The pandemic has been tough, most especially for Filipinos who had to endure multiple rounds of quarantine with the constant upsurge of cases. Most recently, we had to go back to Square 1, with the strictest form of lockdown as COVID-19 cases doubled and tripled in a matter of days.
It was a major blow to everyone, the second ECQ. Memes for the second season of the ECQ were all over Facebook and TikTok but behind the jokes are the sighs of helplessness. Did I have to be in this country during this pandemic? We’re still stuck in limbo after neighboring countries resume their normal way of life.
On the flipside of the humor, social media platforms seemed to become like an online obituary, where friends’ and colleagues’ names were plastered after succumbing to the pandemic. I do not want this to happen to me, to my family, my friends. Please God, no. I beg to the heavens. It breaks my heart and it fill me with worry, day in, day out and being cooped up indoors with nothing but news bulletins is making matters worse.
Businesses and companies had to weigh their options — to survive or to risk ordering their employees to return to work. Was there enough safety protocols in place? Can companies respond efficiently to the challenges? The numbers keep spiking and the vaccination campaign was moving at a snail’s pace. I felt like drowning, deeper and deeper.
The second round of the ECQ introduced me to the four henchmen of the pandemic — anxiety, paranoia, loneliness, and apathy.
To tell you the truth, this year was the first time I experienced such level of anxiety, even more than when the pandemic first broke out. As I consider myself a generally laid back person, before, I used to be able to detach myself from the situation to find a new perspective. But the COVID-19 numbers made me question my decisions tenfold. Should I risk going out to earn a living? Will I be safe? Will my family be safe? When can I get my parents vaccinated? Will my family’s health okay?
The pandemic made me paranoid. After suffering close calls and hearing about several friends whose entire families were infected, my family started planning for the worst case scenario. How can we stay safe when there were so many variants developing?
I decided to leave home and stay at the old house alone for the time being. It was the worst. After more than an entire year of being together all the time, I was sad and alone, always wondering if the rest of my brood were doing okay. My playtimes with my beloved nephew took a new form — Facebook messenger — where we would play random stuff together, watch TV together and just shoot the breeze. I wondered about my parents’ mental health, how the lack of exposure to the outside for their much needed exercise is affecting them. I wondered about a lot of things and everything made me sad. I felt like there was no more way to be happy, plagued as I was with uncertainty, doubt and my own thoughts.
The worst is apathy. I took for granted my sadness and accepted it as the norm. I proceeded with the routine like an automaton, going to work, heading home, endlessly scanning Netflix for something to make me laugh but my laughter was often hollow. The things I used to enjoy was no more. There was nothing to sate my sordid state. I felt the loss of hope. All that’s left is an empty void of surrender.
Even now, after a lot of bad things that happened, I wonder if there will come a time where things will really get back to normal. Will relationships heal after all that transpired? Will the damage haunt us like a ghost for the rest of our lives? Will I ever see my friends again without being afraid of the virus? I wonder. It is something that weighs heavily on my mind.
But I’m still here. And that should count for something. There can still be things that I can do to ease the situation given all the limitations that this pandemic is causing. I do not feel hopeful but at least I can try, for the people that I love, at least I can try.
The reason I’m still here, I owe to the people who have my back. It is because of their constant words of encouragement that I am able to wake up everyday and find purpose in my life. I realize you have to find it. No matter what.
So, if you, at any point, have felt like you relate to my journey, try connect with the people who matter. And understand that you also matter. You may not realize but there are people who care about you, who truly care about you, just rooting for you in the sidelines even if you feel like sh*t. With this thought in mind, even the most deadened recesses of your heart will find a new spark.
Celebrate even the small wins amid this neverending wave of sorrow. You finally got vaccinated? Hurray. You’re one step closer to becoming a bit more safer amid the pandemic. You are doing your part to protect the people you love. You managed to complete your school project? Yay! Proceed to the next one and it will all be over soon.
Rest your heart, rest your spirit and be thankful that you are still healthy. Be thankful that you can still be there for others when they need you, just as they have been for you.
Pray. If your feelings overwhelm you to the point of giving up, pray. Share your burdens with the Lord and leave yourself in His care.
Compromise. There is no 100 percent guarantee where life may take us after this wretched period in our lives is over. But it will be over, one day. Take what you can for now and don’t add even more pressure to your already weary mind.
Just breathe. In, and out. In, and out. Repeat.
This story is an entry to ComCo Southeast Asia’s “Write to Ignite Blogging Project Season 2: Dear Survivor”. The initiative continues to respond to the need of our times, as every story comes a long way during this period of crisis. The initiative aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities to inspire the nation to rise and move forward amidst the difficult situation. The “Write to Ignite Blogging Project” Season 2 is made possible by ComCo Southeast Asia, with Eastern Communications and Jobstreet as co-presenters, with AirAsia and Xiaomi as major sponsors, and with Teleperformance as sponsor.