October 02, 2020 - Friday
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Davao City, Philippines

Dystopia (Conclusion)

April 03, 2020 - Friday 4:04 AM by Eva Aranas Angel

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I have, for the longest time, taken care of my mental health (and trying my best to override the hormonal mayhem that comes with menopause), most of the time on my own. I do have my spiritual support, but even they are burdened by the threat of disease looming ominously in their convents and monasteries and respective archdioceses.

When a contagion of this magnitude attacks your city with alarming tenaciousness, it doesn't just threaten your physical health but also your mental health.

How have we been addressing this? Your children are away in a dorm. Your husband is working overseas. Your parents are in the province. Who isn't anxious?

I have been used to going on extended holidays on my birthday month. But recent history of travel now is no longer a cause for celebration and bragging rights. It has become a source of both abomination and concern and even fear and paranoia.

July has always been a good time to travel for me. It is summer in the northwestern hemisphere. I don't mind the 45C desert heat in Rajashtan or of South India, or running after standing buses in Morocco, or getting lost in the hiking trail in the outskirts of Southampton, or walking with snow on my hair at the tail-end of spring in Aarhus, or almost getting stuck in a shared Volvo taxi filled with vomit on a Friday night out in an Asian restaurant because I was craving rice. I have long since expunged solo foreign travel from my vocabulary since my father died. I didn't renew my passport. I have an 83-year-old mother to look after. Travel would have been my best therapy. No, they were not Biopharma junkets.

In exchange for that, I enrolled in portraiture and painting classes. In spite of having attended classical workshop, I will probably get stuck in naif painting, which is easier. This is all right because I'm also writing two more books. I have enrolled in four open online courses because my son has sequestered my iPad for Netflix and the screen on my iPhone is too small. I was able to re-connect the FB portal to wi-fi so Mama has more things to do than just sleep, watch TV, play the piano, and eat.

These are difficult times. I put my shoes in the daily wage earners who have lost their revenues because PUJs are no longer allowed to ply their routes. If they are, it is only at a limited time and capacity. I also think about the sales girls of boutiques in malls, some of whom I have become acquainted with. Their stores belong to the non-essential businesses.

I am a daily wage earner myself. If don't see patients in the clinic, I don't earn. I am not accepting hospital admissions either.

With all these sacrifices, and all these losses, I have to indoctrinate myself when I wake up and, before I sleep at night that this is for the good of many. It is easier to accept things with equanimity and temperance this way.

I have not been remiss in my duty as a doctor. I have linked up calls for PPEs with my patients whose families have the means, resources, and connection. I know I might be next in line should the younger frontliners get exhausted or, God forbid, quarantined. I have been making e-prescriptions and addressed calls and text consults. I have stopped dieting because malnutrition depresses the immune system. There's a big battle that needs to be won. I have to feed my warriors against infection.

But the battle, just as humongous as the threat to physical health, is when all these deaths and numbers take their toll on the psyche.

If you haven't yet, then this is the time to reconcile differences, to forgive, to forget. This is the time for tolerance of one's peculiarities. Unpack those needles and thread and finish that cross stitch, finish reading that book and once done, start another. Finish writing that book and start another. Paint. You have no idea how liberating it is. Don't mind what others say of your art. It is you on canvas. Let them be on their own canvases. Paint the virus. Paint the empty streets. Paint the crowded hospitals. Paint a song.

These are historical times that usher in a lowest low and depressing era. These will be archived in the history of human existence or even the DNA. Your grandchildren can see all these. You're leaving an indelible timestamp in history. Write a journal. You're writing a narrative that can potentially be a future reference, a memoir, or a movie.

Spend meal time with your family. Play board games together because they can only DOTA and Mobile Legend so much.

I am summoning my tempo. I will continue the inventory of my art collection. I have already unpacked two sets of Jenga. I have on my console dictionaries for both Spanish and Italian for practice and review, for whatever they’re worth. I have the three volumes of Introduction to Nihonggo — beginner, intermediate, and advanced. I probably don't want to compete with my neighbors with Karaoke. They sound very professional.

And when all else fail, I have asked around. Last night, I learned I could always download TikTok. There’s that. And there’s hope.