Daily Dose Of Sunshine

by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan

There’s this line from one of my favorite children’s movies, Lilo and Stitch, that goes: “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”

But one man from Manoa in Honolulu took this quote seriously but in a very distorted way.

He brought his whole family–not one left behind–to their death.  Paris Oda, a 46-year-old chiropractor, murdered his 48-year-old wife Naoko and their three children, 17-year-old Sakurako,12-year-old Orion, and 10-year-old Nana, before taking his own life.

Upon hearing (or seeing) the news about the Oda ohana, even though I don’t know them, I felt grief and pain for the family. It was truly heartbreaking.

What drove the head of the family to kill his innocent loved ones? Why? What happened?

There must be so many questions that will be left unanswered in everybody’s head, especially the friends and family left behind. I can only imagine the shock and terror the children must have experienced during the whole ordeal.

Though this is becoming a common occurrence, I still couldn’t comprehend why these things must happen. We surely live in a broken and dark world.

According to the news, the employees of Paris Oda noticed that he began showing signs of depression and had become moody and disengaged, probably triggered by financial issues.

Though we will never know if it’s depression that has been the driving force for such a terrible act, one thing is for sure, no one in his right mind will take the lives of the people he loves and eventually his own life.

I just recently finished a Korean drama entitled, “Daily Dose of Sunshine.” The show explores the world of psychiatric care and tackles the different mental health issues people are facing and the symptoms they carry.

The story revolves around a kind-hearted psychiatric nurse named Jung Da-eun, who goes above and beyond to be a ray of light for those under her care like Byeong-hui, a high school student who keeps on harming herself and Yu-chan who experiences panic attacks when faced with stressful situations.

Da-eun eventually suffered depression when one of her patients committed suicide.

At the end of the series, Jung Da-eun uttered these words and they struck me to the core:

“We’re all standing on a border. Byeong-hui stood on the border between dreams and reality until she finally found an answer. Yu-chan stood on the border between anxiety and stability. And now, he’s found a way to stop hurting. I once stood on the border between depression and hope until I found someone who always visited me before depression ever did. We all cross between night and day in the journey of an entire life. Each one of us is standing between normal and abnormal.”

Indeed, mental illness can strike anyone at any point.

It was an eye-opener as it caused me to have a greater understanding and deeper empathy for people who are battling with mental illnesses.

Anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, and depression are real. These can lead people to do unimaginable things that can be a threat to themselves and others.

There are people around us who seem to lead normal lives but in reality, are fighting to get through each day.

I have family and friends who are in a daily battle to survive. Their struggle is real and they need people around them who will hold the ropes for them.

We may never fathom what went through the mind of Paris Oda when he decided to do such a horrifying deed that has shaken the community and the whole of Hawaii, but understanding the condition of his mind prevents us from having rash and harsh judgment towards him and people like him.

While depression or mental illness will never justify an evil act, I hope that this tragedy has taught us to have compassion for those who have a daily battle on their minds.

I pray that this has moved us to support them in every way–emotionally, spiritually, and professionally.

To the family and friends of the Oda ohana who are still coming to terms with what happened, we grieve and mourn with you. We pray for peace and comfort to be upon all of you.

And if you are reading this and are struggling with your mental health, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Help is available. You are not alone.

And to all of us, may we be the daily dose of sunshine that the people around us need to choose to keep on living. May the Oda family tragedy never happen again.

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