Darkness Is Temporary

It took me months before I finally decided to write this blog post. This is going to be lengthy. If you don’t have the patience to read, then feel free to click the X button or just browse through my old posts. If you’re going to read this and opt not to finish it, then I beg you not to leave MEMA comments. If you decide to read it until the end, I do hope you reserve your judgments. I thought that nothing else will be as hard as writing about our battle with infertility and losing Zayne’s twin. I was wrong. So here it goes.

It all started on January 17. I started feeling flu-like symptoms so I did my usual protocol to help my immune system. I remember waking up with itchy throat. It was a Thursday so I decided to still go to work. I had a scheduled lunch date with my office friends, and we all agreed to go to a newly-opened Korean restaurant in BGC. Everything was fine. I enjoyed the lunch, but I enjoyed the company even more. My girl friends and I are scattered on three different shifts in the office so spending time with them was a breath of fresh air. I then started feeling feverish after lunch so I asked permission from my boss if I could work from home the following day. It didn’t happen because I felt even worse the following day.

I started vomiting and pooping non-stop. I was nauseous and sluggish that I spent the entire day in bed. I started coughing, and my temperature started shooting up to 39C. I could only tolerate soup and crackers, but I ended up throwing everything a couple of hours after. I could not keep anything down including Pocari Sweat and Paracetamol.

I started feeling very weak on Saturday morning. The last full meal I had was the Korean lunch I had on Thursday. Around 2PM, I looked in the mirror and noticed that I looked so pale, I had chapped lips and my skin already had minor scrapes. I was so worried that I would be dehydrated so I asked Boyet to drive me to the hospital. If you remember back in January, it was the time when almost the entire Metro Manila either had flu or was recovering from it. I never left the hospital that day. It turns out I had acute gastroenteritis and asthma at the same time. I shared most of the details of my hospitalization stint in a previous post thinking that it was the end of it, but I was mistaken. I didn’t realize that staying in the hospital for six days was just a prelude of another storm.

I was discharged from the hospital two days before my birthday. I didn’t even get a proper celebration save from a birthday lunch we had at home. I spent a couple of more days off from work because I was still feeling so weak. I came back to work on January 29 despite feeling nauseated all the time. I could also feel my knees trembling. Our company doctor told me that those were the side effects of the antibiotics I took. I finished taking the last tablet three days prior, but the side effects were still horrible. During this time, I was still taking the asthma meds prescribed by the pulmonologist who saw me during my confinement. I went back to the pulmonologist on January 31 for a follow up checkup. I waited for two hours at the clinic, and the doctor talked to me in less than two minutes. Haha. He just asked me to continue the asthma meds. Ironically, I could not remember the last time I had an asthma attack. I’m very sure that it was before I got married to Boyet. We’ve been married for seven years already. Anyway, I went back to my normal life despite feeling really weird.

On February 1 while I was having lunch with my office mate, Jen at Marugame Udon, I started palpitating. I tried so hard to relax by taking deep breaths. I could already feel my hands and feet getting numb. I knew I was already hyperventilating. I called Boyet who was in a client meeting in Makati. I told him that I feel like I was about to faint. I was initially planning to wait for Boyet, but Jen suggested to bring me to St. Luke’s. We asked the Grab driver to pass by the office because I needed to get my things. My team mate, Alvin brought my bag and decided to accompany me and Jen to the emergency room. Boyet arrived ten minutes after.

I told the ER doctor about my recent hospitalization. I was ordered to have another ECG which yielded normal results. I had a pregnancy test which turned out negative. I got cleared with all the other tests including that for thyroid, which is a common culprit for palpitations. The ER doctor asked the pulmonologist if I could stop the asthma meds. It turns out that one of its side effects is palpitations. The ER doctor advised me to go back to the gastroenterologist who treated me during my confinement if the hyperventilation persists. I went back to the gastroenterologist on February 11. She cleared me of everything. She then referred me to a cardiologist who asked me to take a gazillion of tests to check my heart.



