I’ve been sick for three days because the past 72 hours had been rough. I was in a whirlwind of emotions the moment November 11 came into the picture. Today, I spent the whole day in bed, I’ve been trying to catch some quality rest. But, to those of you who knows about my disorder, you know I always have a hard time sleeping. My sleep schedule is just terrible. My stomach has been upset, I don’t know if it’s the food I ate, or because I am just too overwhelmed. I find it very challenging to keep pace with everything. I just had to shut my eyes and shut everything down for a while.
November 11 started like normal. That morning, I was on a phone call with a client and I was overly excited for closing a huge deal. As I tapped on the “End Call” button, one of my closest friends delivered a dreadful message. “Lee passed away.” I stared at my phone for a few seconds, blinked, and read the message again. Am I still asleep? Am I having a bad dream or what? I was stunned, in shock, in major disbelief. Quick flashbacks came to me and I started crying. What? This can’t be happening. I was just chatting with Lee about Ms. Universe a few weeks ago. We were just chatting about a certain stage play we both watched on YouTube. He was my seat mate in high school for the longest time and the first ever person who brought me and introduced me to Rockwell Mall. He was one of the few people I became close with as a high school transferee. I flew out of the country a few years after college, but despite the fact that we didn’t see each other much, we still remained friends and kept in touch until his last days. He was the type of person who would call and ask how I was when I was abroad. He sang me songs every time I felt down way back our high school days. We shared the same circle of friends. We laughed and worried about the same things… about pets, about animals, about theater arts, about traveling, about beauty pageants. Just a few months back, he posted his illness on Facebook and I told him to have faith. It was not alarming at that time, seeing his outlook and the way he composes himself. He was cheerful, positive, and full of life. Lee’s death was a huge blow for me and it was just hard to digest. My heart is still breaking. He played a big part of my youth, and those bubbly and fun memories will always remain.
November 11 wasn’t done. It was raining the whole day as if the skies were crying for Lee’s sudden demise. I drove to pick up Mom from the office and got stuck on the road for three hours. I watched through my wind shield as the wind blew off some ads on the billboards. The strong wind turned umbrellas upside down. It was frightening. It was draining. The moment we got home, I was too tired to cook and so I ordered whatever was convenient. The winds became stronger, and I knew that an enormous typhoon was about to hit Manila at that time. I prepared emergency lamps. I was at home when it happened. The winds started howling scarily and I was hearing glass windows shattering nearby. The lights flickered on and off until it finally blacked out. Everyone was anxious as NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) put Manila in an Emergency Alert Situation. Weather updates were somehow delayed and so I relied on an international weather bulletin. I was worried sick for my relatives down south, they haven’t even recovered from the previous typhoons yet. But then again, Typhoon Ulysses came underestimated. It caused havoc and great damage to thousands of people not just in Manila. The whole Luzon is weeping, crying for rescue as of this writing.
This was only one day. One of the longest days of 2020. This year, I can never say “Best Birthday ever!” or “Best Summer so far!” because the whole world spent most of those months in quarantine. 2020 is full of wrath and anger and danger as it started with bush fires in Australia, killing almost half the population of wildlife. 2020 came with the Amazon burning, with buildings blazing and collapsing in the Middle East, with great floods in Jakarta, with strong earth quakes and typhoons in the Pacific. Most of all with the horrid Covid pandemic that took a lot of innocent lives, that made our nurses and doctors cry of exhaustion, that made the great division between the rich and those in poverty, that made people from all over the world suffer in anxiety. The list of entries just doesn’t end. Every month, 2020 has another appalling entry.
As much as I would like to shed some positivity given our current situation, nothing seems to come clear to me. As I write this blog entry, my countrymen in Cagayan Region are drowning in floods caused by the Typhoon Ulysses and the overflowing of Magat Dam. Marikina and Rizal are drenched in mud. Some of my relatives in the Bicol Region have lost their homes from Typhoon Rolly. The bridges collapsed. Roads are not passable. Rescue is just so near, yet so far. It seems to me that as the days pass, we all recommence to brace ourselves. We don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel coming any time soon. We prepare. We succumb unwillingly to what else 2020 has left in store for us.
