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The Philippines – A Cure for Mental Illness, Boredom, and Stress?

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I thought I would take a little break from my usual fare and talk a little about how I am doing in the Philippines.

Since I arrived seven years ago, life has been a series of ups-and-downs. I guess part of me thought changing my hemisphere would cure my mental illness, but that is not how it works, is it? The Philippines has changed me for the better, but the work I’ve done on my recovery I would have had to do no matter where I was in the world.

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I was talking to my wife, and we agreed that the first three years of our marriage were a battle. Not having the kind of courtship that a regular relationship would have, my wife and I had to turn what was basically infatuation, and the fact that we both needed rescuing, into real love. I am not upset that my wife didn’t truly love me when we married, and I know that she needed me to get out of a bad situation. I was in need of the same thing.

She had to learn how to deal with my illness, never having any experience with it before. She saw me turn, in a few months, back to the person I was when I left the States. I slept all the time, was depressed and wouldn’t leave the house, and I was suicidal. In fact, in 2014, I tried to kill myself, and she had to deal with the horror of that situation and the aftermath. Looking back, I know it was selfish, and I am only now finding out that Flora still does not trust me because of what I’d done. It took a few really hard and emotional days to get her to break her silence about her own issues about what I had done and how it affected her. I am glad to say we are healing these issues, but it will take time.

depressed Jason

Depression can make the best life bad…

Knowing what I know now, I don’t know if I would have followed the same course of leaving everything behind and dragging my problems here and inflicting them on Flora. I think maybe I would have extended our courtship longer and stayed where I was until I was on the path to recovery.

Is there a lesson here? I think so.

I’ve seen a few comments where some people with mental issues want to come to the Philippines. While there is care available as far as psychiatrists and medication, there are a few things like therapists that are lacking. The wait times to see the doctors are quite long, and you do have to pay for everything out-of-pocket unless you are lucky enough to be on an insurance policy that works in the Philippines. The medication is still quite expensive.

Practicing self-care while living with a mental illness is not just making sure you treat yourself right but also about not putting yourself in a situation that will aggravate your illness or hurt your recovery. Had I stayed in the States with the level of care available there and kept my mind on the right track as far as thinking about changing my life, I might have gotten on the path to recovery quicker and may never have tried to commit suicide.

Here is what I would suggest if, like me, you live with a mental illness, and you want to come to the Philippines:

  1. Planning is important because you want your life to remain as stable as possible. Have your doctors set up in advance. Bring all your records with you. Try to get a few months’ supply of medication before you leave if that’s possible. Make sure you know where you are living. It helps to have someone waiting for you that can help you as I did. If you don’t know the area and plan to be alone, you should try a relocation service like Bob’s that can show you around. You should have income. Don’t expect to come to the Philippines and get a job. If you are on disability from the government, make sure they know you are going and provide them an address here. Make sure you have plenty of savings in case of emergency. I cannot stress this step enough. If you have an illness, you cannot leave anything to chance. Take it from someone who made mistakes. It pays to have done some planning in advance.
  2. Visit first. While it was exciting stepping off the plane to a new life in a new country, I wish I had done it differently. Come and take a test run and spend time with your significant other and look around before you move your life. If you don’t have a SO, take advantage of a relocation specialist like Bob or even me (if you would like Iloilo City). It is very inexpensive to have someone show you the area and help you find a place to live.
  3. Prepare your significant other. I told Flora about my illness, but she was not at all prepared. This is the time to be brutally honest and let them know what they are getting into with you. If you are meant to be together, your SO will understand. If not, it’s better to know before you move here.
  4. Have an exit strategy. Part of your emergency fund should be used only if things get bad and you need to leave. This is important!

I’ve only talked about mental illness so far, but many people come to the Philippines looking to escape boredom or even stress. Just remember, while not as serious as a mental illness, just changing locations won’t solve your problems. Yes, life is much simpler here, so stress is lessened. But, if you are bored all the time, a change of country may not help you. You should change inside first!

Boredom

When are you most bored? Do you have hobbies? Do you have specific activities that you can only do here, like going to the beach, or seeing new places?

I’ve found that I was just a boring person! I have to push myself to keep my wife and daughter happy and active. I’ve become very fond of the beaches here, and have made many new friends, where I didn’t have many before. My wife has noticed how outgoing I’ve become. I talk to everyone I come across and am doing so many new things. I used to be a very private and introverted person, but I am blooming!

In addition to play, the work I do is fulfilling, so that keeps me out of boredom’s way most of the time. I’m only 49, so I have some time before I retire. And, I think if I retire I may just keep working anyway! I’ve talked about having an online business, both if you need income to survive, or if you want to supplement your existing income. I guarantee that a business with keep you on your toes. Even if you don’t think of yourself as an entrepreneur, it is easier than ever to get started.

I have hobbies too, besides drinking beer. I love to read; my wife likes gardening. Our days are too full to ever get bored. That should be your goal no matter where you live.

Stress

Stress can kill. Some researchers are even saying it’s worse for you than smoking! Simplifying your life and lowering your stress should be on everybody’s list of things to do.

Coming to the Philippines may help you, but you must change your life, not just your address. Eating right, being active, and changing your habits that cause stress all will help you get to a point where stress is not an issue.

Learning to relax is important as well. I still have stressful days, but I’ve learned to unplug and unwind. I sleep like a baby now!

So When Should We Expect You?

So, the bottom line is, even with challenges, the Philippines is a great place. Even though I am thinking of taking my wife and daughter to experience the U.S. for a while, I plan to live out my days here and enjoy life. The Philippines has taught me to enjoy no matter where I am, and I hope it can do the same for you!

 

Jason Weiland

Jason Weiland (website http://jasonweiland.net/ ) has been living in the Philippines for almost 7 years, first in Cavite, then in Iloilo City, along with his wife Flora and daughter Zoey Belle. He also has three grown boys in the States. Jason is a freelance writer and blogger who enjoys the simple life in the Philippines and is probably right now drinking a Red Horse on the beach or eating Adobo.

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William Bevis
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William Bevis

I enjoyed your story. I wish you and your wife and family to have eternal happiness

John Reyes
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John Reyes

Hi Jason – Fantastic advice coming from someone who had been there (or still there?). Honestly, though, Jason, aside from the medication part, which I wholeheartedly agree is a medical necessity in helping treat mental illness, the other parts (psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and therapy) are, in my opinion, a waste of time and money. Consider me weird, but I don’t believe in psychiatry, period. However, I am a believer of Sigmund Freud’s concept about the “liberal” id, the “conservative” superego, and the “moderate” ego residing within all of us. That said, I can’t imagine myself lying down on a couch in… Read more »

Jason Weiland
Guest

John, Thank for sharing your opinion, but for some people, that kind of thinking is dangerous. While I agree that the mental health field leaves a lot to be desired, and there is corruption and waste, it is a lifeline for some people who have nothing else. Psychiatrists specialize in diagnosing and treating brain disorders (which is what mental illness is) with medication. They are a necessity for people like me with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia. While therapists get a bad rap, and I don’t personally use one myself, I think being able to talk to someone is invaluable.… Read more »

John Reyes
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John Reyes

Hi Jason – God, no, Jason. If I sounded dismissive of the pain you are suffering and how serious mental illness could be, it is not my intent. I apologize, and I thank you for educating me on the pitfalls of a misguided stance on psychiatry and mental illness in general. Just the same, I’d like to give you a bit of a background as to why I feel the way I do about psychiatrists. I realize I am generalizing, but true to the adage that it takes so many good deeds to build a good reputation, but only one… Read more »

Jason Weiland
Guest

John, Don’t worry. I know you had good intentions, and thank you for telling me your story. Let me counter with one of my own. About 8 years into my experience with hospitals and doctors of all sorts, I came across a very smug psychiatrist that after talking to me for 15 minutes told me I would never amount to anything and I will probably be in a hospital for most of what remained of my life. Thus began my disillusionment with doctors, but I found I needed them, so I search for a good one and found one. I… Read more »

Mike
Guest
Mike

To say “In my opinion, mental illness is all in the mind” needs to be addressed. A broken arm is ‘all in the bones and associated tissues’ and lung cancer is ‘all in cell division’. So really, you are stating the obvious but not analysing your own words enough to see that the mind needs curing at times as much as physical health issues do. The phrase “mental illness is all in the mind” is in fact dismissive (it is what people with no experience of the condition say through ignorance, but not necessarily unkindness) – do we dismiss the… Read more »

John Reyes
Guest
John Reyes

You are so right, I have no experience with mental illness, therefore I am ignorant and the whole world knows it. And because of this ignorance toward mental issues, I was given to making wise-ass remarks such as, ” In my opinion, mental illness is all in the mind”. I can understand your indignation because you said you suffered from a mental condition, but I hope you can also understand that the statement I made was a self-report relevant only to me, not an attempt to sell it to others as fact. That is the reason why I prefaced the… Read more »

The Equalizer
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The Equalizer

err psychologists can’t help you if you don’t give accurate information, ie if you lie to them. Even med doctors can’t give proper meds if you lie. so not sure what the point is.

Luke Tynan
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Luke Tynan

Jason, Great article, thank you. I pray that you continue to get well and enjoy your family and life.

Jason Weiland
Guest

Thanks, Luke. We are doing very well and I think it will continue that way!

Karim Lalani
Guest
Karim Lalani

Thank you Jason. I guess the adage that “you take you wherever you go” is aptly portrayed in your article. I am grateful. Be well, friend.

