What Does The Movie, Joker, Say About Mental Health Awareness?

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The movie is undeniably hitting the top list of most talked-about movies this season. Aside from the character’s popularity and controversial persona, there have been reviews and feedbacks all throughout the internet, suggesting and discouraging a visit to the cinema for the movie. While everyone is busy talking about how Joaquin Phoenix has been reaching the viewers’ expectation, let us talk about what this movie says about mental health awareness.

 

At present, I am a psychology-major student, and I guess it is a factor why only ten minutes into the movie, I was already holding back my tears as I watch a different level of bullying being projected before my eyes. It broke my heart to realize that the things I just witnessed on the film are just few of the real scenarios that happen in real life at different intensities. I could sense the tension in the atmosphere as different “misfortunes” and adversities thwack Arthur (Joker) right on the ground, and the most painful thing about all these is that they were not only physical wounds, but also mental or emotional damages, which made him the villain he is now known for.

 

The tension and suspense never left the atmosphere inside the cinema until the movie rolled its credits, and the truth is I was really struggling to contain the tension and suspense inside my self until I got home and realized that everything I saw was only an illustration of the sad reality that it all happens somewhere right now; that someone, somewhere, is fighting a battle inside his head which he cannot tell anyone about because no one is available to listen.

 

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger

 

We tend to despise the villains that pester our favorite superheroes in different movies, but the truth is we all know a villain we despise in our own real lives, and our default is to always see them as evil and conclude that they are just born that way — evil. And the sentence I just wrote led me to remember a quote from Carl Jung, a famous psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.

 

For every evil and negativity that we see from people we despise and hate, there is always a story behind that no one is able to fully know and be aware of because no one cared to sit down and listen. If only people would take some moments to check on one another (even those who seem to be doing well), I am certain that the world will undeniably become a much better place to live in.

 

But the sad reality is it is not.

 

Stigma on mental illnesses is all over the place.

There is lack of mental health education on basic and higher schools.

People only care about physical health while their mental health tends to suffer without awareness because attention was not fully given.

 

Investment on one’s mental health is not a waste of time, energy, and money.

How we attend to each other’s mental well-being determines what kind of future our world will have.

 

Ask your self today, do you want to live in a future world where everyone is already past their sanity because no one cared to attend to them when they were younger?

Is that the kind of world you want to raise your children and build your family in?

 

Yes, the movie was dark and violently unsuitable to young audiences, but isn’t that how we would describe the present real world we live in — dark and violent?

But we all have the chance to be the light in this dark world. We can all be an epitome of hope to people who need it. Do not miss every opportunity to give hope to someone everyday.

 

Every word you choose to say matters.

Every statement you choose to declare may either bring life or cause death.

Every action, intentionally or unintentionally, gives an impact to people around us.

 

You have the power to influence.

You have the capacity to speak life.

You have the choice to bring change to this unruly and hurtful world.

 

Always choose to be kind.

In any situation, in any given moment — always choose to be kind.

 

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The Small Things We Do

I cried while I was commuting on my way home; but I am certain they were tears of joy.

I was out today, volunteering for almost 15 hours. I went home with sore feet and all the other reasons to just lie down and have a good night’s sleep. I cried while I was commuting on my way home; but I am certain they were tears of joy.

I would usually stand on-stage only to sing and lead the worship, but today was not one of those days. Because today, God showed me a glimpse of the great work He is preparing me for.

Years ago, I never imagined my self spending my whole life inside the campus. I would always joke about being excited to go to school, but not to study. Today is August 4, 2019. It was three years ago (not exactly) when I started feeling the burden of getting involved into the lives of the students, but there was never a single moment I acknowledged that burden, nor even admitted that there was a burden at all. I would always shake off the thought of going into full-time campus ministry because, as obvious as I may have sounded earlier, I never wanted to spend the rest of my life inside the campus.

Aside from the fear of getting trapped inside the four corners of the school, I was afraid of how my parents might react when they realise that their only child, whom they sent into a private university for four long years, will not live on the line-of-business of her course. Instead, she will step out and walk on water by going into full-time ministry, completely depending only on the Lord’s grace and provision.

