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  • OT100 Disability Day Report: Trying on Someone Else’s “Imperfect” Shoe

      Being a handicapped person or someone who has a disability is very difficult, even more when you have to live with it. You get ridiculed and ignored as if you have been trying to spread a plague whatsoever. People may be kind to those who are or who have been disabled physically but it is the ones who have mental illness who were often rejected and misunderstood. This is what I had to go through during the OT100 Disability Day last July 11, 2005 from 8 in the morning to 12 noon as I tried to simulate a person with mental and/or behavioral illness. Four hours of enduring an intricate task which had enlightened me and made me realize that though some individual may be different, still, we all are the same – we are human beings created by God.
    My assigned disability was Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This disorder occurs mostly during childhood and if not treated at early age might continue until adulthood. Among the common manifestations of this disorder are: inattentiveness, impulsiveness and hyperactivity. A child with ADHD has poor memory, poor communication skills, hyperactive and acts without thinking. He is restless and finds answering homework far more difficult than other children. He cannot focus on one task for long for he easily gets bored and impatient. He also has the tendency to develop other disorders such as bipolar disorder and conduct disorder.
    Since I was simulating an adolescent with ADHD, I had first conducted a mini research on how this kind of disorder manifests among teenagers of my age. Definitely it would be a lot different in adolescents than that of children. And I learned that the degree of hyperactivity sort of decreases but evidences of poor attention and slow mental capacity is still present. So I planned early on how I am going to simulate the disability and listed down some activities or acts I could perform on the disability day per se, like always fidgeting on my seat during our ride on the jeepney and never seeming to stay in one place, inability to stare and focus on anything for a long time, not paying attention when someone will talk to me and avoiding eye contacts, pointing at objects that will catch my attention, blurting out random things, doing this mannerism of twitching my face I devised myself etc.
    The place where I had to simulate my assigned disability was at Isetann Recto. The general status of people there was that of “middle class”. There are a lot of vendors, workers and some students. They wouldn’t actually throw violent reactions at me since I was wearing the typical shirt and jeans of a teenager and I am cleaner as compared to my other block mates who were simulating people with bipolar disorder until I would show some signs of “weirdness” that they’d look at me in annoyance or they’d laugh at me. Because they had no idea what I am going about and I doubt it if they even know what ADHD is, they’d just simply turn away not seeming to care or they would stare at me as if I had the strangest look in the world!
    Mostly, the students or the people of my age were the ones who are less understanding. There is this one guy I asked for direction and when he’d started talking I tried not to pay any attention pretending I saw something strange in the sky, then he uttered, “may diperensya ata ‘to eh”. And his entire friend laughed. While we were on the jeepney, I began my “theatrical act” of restlessness, trying to appear impatient and irritated, and all the people inside the jeep looked at me with question marks on their faces, while some are already getting irritated with me. However, there is this one woman I encountered whom I could never forget. I was about to cross the streets, and she too. When there were no other vehicles that seem to pass by and the road was free for the pedestrians, she must had noticed me somewhat unaware of reality that she decided to pull me by the arm to cross the streets with her. It was really nice for her to do that.
    It was really a different feeling to pretend as someone whom other people think of as less capable for a person. Though majority of the people were indifferent to people with disabilities most especially with those suffering from mental illness, there are still few who were kind enough to even ask what’s wrong with me and it made me feel that somehow there are still some who are willing to care.
    One of the difficulties I encountered during our Disability Day was how to make other people notice me and to convince them I have ADHD. Almost everybody thinks of insanity as a generic for all mental illnesses regardless of whether it is schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression or mania. Another thing is that, people with ADHD have the tendency to develop conduct disorder and manic-depressiveness, so it was certainly a challenge for me to think of acts where in I could show manifestations of ADHD in me and at the same time, staying out of trouble. So I just tried to do acts that are a little bit more discreet like trying to enter at the exit gate of Isetann, getting hold of some items in the store for a long time but not to the point of putting it to my pocket and though I blurt out random words, I tried not to scream foul words.
    The accessibility of the place in relation to people with ADHD, I believe, is fair since people with ADHD are not as dirty-looking as those who are severely affected by disorganized schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They even get to study and work as normal people do. More often than not, ADHD in teenagers is not that obvious than that in children. I easily got inside the mall, and even my other block mates who almost seemed like taong grasa as they simulate people with bipolar disorder. But the amount of support people with mental illness get is relatively few as compared to that of the people with physical disabilities because they are often misconceived as dangerous. They are the ones often marginalized by the society, and even if there are institutions that are willing to help them, there is not a single person willing to put them in.
    People with disabilities deserve proper care and respect. Yes, they may not be able to do what others can but this does not permit us to laugh at them, call them names or to stay away from them but instead do something to help them. I, as a student, may not have that much of help and support to provide them but I could start off by educating other people around me to avoid further misconceptions and discriminations to PWDs. I believe education is a vital tool for understanding. And by learning how these people go through life’s indifferences, we could then help them cope with life better.
    It is funny how I used to tell my friend whenever we see the woman with a mental disorder in front of the Department of Justice how I wonder what people like her think and feel, how they became like that and what they are like before they lost their sense of reality. Now, I had at least some idea about their situation by experiencing to be one during our last Disability Day.
    The OT100 Disability Day is indeed a very worthwhile activity. It may be a pre-requisite for a major subject in college I am taking up right now but it also provided me the knowledge about people with disabilities and thus made me appreciate Occupational Therapy more. It helped me realize that I am on the right track all along. This activity helped me understood more about PWDs most especially those with mental illness. I understand now that they need care and support from the environment and from the society to at least live as normal people do, for to be able to understand other people around you means being on the other person’s shoe. And this made me decide to pursue OT to be able to help these people.
    This activity had been very meaningful for me in studying other people with disability. It can be improved more if a student was put in a variety of setting during the simulation to elicit different reactions of people from different statuses. I had a lot of fun and I learned so much from the activity. It was in fact the strangest yet most fruitful four hours of my life.
    Ma. Joanna B. Torres

