Blog by Aura Charisse

by Aura Charisse 


On mental health.

Posted by Aura Charisse on June 9, 2018 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

One thing people don’t often openly talk about is mental health, especially for those who are victims of a debilitating illness.

Behind the façade of style and creativity, I’m actually one of those who is ill.

I suffer from high-functioning depression and anxiety for well over 7 years. Through it all, I was frequently misunderstood for my inability to cope well with life pressures and what not--- thus the origin of initially naming this blog, ‘Miss Understood’ several years ago. It was so common for me to be publicly seen and judged for breaking down and crying nonstop. It was peculiar to others to see me marching through the hallways, eyes reddened by frustration and face soaked with tears. People were often overwhelmed when I exploded out of range or when I become disturbingly low and saddened. Even a simple task of taking a major exam, I’d be trembling for fear of failure or hyperventilating due to panic. Romantic relationships proved to be more difficult as previous partners failed to accept that inside of me, deep down, I’m actually broken.

My oddity was always perceived as weakness when conflict arises among peers. My mental health always proved to be a barrier in many of the goals I planned to achieve for myself. You see, the thing about depression that most people can’t comprehend is that it so easily pins you down whenever some unfortunate circumstance happens. When you do get bogged down by it, the effort to rise above is tremendous and that in itself, is an understatement. Suppose you compare it to the story of Sisyphus in Greek mythology; when he was punished by Hades to carry the full weight of a heavy boulder, to painstakingly roll it up the hill, and only to have it roll down again once Sisyphus reaches the top. That’s how depression is most of the time, it beats you down and you fight your illness to overcome it--- because honestly who wouldn’t want to be bigger than their demons --- yet at that moment you thought you were fine and stable, you come rolling down the hill again just like Sisyphus, with the burden of the boulder, or even heavier.

I’m sharing this, not to draw attention to myself--- God knows that’s the LAST THING I’d ask for ---but to use my voice to reach out to those suffering the same fate, because I know how it feels not be listened to, how it is to be dismissed for hurting, how it hurts to cry out for help, how emotions cause you to shut down and how darkness can consume you for fighting a battle too long. I’m writing this to let you, dear readers, know that in the midst of the grim pain, I understand wholely.

When you are surrounded by negativity from those who aren’t able to understand, I hope it gives you comfort to know that you’re not alone and that we face this battle together. You’re not being overlying dramatic nor are your struggles invalid.

When all proves to be too much, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to stop. It’s okay not to understand everything all at once. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to prioritize yourself and your health. It’s okay to seek help, both from loved ones and professionals. It’s okay to rest. It’s okay. I pray you won’t punish yourself for being unable to cope.

When you come across a defeat in life, slowly and gradually learn to accept, take a step back, reset yourself and find the courage to start again. Be humble enough to trust in the process and know that you’re allowed to take as much time as you possibly need in doing so.

When everything seems too impossible to bear on your own, let me tell you that support and comfort will be given. There will be someone who will listen to you and empathize with you. There will be people who will open up about their battles and understand your journey just the same. There will be people who will express their care and concern for you. There will be those who will simply accompany you during your dark and difficult days just to let you know that they’re there for you. There will be those who will get through a seemingly unbearable day with you and literally help you function if need be. There will be those who will remind you of what it means to live again. There will be those who will be more than willing to help carry the burden with you. There will be people who will stay. There will be people who will go through the ends of this dire world, just to make you feel safe and sound. Most importantly, there will be brighter days ahead of us.

At present, there is no single, end-all-be-all solution to healing. Medicine is key, although other steps should be taken to heal, as depression is a highly complex disease with multiple factors. I pray you uncover those other steps in helping you recover--- something that will revive your spirits, sanity maintenance, as my Papa would say. Personally, my sanity maintenance is through catharsis, where I exhaust all the emotional burdens into creating art, whatever form it may be. I dance to let movement lift my spirits. I sing for the melody to soothe the sorrows. I draw to release whatever deep-setted sadness that has been inculcated in me. I capture mundanity through photography. In doing so, I learned that I’m accountable for my sanity. It means it’s a responsibiity to myself and my well being, to allow myself time to recuperate. Sometimes, when I fail to be grounded and experience an episode, it’s because I failed to allow myself time for sanity maintenance, and thus pushed myself too far, beyond the capacity of my mental health. Learn from my mistake. Seek and pursue your own healing, too.

To end this entry, I pray we find hope in believing that we’re not less worthy as persons just because we’re ill.

Hang on, dear reader.

Thank you for reading! If you like this entry, please do give it a thumbs up and hit the Like button. :) It would mean a lot!

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To new beginnings.

