(De) PRESS (i) ON

There is an embedded message in the word depression. Attempt to mix the word; you will see two options. We do have choices in this life; Die or Press On.

Pandemic instills fear in the hearts of the people. Residents of Siruma, Camarines Sur, are no exception. Crises reveal true heroes; not all heroes wear the mask of identification. But nothing weighs up against heroes who do not fly. They are no match for the heroes of Siruma, our Day Care Workers. However, just as the heroes we see in the movies, they struggle and fight battles too.

Four Day Care Workers shared their stories and experiences. They are all afraid to travel to Naga because who knows if they mingled with is covid positive. Even though they want to, they have no choice but to be cautious. The government of Siruma strictly adheres to the health protocol; its people willingly follow it for the security of all.

Marilyn Terrobias, 34, said that while they were in lockdown, their company was affected. Her husband, a fish vendor, was prohibited from trading to other places because they are afraid that there might be buyer infected. If they go home, they will get suspected as a carrier of the virus. It causes a financial crisis in the family since it is their primary source of living. They thought about something the law does not forbid. They came up with a solution whereby instead of selling fish, they would have to plant. Taking their needs into account, they decided to exchange their rice.

Leadel Jamolin, 28, calmly said that their living was not at all affected by the lockdown. However, she worries about her family living in areas with cases of covid positives. Thus, for them not to worry excessively, they climb uphill and built a hut to shade them against the heat of the sun. Then they would go to the sea to stay for the whole day. That is how they cope.

Cyrene Lopez is a positive thinker. She always thinks positively, no matter what. As they were limited to do the things they usually do, they spent their time uphill to find vegetables and coconut. They took it as an opportunity to spend quality time together. Moreover, nothing stops her from having communion with our Lord. “We watched the mass online. It is a must to have a healthy mind; spiritual health must also be healthy. ” She is proud of sharing how her child initiates to read the Bible. “As a mother, it feels good to see your child growing spiritually.”

Cristina Carardo, 30, struggled with her health and financial status. She has a thyroid problem; though non-toxic, it is cancerous. Thus, there is a need for an operation. During the pandemic, the work of her husband has ceased to operate. It made her worry. “There were times that strength seems to leave me. I was thinking about how I can get myself checked if no finances are coming in. We work for others to have rice on our table. I was so stressed. I was thinking differently. I was about to give up. But, I was thinking about my kids. What will happen to those little kids if I am not around anymore? So I told myself I should never give up. ”

All four of them have different stories, worries, struggles, and coping strategies during a crisis. They had been educating little kids and catering their needs, yet, who will cater theirs? They listened to address issues of other people, helping them for a solution. But, who will listen to them? Who will be there for them?

Having mental health professionals to remind us that it is normal to react in an abnormal situation is a big help. Having been processed by the MHPSS officers, our four educators were all able to find ways to resolve their concerns. They learn to share their issues with their significant others; started to open up issues that are bothering them; learn to talk it out and solve them together. Not only do they become mentally healthy, but in all aspects of life.

As educators, they share the knowledge they acquired from the training with the people they can reach. We are all in this together. Even if the depression seems to consume us, its name contains our options. There is a reason why the letter ‘I’ in depression is between the word ‘Press on’ so we cannot choose to die but to press on in this challenging world. Between the two options, always choose to press on.