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'I'm feeling too down to function because of the election results. How can I cope?'

By BṺM TENORIO JR., The Philippine STAR Published May 15, 2022 3:49 pm

Each week, PhilSTAR L!fe addresses a reader's concern about relationships, career, and anything they want to talk about through its advice column: Asking for a Friend.

Dear L!fe friend,

It's been a rough week for me (and many Filipinos) because my chosen candidates lost in this year's elections. While I understand we're a democracy after all, it's been difficult to sleep, work, and face another day's challenges with a hint of what's to come under the leadership of those who topped the polls. I respect it, I just need advice on how I can cope and move past this. Thanks in advance.

—Girl with a Rough Week 

Dear Girl with a Rough Week,

Let me begin by telling you my recent conversation with my mother about the results of the elections. You see, my mom has been in the ICU for days already because of her heart condition. She was rushed to the hospital two days before the elections. 

On election day, we had a scare when the nurse called to say her vital signs were dropping. Her oxygen level was so low she might need to be intubated. Thank God she was a fighter because, in just a matter of hours, she regained her strength. No intubation needed. Thank God. She’s still in the ICU. 

Because she has a heart condition, it took us two days to tell her the results of the elections. (There was a “gag order” on the ICU nurses not to discuss politics with her.) My mother, a highly opinionated septuagenarian, had been asking for the results of the elections—from the President down to the councilors. 

All her bets lost. How do you tell that to a woman who, although she can talk and think sanely, is still fighting for her life?

Moving on is directly proportional to our capacity to accept things we cannot control.

With a heavy heart, I told her the truth—gingerly, honestly, carefully, tenderly. 

She threw a blank stare and after a few moments, asked to be served her nilaga

“What can we do? Wala tayong control sa isipan ng iba. Ang mahalaga ay lumaban. Matalo man, lumaban,” she said softly. 

And my mother, who had invested much emotion in the recent national and local elections,  moved on just as quick. She needs to attend first to her safety and welfare. 

Her blank stare and her moments of silence upon hearing the news were already processes of accepting defeat. She also cried when she learned that even her favorite councilor lost. In her tears flowed acceptance. There’s dignity in defeat. 

I read a Facebook post of what clinical psychologist Honey Carandang said about dealing with sadness post-election: “We need to take care of our sadness. Allow and embrace our feelings so that we can be restored. Let us appreciate what has been done. Say it won’t be wasted. Let us tell the youth that what they have done will not be wasted.” 

Moving on is directly proportional to our capacity to accept things we cannot control. Like what my mother said, “Wala tayong control sa isipan ng iba.” I’m sure she, too, is hurting. But she chose to move on as quickly as she could."

Since I cannot fully focus yet on processing my own hurts and pains because I have my own mother to attend to almost 24/7, I stay away from the kantyaw of friends who are on the opposite side of the political fence. Oh, they can be very provocative. I stay away from them. 

Unplug yourself from social media first, if you can. Socmed detox is necessary from time to time. The virtual world can be very stressing, too. 

Believe me, I am also affected by the election results that I had to search for my notes on Vipassana meditation, which I took for two weeks in Bangkok in 2000. It’s all about mindfulness. Being at the moment. Recognizing hurts and pains. Proper breathing. Knowing fully that all this shall also pass. 

I slowly help myself, too, by seeking the company of like-minded people. “Misery loves company” has never been so true until this moment in my life. I talk to a few every now and then. But in the end, it is yourself who will liberate you from your own pain. 

Moving on means also going on with your life. Take everything slowly if you must but it is important that you move. Inertia is important. Don’t lose focus on things that will add to your progress. If you can attend to your garden, do it. If you don’t have a garden, go to a place where there’s foliage. Scientifically, being in the company of plants and trees and flowers aids in your emotional healing. 

Take everything slowly if you must but it is important that you move.

Just today, when the barangay tanod went around the barrio to take down tarpaulins of election candidates, I requested that I would be the one to take down the ones of my chosen candidates. I did not discard them in the garbage truck. I folded them neatly and placed them in a box. I had a little ceremony. I’m keeping the box. The same way I’m still keeping the fight for a decent government.  

Oh, before I end this, don’t forget the power of a warm bath and a glass of milk before you go to bed. Prayers are potent, too. (Please say a prayer for my mother, too.)

God bless you. 

Your L!fe friend,

Büm

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