Posted by Aura Charisse on March 18, 2018 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (0)

At the onset of 2018, a friend came up to me and said, “I’m looking forward to your new year post!” to which I shyly replied, “If I have something substantial and creative to write about!” It’s mid-March now, but let me try to address the grand, new year that is 2018.

Looking back at 2017, it was a most difficult year as countless obstacles and dreadful trials were thrown at me. To give you a glimpse, I entered 2017 lost and confused, fresh from a horrific trauma —details of which would certainly (100%) stress even you out. It was a new semester as well, to which I quickly plummeted down in terms of academic performance, greatly attributable to my anxiety, depression and ultimately, my weakness of having poor coping mechanisms. On top of all that, I had to delineate which friendships were true and genuine and which battles were worth fighting. Negativity and toxicity were ever so abundant. Being a highly reactive individual, it was all too much. Too much. Looking back at each battle I went through, I should’ve applied for leave of absence, to recuperate for my sanity, but your girl was no quitter.

I somehow managed to survive the semester in one piece, but not without grueling carnage. I told myself, if I were to continue my journey, in attaining a most coveted degree and continuing to live an optimal life, I needed a time out —a time to recover from all that was overwhelming. At the latter part of the year, I found myself spending more time alone, investing in my solitude as I searched myself all over again. I went out very rarely and avoided large crowds as my means of resolving peace. I left anything and anyone that is toxic and emotionally draining. I only spoke to a minimal of people, only those of which I considered dear to me. I limited my presence at the bare minimum, only when attendance is absolutely necessary. I kept the deepest of thoughts to myself. There are far too many lessons I needed to learn and several notions I needed to unlearn, all of which I had to realize myself.

This 2018, it is time to heal. A time to recover from pains, a time to leave the past, and a time to walk towards what lies ahead. Isn’t it beautiful to be able to turn over a new leaf every year? Isn’t it refreshing to know that there is a beginning to new things just as there is an end to grief? May we all maximize the value of a fresh year. Oh how I sincerely, wish you all a wonderful year ahead this 2018!

If 2017 bogged you down as much as it did myself; I pray that hope sparks, even the tiniest bit, so you may find light in the dark. Better, greater days are yet to come for you, my dear. This too shall pass.

If 2017 treated you wonderfully; I’m ecstatic and joyous for you! I empathize with the celebrations of life, whether them may be of little victories or grand accomplishments.

Photos by Kir Ubungen

Let’s all face the rest of 2018 together, dear readers! 

P.S. I got a haircut!!

Thank you for reading! If you like this entry, please do give it a thumbs up and hit the Like button. :) It would mean a lot!

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A sliver of she.

Posted by Aura Charisse on April 17, 2016 at 5:10 AM Comments comments (0)

There are days when my life spills of sunshine and positivity, just as there are days when I'm an absolute choleric pessimist, who curses at every inconvenience. There are also days when you're on the floor ugly crying and wondering why you haven't stood up, yet somehow you always manage to pick yourself up --- never giving reality the satisfaction of pinning you down forever. You can be broken multiple times, but you can also overcome the threshold of pain, even much more than being beaten. 

A sliver of my existence resonates resilience. Art & literature never fail to heal me.

1. "We remain to be what is constantly erased and ardently forgotten—left with a blank canvass, inspired to create things anew," she said.

2. "She stays at her labyrinth's center and feels safe within the shadows—a tamed complexity never consuming the light within her," he said.

3. "There are shared words that never have to be spoken. These are pieces of ourselves we unknowingly lent the world that we'll never get back," he told her.

4. "Be like the ocean," she told herself, "the way it is both beautiful in disarrayed waves and the silence of sea spray."

5. "I saw her demons implode her being," he said. "Her final metamorphosis into sublimity." 

Micropoetry by Vinz Lamorena 

Photography & Art Layouts by Angela Julian Ulep

Sketches by Frédéric Forest

Thank you to my creative friends, Vinz & Ulep, for helping me create this vision project! Thank you Vinz for the lovely micropoetry that is ever so tender and gratifying to the soul. Thank you Ulep for letting me be part of your journey in photography and for creating these excellent art layouts.

If you're interested in seeing more of their works, you can find Ulep on Instagram and Vinz on her Blog as well as on Stories of She and Him. My huge gratitude is also extended to Frédéric Forest, the artist of the beautiful sketches. 

Dear readers, I hope no matter how difficult your days get or how excruciating the pain feels, you will always find a way to recreate yourselves too --- stronger and more resilient than ever before. Have a great new week, dear readers! 

Thank you for reading! If you like this entry, please do give it a thumbs up and hit the Like button. :) It would mean a lot!