  • There are two things I now know the answers of…

    A very special friend once asked me… “What’s the sense of being in a relationship when the two of you can be the best of friends?”

    I just sighed in affirmation though we may have contradicting views on love and relationships.

    As I see it… lovers first start off by being friends. And I think that good relationships begin that way. Because they had a longer time getting to know one another so it is easier for them to get along very well.
    I remember a gal friend told me before, when she was narrating her breakup with her boyfriend. “How I wish we had started off as friends first…” and so the guy spoke to her and they agreed that they’d be friends first and see if everything could work out well the second time. And later she came back to me crying…it no longer worked.
    Lovers can later be best friends. But it’s different when your friends , even more when you’ve learned to consider one another as the best friends you can always count on to…the friendship disappears when love comes in between. Because you don’t know now where to put yourself into position! I know most of you wouldn’t actually agree on this but…going back to the question again… the answer lies to the kiss. A kiss is an involuntary act that connects two people often associated with a mixture of different feelings… (that is if it is true). It is a sort of magic that brought two people together out of the real world for a moment…and some says… the time seems to come into a stop.
    Tell me, if the feelings of a man for a woman who happens to be his friend evolved into something more that one day he woke up feeling that he never would want to leave her side anymore… can a man still kiss a woman with the same old feeling…? Would it still be the same kiss? Can friends kiss each other on the lips?? No. because if one of them gave in, the feelings break loose…no matter how they deny to themselves, they cannot erase the fact that indeed things have changed and that everything is no longer the same… so that’s the phase when you experience “weighing situations”….do I love him/her already? But what if this feeling only breaks us apart? I can’t afford to lose him/her… Like in my personal experience - we used to be very dear friends, but when emotions grew between us…I didn’t just lose the man I loved, I also lost my friend.
    When you are committed to one another, that then sets the boundary between friendship and romantic love. There are certain things that you can do as a lover that you cannot do as a friend, and vice versa.
    And so I believe…

    A man and a woman could never ever be just friends… there would always be something that comes in between. Something that is more powerful, more perplex and yet even more. Something that is God-made.

    Hmm… the other thing I am talking about… well, I’ll just keep it to myself in the mean time...until I finally figure it out…for sure, that is.

    oh well, someday i hope to stand corrected...let's see...

  • Who are you…the guy in my dream?

    I just woke up feeling so light from a very good sleep. Not just because for once I had a complete ten hours of sleep, haha! But it was also raining hard last night and the bed sheets felt cold and soft… and I had this strange dream. And throughout the day I just can’t control this stupid mouth of mine from smiling.
    I can’t quite recall the whole of it but all I could remember is that during my entire dream I was running with this man, our hands holding one another as he lead the way while I just follow behind. I can’t remember why we were running or where we were running from. All I know is that we are in that white and multi-storey building. As we walk and run together from one floor to another, holding each other’s hands (handcuffed sometimes, finger laced), we would see on the way all the people that I know – my classmate back in elementary, Dialyn, who didn’t pay attention when she saw me; some of my classmates during college (though I can’t tell if they were the ones I’m closest to) and…the OT freshmen? Haha! I didn’t even know why I saw them. I also saw the guys from ‘the’ fraternity that…oh well.=)
    But the guy in my dream, I never even saw his face or…did I? I dunno. As far as I can remember, he stands a couple of inches taller than me and I guess, wears black..? and all the while we were just holding hands…and I sort of feel comfortable being with him. It’s not that I have special feeling or affection with this guy…I even wonder why I hold hands with someone I don’t even know! Well, that’s just in my dream. =)
    Waking up into reality, I guess I just needed somebody…like the guy in my dream – someone who would tightly hold my hands, who would run the course with me…someone who wouldn’t abandon me no matter how many times I trip and fall and even if I am so slow…he would always look back to my direction and in the long run, he would still wait for me…our hands intertwined. I guess I need exactly someone like the guy in my dream…someone I’m comfortable with, someone who would always make me happy and make me forget everything else… somebody who would especially run the mile with me when troubles arise.
    I wanted to know the man in my dream. I want to meet him…to be with him.
    Perhaps I was just being too ‘idealistic’…when in fact, in the real world, that kind of “knight-in-shining-armor” persona no longer exists.

    *waaahhHHH,, why am I like this????? Now that I have finally agreed to myself that I would remain happy and single until the time is right for me to meet the right one!!! Oh heck…-_-;*

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