It was only a month ago when I realised I should stop running from the calling that God has been obviously impressing to me all these years…

It was only a month ago when I started fully acknowledging the burden that was actually planted inside my heart for a very long time. It was only a month ago when I realised I should stop running from the calling that God has been obviously impressing to me all these years when I spent my Fridays leading students into worship, when I spent several hours-a-week to meet students and do One2One and Victory Groups with those who are not even from my own campus.

All these years, the calling has always been here, sitting in my heart, waiting for the fire to be kindled.

On my way home, God took me back to all the times I denied the call; all the times I made up excuses; all the times I doubted His voice. But it was not condemning. He even conversed with me in a humorous way, “Ang dami-dami mo pang excuses noon, pero nasaan ka ngayon?”. And I realised, “Oo nga ‘no. Dito pa rin sa papunta sa calling Mo iyong bagsak ko”.

I still have a long way to go. I still have three more years before I finish my bachelor’s degree. I still have how many years to invest and minister in the marketplace before I answer His call to go full-time in the ministry. But today, I stand in awe as I see a glimpse of the great work He is charging me to go into. This is just a peek to greater measures of faith-building purposes He has been planning for me even before He formed me in my mother’s womb.

The waiting game is now on.

I do not mind spending a great part of my life discipling and investing in the next generation.

I do not mind going back to the campus even after spending how many years studying in it.

I do not mind surrendering my dream job of becoming a registered Psychologist, if it is for the sake of answering the calling of God in my life.

But waiting on the Lord does not mean sitting in passivity and plainly waiting for the right season to come. It means maximizing every season that comes before God’s go signal — doing His work even in the simplest things, and trusting that He knows what He is doing and when we are with Him, there is nothing to doubt and be afraid of.

The small things we do in our ministry today is God’s way of preparing us for greater things He will entrust to us in the future.

I cried while I was commuting on my way home; but I am certain they were tears of joy because now, even with sore feet and sleepy eyes, I am convinced that God has been carefully and beautifully orchestrating and planning how I will get into my finish line — His purpose, and all I have to do is obey and be patient.

In The Middle

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I do not know where else I would be if Your grace did not come to my rescue. Maybe I wouldn’t be here, singing, jumping, and rejoicing. Maybe I am somewhere else; somewhere far from where You want me to be.

 

But I am here. I made it. I can hear Your affirmations on how I bravely soared through and endured all the hard times and troubles. I did not take the easy road. I literally walked through the valley of the shadow of death, and You walked with me through it. You did not just walk beside me, in fact, You held and even carried me.

 

And here I am, standing before You — with tears flowing down my cheeks; with sweat running down my neck in exhaustion of all the jumping and dancing and singing in worship; with hair all untidy from being sold-out in worshiping.

 

I do not mind.

 

I do not mind looking all worn-out and disheveled. Just thinking how You must have looked like on the hill where You paid my ransom, I do not mind looking all unkempt and desperate at Your feet where You allow me to worship and praise.

 

I have been singing for You for more than three great years now, yet I still feel dissatisfied because I know, deep in my heart, that none of these will compare to what You have done for me. Not even the loudest and most heart-felt song can ever equal to Your glory. And ultimately, all of these things — the singing and jumping in praise — are rubbish if You are not in it. They won’t even exist if You did not meet me right here in the middle.

 

I only started to feel alive while worshiping when I realized that it happens two-way — I, stirring an atmosphere of worship wherever I find my self singing; and You, meeting me there. All of our songs are worthless if You won’t come in the midst of it. Every time I sing, I reach out to get to the middle where You will surely meet me. I started avoiding performances, and began making sure that I give my all every time I stand before You to worship.

 

All of these songs fall short of what Your glory deserves, and I am humbled by the truth that this is all I can offer. This is all I can do to express my gratitude, love, and desperation for You.

 

I cannot think of anything else to do in order to somehow give back what is truly due to You. But realizing that You do not demand anything in exchange of all the things You have done makes me want to worship You even more.

 

I will never run out of reasons to sing, for each day You give me new things to rejoice about. To be honest, even without any reason, just remembering that You will surely meet me in the middle of my worship, I am driven to sing with all that I have; with all that I am.