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My Lasik experience.

Posted by Aura Charisse on June 22, 2015 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (5)

Sharing this because I know there are a lot of glasses-wearers out there... If you have 20/20 vision your whole life, you're very lucky.

Very. Lucky.

Since 2007, I've lost my 20/20 vision and have been wearing glasses every since. Come 2008, I've decided to start wearing contact lenses as it became increasingly difficult to function, especially in situations where any physical activity was involved. My eye grade has continued to increase immensely since then. I've had thicker and thicker glasses and I regularly had to purchase new disposable contact lenses. Maintenance just kept getting more toxic (and expensive!). My bad vision was becoming such a hassle! When my grade reached over 500 back in 2011, I knew my vision just kept getting worse. Fast forward to 2015, my grade reached over 700 and that's when my parents and I decided it's high time to have my Lasik surgery. We literally couldn't wait for my grade to reach a thousand! THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. It's safe to say I can identify with Velma... My glasses!

See the difference from the actual?

Last Friday, April 19, I finally had the opportunity for my eyes to be permanently corrected. Thank God indeed! Before anything, I first had to sign several papers and release forms. Then I had my pre-op screening, which is a series of eye tests that determine if the patient is already a candidate for Lasik surgery --- this is the fun part! If all goes well, the next step is dilation. Through medication, you'll have your eyes dilated for 3-5 hours for the retina to be clear and ready for the laser. For my case, I skipped this part as my tests results from the screening were consistent, so I no longer needed the dilation. I just had lunch (Japanese lunch yum!) and went straight ahead to the procedure.

The procedure itself happens very quickly, like more or less 20 minutes. The thing is you literally cannot move an inch (moving your head is a big no-no!) and you have to follow every single instruction your doctor tells you. If you experience any uneasiness along the way, express your discomfort verbally. During the surgery, your eyes will be subject to pressure, irrigation and A LOT OF LIGHT. If I were to describe it, I'd say it's a "bright light concert" for the eyes!

A warning to the squeamish: you may want to skip this paragraph as I describe graphic details. The first step is slicing a flap onto the eye. This can be done in two ways, either with the use of a microkeratome blade (traditional Lasik) or laser (advanced Intralase). Traditional lasik is faster and less expensive, while Intralase is more sterile and accurate. Both are effective Lasik procedures, although Intralase has much less discomfort afterwards. After the slicing, they open the flap and that's when your cornea is melted and resculpted by the laser. This allows better light refraction of the lens and hence, a crystal clear 20/20 vision! As soon as the procedure finishes, you'll be able to see clearly. 

For future Lasik candidates, here's what I can say: It's definitely normal to feel apprehensive at first, especially if you're easily anxious like me. The key is to open your eyes wide, look straight, and relax. Trust your surgeon. You're being handled by a professional who has had years of practice and expertise training. Don't be scared, the procedure has been tested many times and has been proven to be safe. *It may seem a little over the top that I'm actually giving tips, but when you're already on the operating table, I'm quite sure you'll find these useful! :)

Now, to answer the FAQ: Is it painful?

During the actual surgery, no. I didn't feel any pain during the procedure itself. My only difficulty was calming myself down. After the procedure, that's when the pain kicked in. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate my pain an 8. Thankfully my doctor applied anesthia to numb the sensation. For the first 12 hours, it was definitely painful. Of course, healing time varies from case to case. Some patients are able to proceed with their usual daily activities, even to the extent of driving right after the surgery! It also depends on your pain tolerance. If you have high pain tolerance, you're quite lucky! As for me, I had to take it easy. Whether your pain tolerance is high or low, you'll be given post-op medications anyway. And you can sleep through the pain just as I did. As soon as I woke up the next day, there was no more pain. Don't let the pain scare you! Remember, the pain is only temporary. In exchange for the short-term pain is long-term clear vision! **If you're wondering which procedure I had, I chose Intralase. 

It usually only takes a day or two for the flaps to epithelialize and heal but several protective measures still have to be taken; just to avoid infection and other complications. After the surgery, you'll be given your post-op kit which includes medical eye drops (anti-infective/anti-inflammatory and artificial tears/eye lubricant), goggles, eye shields, and oral pain-relievers. You'll be wearing goggles during daytime and eye shields during sleep, for an entire week. For the eye drops, you'll apply them as instructed by your doctor. No swimming and any contact sport is allowed for the next 3 months. Also, no makeup is allowed for one whole month (not even powder!). The next day you'll have a post-op check up with your doctor.

Last day selfie time with the glasses!