This was taken yesterday at one of the restaurants in St. Luke’s Global. It was 3PM, and we were rushing to have a very late lunch after back-to-back medical appointments and securing my schedules for a series of medical tests. I didn’t enjoy my lunch, but I definitely enjoyed the few minutes of quiet time with my husband. He decided to work remotely so he could accompany me. We’re still trying to figure out what’s happening to me as we jump from one doctor to another, but I’m glad that I figured something out 14 years ago – that this guy will be joining me in medical appointments as long as he can. I’m resting at home today so we’re not getting a proper celebration. (Hindi pa nga kami nakakapag-celebrate ng birthday ko e. 😅) Had I known it yesterday, I would have chosen something nice for lunch. 😂 Happy 14th anniversary, Tatay. 😘
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This photo was taken during one of my many medical appointments. I was just sniffing the coffee because that was the only thing I was allowed to do with caffeine. :(

I researched and found out that it could also be hormonal imbalance so I went back to see my OB/GYN while I was waiting for the schedule of all my tests. Ironically, I actually saw her on the same week that I was hospitalized. I was due for a pap smear, and I wanted to be checked on PCOS again. I turned 35 so my husband and I decided to check our odds for baby #2. My husband’s “bullets” are all in perfect shape. Wahaha. And surprisingly, my ovaries are looking better! My left ovary is no longer considered polycystic, and the right one is not as bad as it was before. That is why my doctor concluded during my visit on February 22 that it wasn’t hormonal imbalance.

I went back to the hospital on February 25 for the tests ordered by the cardiologist. I had another ECG. I also had 2D echo and stress test. I had a Holter monitor which was plugged to me for 24 hours to check my heart rate. I also had my blood checked a couple of days prior.



Earlier at the Heart Institute of St. Luke's BGC Ate Receptionist: For verification, full name and birthday po. Me: Jerellt... January... 1984 Ate: 35 ka na po, Ma'am? Hala! Ang baby face mo po. Kuya Receptionist laughed at Ate. Ate: E bakit ba? E totoo naman. Tignan mo si Ma'am o! Baby face talaga, promise. Siguro kasi puro senior citizens ang mga kasabay ko kanina. 😂😂😂 ... Hindi ko na matandaan kelan ako last nag treadmill. Kung tama ang alala ko, nasa US pa yata ako bago kami ikasal ni Boyet mga 8 years ago. Muntik ako takasan ng bait sa stress test. Buti na lang binuksan ni Ate Nurse ang TV tapos Mark Wahlberg ang palabas. 🤣 ... Mali ako ng diskarte sa Holter monitor. Langya bawal pala maligo e balak ko pumasok bukas. O, ayan, in-announce ko na. Huwag na kayong judgers. Kelangan ng puso ko 'to. 😅 ... Sa mga nagtatanong, ok pa naman po ako. Gapang each day, pero keri pa. Ako pa ba?! Ewan ko lang po bukas. 😂
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I felt like my body just went downhill from getting sick on mid-January to the start of my hyperventilation on the first day of February up until I came back to the cardiologist on March 1 to hear about the results. My cardiologist concluded that it was no longer the side effects of the asthma med because I was already out of it for a month and yet I still experience hyperventilation. All of the results came back normal although the ECG constantly shows that my heart rate is nearing 100 which is considered on the high normal range. The cardiologist told me that my heart is fine. She then said something which somehow confirmed what the other doctors suspected – it might be ANXIETY.

One of the questions asked by the ER doctor who saw me when I came for hyperventilation was if I had history of an anxiety attack. It took me a while to answer. I looked at my husband, then back to the doctor and said, “I’m not sure. I think so.” The thing is I actually had a feeling that it wasn’t my thyroid, my hormones, my stomach or my heart. A part of me was trying to find an explanation on why I was feeling… different.

When I came back to the office after my birthday on January, I felt like I wasn’t the same. I would spend minutes inside a bathroom cubicle in the office sobbing for reasons I didn’t even know. It comes in waves all throughout the day. There were times when I was too preoccupied with a task, and then my mind would suddenly shift because of some random negative thoughts.

I just felt like crying.
ALL THE TIME.


My heart was so heavy, and the tears would just start flowing without me knowing it. I had a hard time focusing at work. I used to be really good at what I do, but I felt like I needed to double my efforts just to complete a simple task.