Where It All Finally Ends

I am not her. She should have been the one telling you all these things. Too bad she cannot. But here, let me do something for her in moments she cannot do anything for herself anymore. I don’t know. Maybe she got tired of doing all the work — fighting, holding-on, hoping, and many other things you refused to do for and with her. But here — right here — is where it all finally ends.

Here is where her fight ends. She had been fighting for a long time. The battles she secretly fought with in order to keep you — she figured she would just fight them all by herself because she knew you were not ready to fight them with her yet. I heard you were still gaining strength for your own battles, and she understood. So she figured she had to fight all those battles alone and unprepared as well. But it did not matter for her, because she saw you worthy of all the pain and wounds she received. And today, she decided to start healing herself. She did not want to heal before because she hoped someone would do the healing for her, but she met no one who is willing to help her get through all the pain and replace them with joy and love. So she finally decided to stop poking the wounds, and just let them heal through time.

Here is where her holding-on ends. As much as she wanted to see where her endurance will take her, she just cannot hold-on any longer. Everything about her is just tired and worn-out. She held on for so long that she forgot about all the other things she needed to put first — her happiness, her heart, her security, herself. She got so fond of putting your happiness above all else, which caused her to give up her own. She did not mind holding-on to uncertainties and confusions, because she believed that it was all real and genuine. She listened to her heart which told her to keep on going despite her mind knowing the reality that it was all in vain. Today, she decided to let go. She decided to let go of all the what ifs and could have beens. She decided to set free all the emotions she kept to herself all this time. She finally found herself worthy of being let-out and proud about.

Here is where her hope ends. Letting go of something that has been pushing you to do things and keep on going must be one of the hardest things to do. Her hope was the only thing that made her wake up every morning, knowing that she is one day closer to the day you will get back to her. It was this hope that magically made her go through great lengths in order to get to you. But today, she decided to stop hoping, because this hope that encouraged her to love her life is also the very same hope that kept on disappointing her because she did not feel like there was still something to hope about.

Until now, she is still uncertain if she is ready to let it all go, but she figured she won’t ever know if she is all ready until she starts taking the first step into casting all her care into the wind.

She fought, held-on, and hoped for a long time. She realized it was all enough, not because you are no longer worthy and she does not love you anymore, but because she wants to break-away from all the pain she received upon holding-on to you even after you have already let go of her. Everyone knows that this is the kind of battle where both of you must be fighting together, and now she refuses to give up all her strength for a battle she will never win alone.

So today, she takes the bravest step she has ever done this year.

Here, right here, is where it all finally ends.


Photo from Richard Rosete

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The Very Words I Will Never Have The Strength To Tell You

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I know things haven’t been good to us lately. I am not even sure if you will take time to read this, but hey, please hear me out. Because these are the very words I will never have the strength to tell you.

 

Honestly, I haven’t been doing good lately. I have been thinking about how it all came so fast, and how it all ended too soon. I cannot forget the feeling of agitation the first moment we talked, and oh how I would trade everything to go back to how we started — to how we used to be. It was just a short matter of time, but it was all I needed to tell my self that I found happiness in every moment we talked.

 

I felt every tinge of excitement every time your name would pop out on my screen. Everything did not seem to matter anymore. I just wanted our conversation to not end.

 

I would lie if I tell you that I did not see my self with you in the future. I wouldn’t be honest in any way if I tell you that it was that easy to let you go. Because you have already became my hope. You gave me hope that someone is willing to bear with all my unsteadiness and insecurities.

 

It was not easy turning my back to the only one who gave me hope.

 

You were my home. You listened when no one did. You tried to understand even the most complicated parts of me. I found a safe haven in you. You helped me calm my raging seas of thoughts and emotions. You were willing to stay when nobody else wanted to.

 

And now it’s all gone. We’re all gone.

 

And I cannot blame anyone else but me.

