Late journo Ubalde opened up about depression in Facebook video

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 06 2019 07:33 PM | Updated as of Apr 06 2019 07:35 PM

Former journalist Joseph Ubalde talks about his decades-long bout with depression in a 33-minute video uploaded on his Facebook page days after his death.

MANILA -- Former journalist Seph Ubalde opened up about his battle with depression in a video posted on his Facebook page 4 days after he was found dead in his hotel room.

The 33-minute clip, entitled "My Depression" was pre-scheduled to appear on Ubalde's "Digital Nomad" Facebook page on April 5 at 11:11 a.m.

Ubalde said he had experienced sudden bouts of sadness and anxiety since he was in grade school after years of being battered by his father and being bullied in school. He was clinically diagnosed as depressed in 2016 when he went to a psychiatrist after 2 months of sleepless nights.

"Outside you can see that I am very-well composed and confident, but deep inside, when you're all by yourself, when you're all alone, that's when the facade crumbles and that's when you have to grapple with your monsters and demons," he said.

"I am a master at pretending. Even the way I look doesn't manifest what I am going through," he said.


Ubalde said he could have dealt with depression better if more people knew how to spot and how to deal with a depressed person.

"What a depressed person like me needs is a support system," he said.

"I had no one to assure me or validate me that everything will be okay," he said.

Genuinely checking up on a person battling with mental health issues and asking "Kumusta ka?" (How are you?) goes a long way, the former newsman said.

"I wish I had more friends who I can call at midnight, ungodly hours when the pangs of depression are attacking."

"That I think is important: friends who would genuinely check up on you, who would really ask you how you are and who are really invested in your wellness."

"If I had friends like that, I think I would not have kept all my problems to myself and feel alone."


Refrain from giving a depressed person unsolicited advice, Ubalde warned, noting that comparing pains does not help.

"The worst thing that a friend could do or say when a person is depressed is, 'Wala 'yan, ako nga ganito, or friend, magdasal ka lang, or eh kasi naman ito ginagawa mo dapat ganito,'" he said.

(The worst thing that a friend could do or say when a person is depressed is, 'That's nothing, I've been through worse, or you just have to pray or you should have done this instead of that.)

"Most depressed people just want someone who listens to their pain and someone who acknowledges that their pain is legitimate, that their pain is not imaginary," he said.


Depression is not an "excuse" and dealing with it is a "process," he said.

"Don't pep me up by attacking how I feel. Feelings are neither right nor wrong but they are always true," he said.

He also discouraged injecting religion and spirituality into the mental health equation.

"Don't say na mahina ka kasi, kailangan manalig ka sa Diyos," he said, noting that his family told him that going to mass might solve his issues.

(Don't say, 'You're weak, you have to have faith in God.')

"There's a place for injecting religion or spirituality into the situation," he said.

"Do not make this as an opportunity to convert us. We would come to you when we find the light. Don't make this as a recruitment process for you," he said.


Ubalde, who has nearly 9,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, urged people who are experiencing mental problems to seek professional help.

"I encourage you to seek out help as I did. Treat it like any other illness that needs a doctor's opinion or a doctor's diagnosis. Do not self-medicate," he said.

Research and treatment costs in the Philippines must be improved, he said.

The P1,400 fee for an hour-long session with a psychiatrist, plus prices of prescribed medication discourage some people to seek treatment, he said.

"I don't think I have met anyone who went to a psychologist and kept the medication," he said.

Other patients stop taking medication midway because prescribed drugs usually make them "groggy" or "less functional," Ubalde said.

People should help take away the stigma our of seeking psychiatric help, he said.


Ubalde reminded those battling mental health issues that they are "not weak" and that they could "fight" their demons.

"For people who are depressed or undergoing any mental issue, fight," he added.

"Fight even when it seems like everyday is a struggle and you are not winning anything. Fight not just for you family, not just for your friends. Fight for yourself."

Ubalde ended his 33-minute video with a smile, asking his viewers to "just be kind to one another and be understanding of each other's struggles."

"See you on the other side," he said before ending the clip.

Ubalde was found dead in his hotel room's bathtub on April Fool's Day. He was 33.

Editor's note:

A group in the Philippines is dedicated to addressing those who have suicidal tendencies.

The crisis hotlines of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation aim to make these individuals feel that someone is ready to listen to them.

These are their hotline numbers:

Information and Crisis Intervention Center

(02) 804-HOPE (4673)
0917-558-HOPE (4673) or (632) 211-4550
0917-852-HOPE (4673) or (632) 964-6876
0917-842-HOPE (4673) or (632) 964-4084

In Touch Crisis Lines:

(02) 893-7603 (24/7)
Globe (63917) 800.1123 (24/7)
Sun (63922) 893.8944 (24/7)