Sunday, March 21, 2010

Death Becomes Him

Lately, I seem to have developed the symptoms of depression. Not the usual, everyday kind of sadness that people call "depression" but the actual clinical form of a mood disorder. I do know the cause of my so-called disorder, but I'd rather not discuss it because it's a tad too personal. Apparently, my depression has hit the roof and appeared in the result of my TAT.

TAT, or the Thematic Apperception Test is a projective technique (or psychological test) where the client is presented with 20 pictures and he must create a story out of each one. We took the test last week for our Psychological Testing class and I was bothered at the content of my stories. Most of them talked about death and there was a little too much violence. There was a girl on the brink of suicide, a woman who finds her son brutally murdered, a massacre, a child psychopath who enjoys mutilating animals, a killer, a suicidal doctor, and man-eating creatures. I marveled at the creativity of my stories given the fact that we were only allowed five minutes for each drawing, but I was bothered that only two of my stories are positive.

As a writer, I usually write these kinds of things but I'm guessing it's not appropriate with psychological tests because projective tests such as these project your deepest desires, fears, motivation, and fantasies. I can't say that I wrote what I did because I wanted to impress my professor with my morbid imagination, I wrote them because that's what I saw when I looked at the pictures. When I saw the kid imagining a surgery, I interpreted it as a psychopath who wants to cut people up. I was silently laughing while I wrote about the kid, who I described as obnoxious and haughty, because I felt that most of my classmates saw a kid dreaming to be a doctor. After the class, I asked my professor to read my work to see if she thought my interpretations were unusual.

When she talked to me last Tuesday, she told me that she was disturbed with my stories. She said that there was a lot of reference to death, to emptiness, and loneliness. I told her about how I wanted to kill myself, or at least be dead inside. For some reason, I didn't tell her about last Saturday's night out with friends where I wore non-prescription glasses and called myself Christopher because Koji is dead. I told her that the content could be explained by my passion for Stephen King and serial killers.

"It's okay to read those things. But you have to be careful because there's already a thin line between reality and fantasy," she told me while I sat there, scared. "I'm afraid that if you expose yourself too much to this, it will carry over to reality."

I thought about that child, that little kid I knew most of my classmates saw as a kid growing up to be a doctor, and there I was, thinking it was a psychopath who laughs while cutting up dogs and rabbits. I couldn't imagine myself mutilating animals. When I read the part about Patrick Bateman torturing a dog in American Psycho, I flinched.

"Why are there so many references to death in your interpretation?" she asked. I knew she was observing me, watching my every move. I knew she was looking for signals, signals only a psychologist could see, like a sudden shift of mood or topic. I couldn't look her in the eye and I was sweating, even though it was cold.

"I don't know. I don't really want to die.... but I don't want to live either," I said blankly.

"There are so many things to be thankful for. You have been given so many opportunities, many of them others don't have. You have great talent, and it would be a waste if you kill yourself. You have been given this opportunity to live while others can't." She said so many other things but everything led back to this.

She's right. While I am complaining about how I haven't seen Alice in Wonderland after waiting for almost a year, while I sulked about how I didn't get my way in a particular situation, other people have no money, homes, or clothes. I know I sound like I'm preaching but a little gratitude won't hurt anyone. Right now I'm making a quick mental check list of the things I should be grateful for and I'm not even done. But to summarize what I have: a very comfortable home, a loving family, a good school, great friends, a knack for writing, and a kickass style to boot (indulge me, will you?).

The same morning, I saw the music video of We Are The World 25 for Haiti, sung by Justin Bieber, Nicole Scherzinger, Josh Groban, Barbra Streisand, Carlos Santana, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, and many others. The video included footage of what happened in Haiti and it made me feel bad for hating my privileged life. I actually cried while watching the video.

In hindsight, I have been pondering the things my professor said even before she said it. But hearing it from her, a professional, who I associated with a mother image, I suddenly felt a lot better. I guess it's now time to cancel the IMI Uzi submachine gun I ordered on eBay. I kid.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hope and expectations

My homeboy Samuel Johnson once said that he who expects much will often be disappointed. I believe that, the same way I believe black goes with everything and pink should only be worn by those under 35. My problem is, sometimes I tend to forget that bit about expectations and raise the bar every now and then. I've been doing that a lot lately and it got me thinking about expectations and hope. I realized that there is a fine line between the two and many confuse one for the other. I myself have fallen victim to this slippery slope.

First let us define the two.

