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Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Fighting For My License"

Dear Life,
I officially graduated at Saint Louis University last April 15, 2011 with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. But this wasn’t the end of my grueling journey of engineering-ship. For most of us, graduation is just the beginning. We don’t usually feel the usual enthusiasm during the graduation rites. Although we feel happy about finally finishing the academic torture - we feel something more intense — the big *gulp* in preparation for our board exams.

On the 23rd day of May, my review for the board exam officially started. I was a reviewee at PRIME mechanical review center located at Sampaloc, Manila. At first, I was staying at a dormitory located along Claro M. Recto Street. Although the location was very accessible, the dormitory wasn’t conducive for our review.

Me and my dormmates decided to look for a better place to stay - somewhere much much more conducive for our review. During the first week of our review we went around Sampaloc, Manila right after our review. It really took us a hard time finding the perfect dorm fit for us. But things started not go so well.

 Then the agony started when I peed at the old dormitory’s comfort room. It hurt a lot - the oh-so-excruciating-pain of Unitary Tract Infection (again!!!) - it was my third time to have U.T.I. After that first pee, I kept on peeing at least every 5 minutes until I started peeing blood - dark red!!! I wanted to wait ‘til morning to go to the doctor. I was thinking of going to UST Hospital since it was the nearest hospital I knew.
But I wasn’t able to stand the pain anymore. I called up my mama and papa who were staying at our condominium at Mandaluyong (thank God they were here at Metro Manila). I was told by them to go to Medical Center Manila (it was the nearest hospital coming from my place and theirs).

It was one of the worst experiences I’ve had my entire life!!! Imagine me wanting to pee, but too scared to pee because I knew how painful it would feel.  I was feeling the pain along my lower body. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing - it really hurt so much!!! And I had to bring myself to the hospital via LRT1.

I was treated at the emergency room. I constantly went to the comfort room - kept on feeling the pain. I was just thankful that mama and papa were there with me. After a few visits to the comfort room, the color of my pee changed to a dark orange color - thank God! I was given some medicines and was instructed to go back to the hospital to have a check up with my attending Doctor - Dra. Hildegarde C. Yasay-Vistal, M.D.

During my check up with Dra. Vistal, I was instructed to continue with the meds and was assigned for Urinalysis and an ultra sound to check if I had stones in my kidney or if I had any abnormalities. It was the usual process that I’ve been through during my past two U.T.I. occurrences.

I prayed to God that it was just the usual U.T.I. I was quite afraid that it would be worst because my situation that time was really worst than the last two. It was my first time to pee actual blood. Also, I got chills from time to time and felt like vomitting from time to time also. I really prayed hard. I had a hard time dealing with my U.T.I. so I had to be absent at review for two days. I started to go back to review class when I stopped feeling chills and when I wasn’t vomitting anymore.

Stressed, the two days of being absent at review made it hard for me to catch up with the lessons. Also, the assignments given to us by the review center were really hard. I wasn’t able to study the missed lessons very well - it resulted to a very low score during our weekly exam that week - double stressed. I still had to think about my follow-up check up at the hospital - which also became a disaster. Everything just didn’t go right during my lab tests. I cried at the hospital of stress - the anger, the disappointment. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I didn’t know whom to run to since I was at Manila!!! I even fought my boyfriend for not being able to be with me during these hard times. I knew it wasn’t possible but I kept on asking him to go to me because I so needed him that time.

It was awful!!! But I don’t want to go much into the details because it would just make this blog entry extra extra long.

But one way or another. I was able to go through the hospital tragedy. My dad never left me even if I felt bad. My mom checked on me from time to time. And I got to say sorry to my boyfriend for being so selfish and I’m glad he understood that I was just going through a very stressful situation.

But the U.T.I. and hospital tragedy was just the beginning of my fight for my license.
Since I had to be away from the dormitory where me and my dorm mates first stayed, they had to look for a place to move in even without me. Sadly, they found a boarding house which was too far from the review center. My parents didn’t like me to stay there because it wasn’t “that comfortable” for me to stay in and have my review. Since one of us decided already to not join the group. Me and my parents have also decided for me to not join in too.

So, I ended up staying at a dormitory nearer to the review center. My new dormitory was nice. It was clean, accessible to transportation, it was near a mall, my unit-mates were nice, and I had my room to myself - good thing? - not really.

Being alone has its advantages - I’m the type of person who studies better alone rather studying within a group because I don’t like the pressure of hearing from other people things I haven’t started studying - it just stresses me out. Also, being alone gives you your own time. I didn’t have to worry waking up early because other people had to use the bathroom - although I share the bathroom with my unit mates, it wasn’t much that of a hassle because we didn’t go to our “schools” on the same time. Also, I eat on my own time, I sleep on my time, and I can do whatever I wish at my own time.

But as the review went on, I saw how bad I performed. During the whole duration of the review, I have never passed a weekly exam nor any evaluation given to us. I really felt bad about myself. I didn’t know what was wrong with me because I was really studying very hard. I knew I had the intelligence to get higher scores than those the scores I was getting during that time. I know I am better. But I constantly compared myself to the grades I got during my academic days. This just wasn’t me.

