This week, we share with you Mia’s story, one that revolves around resilience, strength, and hope. The story is part of the University’s IT GETS BETTER CAMPAIGN, an information, education and communication drive which seeks to raise awareness about teen depression and reduce the stigma that surrounds it by creating positive, fact-based and hopeful messages about teen depression for the school community.
“I am Mia and this is my encounter with depression. I call it an ‘encounter’ because depression will not stay in your life. It is a test and you can get through it.
Depression starts from sadness. I guess that my depression was caused by different episodes in my life. These sad episodes then built up and affected me most during my teenage years.”
Chapter 1: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
“When I was a kid, I was bullied for speaking in English. I was labeled as ‘maarte,’ ‘feelingera,’ ‘wanna- be,’ etc.
When I was in third grade, I wore a skirt because I wanted to match my friend’s outfit. She was really white and petite. She told me that I looked horrible, that my legs were too fat and dark and that I was too ugly to wear a skirt, because only ‘sexy’ girls like her who are light-skinned and thin had the right to wear it. After shaming me in front of other kids, I felt horrible and left out. They all laughed at me and agreed with the girl’s statement and ran off.
I transferred to another public school near my home. Though I tried to fit in, I was still labeled as dark, fat, ‘maarte’ and ‘feelingera.’ It got worse when my uncle died when I was in sixth grade. The stress showed on my skin. I had skin asthma. The kids called me ‘mapa’ and ‘dalmatian’ because my skin asthma mostly showed on my face. Again, I felt horrible, left out, and ugly.”
Chapter 2: HIGH SCHOOL
“I thought it would all be over once I would get to high school. I was wrong. My grandfather died a year after my uncle did. My family tried doing everything that they could to relieve the stress from the grieving. So we often went out on family outings. I never really minded getting darker whenever we would go to the beach, but apparently my classmates in high school made a big deal of my skin color.
My reputation didn’t change. I was still labeled as the ‘Englishera,’ ‘maarte,’ and the ‘feelingera.’ Also, this time, the insults from other kids, most especially girls, were far more hurtful. Some of them even got physical. I can recall girls with white skin, straight hair, and skinny bodies. They used to call me ugly in front of the class. And one of them slapped me at the back of my head and I my face almost hit the keyboard because of the impact of how she hit me.
I got shamed for having dark skin, a chubby physique, curly hair, and for speaking in English.
This is when I started loathing on myself. I felt like I had to change so many of my ‘flaws.’ Because everyone around me saw my qualities as ugly flaws.
My sadness then built up to depression. I couldn’t eat and sleep. The nights of crying turned to nights of pure numbness. I couldn’t cry anymore because I just felt so numb.
I became quieter. I had trust issues with classmates.
Unlike other kids who don’t want to leave high school, I, for one, couldn’t wait to get it over with. It bothered me that much because kids are supposed to enjoy high school. My heart and mind were always set to get away from it as fast as I could.”
Chapter 3: COLLEGE
“College is a bit better. I met people who speak like me and make me laugh. I met people who have the same wavelength as I do. I feel like I belong.
Though at times I encounter ‘fake friends,’ it is easy for me to ditch them because I don’t attach myself so much with people.
I admit that I sort of rushed getting into a relationship, because I longed for adoration and affection from someone. At one point I got into a toxic relationship; everything took a turn for the worse. I realized that I only wanted to stay in that relationship because I wanted to feel loved and wanted. Then I realized that the person that I was with was also broken. I depended on him to make me happy, but he couldn’t make himself happy. Also, he was a bit selfish. He never genuinely cared about me.
I showed my depression more outwardly. Unlike my depression in high school when I was quiet and anti-social, this time I did some things to try to get his attention. I remember getting drunk alone in my house and calling him. When I called him, he cursed at me and blamed me for doing it to myself.
That constant longing for his attention and affection blinded me. I was hurting myself and my loved ones.”
Chapter 4: IT GETS BETTER
“The society brands everyone with labels. These labels often revolve around such a negative spectrum, which causes pain and sorrow, and it leads to depression.
Do not let society’s standards define you. Don’t let anyone decide if you’re worthy or not. Most of the people who will constantly tell you that you are not good enough are people who have no substance because they are shallow. Also, do not be pressured into being in relationships just because you want to follow the crowd.
Surround yourself with positive people. Eradicate toxic people from your life.
I learned to depend on myself for happiness, but also share happiness and love with others. I became more grateful for such a supportive family.
And because of a more positive outlook in life, I attracted a partner who loves me and cares for me so much. I’m really thankful for him. He’s my best friend.
My name is Mia Arce. Proud English-speaking chubby morena with awesome curly hair.”
Text by MIA ARCE
Photo by RENE PASCUA