Emotional growth to be exact.
A few years ago, I stepped in that little room in Lagmay Hall, formerly known as the Palma Hall Annex (PHAN), an extension of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy.
This building, beside the burnt canteen called CASAA, housed the Department of Psychology of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman.
The first meeting
The room was small, quite like the typical faculty room in UP. As I made myself in, I saw on my right a shelf full of books and school papers. On my far left was a simple desk with a few cute things on it: pen holder, picture frame and some post-its.
But it seemed like the corner at my left had a completely different aura from the academic feel of the rest of the room. In there were two soft and comfy chairs, those you could find in your own living room, facing each other. There was also a small coffee table on the side, with a box of tissue and a small clock, directed towards the other chair.
And then of course, there was her, with her soft and friendly welcome, “Hi Sheen. What do you want to talk about?” She was a professor, with a PhD after her last name. Because of this, I became comfortable calling her “Doc.”
We met twice a month, for a year, thereafter, defining words I never thought to be so complicated.
Defining the words “safe” and “home”
Within that one year, Doc never failed to make me cry. In one of the sessions, she asked, “Sheen, what is home?” And that question triggered one of my heaviest cries during that year.
The Filipino word for “home” is tahanan. According to a post from the Facebook page of Wikapedia, tahanan is not just a house filled with love but a place where you can tahan. In English, this word means to stop crying. Thus, a tahanan is a safe place to cry. But what do I mean here by the word safe?
In one of our sessions, Doc told me, “I want you to realize that this is a safe place. This is an area where you can feel whatever you want to feel, say whatever you want to say, be whatever you want to be, without being judged.”
Hence, home is a safe place where you can cry, without the fear of being judged.
Who is Sheen?
Within that one year, we also tried to define who Sheen really was. I learned a lot not only about Sheen, but I also started to acknowledge this word called “self.”
And this venue will be solely dedicated to the things I learned in that small room in Lagmay Hall, about my heart, my mind, my spirit, my depression, my anxiety, myself and most of all, about “Sheen.”
Kokoro is a Japanese word which uses the character, 心. The character represents that one word in Japanese which means all three: heart, mind, and spirit. Coincidentally, the character has another reading, shin. Therefore, I, whose name is Sheen, decided to use this character for my Japanese name and for the name of this blog.
The stigma and the judgment against people undergoing emotional strain is real. Moreover, that judgment is just making our struggles worse. I set up this venue with the aim to lessen that stigma. This will be my venue for spreading mental health awareness, not only in my country but around the world.
We may have our own internal struggles, but this fight against the stigma is our collective battle. Fight!