Where am I going?
It’s on the seventh day of March this year when I was asked this question: Vincent, where are you going?
It was in a room saturated with a familiar smell. Water leaks from the faucet could be heard all over the place. Dirty marks and scratches on the white walls were disturbing. The cool from the air conditioner couldn’t keep up with the high temperature; the summer season had just commenced. The person on the other end of the table had been keeping her gaze on me.
I was so alive but tamed. I was all ears but unresponsive. My heart was silenced, but it did not stop beating. Where am I heading to? What is my desired outcome? Where am I going? Precisely, those words cut deep. All of a sudden, I heard silence but felt no peace.
It was one of my sessions with my psychiatrist. But it was my first time to cry out in front of her. I talked about the things I wanted to talk to her and not the things I thought I should talk about. Surprisingly, she shared my sorrow as she also shed tears. I honestly did not expect it from her. Others would tell that it’s not a proper decorum from a professional like her to be that vulnerable. She must have learned how to manage her emotions when doing a psych consultation. I was her last patient for that day. Maybe every bit of energy to project a strong persona must have gone out.
I knew that to myself: we must be good at displaying that we’re capable of entertaining our friends in need of help. But my doctor made me take a glimpse of her vulnerability. I should’ve walked out of the room, but no. I now suppose she wanted to give a gentle explanation to help me fix the problem — that’s what she signed up for. But, remarkably, she chose to be just there with me in our shared humanity and my despondency.
Months before that, I was in a complete blank. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel seemed to be a zero possibility as every bit of light began to fade. I got stuck in mental conflicts I couldn’t define. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to take antidepressants. I only knew that the problem in the chemicals in my brain must be first addressed, and I must undergo psychotherapy. The hybrid of medication and therapy has been the most common form of treatment for depression used by psychiatrists. I just let the wind take me wherever it wanted to go.
Though it was not an ordinary meeting, I walked out of the room with the familiar feeling that comes with asking the same questions.
How did it all begin? Why did I have to open up myself to that person? If people truly cared about me, why would I visit a psychiatrist and I would just talk to her the way I talk to a close friend?
I walked down the bustling hallways of the century-old hospital. For a few minutes, I immersed myself in the crowd. There I found myself again in a sea of teardrops as I recalled the last words of my doctor.
“Vincent, save yourself from stumbling over and over again. You don’t want to see yourself in a race not running already but gasping hard for air. You don’t want more hurt by dragging your wounded self barely into the finish line.”
Later that day, we exchanged our words of gratitude through text. It has been my habit to send a word of appreciation to every person after a profitable encounter. It’s a technique I learned during my early days as a student-leader: to win and attract people, let them feel their significance. Aside from not paying any cent because it’s under the charity program of the public hospital I was visiting, I was enormously grateful for that pivotal point in my life.
It’s not about what I was going through but what or where I was going to. That prompted deep introspection on my part. I then embarked on finding my answer to that question. San ako papunta?