There was also this one time while I was having lunch in the office. I was in the pantry with my office friends. We were all laughing, and then I suddenly felt so agitated. The sounds around me made me so irritated. I had an unexplainable feeling of wanting to shrink and get the hell out of where I was. I honestly felt so scared.

I also remember having an “episode” while cooking. It scared the hell out of me because cooking used to give me so much joy. I used to resort to blogging when I’m so down, but my body was so out of tune that I could not even write a single concise sentence. And do you know the worst part of all? I was so sick that I started to feel like I’m such a horrible mother. I knew that I wasn’t the kind of mother that my sweet and loving toddler deserves. I was such a big mess!

I had more questions than answers.

Me?
How?
Why?
What triggered it?
Am I being ungrateful?
Do I not pray hard enough?
When will I get back to my old self?


I looked back and realized that I was more stressed years ago, but I didn’t have anxiety attacks. And then I remembered that I felt almost the same, minus the hyperventilation, back in June 2018. I felt so down and sluggish right after our Baguio vacation. At that time, I suspected that it was probably because all of the plans I made were thrown out of the window. I watched all the symptoms, but I was relieved that they all went away after a week.

This time around, I figured that it might be because of the following. First, my husband underwent a long overdue surgery on September, Zayne had a dengue scare on December, and then I was hospitalized on January. I practically lived in a hospital. Second, I believe it was over fatigue as I have been trying to wear different hats. My team at work grew exponentially since 2017. I have been working on a big project since 2016. I cook our meals at home. I have a hyperactive toddler who I try to home school. And the list goes on. Third, I probably felt that just like our Baguio trip, I have a lot of plans that are being thrown out of the window. And that made me really frustrated. My husband and I became too busy that we were not able to accomplish a lot of our 2018 goals. Lastly, and the most important of all...

I think I forgot to take care of myself.

I knew that I had to do something about my mental health. And the first step I took was to accept the fact that I was not well. I talked to my boss, and I cried a river the entire time. I’ve been reporting to him since I started with my present company seven years ago. I remember that there used to be days early on in my career at the company that we didn’t agree on a few things, but I know that I owe it to him to be honest. Sabi nga ng asawa ko, “Hindi ka matutulungan ng boss mo kung hindi niya alam ang problema mo.” I also admitted in front of my team that their leader is struggling. I gathered them for our usual team huddle, and that was the hardest meeting that I had to facilitate. They didn’t say anything. I’m not sure if they were too shocked or if they just didn’t know what to say. But honestly, their silence at that time meant a lot to me.

I also talked to my very close friends at work. I remember having a conversation with one of them, and I just started crying when she asked me how I was. That friend of mine always knows what to say, but she kept quiet at that time. Again, I appreciated the silence. I’ve been dealing with anxiety attacks for a few months now, and I realized that I don’t need to be “fixed”. Most of the time, I just need to be heard. I’m pretty sure that this is also the same case for others who battle anxiety. You have no idea that silence without any judgment means a lot during those dark days.

It also helped me big time that two doctors who saw me while we were still isolating my health concerns admitted that they too experienced anxiety attacks in the past. Because of the stigma surrounding mental health awareness, these doctors made me feel that I’m not an outcast. I followed the advice of my doctors – to take everything one step at a time. For someone like me who is always on the go, it was easier said than done. I’m an output-oriented person, so it was very difficult for me to feel like I’m doing nothing. But I learned that IT WAS OK!

The world didn’t stop when I decided to DO NOTHING.
The world didn’t stop when I decided to REST.


I noticed around middle of March that I didn’t have an attack for more than 2 weeks. I then had another episode the following week. I was in the office at that time. Good thing that our company nurse and doctor are both aware of my condition. I was given oxygen to help slow down my heart rate. I saw from the clinic’s closet that there are other nasal cannulas. Our nurse said, “Hindi naman kasi ikaw ang unang nagkaroon ng anxiety dito sa office.” Again, that was another validation that I’m not alone in this battle.

Our company doctor advised me that time not to impose a deadline on my body on when it’ll be back to normal. She told me that it will take time, and I need to accept this fact. I’m just glad that I have been getting a lot of help from our company doctor and nurse. They both asked me to just drop by the clinic every time I’m having an attack or when I feel like I’m on the verge of having one. Ayun, daldalan kami ni Doc madalas. Hehe.