 

I pushed you away because I was consumed by fear. I was too afraid to drag you into my mess, because I feel like everything about me is out of place, and I don’t want to share my burdens with you, because if only I can, I would also carry yours if it means seeing you chase after your dreams in your happiest state. I want to be there for you just as how you used to be there for me every time I am bombarded by my thoughts. You coped up with my uneasy nights, and words cannot tangibly express how grateful I am to you for trying to make me feel that I am not alone.

 

Since the day we bid goodbye, I haven’t stopped looking and reading back our messages, and remembering how it all made me feel, I have no regrets because even for just a short matter of time, I did not feel alone.

 

The wistful reality now is that it’s all gone. And it is because of me. I feel terrible because I feel like I owe you a huge apology, but what distresses me is that I cannot distinguish what I am achingly sorry for. I am sorry for all the troubles. I am sorry if you ever felt pushed away or disdained. I am sorry if you had to bear with my mess. I am not sure if you will ever forgive me, because to be honest, I cannot even forgive my self.

 

But I know we’ll soon come to good terms. All I can do now is look at you from afar, and look back to our old nothings. I want to see you become the man you have always wanted to be. I want to see you succeed in chasing after your dreams, and I am sure you will. I want to see you set your feet upon different places you have always wanted to be. I want to see you be happy, genuinely, without pretensions. I want you to see your self for who you really are — an excellent, kind-hearted, wise, humble person that you are.

 

You deserve all the best things in life because you do not get tired of persevering even in the most tiring days of your life.

 

And to make it more clear, I will still hope.

 

I will still hope that we will find each other again one day when we are both where we have always wanted to be and we are already who we want to be.  I will hear your stories and rants again. I will be excited to wake up again because I know your message awaits. It will take a lot of years, but I know we’ll get there. Maybe then, I am a little less messy, and I won’t be eaten up by my fear, and just let you be dragged into the great mess that I am, only if you already want to by then.

A Truth I Will Never Speak Of

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If only I have a heart as strong as other people’s, I wouldn’t have pushed a lot of love away.

 

I’ve lost count on how many times I have rejected people from completely getting into my life. I cannot deny the truth that it is because I am too afraid to give them the opportunity to break me again, the same way I was left and broken by people in the past.

 

But it is not only because I am afraid; but it is also because I am ashamed.

 

I am ashamed to be a burden to people. To be honest, one of the reasons why I do not want to become part of people’s lives is because I do not want to be a burden to them. I do not want them to deal with my constant mood swings and unending dramas. I do not want them to feel worthless because they cannot do anything to make me feel better every time I self-pity.

 

I feel weak. I feel like nobody can ever handle me and stand with me through my longest and most painful crying nights with unexplained reasons.

 

And I hate my self for that, because as much as I want to be with certain people, I just can’t, because I am afraid to be an extra baggage to them. I don’t want to share my sadness to them, so I keep it all to my self.

 

Everyday, instead of telling these things, I choose to drown my self into an endless pit of sadness. Instead to seeking for company, I choose to embrace the reality that no one is ever willing to deal with my unstable situation. And instead to finding a safe haven from the presence of a person, I choose to let my self be consumed by the overwhelming thoughts that keep me awake until the next day.

 

I do not wonder that much anymore. I just accepted the fact that everyday, I am dying a slow and painful death. And do not try to save me. Because no one can. And , sadly, no one has even ever tried.

Life Has Never Been Really Good To Me

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Life has never been really good to me. No matter in what perspective I try to look at it, I just cannot see how life has been treating me well.

 

Looking back to how and who I used to be, I realized a lot of things have happened and changed. I am constantly being changed, I know, but sometimes I admit I do not like what and who I see every time I look at the mirror. Perhaps, there are moments when I do not already know who I am looking at.

 

Nineteen years have passed, and as cliché as it may sound, it was indeed a roller-coaster ride. I experienced settling and being thrown down into the rock bottom where I learned to look up and depend on the only tinge of hope that things shall soon fall into their place. I have been into moments when I felt alone and confused, and honestly, I did not know for sure if I would be able to reach this far in life, because several times did I think about ending it right there.

 

But I made it! I am here, writing about how beautiful my life has become since I placed my complete dependence and hope in my Love, only because I am His love too!

