area if you don’t know where. Nearly everyone knows where it is.  

American restaurants – either the ones that offer burgers, mac, chips and pasta or one with steaks and potatoes, if your sweetheart likes American comfort food and fare, then the Five and Dime Eatery along the River Valley Road is a good choice.  

Stunner Restaurants. These are restaurants sure to leave your Valentine squeeze with the best Valentine’s Day dinner ever. From view, to ambiance to every minute detail of the experience—the dinner, the dessert, the staff—everything is a coordinated, well-oiled machine that you’d be hard-pressed not to be impressed yourself. You could try out the Salt Grill Restaurant, located at the top of Ion Orchard if you’re set on this sort of experience. 

Here are only a few choices that you could try out with your date. Spending Valentine’s Day in Singapore is romantic. But already getting to spend time with someone you love is even more special. A romantic dinner—whether in a hole-in-the-wall place or a pretty and famous bistro—is just extra. 

Just one thing though. If you can, why not try celebrating Valentine’s Day a few days early or late? This way, you won’t have to contend with the inevitable crowd—the surge and rush of people everywhere, everyone else, out for the evening and for the same reasons you are: that is, to have a good time. You could also enjoy better service during when you celebrate on a non-Valentine’s day because it’s often hectic in some kitchens come V-Day.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Puerto Galera Escapade

I've never been to Puerto Galera so I was excited when my mother told me that they know someone in Galera where we can spend a day or two for free. Yay!!

We traveled from Manila to Batangas pier via bus ride for 2 hours. We left Manila at 5:00am so I slept the whole ride. We waited while my mother bought the ticket for our group (terminal fee/environmental user fee). This was my first time to ride a ferry so I was hesitant at first as I was afraid the boat will sink >.< .

My father and his friends

View from the ferry

It was before noon when we arrived in Sabang Pier. From there, we rode a tricycle to our rented house where we'll stay overnight. We are all hungry and tired but heck, I want to see the beach!

It was mesmerizing. I couldn't help it I ran my way to the water and felt the waves. Since I was so tired from the trip, it was a shame I wasn't able to see the nightlife there.

We woke up early the following day for our island hopping and snorkeling ( and another boat ride for me).

Yay! Another boat ride!

I wasn't able to remember the name of the island we visited but both islands are captivating!

My overnight stay in Puerto Galera was great. I really enjoyed the beach. Kudos to the people of Galera who maintained the cleanliness of the place. It was fun, exciting, and I hope to visit Galera again soon!

You can use this guide if you consider going to Puerto Galera on your next summer escapade: