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  • Saab Magalona Didn’t Realize She Was Depressed: 'I Was Not Crying All The Time'

    Saab on how she coped with depression and adult ADHD to better take care of herself and her family.
    by Elaine Carag-Calderon .
Saab Magalona Didn’t Realize She Was Depressed: 'I Was Not Crying All The Time'
PHOTO BY Saab and Jim Bacarro
  • It’s been almost four years since that fateful day in the lives of Saab Magalona and her husband, Jim Bacarro. They lost their first daughter Luna Isabel, but they had no time to grieve to raise Pancho, who has special needs. 

    A year later, Saab gave birth to their third baby Vito, and, soon after, the whole family had to deal with a full-blown pandemic. To say they’ve been through ups, downs, and everything in between is an understatement.

    PHOTO BY Saab and Jim Bacarro

    “We were going through our own mental health struggles,” Saab tells SmartParenting.com.ph in a Smart Parenting Exclusive. “It has been a process dealing with grief. I had no idea that I was still suffering from depression, and it was only through therapy that I [found out].”

    At the time, Saab recalls, she could barely manage to any decisions that Jim noticed soon enough. He recalls how hard it became to work together because they were both struggling mentally.

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    “We’ve always worked with each other, so [I prefer to do things] with her stamp of approval. I had all this energy, I wanted to do all these things; but I couldn’t move forward without her. Personally, hindi ako makaandar.”

    “Even if Jim was asking me to help with [projects], I would always be like ‘Stop, stop, stop, don’t bother me with these things. I can’t decide,’” Saab shares.

    “I learned na it was because of my trauma and my depression that I had a hard time making decisions. Parang I was blaming myself for what happened, which snowballed into everything in my life. Making these small decisions, like what color a logo should be, I really couldn’t.”

    How therapy changed Saab’s life

    After being diagnosed with depression, Saab wondered, “How can I be depressed if I’m doing stuff? I’m not just lying in bed, I’m not crying all the time. I’m getting stuff done.”
    PHOTO BY Saab and Jim Bacarro
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    Therapy allowed Saab to gain back the confidence in her creativity and get back on track. She said she never explored it before, even when she was going through the most challenging time in her life.

    “When I was going through [sleepless nights], I wasn’t sure if I was going through postpartum depression. I didn’t have the knowledge about it,” she says.

    Until one day, she saw a tweet from a friend about adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and thought that she may have it as well, so she sought help from her friend’s therapist.

    “It was Christmas time. My plate was full, there were a lot of work opportunities, but I just couldn’t handle the workload,” Saab continues.

    “I couldn’t get anything done, so I talked to the therapist. When I did, I learned na I was going through depression na pala.”

    Like many of us, Saab initially wondered, “How can I be depressed if I’m doing stuff? I’m not just lying in bed, I’m not crying all the time. I’m getting stuff done.”

    However, it was through her therapist that she learned depression comes in many forms.

    “I [was reminded] that I had two children, one after the other. I was busy making sure he was surviving and thriving through hospital and doctor’s appointments. Then, we had another child. I never really had the time to sit around, cry in bed, or process my feelings.”

    PHOTO BY Saab and Jim Bacarro
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    ‘It’s important to invest in yourself’

    PHOTO BY Saab and Jim Bacarro

    Saab also learned from her therapist that different people handle depression differently.

    “I didn’t know how depression was really affecting everything in my life,” she declares. “I didn’t have the confidence to say ‘Yes, let’s do this. Yes, let’s move forward. I was just so hard on myself.”

    “I really forgot to take care of myself because I just thought ‘I should be able to handle this.’”

    “The way she got back her confidence was we removed the things that actually lessened it. Syempre if you don’t fulfill a task, ’di ba mababawas ’yung confidence mo?” Jim says.

    “For [Saab], we set up [our work] na everything that we do, we are in our zone. Therefore, ang dami mong magagawa.”

    Saab worked through her depression with her therapist. But, in retrospect, she thinks she and Jim could’ve avoided so many fights if she’d gotten help sooner.

    “If I had known [I was depressed earlier], we wouldn’t have gone through those rough patches of snapping and getting angry all the time. I really forgot to take care of myself because I just thought ‘I should be able to handle this. It’s normal to feel this way. Other moms are able to do so much, I’m not gonna spend money on a doctor. It’s not worth it.’”

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    “It was a rollercoaster, but I’m so much better at dealing with my emotions now than I was before.”
    PHOTO BY Saab and Jim Bacarro

    When she was finally able to recognize and acknowledge the effects of depression in her life, Saab was able to push forward with a better understanding of herself that helped her immensely.

    “Through the therapy that I did, grabe’ yung returns niya in my marriage and in motherhood. [It gave me] confidence, which also translated into my career, my business, and my decision-making. I [realized] it’s really important to invest in yourself.”

    Saab’s advice to other moms 

    PHOTO BY Saab and Jim Bacarro
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    Saab is also very blessed to be married to her better half, who has the same sense of self-awareness. As a result, they are both attuned to each other’s wants and needs. 

    “‘You can’t pour from an empty cup.’ It’s your responsibility to yourself and to others to fill your cup.”

    “Since we started dating, [we’ve always been] ‘I’m feeling this way, you’re feeling this way, we’re feeling this way,’” Jim shares.

    “And something she always says na gusto niyang masabi to other moms is ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup.’ It’s your responsibility to yourself and to others to fill your cup. That’s why she’s open about what she went through.”

    “[Therapy] helped me talaga, ha,” she says. “It was a rollercoaster, but I’m so much better at dealing with my emotions now than I was before. One thing I learned that I want to share is changing your ‘I should, I have to, I need to’ into ‘I want to’ and see what changes.

    “Because by changing ‘I have to work out,’ into ‘I want to work out,’ it becomes something that you want to do. It’s just a sentence you need to change in your brain, but it makes a huge impact.”

    PHOTO BY Saab and Jim Bacarro
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    That’s why she’s also very proud of what they’ve achieved through their podcast, Wake Up with Jim and Saab, as unqualified therapists to their podkids. They even launched a new one on Spotify titled Makinig Ka Muna where they read letters from fans and followers, give them advice, and make them a playlist (just like your good ol’ radio shows!).

    And that’s just one of the many results of Saab working on her own mental wellness so she and her husband Jim can continue doing what they do best. Now, they have many ventures together — between Cheats, Linya-Linya, Puddy Rock, and more — that remain successful even through the pandemic. Not to mention doing their best to be awesome parents to sons Pancho and Vito Bacarro.

    “I think we know the answers [to our questions] na, eh,” Saab says. “We know it, but it takes reading it or hearing it from someone else for it to really resonate and tumatak talaga sa brain mo.”

    “I super love therapy,” she confesses. “Invest in yourselves, please,” she reiterates. 

    Read our Smart Parenting Exclusive with The Magulo na Bacarros here.

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