While most of you have probably been in quarantine / lockdown for about a month or so now, I’ve been imposing it on and off upon myself and my family since I first heard about the coronavirus in the news the last week of January. We were preparing for another batch of Hands-On Mushroom Training at that time when the Coronavirus Outbreak began circulating in the media. My “prepper” instinct tingled and I started having worst-case scenario visions in my head. (“prepper” is a person who believes a catastrophic disaster or emergency is likely to occur in the future and makes active preparations for it, typically by stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies.) That was the time I started buying a little bit more than the usual number of masks and alcohol bottles we use for mushroom training just in case the outbreak becomes an epidemic, or worse, a pandemic. And because we had plans of going back to Cebu to set up another Mushroom farm, I almost decided not to go for fear of contracting the virus during our travel. This was around Jan. 25-28 when the rest of the world didn’t care much about the Coronavirus yet, and much less about preparing for it.
That was the time I was already considering locking ourselves in the house because I had a very strong gut feeling that the situation will get worse. My HS Homecoming Celebration was also upcoming… we’ve already sponsored some products but after much thought, I’ve decided not to go.
I told Mer, my best friend, that it was because I’m an introvert, I really didn’t feel the need to be with my former HS classmates and friends, but the truth is, I knew people from all over the world would be flying in to join the celebration, and who knows if some of them will be bringing the virus in. I didn’t tell that to my best friend because she’d just probably laugh at me. Mahal already thinks my paranoia is getting out of hand so I just kept that opinion to myself. I just told her something that’s still true but at least more acceptable — that I am an introvert and an anti-social. Huge parties and celebrations don’t really excite me and just gets me so tired and drained. Plus, I have a ton of online work to do which was also true. Period.
Mahal is quite the opposite. His sense of foresight is not as advanced as mine. He is not paranoid AT ALL. He is the logical type. He only believes what he sees at the present moment and works on those facts and premises. As for me, I think I was born paranoid, lol! Thinking ahead comes naturally for me much like how you are in a game of chess. This is perhaps why I like the Spanish series La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) but that’s another story.
Anyway…. even before this pandemic, I’ve always urged Mahal for us to have a bug-out bag. We used to have one when we were still living in Manila. I remember it being filled with stuff like canned goods, chocolates (haha!), medical stuff, flashlight, batteries, important papers, etc., just in case the “big one” hits. I’m pertaining to the BIG EARTHQUAKE that is believed to hit the West Valley Fault (which runs through Metro Manila to the cities of Marikina, Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, and Muntinlupa) anytime soon. That is actually one of the reasons why I agreed to transfer to Mindanao. So when we finally transferred here down south, “The big one” was forgotten and my idea for having a bug-out bag has been put to the backburner until a series of earthquakes hit Mindanao last October 2019.
Mahal, in a way, didn’t really support my prepper way of seeing things. He used to say that it’s just a waste of time and supplies that we could use now and not in some far-off catastrophic moment in the future. Nevertheless, I found ways… I’ve always been a “mild” hoarder wherein I try to stockpile on canned food and stuff just in case something bad happens but never in my wildest imagination did I see this pandemic coming. Had I watched Bill Gates’ 2015 TED TALK about the possibility of a pandemic, I would’ve probably been more prepared.
You see, I think I’m a doomsday conspiracy enthusiast. It’s not that I love being in real-life doomsday situations like this Covid pandemic but I find myself very fond of reading novels about conspiracy theories. I grew up reading Dan Brown books, Sidney Sheldon novels, the prophecies of Nostradamus, the Biblical apocalypse, blogs about “preppers” and S.H.T.F (shit hits the fan) stuff. I’m fond of those things. And it looks like, right now, with the worldwide spread of Covid-19 and no vaccine in sight, shit is hitting the fan so to speak.
So how am I handling the situation? We are all advised to stay home and take care of our physical health but how about our mental health? How are we coping?
On this blog, I would just like to document how I’m handling things inside my head. Outwardly, we may look a little prepared somehow with stockpiles of some emergency supplies, some food, and extra money. But the last few days, I find myself crying in my sleep and waking up with this huge knot in my tummy and tears in my eyes. And finally, yesterday, I broke down. I was crying in the shower, I was crying in bed, I was crying in the dining room. Actually, not crying… I was wailing! I was crying with pain, grief, and / or anger for a prolonged period of time! If our next-door neighbors heard me, they would’ve thought someone had died! For a brief moment, I couldn’t breathe! My chest was aching from too much emotional pain. Mahal just hugged me and let me cry. How did I come to this state? It didn’t help that I was on the second day of my period so naturally, I was more emo than usual. Prior to this pandemic situation, I was also not the news-watching type. But since the last week of January, I devour coronavirus-related news from all around the world. I think it got too much for me. I easily feel the pain of people around me and it just got too much. Am I going through the stages of grief? That’s what I want to find out… Maybe in one way or another, if you’re also going through some emotional discomfort and pain, at least you’d know you’re not alone. I am with you. We are all in this together no matter where we are in the world. So bear with me as I try to recollect my experiences and put them on a timeline to get a much better perspective for the sake of my mental health. Here goes…
Jan. 22 – 24
I wasn’t very concerned about the coronavirus yet. I read something about it in the news, but around this time, it was just one of those things we see in the newspaper. It was Mahal’s 41st birthday as well and it was still a time of celebration and “normal” fun.
