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THERE’s this particular song that has become quite popular as a background tune on Instagram these days. Its lyrics going like, “even if you’re not ready for the day, it cannot always be night.” Not only are they catchy, as far sa lyrics relate to one’s experience, those in the song are quite timely too. During a web chat one evening with an old (older) friend, she had mentioned that oftentimes, she’d stay in bed till midmorning, too tired to face the day. And since the stress brought about by the pandemic and the stay-at-home situation, she hasn’t really left their residence in the windy city. Her husband had repeatedly advised about consulting with a friend doctor, fearing that she might be undergoing a depression of some kind but so far, nothing doing.

I hadn’t the nerve to suggest that that might be a good idea in her case (as with others I know who admit they’re depressed at the moment) as I’m no psychiatrist, and in the local lingo, “sibilyan lang intawon sir”, (I’m just a civilian, sir). However, being lethargic and feeling spiritless might actually point in that direction, or so I’ve read somewhere. I’ve likewise read that statistics on the number of people with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues have dramatically increased in the time of this pandemic. Worse, feelings of isolation, bereavement in many cases or even just mere fear of the virus, all these can exacerbate already-existing illnesses including mental health-related ones. 

Regularly seeking the help of psychiatrists, I see as common occurrence in western countries yet, I haven’t a clue how widely practiced is it in our culture. There’s a common knowledge or lore that has been growing around that, since we, pinoys as a people, are so closely-knit in terms of relation to family, mental health issues such as depression are not as common here, as it is in the west. Could there be truth in that? I still have to find out if this can be proven scientifically. Or else, it will be like saying, dark-skinned people can’t get sunburned.

True or not however, it’s a fact that depression is all around. Like the virus. On any given day in this pandemic atmosphere, anyone’s bound to be depressed, for example over the apparent loss of opportunity to earn, loss of a job, limited travel, minimal or loss of income, quarantine, etcetera. Accept it or not, depression crosses all existing boundaries, and it does not matter where one is or what one does… so it’s east, west, white or brown, rich, poor, farmer, doctor. 

This is why, one of the most common remedies has something to do with routine and keeping busy. In short, one has got to do what you can. The proliferation of home mini gyms is one sign. Then, we’ve graduated to outdoor activities. (who says the implementation of the long-sought after bike lanes is not related to Covid?) 

In the end, it’s back to that instagram song, people. “Even if you’re not ready to face the day…”

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