I am Filipino American. Filipino before American. I take pride in the resilience of my ancestry and the collectivist spirit in my culture. I am human before I am Filipina. I am human before I am my diagnosis. I am human before I am anything else.
I am loved as a human, loved as a Filipina, loved even as a Filipina with Bipolar. In my family I am loved wholly. With my family I don’t have to proclaim my history to justify my way of being.
Know that you do not have to share your history to justify your way of being.
I was first hospitalized when I was 13. A lot of people thought it was teenage angst or that “I would get over it eventually” or “it’s just a phase”. To be honest, I didn’t want it to be. I didn’t want my experiences to be minimized. I wanted to justify my emotions with a diagnosis because that felt affirming. It feels wrong to say that. Maybe it is. I felt pain, but I also didn’t understand what normal pain is supposed to feel like as a 13 year old. I couldn’t figure out if I was reacting to experiences or if my mental health was calling out for help.
Regardless, I went in and out of the hospital for a long period of time. The medical details of this don’t matter all too much in this post. What I will say though is that regardless of people’s opinions on what happened, they supported me. Maybe not in the ways I could recognize as a 13 year old, but they helped me. They visited me on Christmas and every day before and after. Brought me desserts and food *real food* outside the hospital walls. French braided my hair. Asked what I did in group. When I was discharged, we had a very intimate celebration/potluck. They gave me space when I was overwhelmed. When I transferred to an outpatient program, my family congregated and made a carpooling schedule to coordinate who would pick me up and drop me off from my treatment center.
I was so ashamed for being in treatment inconsistently. I was also too self reflective and at times selfish because I was looking at how things affected me in a way that was exclusive and neglectful of things happening outside my own struggles. I learned that the people that love you hurt while you are hurting. And I am sincerely sorry for the people I hurt while I was hurting. Even through all of this my family still loved me wholly.
My family is bilingual in Tagalog and English. I don’t know if there’s any pairing of words in their language that could encapsulate the love they gave to me. I still struggle with finding the right ways to say thank you.
They loved me even before I knew how to love.
Here’s the thing that I’ve realized… love manifests in so many different ways in our lives. Whether you have a family, a chosen family, in the midst of building your pact, know that you are loved wholly. Remember that when the wind blows around your body, remember your body was bred with strength to be recognized by nature. Life pushed you and you pushed harder. When you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders know that you don’t have to carry it alone. Whatever you have done in your life I bet that you have done something out of love as someone has done something out of love for you. Hold onto that. Do it again. You know how to love in the way you’ve been taught, in the way you’ve see it and experienced it. You know how to love even when you doubt the capacity for someone to love you. You know how to love because of all the times you did not feel love. You are loved wholly in this world. Don’t forget that.
My family loves me. I love them very dearly. And for me to say that means that at least something is right in this world.
You are loved wholly. Maybe for some that means the world isn’t too bad after all.
And if it is, maybe it won’t be so hard fighting it. We do not love alone.