By SYRAH VIVIEN J. INOCENCIO
AT FIRST glance, Aleia Anies may seem like she’s a tough nut to crack, but as her plum-painted lips turn into a smile, people will think otherwise. Despite being diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder, a mental illness that causes episodes of depression and abnormally elevated mood or mania, the Communication Arts senior proves that nothing can stop her from achieving her goal.
In her childhood years, she already considered herself an artist. Her vivid imagination brought her into the arts of painting, drawing, and writing stories.
“Generally, I was a very artistic person, ever since pa talaga. So, growing up, I had this outlet. That’s what I was drawn to— arts,” she shared.
The young artist took most of her inspiration from the books she read and loved. Between the pages, she found strength to rise above her nightmares.
“I had a very depressing childhood. Maraming nangyari sa ’kin na, basically, was traumatic. [Reading] is where I draw most of my strength from. […] I look back on my childhood with a certain type of bitterness that one would have when one goes through traumatic experiences. My experiences are as rare as the sentences you’ll find ‘peculiar’ in.”
Making light of her dark days, Anies turned her struggles into words. Through the right words, her bitter memories became beautiful literary pieces compiled in a book she called Blood Evacuation.
“I got the title Blood Evacuation from a song by Pierce The Veil. They used to be my favorite band. […] I wanted to sort of thank them for getting me through the bad and ugly,” she said.
Anies began writing parts of the book in her second year in high school. Her work, which was published in 2017, gave her the push she needed during the lowest point of her life.
“I am most proud of my book, Blood Evacuation, kasi it summarizes all my experiences and it’s just there. You can read all my experiences in one seating. […] I’m most proud of [it] kasi it gave me a sense of hope,” she shared.
Finding refuge in writing
For Anies, both love and mental health made her book special. Amid heart breaks, self-struggles, and gloomy days, writing became her stronghold.
“It helped me cope with depression and anxiety. It helped me get through the bad days, even if I was barely getting through them. I really think na without writing, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Anies uttered.
Aside from writing, the love and support she receives from her family and friends also help her in her battle with Bipolar II disorder.
Love made her get back on her feet, pushing her to improve herself. However, Anies believes that the love she receives from others will not be enough. “Kailangan ikaw mismo, you have the will and the drive to become a better version of yourself.”
Battling mental illness
For Anies, talking about mental health will never be easy. Nonetheless, she believes that the more people bring light to this sensitive topic, the more it will help in eradicating the stigma attached to it.
“I think it’s vital that stories like mine are put out into the world so that more people are aware, more people become aware that things like this happen on a daily basis to a lot of people,” she stressed.
Asking for help is not a walk in the park for a lot of people but it is the most important step second to acceptance for her. She tells those who are still battling their mental illnesses that it gets worse before it gets better and it takes a whole lot of courage to face it.
“First, learn to accept the fact that there is a problem. Second, ask for help from someone who will acknowledge it. Third, don’t be ashamed or afraid of judgement or what other people will think,” she emphasized.
A day at a time
Anies’ daily experiences are not always an easy ride. Being diagnosed with the disorder, her mood swings largely affect her and the people around her.
“What keeps me going is my family. Mawala na lahat, ‘wag lang sila. Kasi they have been with me throughout this journey and they will be with me until the very end,” she said.
Thinking of the future may be encouraging to some, however, it’s the other way around for the young writer.
“You can choose the future but if you choose to think of what’s happening today, it’s more feasible, it’s much more concrete kasi it’s today, it’s going to happen, it’s happening,” she said. F