I then started spending more time thinking of other things I wish I was doing rather than reviewing. I constantly went out to the nearest mall just to unwind. I got irritated even by just the simplest things. I found it hard to be happy. I became a lot more sleepy. I didn’t find any joy in the things I usually liked.

I started thinking again that I really didn’t want to become and engineer. I hated myself so much for having to take up this hard of a course. I despised engineering so much. I despised it ever since I was in college. I hated how much it tortured me.

Few days after, I started hurting myself (thank God it never occurred to me to kill myself). I also started throwing things, destroying things when I found myself not being able to answer our take home exams. I fought my boyfriend even for the simplest things.

One day, I bought an issue of Women’s Health Magazine. It had an article that talked about depression and how it affects women and why it should be treated. It mentioned the symptoms and I found my situation similar to most of it. It then made me realize: I was having clinical depression.

I thought of asking for help from a psychiatrist or any specialist known to help me treat it. But at first I was too afraid and ashamed to even ask for help.

My boyfriend came back to Metro Manila from his assignment for work. He still worked at their office here Metro Manila but he visited me at my dormitory every once in a while to check how I was and to give me company even if it was just for dinner. But still, I constantly fought with him for this little mistakes and for the misunderstandings. I started hurting him too because of my anger.

Thank God, I finally got the courage to ask my boyfriend to accompany me to a psychiatrist. But, I told him that I didn’t want him to tell it to my parents because I was too afraid that they wouldn’t understand. So he agreed to what I wanted to prevent more fights, he even volunteered to pay for the check-up and my medicine. I told him that I’d pay him when I’d have money.

So the day after, I inquired at UST hospital the schedules of their psychiatrists. I chose to have an appointment with Dra. Imelda David who was a specialist in neurology and psychiatry.

My boyfriend asked for a half day excuse to accompany to Dra. David - and I was so thankful that they allowed him to come.

On my turn with doktora, she first asked me what was wrong with me and why I thought of having an appointment with her. So I told how negatively I was acting during the past weeks, how I hurt myself and how I wasn’t able to review well anymore.

She did say that I was really undergoing depression and it was a good thing that I thought of visiting a psychiatrist. She prescribed me a medicine: Desvenlafaxine succinate called Pristiq. It was a medicine that helps control emotions and would help me cope more with stress.

But she said that the medicine would only take it maximum effect in two weeks. So to help me cope up faster, I was instructed to exercise for a minimum of 30minutes everyday even by just walking.

After the check-up we bought the pills. But knowing that it’s price was extra extra expensive we first took half the prescription only - that cost my boyfriend almost Php2K. So ashamed of having him to spend that much of money only for my meds, I kept on telling him sorry and promise him that I’d pay him back when the time comes.

At first, everything went well. I continued with my review. It helped a lot when my boyfriend was given a one week break from work. We decided to stay at our condominium during his break. It was almost an hour commute to the review center but we thought that it was worth it since my boyfriend would be able to take care of me while I was still coping up with my depression. It was a lot better than having to visit me everynight just to have dinner while I was at my dorm.

But then, our review started to become a lot harder. Our main review was finished and we were already having our refresher course that time which meant exams everyday. I became a lot more depressed of my course and it just made everything worst.

Worst comes to worst, my boyfriend was given a notice that he was to be assigned already at Mindanao. I became more and more depressed. Most of all when he left already for manila.

It became harder for me already. Most especially that I didn’t have him by my side anymore. I became a lot more down since my exams weren’t improving. I didn’t go to the review for three straight days - I was too afraid to take the exams and just come out with another failing score.

On the first day of being absent, I was already at the dorm. I felt so helpless. But during those past days I never loosed hope. I constantly prayed to God. I asked him to help me cope up better with my depression. To guide me. To show me what I should do. Prayers played a big part in my fight. Even though it seemed God wasn’t listening, I still kept on praying. I kept my faith that He would not abandon me most especially during that time.

Then I knew it. God was talking to me. Texts came on constantly from my relatives and friends that they’re here to support me whatever happens.

So On the afternoon of the second day of being absent. I decided to go back to Dra. David because I really needed someone to talk to. While waiting for my turn I also got the courage to text mama. She was at Baguio. I texted her: mama, I think you should come down here at manila. And she answered me with: why anak? what’s wrong?. I just replied to her that I needed her to come down and that I’d explain everything to her when she comes down.

Right upon sitting down at doktora’s desk, I began to cry I started with the line “doktora, ayaw ko na pong magboard exam. Masyadong mahirap.” (doctor, I don’t want to take the board exam anymore. It’s too hard.) She started with the statement, “Naku hindi pwede, magtetake ka nang board exam. Bakit mo ba naisip yan?” (That can’t be. You should take the board exam. What made you think of doing so?)