 

I will never forget how it felt to secretly cry every night, helplessly trying to hold in my sobs and tears because of the fear of having anyone find out about my suppressed agony. During those times, I would stare at the person in the mirror and blame her for all the failures and disappointments that she has caused in my life. As I looked at her, I saw her scars – the invisible scars which could only be seen through her eyes full of tears and hurt. And I saw that she was alone, probably lonelier than I was tangibly feeling that time. I pitied her and told myself I would never pull her again even more than how she has already hit rock bottom – which caused her wounded knees.

 

Within those nineteen years, I have known people whose lives made an impact in mine. I have also seen lives being changed and oh how wonderful the feeling is to know that I am a part of that change. I learned to appreciate the beauty of life and compassion. I learned how to love people and guard their emotions, and I have seen the wonders of empathy and how putting it first makes an impact in one’s life.

 

Life has never been really good to me, because it is God who has always been the only good thing in my life. And I do not expect life to be good to me because it is supposed to be full of trials, sufferings and testing. But I want to be good to my life. I want to learn how to love it and take good care of it, honoring its Creator in every possible way.

 

“I want to impact more lives”, I say to myself. I want to bring change to wherever I will set my feet upon. I want to witness more wonders that shall bring me to my knees, worshiping as a response because of running out of words in awe of all the things that are created before me. I want to see more of creation’s beauty and see myself in tears because the One who set it all in place is also the One who sets everything in my life in place. I want to sing more of the overwhelming love that I have been submerged into my whole life. I want to sing until I cannot anymore. I want to worship for as long as I can.

 

Even if it takes nineteen years and more, I want to worship and praise every single moment, not because life is good to me, but because the One who created it is.

Promise and Waiting

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When waiting, it means we have an expectation, and we anticipate a wonderful end, but this end was based on a promise we received.

 

The promise we receive is both a seed and a harvest. When we first get a promise, it is actually in seed form, and then we must wait a while before we can see that seed turn into a harvest, hence the reason for the waiting process. 

 

Our waiting is based on an expectation of the seed turning into a harvest.

 

A mother expects a baby after she gets the news that she is pregnant, and she then gets excited. She eats carefully, she thinks about the color of the baby’s room, and though her tummy is still flat, she now has a hope and expectation for the end result. When a woman gets engaged, her ring is the seed that the harvest of marriage is coming, and she starts with great anticipation to prepare the way in advance for the happy ever after with the right guy. When a man is granted his first business loan, it is the seed he will one day reap a harvest of owning a multi-million dollar corporation. So you see, everything we are waiting on began with a seed.

 

In life, sometimes we lose track of the promise, and when we do, our waiting process becomes hard, long, laborious, and frustrating. We blame God for the delay, and we even become rebellious towards God and the people we do life with.

 

The bible tells us that there is seed time and there is harvest time, and this suggests that between the seed and the harvest, there is a thing called “TIME”.

 

Maybe you are in this place where you are losing faith, growing weary, and frustrated and you feel like running ahead of God, but I want to encourage you to hold on, go back to the promise God gave you in seed form and envision the harvest.

 

What does it look like? What were your desires, dreams, and vision when God gave you the seed?

 

Take a few moments today meditating on the seed God gave you and see hope rise again. God is good in His promises, and He will never fail you even though it may be taking longer than you expected.

 

Many people give up halfway; they turn their backs on their dreams and vision because they became hopeless.

 

Hope helps us carry on when life gets rough; to hope means to have a joyful, confident expectation of good and the only way we can maintain hope is by holding on to the promises of God.

 

The main reason people take their lives is because they were convinced all hope was gone and the enemy loves to keep people hopeless.

 

Our God is a God of hope, so please go back to your promise and be revived again!

 

Hope is called the anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19) because it gives stability to the Christian life. But hope is not simple a ‘wish’ (I wish that such-and-such would take place); rather, it is that which latches onto the certainty of the promises of the future that God has made.     – R. C. Sproul

Why 2018 Was Not My Year

 

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Many times have I called to God, ranting about the things I never wanted to go through. 2018 went as though it was a year that was specially made to let me see the bigger picture of my life and its purpose.

