Mental health: Keeping it strong as we move along

– AP

IT was devastating to lose her mother to Covid-19 last year, but Anne Yap* remains a tower of strength until today.

It still isn’t easy, of course, but the 35-year-old marketing manager does what she can to feel comfortable in moving forward with her life in the new normal.

“I know we have to start getting used to living with the coronavirus, but I’ll do what I can to protect myself,” she says.

Yap admits the coronavirus has definitely made her feel more “phobic” and she still does not feel at ease when she goes out.

“Even now, I only go out with selected friends, especially those who are careful, responsible and still follow standard operating procedures,” she says.

During the pandemic, Yap stayed at home a lot, didn’t dine out at all and cooked at home only.

“I did my grocery shopping only once a month.

“I avoided people as much as possible and the only people I met were the shop assistants or cashiers at the grocery store.

“I also had to go to the pharmacy often to get things for my mother and the moment I reach home, I’ll take precautions like bathing, washing the clothes I wore, sanitising my handbag, phone and other things,” she says.

After her mother succumbed to Covid-19, her fear towards the virus became more intense.

“Even after being fully vaccinated and receiving my booster shot, I was still pretty adamant not to get Covid-19 at all and avoided going to the office,” Yap shares.

Now that SOPs have been eased, she still tries to avoid contact as much as possible by going out only if she has to.

“If I have friends who want to meet in person, I will usually choose places that are not crowded and only dine at odd hours to avoid crowds,” she says, illustrating that she sometimes has lunch at 11am or after 2pm.

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For others like Lee Chia*, 38, a human resources manager, he is seeking professional help after his anxiety attacks affected his work.

“I believe my trigger is the feeling of being trapped at home with my newborn baby girl.

“I worry about Covid-19 still spreading out there, coupled with the fewer restrictions these days.

“While I do look forward to travelling for leisure, my seven-month-old daughter is unvaccinated.

“As such, I am more concerned than hopeful,” says Lee.

To treat his anxiety, he says he takes medication which was prescribed to him by the doctor.

“Otherwise, I try to distract myself with games when I can outside of work or hours when I am not caring for my baby,” he says.

To others struggling out there, Lee hopes they know they are not alone.

“As I open up to others, I discovered that there are others like my spouse, bosses and close friends who are also dealing with their own mental health issues as well,” he says.

Now that things are almost business as usual like before the pandemic, Sheila*, 45, says the changes going into an endemic situation can feel unsettling.

“After seeing how bad the pandemic can get, I’m not in a rush to fully go back to my old lifestyle when I went out almost every day.

“I will take my time and only agree to participate in activities I feel comfortable doing.

“Despite being able to go maskless outdoors now, I still choose to wear one when I’m outside,” adds the finance executive.

Sheila feels the time in isolation during the pandemic has changed her because it made her reflect on herself and her past.

“It has pros and cons. The downside is that the ample time alone made me overthink things, which may not be helpful to my mental health.

“But it is good to reflect on myself and how I can learn to love myself more,” she says.

*not their real names

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