But then again, this is the sad reality. No matter how hard I try to make it sound less dramatic, it is what it is. I am the voice to many who find it difficult to take in every piece of what’s happening. It is overwhelming. Anxiety levels have gone up beyond normal. Fear of the future and of what’s gonna happen next is in the minds of many of us. The uncertainty that comes with the succession of dispiriting events linger amongst us. Many are jobless, thousands have lost their livelihoods, people are dying of hunger, frustration, exhaustion, and the worst part… is losing whatever you’ve worked hard for, whether it’s a career or a business or losing your loved ones as if life is a mere hair strand.
I am lucky, because even if I have a mental incapability of absorbing everything all at once, I have the resources to help me cope with it. I have medications to keep me calm, I have a psychiatrist monitoring my mental health, I have numerous outlets. I worry more not for myself, but for the people who do not have these resources. I would like to reach out to that minority, the people who suffer in silence, because of a society that dictates that Mental Health is something you’re supposed to suppress and get over with.
WAKE ME UP WHEN 2020 ENDS
I was excited to celebrate the New Year. I was excited for 2021. I’m just so done with 2020, that I wish to skip November and December and go straight to 2021. I WAS JUST SO THRILLED, but then again I have a Mental Disorder. My hopes would always be partnered with doubt. My anxiety asked me back, “What makes you think it gets better in 2021?” For a while, I held on to that thought. I was uneasy, I was upset, but the occurrences happening around us now are things and events that we have no control of. These are things that go beyond our power. What we can manage though is how we react to our circumstances. YOU CAN’T ALWAYS CONTROL WHAT GOES ON OUTSIDE, BUT YOU CAN ALWAYS CONTROL WHAT GOES ON INSIDE. Something at the back of my mind tells me that it gets better. THERE IS ALWAYS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL. 2020 IS JUST A LONG TUNNEL. I took my schedule diary and begun writing my plans. This is it. Life doesn’t stop here. The world will keep on revolving and evolving. I figured, if I keep on dwelling about what has happened and what is currently happening, it will eat me up alive. Eventually, I’ll end up weak with depressive thoughts and severe anxious distress. Now, I am focusing more of what I can do in the future. What can I do to make living more meaningful? How can I extend my help to the people in need? How can I be a part of that change that I’ve always wanted to achieve? I have decided to choose which energy to feed. The positive or the negative.
LIFE was never a problem to be solved anyway. Through the loss of a friend, the fear of the future, the uncertainty that comes with everything, I have learned so many lessons in more ways than one. 2020 may not be the best, but it was a whole year full of life lessons. It was like a movie, a series of unfortunate events, we just can’t wait to see how it’s gonna end. Maybe it was meant to teach us something. Maybe, this is God’s way of showing us His handbook about living life. Faith is what keeps us strong. According to Murphy’s Law, “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Whatever that’s going to happen will happen, whether we worry or not. The choice is ours.
Lastly, we are not alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! These may be the darkest days of our lives. I know it’s terrifying, but sometimes the unfortunate things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the most wonderful things that will ever happen to us. Keep up the faith and keep on praying! We may not understand everything now, but everything is planned according to God’s will. The Lord is watching.
Be contented with what we have now, cherish the people we spend our lives with. Because our lives are only borrowed, it was never ours to keep.
To you reading this… I AM WITH YOU THROUGH PRAYERS.
NOTHING IS PERMANENT IN THIS WICKED WORLD-NOT EVEN OUR TROUBLES
When things happen that I can’t control, I feel powerless. I long to follow God’s plan, but how can I when all I see is vastness surrounding me? There’s no paved road pointing the way and no one there to offer a helpful word of advice. (Genesis 21:14).
Emptiness can be scary. It reveals our insecurities, telling us we are alone and validating our fears. But with God, emptiness doesn’t equal loneliness. During those times when we don’t have a clue which direction to go, we can let the stillness push away all distractions so we sense God’s presence more than ever. He will calm our anxious thoughts and give us the direction we seek. “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left,” (Isaiah 30:21).
When hardships come, it’s easy for me to slip back into my familiar pattern of what-ifs. “What if it doesn’t work out? What if God doesn’t answer my prayer?” My need to know the outcome takes over. I come face to face with the unknown, and I panic. I forget that God’s promises never change.
We will have struggles, and sometimes we have to stay there a while. So when we feel stuck, we can trust that God “will never leave us or forsake us.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11)
In Memory of Lee Tuazon, a son, a brother, a good friend, and a ray of sunshine to many.