Now I'm on my 4th day of recovery. I still have a little hemorrhage in my eyes (which is absolutely normal) but other than that I'm completely fine and already enjoying the ease of not wearing glasses. My vision is back to 20/20! Velma no more! :) 

Hopefully this kept you well-informed about the procedure, in case you're considering having your eyes lasered too. Good luck! :) 

Huge gratitude goes to my beloved parents and my great doctors!

Thank you for reading! If you like this entry, don't forget to give it a thumbs up and hit the Like button! :)

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Hype & bandana game.

Posted by Aura Charisse on January 18, 2015 at 10:55 PM Comments comments (0)

It gets tough when toil doesn’t pay off.

Just a week ago my team and I competed in a university-wide street dance competition. The journey to eliminations was nowhere near easy. Trainings were downright tough. The grind would begin as early as 5pm in the afternoon until 12am the next day. You never craved for H20 as much as you do in training. You crave for O2 as well because breathing literally gets difficult. It’s much harder when you’re juggling several medical conditions, pushing yourself to get pass the threshold of pain, and proving that you’re much stronger than these ailments. Your muscles stiffen and ache from so much fatigue. Battle scars are everywhere, literally everywhere --- from purple bruises to dancer’s feet. You sacrifice hours of sleep as you prepare for next day’s early call time. Your appetite drops because of too much exhaustion.

Yet at the end of the road, you didn’t make it.

To go through such difficulty without reaping rewards can be disheartening. You replay the events in your mind as you try to recall what went wrong, but wallowing in discouragement doesn’t change fate. It happens and sulking won’t do you any benefit. We move on. What we can pick up from this is the experience of toil, passion, sacrifice and camaraderie. It’s the journey that holds value. Teamwork was priceless. No matter how you put it, we were much different now than we were when competition season began. It’s never a complete loss when you choose to see the lesson you can take home from the experience. Winning a trophy is really just the icing on the cake.

All is well.

This entry is rather different from my usual outfit posts, but let me end with a little bit of look inspo, just to keep things in theme. Check out the girls' look for the competition: brown smokey eyes & bandana game. I’m in love with the classy-punk look. The black bandana gives you that tough, rugged vibe but the neutral smokey eyes totally balance it with classy. This look actually came with a black lip for that added punk. A juxtapose of two contrasting elements that surprisingly worked out! Impressive, don’t you think? This definitely gave me a new idea for my next look posts!

Science, let's pray and work for cheermania! 

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit

Napoleon Hill


For the ladies.

Posted by Aura Charisse on October 11, 2014 at 2:35 AM Comments comments (0)

You know what pisses me off? THIS.

"Oh you look so pretty, who are you dressed up for?"

"It's okay, you don't have to dress up. There won't be guys there anyway."

"You don't have to put makeup. It's just going to be us girls."


Really. Are you kidding me?


I absolutely hate it when people assume that you get yourself pretty and all dressed up solely to get the attention of a guy. Please. We, ladies, don't dress up and wear makeup for the sake of impressing a guy. It's a superficial thing to be anything different than yourself for a guy. For one, he may ultimately be attracted to a different person than who you really are.


Let's say wearing feminine outfits and applying makeup isn't your cup of tea, but you do it anyway --- even if it's against your will and even if it's causing you much discomfort --- in hopes of getting him to like you. Instead of wearing your usual big shirt and baggy jeans, you put on pieces of clothing which are 'foreign' to you. Of course, this is completely fine if you enjoyed it and realized that you actually like the look, but if it was more of a dragging experience than a fun one, it's not worth it. Not only did you fake yourself in front of another person but you also failed to give your real self justice.

And who says you can't rock a big shirt and a pair of baggy jeans to a date? You can totally kill this look with the right combination of pieces, without sacrificing your own preference. Dress up because you want to! Get all dolled up because you like it! Wear those five-inch heels because you enjoy strutting in stilettos! Not because someone pushes you to get dressed. Not because you feel pressured to look pretty for a date. And definitely not because you want to get a guy's attention.


Please, people, can we not limit a woman's sense of style to the irrelevant approval of a guy?


I dress up because I want to. I dress up because I want to explore fashion. I dress up because I want to look decent. I dress up because I want to feel good about myself. I dress up simply because I want to. I certainly don't dress up under the mercy of a guy.


Unless it's Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren or Stefano Gabbana, then their opinions ARE relevant but if it's trying to get the attention of someone you like, forget it. You shouldn't even be trying to get the attention of a guy. They should be getting your attention. :) Take note of this ladies!

This is for myself. 

Hair & Makeup by Angel of Jesi Mendez Salon

Disclaimer: This is my opinion and I'm entitled to it. Also, I'm not a man hater. This is not a sponsored post.