Are we in one of those nightmare-like Twilight Zone episode or what?

If we are not, why do people who die get cremated or buried straightaway? Their loved ones deserve even a few days of mourning while they lay in coffins, don’t they?

In airports, urns bearing ashes of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who perished due to Covid-19 arrive without the usual rites. On the streets, jeepney drivers, among others, beg for food. People commit suicide due to depression. People belonging to the underprivileged, hence vulnerable, sectors fight for survival day in and day out.

Hunger is real, but positive actions from government and non-government actors can remedy this problem by delivering food. The deeper, more lasting, yet largely unattended problem that this nightmare called Covid-19 pandemic is creating in nestled deep inside the minds of its victims.

Last August, a friend asked me if I would like to volunteer as a Psychosocial Support Provider for the personnel of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) who were tested positive for Covid-19. I was assigned to five employees aged 35-53. I informed the management of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), my employer, about it and it gave me its blessing.

It was on the 12th of August when we held our first Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD). It was attended by five persons. I was so nervous that I almost backed out.

What if I don’t have what it takes to handle the sessions? In my mind, I dared myself to step beyond my comfort zone and just go for it. Self-doubt was all over me, but I got more and more comfortable as the session went on. My “clients” were relaxed. They openly shared their concerns and situations.

The session lasted for an hour and a half but it did not feel that long at all. I became so engrossed with their stories told so emotionally. For the first time, I saw muscle-bound men crying their eyes out. They were afraid of what will happen to their families.

The second session was conducted last August 20. Its goal was to teach positive coping mechanisms and psychological first aid as well as to give tips on how they can help address the psychological stress faced by family members who are discovered to be Covid-19 positive.

No one is exempted from anxiety and stress in these trying times. No matter what your social status is or how well-prepared you are for a disaster, the present crisis is still something that caught us off-guard.

We cannot stay away from stress as it is a part of life but we can lessen the impact it brings by learning healthy coping mechanisms and by knowing that whatever happens, we are never alone. There will always be someone who will help us get through the trying times—Someone who will wake us up from the nightmare and to a reality that is, in fact, not as grim as we imagine.

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