CRUMBLING IN. MARCHING ON. FINDING ONE'S OWN THERAPY.
As featured on Humans of Pinas on Face Book.
In March, we have seen measures put in place to keep us safe from the Coronavirus--- to shelter in place and to self-quarantine. Perceived likely as the easiest interventions to maintain safety during this pandemic but have the most unforgiving consequences. Isolation and separation, loss of employment, lack of human connection and interaction, to name a few. Undoubtedly, these have impacted us all emotionally and mentally. Hence, we have seen and continue to see an upsurge in mental health cases, the most common of which are depression and anxiety.
I planned on doing more self-care for myself this year. I was preparing on taking more days off to work on my own health and wellness. However, I had put this plan aside because my services as a mental health practitioner were markedly needed. And that need continues to rise. This year undeniably has become my busiest, seeing both new and established patients, young and old, and countless of those in between. My work schedule is frequently modified to accommodate patients, some of whom need to be seen urgently. Although not the norm pre-COVID-19, seeing as many as fifteen to twenty patients a day has become my routine for the past eight months, which is not an easy feat.
Providing the best and quality mental health care is inflexible. Spending time individually with each patient, offering and providing better options to help manage their symptoms, basically to keep them safe and not resort to harming themselves is the primary goal. While the focus of my practice is medication management, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of incorporating psychotherapy as an integral part of mental health treatment. This results in a surge in referrals to psychologists and licensed marriage and family therapists for additional and other forms of therapeutic treatments inevitably flooding and overwhelming that other arm of mental health care.
Having a stable emotional and mental health of my own is important and keeping my well-being always in check is essential for me to continue to serve my chosen population. But truth be told, I have my own sleepless nights, my own worries and fears, and moments of sadness which patients may be oblivious of because when the camera on Zoom, Skype or FaceTime starts to roll for our online visits or tele-psych, on screen they only see the mental health practitioner who is ready to help with a smile on her face. And that is the biggest challenge I must endure thus far. Unbeknown to them I still grieve the death of my father from a year ago. I grieve the loss of my father-in-law who died a few months back from COVID-19, and I profoundly mourn the sudden death of my dearest cousin--- both recent losses in just a span of six weeks. Three deaths in my family in less than two years. We all have our own breaking points.
To keep me going I had to find my own therapy to help me find peace and solace. Not surprising, I found that therapy in my kitchen--- the one place where I would rather be when things get chaotic. Working in my kitchen keeps me focused, distracted from unwanted fears and worries.
Flower Garden PANE INCAMICIATO
I set a goal for myself to work on something new while in my kitchen to be more engrossed and purposeful, so I delved into sourdough baking. I studied the craft, went on a short-course class, and continue to hone and perfect the art. I also revived my personal website where I blog about food, food experiences, recipes, travel, and other musings. It may seem mundane but these, aside from the fact that I honestly believe in my profession that I can be of help to those who are suffering from mental illnesses, keep me going. The trust placed upon me by my patients that I can help make them feel better keeps me going. Seeing my patients get better, keeps me going.
Herbs and Edible Flower FOCACCIA
My fervent wish is that we help break the stigma on mental health sooner than getting a COVID-19 vaccine. For only then can we freely reach out and seek mental health care without the fear of being judged and frowned upon. May it not take another pandemic for us to prioritize our emotional and mental health and well-being. That any day is a good day to reach out to talk about our fears, our anxieties, our highs, and our lows. That we may continue to educate ourselves about the importance of mental health, and that mental illness is treatable like any other illness. It starts by reaching out.