I thought of seeking professional help. I have with me the contact numbers of two psychiatrists. It’s not that I don’t want to. I am well aware of the stigma surrounding mental health. I’m not even scared of being labeled as BALIW by the naysayers. I just decided to delay seeking psychiatric help for now while I make some lifestyle changes because I already knew what caused my attacks.

While I was having on and off attacks, I was fortunate that our office sponsored a talk on mindfulness and meditation. It helped me big time! I know some of you may find the idea corny or old-fashioned, but the techniques I learned from the talk have been helping me manage my anxiety.

I also took small steps in changing my habits. I think motherhood fully ate me that I totally forgot to take care of myself. Don’t get me wrong because I never complained about anything. I remember having a conversation one night with my husband on our way home. He admitted that we became too busy ever since Zayne was born. But we agreed on one thing – that we totally enjoy and embrace all the craziness of being a parent. I am not complaining that I need to cook all our meals, home school Zayne and run the household. I love everything about it. It’s just that I became too exhausted, and I needed a breather. I’ve been feeling guilty each time I choose to do something for myself, but I guess my anxiety served as a wake up call for me and Boyet. I know that it’s easy to say for other parents. But when you waited for four years for a child and you feel like this will be your only chance on being a parent, then you’ll understand what my husband and I are going through. But then again, I’ve taken baby steps so I guess it’s a good start. I finally opened the coffee scrub and face masks given by my BFF Joie last Christmas! I had a haircut. I finally had the courage to go to the mall. (I was too scared to go out of the house because I might faint while hyperventilating!) I listen to music while I take a bath and while I work in the office. I went back to watching Korean dramas after almost year! I try to find time watching romantic comedy movies on Netflix. We bought a treadmill so I can exercise in the morning. Gosh! I even resorted to gardening which I realized is sooooo therapeutic! (Guys, wala pala akong black thumb! May bunga na ang tinanim kong okra! Haha!)

Me trying to do a decent selfie after a haircut while Zayne was pulling my pants

I had to learn the hard way that taking care of myself doesn’t make me a selfish mother. My family needs the best version of myself, and I cannot be that person if I’m always exhausted, grumpy and unwell because I neglected to take care of myself. I do hope that this post will also serve as a wake up call to everybody, most especially to all the exhausted parents out there. No matter how much you enjoy taking care of your family, you will reach your breaking point if you don’t slow down. Breathe. Relax. I know that mothers are naturally molded to take care of the people around them, but let me say it again:

Taking care of yourself does not make you a selfish mother.

This photo was taken the day after I had another anxiety attack. I took a day off from work because I was so exhausted. Zayne asked me to wear a pink headband so we could go twinning!

Our company doctor also advised me to look for an activity that would clear my mind. I thought writing will do the trick, but I was wrong. I then discovered that editing videos help me calm my nerves. I don’t know why. I can simply guess that repeating the mischiefs of Zayne and Boyet on videos over and over again help me release happy hormones. That explains why I post more on our YouTube channel than here in my blog.

Let me tell you a little secret, and I need to share this to prove my point. Do you know why my husband and I decided to shoot our first vlog? We actually didn’t really mean to shoot a vlog that day. It was my first day back at work after a series of attacks. I thought I was already fine so I decided to go to work. But I then started having an anxiety attack while we were on our way to my office. I had difficulty breathing, and tears started to fall from my eyes. I was trembling! My husband saw the need to “entertain” me so he started cracking jokes. He felt that I needed to turn my anxious thoughts into happy ones. I then decided to record it, and it turned out to be the most watched video on our YouTube channel.


So what’s my point? Have you seen the video? Have you ever thought that I was in the middle of an anxiety attack while we were shooting that vlog? I looked “normal”, right? I realized while I was editing that video that:

Anxiety has no face.