Jason Weiland
Guest

Thank you, Karim.

What you carry as baggage goes with you wherever you go. Good thing the airlines don’t charge extra for that!

I wish you well, too!

Jay
Guest
Jay

Hi Jason, I enjoyed reading your article! It sounds like you married extremely well. You are the second American I know of who married a lady from the Philippines, who did not love her husband, but grew to love them over the course of the marriage. I find it remarkable in both instances that the ladies were willing to marry men they did not love considering they come from a place of no divorce. I am glad for both of them that they were able to grow to love their husbands and I am sure you and the other man… Read more »

Jason Weiland
Guest

Hi, Jay!

I say we didn’t love each other when we got married, and we gained it over time, but we definitely had deep feelings for each other. We were not strangers when we married, but you know that you learn much you didn’t know very quickly, and it speaks to my wife’s character that she didn’t leave me.

I really found a keeper and while she is not perfect, I love her with all my heart!

Jay
Guest
Jay

Hi Jason,

My wife was not and is not perfect, but was and is a lot better than me!

On the piece of your article where you said you and your wife both needed rescuing, I understand from your transparency that you needed rescuing. I am unsure what she needed rescuing from. If you don’t want to share your wife’s need of rescuing I completely understand, but I am curious. Again, I get it if you do not want to share this about her.

Peace

Jay

Jason Weiland
Guest

Hey, Jay!

Well, without oversharing, my wife was estranged from her family and had fallen in with the wrong foreigner. One of the first things I did was get my wife back together near her family, and they have been great to us!

She was lost, and through our conversations, she felt like I could help rebuild what was wrong in her life. It’s been 7 years and we are still rebuilding!

Jay
Guest
Jay

Hi Jason,

Thanks for sharing!

Peace

Jay

Mike
Guest
Mike

“She was lost” … yes, Jason, and whatever Higher Power there is in our Universe, you were connected to each other. You BOTH gained – you have a loving supportive wife and she has a loving supportive husband. It makes me think of the words of ‘Amazing Grace’ (where I translate ‘wretch’ to mean a person with a problem or problems): Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, Was blind, but now I see. I believe that words created by any person, for whatever reason and with… Read more »

Luis
Guest

Great article. Glad to know that you enjoy the Philippines! It’s not all bad here. 😉

Jason Weiland
Guest

I love the Philippines, and if you talk to a few of us who have embraced the life here instead of trying to change it, you will see that we all love it, despite what others think are problems.

Thanks, Luis!

PapaDuck
Guest
PapaDuck

Jason,
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I wish you the best of luck in fighting your illness in the future.

Jason Weiland
Guest

Thank you so much! Thank you for your support!

John Reyes
Guest
John Reyes

“I find it remarkable in both instances that the ladies were willing to marry men they did not love considering they come from a place of no divorce.” – Jay Hi Jay – Not to preempt Jason whom I think highly of, I will give this one a shot, but understand that everything I say next is pure speculation. It has no scientific basis, and has no reflection whatsoever on Jason and Flora and other couples in similar situation as each situation is unique. This is strictly a personal opinion. Every child born of Filipino parents is governed throughout his/her… Read more »

John Reyes
Guest
John Reyes

“I find it remarkable in both instances that the ladies were willing to marry men they did not love considering they come from a place of no divorce.” – Jay Hi Jay – Not to preempt Jason whom I think highly of, I will give this one a shot, but understand that everything I say next is pure speculation. It has no scientific basis, and has no reflection whatsoever on Jason and Flora and other couples in similar situation as each situation is unique. This is strictly a personal opinion. Every child born of Filipino parents is governed throughout his/her… Read more »

Jason Weiland
Guest

Thanks, John!

Jay
Guest
Jay

Hi John & Jason, I understand what John wrote and I think there is a lot of accuracy in what John is saying, but I think the attitude some of the Foreign men take when they enter a relationship with lady from the Philippines is damaging to the relationship. The attitude is “I rescued “my Filipina” from poverty.” a lot of times the next thing they say is when she got a chance she left me for another guy. The attitude is that they are a great hero for going to a poor country and marrying a smoking hot lady… Read more »

Jason Weiland
Guest

Jay, I agree. My wife, even though I say we rescued each other, did give up a lot to be with an older (18 years), fat, mentally ill person. But, with my wife, I know she had a choice, and she chose me, not for what I could do for her, but because she felt we had a connection and it could turn into something beautiful. She didn’t do it for her family, or because I was rich (far from it) I also agree that it is a bad attitude and just plain bad taste to say you rescued your… Read more »

trackback

[…] Whenever a writer “bares all” and lays something out on the table, the results are always a good read, and such an article helps us know the person more “intimately”.  I really thank Jason for laying himself on the line in his article  ThePhilippines – A Cure for Mental Illness, Boredom, and Stress? […]

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