 

2018 was not my year. It was full of undesirable things and events I never want to encounter again. It was full of pain and hurting. It was full of tears and regrets.

 

It was the year when I was sent into a completely strange place where God was the only One I knew. I felt like I was sent somewhere I was not supposed to be. God made me do things I was really not good at, and thankfully, He graciously led me back to where I was supposed to be.

 

2018 was made up of moments where I tried to run from the reality of answering to different responsibilities and opportunities. I was full of fears and doubts then. It was not my year because I became too afraid to stand up and courageously speak my heart out.

 

It was the year that made me realize how temporary our earthly relationships can be. I saw how emotionally draining it is to let your heart get broken too many times, well, not basically my heart, but I saw other people’s pain as well, and it did not feel good looking at other people’s eyes only to see how they can barely hide the agony that was trying to peek from the inside.

 

2018 was not my year because it gave me a lot of lessons I had to learn the hard way, and by that, it cost me great pain and hurt before I came to the clarity of the path I am supposed to take.

 

There are many stories I do not have all the time to tell about. As much as I want to look back on all the highs and lows, God has been telling me, as I bid my farewell to the year, to raise my head up and look at the upcoming year with an expectant heart.

 

2018 was not my year because it was God’s year.

 

It was His year of drawing me closer to His presence to let me experience the assurance of an abundant life lived with Him.

 

It was His year of lavishing me with the clarity of His direction for my life, and I could not be any more grateful knowing that He has made everything work together for my good. I have received the confidence of saying YES to His call and taking courageous steps of faith towards the great future He has specially made for me.

 

It was His year of revealing how vast His graciousness can be. The endless testing of faith and hope led me to the comfort of knowing that no matter how many times I fail and commit mistakes when it comes to my decisions in life, He has already placed a lifeline ahead of me which leads back to another opportunity of abiding in His word and promises.

 

2018 was God’s another year of proving His faithfulness in my life, and it showed how wonderful His grace for everyone is. I could not be any more grateful for all the new friendships I made, new memories to look back to, and new established convictions that shall keep me together as I present my self to another year of battling in victory with God.

On Waiting

It is hard to trust and hold on to something you cannot see and be sure of. Waiting for something uncertain to happen feels like walking in the dark with your eyes covered.

I have never been more sure when I say that there will always be things in life we can never be sure of. Maybe our confidence is what gives us the right amount of push we need to keep on dreaming that another day will spring up tomorrow, but I came to think of it — it is not confidence we really need, but security.

Where is your security?

Most of the time, we may not be able to realise that we are already being consumed by the things we value the most — more than the ones God is calling us to prioritise at this certain season in our lives. We often confuse the things God is commanding us to do with the things we want to do. Sometimes it is out of fear that we refuse to step out and be sent into where we are supposed to be, but most of the time it is because our security is placed on the wrong things.

One reason why we are afraid and too impatient to go through a season of waiting is because we are afraid to be left behind. We often chase after being on track with other people’s timeline and forget about the truth that God has thoroughly planned when things are supposed to happen in every person’s course of life.

Another reason is because we desire to get right into the result. We want to be the person God plans us to be, without realising that the process is just as important as the outcome.

We look at our waiting season as if it is made only to make us patient, but in reality, it is what will truly mold us to be the person God intends us to be. The people we meet along the way will teach us different lessons we never expect to gain. The undesirable events we encounter will open our eyes to see how important it is to appreciate the value of the things we have and the One who gave them to us. And most importantly, our season of waiting gives us a clearer vision on how worthy the thing we are waiting for is.

As we wait, we will be able to better appreciate the value of the thing or person we are waiting for, because when the season of waiting is finally over, by the moment we look back on how challenging and long the waiting part has been, we will surrender into worship realising that God has been gracious to get us through that long journey and lovingly rewards us with an answered prayer.

And as we wait, let us not only sit down and grumble on how long the season is taking. Wait and pray, and listen to God’s voice on what He intends us to do while waiting. Enjoy the process. More than looking forward to finally claiming what we are praying for, it is even more fulfilling when we know that we showed ourselves faithful along our season of waiting.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