I was becoming aware of the dangers of coronavirus but I was still so much focused on our Mushroom Cultivation Training at this time.
This was the first time I let my concern be known by sharing a news article about it on my Facebook.
Despite my growing concerns about the coronavirus, Mahal decided to go through with his plan of going to Cebu. I was still unsure if Tuz and I would go. Nevertheless, we accompanied him to the farm to start getting some mushroom fruiting bags that he would bring to Cebu if he really pushes through with the plan.
We pushed through with our plans of going to Cebu despite the fact that I was already worried about coronavirus.
Masks everywhere in the Philippines have been going out of stock. I urged Hanz to find a way to get more, not just for us but for his family as well since they’re always exposed to local and foreign visitors staying in their hotel, and for my family in Manila as well coz they’ve been needing masks since Taal Volcano erupted.
Feb. 1 – 13
While Mahal has been busy running from Oslob to Cebu City and back taking care of setting up our second mushroom growing area, Tuz and I did our early morning walks every day when everyone else was still sleeping.
The rest of the day, we would just isolate ourselves in our room where I worked and Tuz plays while waiting for Mahal to come back from his errands. We’d sometimes go out so I can see Mahal’s progress in setting up the mushroom growing area.
Back in our room, constant disinfection of surfaces using alcohol was a must, and I also told Mahal to tell his hotel staff to disinfect all the other rooms as well, particularly the doorknobs, to practice social distancing from guests even before the government told us to do so. And when Mahal arrived from his trip to the city, I’d ask him to head straight to the bathroom before he could hug us. As early as then, I was already so paranoid from this globally spreading disease.
It was Valentine’s Day and to take my mind off the newly named Covid-19 (the novel Coronavirus was named Covid-19 by WHO on Feb, 11, 2020), Mahal, Tuz and I spent the day at my favorite resort in Southwestern Cebu called Club Fort Med. We were the only guests! Perfect! God is good!
As part of my 42nd pre-birthday celebration, we visited some fun places in Cebu City. Again, I was having second thoughts about this because I didn’t want us to be in crowded places. But Mahal is not the paranoid type. He didn’t want to waste the time we have in Cebu. I was just glad there weren’t so many people around except when we watched the bird show which was the only time we wore masks. We went to Cebu Safari, Snow World and Anjo World Theme Park.
Feb. 17 – 19
For my 42nd birthday, we pushed through with our plan of heading to Bacolod, then to Lakawon island to celebrate my birthday. We wore our masks the whole time we were riding a bus. We also avoided crowded places as much as possible.
This was our last day before heading back to Cagayan de Oro. We spent the afternoon at Cebu Ocean Park. Again, I was against this. We only had 4-5 hours before the boat left the port. Mahal is the type who doesn’t want to waste time so he convinced me to go to Cebu Ocean Park as long as we wear masks and sanitize our hands every chance we get. We first went to SM’s bag deposit area, then we bought boat tickets and had lunch at a restaurant with few people (Krua Thai). Then we headed to Cebu Ocean Park. I’m just glad the place is not so crowded. It was Wednesday so that helped… not so many tourists in sight. Thank God!
That night, when we boarded the boat, someone in our cabin was coughing so hard! I wanted to reprimand her because she wasn’t even wearing any face mask! When she stopped coughing, I summoned all the strength I had to not get mad, and handed her a face mask. She said thank you but she never wore it! Ugh! She was coughing the whole night! Mahal and I slept with our face masks on but Tuz didn’t like the mask one bit! I’d wake up a nervous wreck every time she would cough! Lo and behold, when we got home, Tuz was already coughing. I wanted to cry! What if that person was a carrier of Covid???!!! Aaaaaaarrrrggghhhhh!!!! Some people can really be soooo inconsiderate and wreckless!!!
We immediately prepared for our upcoming Mushroom Cultivation Training program scheduled for Feb. 29 while at the same time spending more time reading about Covid News. We started taking twice the usual amount of vitamins plus we’re all drinking Lagundi every 4 hours! Tuz’s cough eventually subsided (thank God!) and we have been more careful about being around people who look sick.