So I started to explain everything to her. How hard it was to cope up with everything, and how hard the exams were for me and how I was failing each exam. She listened attentively and jotted down notes on my records while I explained.

The conversation went: (translated already into english)
Dra. David: Young girl, have you been an achiever during your academic years?
Me: Opo…
Dra. David: This is the reason why you’re acting this way. You expect too much from yourself so you put too much pressure on yourself too. I want to remind you, reviewing for the board exam is different from your academics. You are a perfectionist. You’ve been used to to just studying and just constantly taking exams and quizzes and getting high scores. But now is different. Do not pressure yourself too much.
Me: But doktora, it’s really so hard. I haven’t passed even one exam.
Dra. David: It’s because you’re undergoing depression. Dear, do not lose hope. Do you believe that you are a good student?
Me: Opo…
Dra. David: Then keep your faith. Believe me, it is just this hard because you are under going depression. And remember, not everything given to you at the review center will appear at the actual board exam.
So she advised me to continue with my meds and just exercise because the medicine will take its effect soon.
I then informed her that I was to bring my parents at the clinic the following day and that it would be an honor if she could explain it to them. She was happy for the news I told her and told me that she would be glad to explain it to them herself.
The next day (third day of being absent at the review). I waited for my parents at the nearest mall. We first ate lunch and right after eating I told them everything. I told them that I was bringing them to my doctor and that she would explain everything to them then and there.
She gave me the best of advice:
You will never know until you try. You don’t want to take the board exam because you are afraid of failure. My dear, not that I am saying that you will fail, but failure won’t make you less of a person. If you fail, the people who really love you will still love you. Do not think about what other people will say about you. What matters are those who really care. You have to fight this fight. You just have to do your best and never forget to pray. God will always give you what you truly deserve. But you know, I have a positive feeling that you will pass. You should too.

Everything went well right after. I asked my parents if I could just stay at the condominium because I felt more comfortable there even if I had to travel for almost an hour going to the review center.
I then committed myself to having a 30-minute walk everyday. I made sure that I had time to unwind everyday even by just strolling around the malls I pass by on the way back to the condominium. I started reading books about happiness and I looked for more ways of communicating with my friends to keep me company during the review.

And since we had unlimited internet at the condominium I kept on logging on facebook just to lay away from the stress. I also sent messages to my friends just to say hi. I started watching television shows - my favorite was pure love, a koreanovela which played at ABS CBN every 10:35pm. I didn’t care if I had to stay up late just to wait for the show to play. I loved watching the show and it made me happy so I continued watching it.

I then started making posts at twitter and facebook about happiness. I wanted to promote happiness so much that I made it part of my daily routine.

After weeks after my parents knew what I was going through. Everything just went fine. I never felt depressed even just once. I never passed an exam still, but I received it all positively - took my failures as a lesson learned for the topics I don’t understand.

All through those weeks, I kept on receiving positive messages from my friends and relatives. They kept on keeping my hopes high. They were very supportive.

I made new friends at the review center. I even started singing for the review center and I actually loved doing it.

I also kept on praying for guidance and strength for everything. God was so good. Also, I prayed to him to guide me to the right path of my career.

September 28 and 29 - the dates of our the board examination. I was assigned to take the exams at General M. Hizon Elementary School. It was then and there. No more turning back.

I was glad that both my parents were here at Metro Manila to support me. I constantly received text messages from my relatives and friends wishing me luck and a lot of blessings.

We expected the results to come out the day after. But sadly, results didn’t come out. Me, mama, and my boyfriend (whom gladly came to spend his 15-day vacation with me because of my board exam) spent the next days staying up until late night just waiting for the exam back at Baguio. On the 2nd day of October I did some errands with my new business together with my boyfriend.

On that afternoon we came back at home. Mama telling me that the results weren’t out yet. She gave a last look at PRC’s website and she suddenly shouted “The results are out!!!!!!!!”

Me and my boyfriend ran at her side. The results were finally out!!!! Mama scrolled down the pdf file to search for my name. She even ordered me not to look and wait for her own announcement. And it all started with a big YES from mama.

and there it was #1644. I PASSED THE BOARD EXAM!!!!!!!!!!! Thank God I did!!!!!!!!!!!

I could still remember my reaction that time. All I could was dance for joy!! I kept on shouting!!! It felt soooooooooooo great!!!! This was it!!!!! God’s call!!!!!!!!

Then my boyfriend told me, ano na ulit sabi mo dati? ayaw mo na magboard exam? gusto mo nang umuwi nang Baguio? (what did you say again last time? you didn’t want to take the board exam anymore? you wanted to go home to Baguio already?) I didn’t answer, I just bursted in tears and gave him a tight tight tight hug.

Now I look back to what happened. Everything happened just so fast!!!! But I consider it a big blessing. What happened made me a better person: It made me closer to my parents; It made me love myself even more; It developed my relationship with God even better; It made me treasure my boyfriend’s love more; It made me realize that I was loved by many.

Depression didn’t take the best of me. Rather, it brought out the best in me.

Yours Truly,
God’s little Engineer

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