I’m not a medical expert, but I’m pretty sure that so is depression. I went to the office that day wearing a “face”. I desperately tried to look as normal as possible. I struggled to remain strong hoping I could survive the day without another episode. I woke up the following day feeling so exhausted. That leads me to my final point. I realized from my experience and after talking to other people who have gone through the same that having anxiety does not necessarily mean that a person is weak. It takes a great deal of strength to survive a day. You have no idea how worn out I always feel after an attack. I remember dragging myself off the bed the following morning after shooting that vlog. I ended up trying to mask what was really going on inside my head, and that drained the hell out of me!

I’m doing better now. I am more conscious in taking care of my body. I stay away from coffee which is a major HUHUHUHU! I try so hard to use our newly-bought treadmill. Wahahaha! I take deep breaths when I feel that there are negative thoughts lurking around me. I make a conscious effort to simply let go of the things that did not go according to my plans. I spend a few minutes of quiet time when I feel like my head is about to burst. I think I am trying to become as chill as possible, which is very hard for my personality!

I still have my dark days, but I’m learning to look for my light no matter how dim it seems and hang on to it. Experiencing anxiety makes me appreciate my good days. It made me discover the kind of strength I didn’t even know I had. Sooner or later, my anxiety will probably come knocking at my door again. I guess I will just continue to live one day at a time, enjoy all the good days and take care of myself so I’ll be more equipped when it happens again.

I would like to end this post by reminding everyone to always choose kindness. You have no idea what kind of darkness a person goes through so it’s always best to choose spreading your light. :)

9 comments :

  1. I hope and pray you continue to feel better, Je. I can only imagine what you went through in the past months. Agree ako dyan sa live one day a time, enjoy the good days at ang pinakaimportante, ang pag-aalaga sa sarili. At maraming dasal na okay tayo at ang mga loved ones natin every single day kahit ano pa ibato sa atin ng life. Cyberhuuuuuuuugs! :)

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    1. Thanks, Edel! Ginagawa ko na motto minsan ang #balakayojan for the sake of my mental health! Hihi!

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  2. It's awesome you have kind people around you and a very supportive Mr. Kolokoy. Will pray for you and your family's healing and strength. Agree about taking care of yourself. Never feel guilty. If we take care of ourselves, we ensure we'll be healthy enough to take care of our loved ones. A nice quote is "I will take care of myself so I can take care of you."

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    1. Hi, Raina! Not people around me were "kind", but I think they just didn't understand what I was going through. I guess they really meant well by saying some things, but those are the things that I least needed during those times. So ayun, kebs na lang. I felt so liberated after writing this. Thank you for sticking around! I hope to see you in Baguio next time! Sana hindi na kami bagyuhin! :p

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    2. I understand. Really happy you are pulling through after everything. Just send me a quick message to check if maganda panahon here. I love helping bakasyonistas with their itineraries and stuff. <3

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  3. Huuuuuuuuuuuuugs. Keeping you in my prayers, Jerellt. You're of the bloggers that I truly look up to :) Love and light *finger hearts*

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    1. Awww! Thank you!!! It means a lot to me. :)

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  4. You are soo brave for sharing this. I had a wake up call last year. Though I am not experiencing the same attacks as yours, sobrang nadepress din ako. I tried doing everything at once and when it didn't fall into the right places I almost breakdown. Alam mo yung feeling na ginawa mu na lahat pero hindi pa din pala sapat. I cried during breaks sa office ng hindi ko alam kung bakit.

    I only told one friend whom I trusted what I am going thru. She actually never advised me of anything. She just listened. After that I shared it one time on my IG then cried buckets after. It made me feel so good.

    Same as you, I did things out of my ordinary days. I became chill. Wapakels na ko sa expectations ng iba. I held on to my kids because they need me the most. I watch KDrama's and Netflix more. Oh and I even tried waxing for the first time! Grabe ka-late bloomer ko! I almost forgot the last time I had my mani pedi done.

    Now, I don't take everything seriously. Sometimes we just need to laugh and take a break from everyone to experience, appreciate and love ourselves. Hoping & praying you feel much better now and also to those moms who feel the same way. Virtual hugs to you!

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    1. I think I remember that IG post! And yes on waxing! Haha! Dati kasi nagpapa-wax lang ako kapag maisipan ko. Pero after my attacks, I made it a point to do leg waxing and eyebrow threading every month or two! Hihi.

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