Most of the time, we were just at home working. Mahal was doing mushroom product deliveries and preparing for the next Mushroom Training Program scheduled for March 14 while I was just doing regular online work for my clients and marketing for Tuscany Highlands. The Covid situation around the world was getting worse based on the news. We only went out a few times to eat out, do our evening run and get some groceries.
Then the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a worldwide pandemic and immediately, we announced that our Mushroom Hands-On Training Program will be postponed until further notice. I was actually half relieved that we won’t be around people during this time.
I think to cope up with the crisis, I started posting funny stuff on my Facebook timeline. I think I was also kind of in denial that one of my worst fears had finally come true!
Aside from the funny posts, I’ve also been more touchy-feely with Mahal and Tuz. We were always cuddling, hugging and kissing in bed. If these were our last days on Earth, I wanted it to be filled with happy, loving memories. (Ang drama! Morbid thoughts, pls. go away!)
Also, in a way, I was kind of feeling smug (sorry, tao lang!) about the fact that my gut feeling has been right all along and that Mahal should thank me for my foresight and paranoia. If it weren’t for my “prepper” instinct, we wouldn’t be as prepared somehow. I have been stashing bundles of cash, canned goods, noodles, toiletries, masks, and alcohol at home for some time now. And even before the pandemic and quarantine were announced, we have already done more than a month’s worth of groceries. And whenever I feel like our supplies are running low, I was always quick to schedule food deliveries via Konbini, Streetby and local vegetable delivery shops.
We also stopped selling and delivering products. Whatever mushroom products we have, we are saving it for us in case food deliveries become impossible in the future. What good is a little extra income coming in if he will catch the virus outside, right? Health is wealth! We have avoided going out since the pandemic was announced. We disinfect all food deliveries coming in. And on those rare moments that Mahal would run a short errand outside, I will remind him to do strict disinfection before going inside the house. I was that paranoid and worried! We will use whatever resources we have at our disposal to limit contact with the outside world. One of my worst fears has come true and we will do our best to survive this. Hopefully, it will not take very long because our savings are not unlimited.
March 21 – April 11
I was getting more worried and anxious as more and more positive cases of Covid-19 are being reported globally. I started waking up with a nervous tummy. I did my best to take control of my own situation by doing household chores. For the past 2 weeks, I haven’t been inside our training room. This time around, I started helping Mahal in cleaning it and rearranging stuff so we can use the room for Tuz’s homeschool and as our usual home theater when we feel like watching movies on the big screen. I also started going outside our tiny pad so I can exercise in the patio. I also started reading one of those books I bought before. There came a point when my panic attacks were getting the best of me that I’d turn to TikTok to make me laugh.
In between my anxiety and panic attacks, I’d just take care of Tuz and do client work to take my mind off the pandemic situation.
Another coping mechanism I did was post throwback summer photos on my Facebook. Looking at those pictures made me miss the beach more but at least it motivated me to work out. I needed to burn all those calories I’m taking from eating too much food at home! Perhaps, too much eating is also contributing to my negative mental state…
I finally broke down. I don’t know what happened. Maybe because I don’t really tell my closest friends how I really am… I’ve been used to solving things on my own… despite my emo tendencies, I know I’m strong and I can handle things. But sometimes, thoughts that accumulate in my head and in my heart for a very long time get to be too much for me to handle that I just finally let them all out. Plus, I was on the 2nd day of my period. I cried and wailed for a very long time. :’-( :’-( :’-(
I drafted this blog post to help me process my emotions and dissect my mental state. I think it’s helping. I don’t feel that anxious anymore and I’m starting to see the bright side somehow. I’m beginning to feel grateful again. Grateful that this happened with Mahal and Tuz by my side. If this happened several years back and I’m living all alone, I don’t know how I’d be now. I’m grateful that my work did not stop. I’m grateful that my income continues to come in. I’m grateful for my paranoia and foresight. I’m grateful for our health. I’m grateful we’re all alive and well.
Hopefully, as the days, weeks, months progress, a cure for Covid-19 will finally be brought to light and everyone will get vaccinated. It’s a scary time but with prayers, caution, mindfulness, faith, and positive action, I know humanity will overcome this. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.
To everyone who is on the same emotional boat as I am, let’s not lose hope and let’s try to make the most of this situation. I see people in my circle use this time to learn something new, to get online certifications, to rest and do the things they haven’t had the time to do before… It’s hard, yes, especially when your negative emotions and thoughts are sucking the energy out of you. To think I’ve been used to living in isolation for more than a decade now, way before the emergence of community quarantines and lockdowns! Still, pandemic thoughts can get overwhelming and crazy in our head BUT… there’s always a but… Acknowledging the blessings we have, no matter how small, is a good place to start so we can feel okay again, eventually.
God bless, everyone! Stay home if you can, stay healthy and stay safe! This too shall pass…