We all live with certain expectations. We expect the professor to show up at the time alloted. We expect to eat dinner in the evening. We expect Manny Villar to come up with another commercial. There are certainties in expectations.

In hope, we get by with faith. There is no assurance that what we're hoping for would pull through. There is an immensely frightening possibility for it not to happen. I have discussed the courage of those who hope, but the trouble is, in hope, sometimes we expect. The sad part is, sometimes our expectations blow out of proportion and we are absolutely sure that it will happen. And when it doesn't, we get hurt. By expecting too much, when we should have been hoping, we make ourselves vulnerable to pain.

I remember this boy I used to date. This happened two years ago and we were very much in love. He dedicated a Beethoven poem to me and he used to make this really stupid but cute sound to make me smile. Like most relationships, it failed. I remember the last thing he told me was that wasn't our time. Because I loved him, because I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, I held on to that. But, instead of hoping, I expected. I expected that when he resolved his issues with his sexuality (he was confused around the time we dated), he would get back with me and we would live happily ever after.

It took quite a while for me to move on. I blindly held on to his last words, believing that he would sweep me off my feet again. I stalked his social networking profiles, texted him randomly, went to certain places hoping I would see him there. I was pathetic. A good friend slapped some sense into me when she said that I shouldn't expect. While she didn't tell me to hope, it was pretty much the same thing. She told me to get on with my life. That way, if he doesn't come back, it won't hurt terribly. And when he does, it would be a pleasant surprise. I still remember those words, and I had the pleasure of telling her the same thing when she was in a similar position. That guy didn't come back, but I'm glad to say that my days of pining away for him has ended.

Hope and expectation are very tricky things and must be handled with care. I know our emotions can get the best of us but I think we should do less of expecting and more of hoping. There is something sweeter when the thing we hope for suddenly comes true. There is that triumphant feeling of awe and surprise that makes the situation even more beautiful.

Also,when it doesn't happen, it won't hurt as much. Sigh, I should have realized this a week ago.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Boyfriends and tea

Last night, I went to Alabang to meet a client for my case study in Guidance and Counseling. Because I was desperate to have him as a client, I bribed him with offers of dessert in Coffee Bean or in any dessert shop of his choice. He agreed, which was a blessing, because the thought of pouring your innermost problems to a relative stranger is unlikely, even at the thought of free French apple pie.

I've been hanging out a lot in Coffee Bean lately so I decided to try out their collection of teas. I've been a fan of CBTL for three years and have sampled most of their coffee so I thought why not their tea? I've been trying to live the healthy lifestyle and tea is as healthy as you could get. This was actually my first time because I always order the tea lattes.

Maybe it was my expectations, but I wasn't satisfied. Perhaps it was because I drink tea practically everyday, but I expected a special something, a kick that would say that this is designer shit. I ordered the strawberry flavored green tea after the recommendation of an HR supervisor in Generika who used to work in Coffee Bean. I don't know, but I actually prefer the Earl Grey being sold in supermarkets by the bunch. I'm still open to trying their other flavors, though. The raspberry looks really promising.

What I did like though about the tea in CBTL was that you can ask for hot water to steep another cup. This pleased my stingy heart because I could have endless cups of tea for only php95.

While I was listening to my client's stories of abuse in college, my mind wandered to the sheer joy of having another cup for practically nothing. I also made a silly but thought-provoking analogy regarding tea and boyfriends. This is, however, not the first time I connected the two because I once called someone my Earl Grey because I didn't know whether to like him or not. It takes a while to get used to that guy, and bergamot in general.

So, my analogy is this. I'm not going to expound on it, seasoning it with quotes from chick flicks or theories from psychologists, because I was trying to focus on the things my client was saying. I realized that ex-boyfriends are like tea. You enjoy it, basking in the bold flavor of jasmine or oolong or chai while you do your activities. But in the end, you finish your cup, and you're left with nothing but the residue of leaves.

However, what's good is that you can refill and enjoy your cup of tea again. Like ex-boyfriends, you can take them back and relive the thrills, the joys, and the good times. Sometimes you have to put more sugar to capture the taste of the first cup, but still, it's attainable.

But there is that point where you get tired of it, that one cup is enough. There was this one time my friend gave me a pack of Japanese rice tea which tasted really awesome. When I tried to make another cup, it made me want to puke. I suddenly remembered this ex-boyfriend who after three years is attempting to make contact and rekindle the flames of romance. He doesn't make me want to vomit, but I think once was enough.

After I got my second cup last night in Coffee Bean, I wasn't able to finish it.

Ha. I feel like such a genius.
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