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The pandemic in the mind of the ‘nurtured, confident, achiever generation’

By May Dedicatoria Published Oct 08, 2020 12:37 pm

To give birth in the middle of a pandemic, without weekly checkups and uncertain if any hospital would accept me when the labor pains come —I thought nothing would beat the anxiety I felt last summer. Thank heavens, the baby was healthy, everything went fast and smoothly, and I couldn’t wish for anything more.

But then, as COVID caseload climbed and groping months went by, it was no longer just the pregnant women, senior citizens, and parents with small children who were trying hard to grasp what was happening.

My husband, a nurse and frontliner, started having signs of panic attacks. A colleague, in the middle of office work, suddenly hyperventilated and trembled in tears. Another broke down as she felt hopeless being stuck at home with quarreling parents.

Not only COVID cases are getting more personal, but more family members and friends are also catching anxiety disorders and depression, much faster than the dreaded coronavirus.

“When the COVID-19 started, it put us all in a crisis situation. So, hindi tayo ‘yung usual. ‘Di ba pag may crisis, an overwhelming and stressful event happens to us and it causes a lot of reactions. But what is different about this crisis is that para syang extreme kasi pandemic sya. It has overwhelmed the coping of people, communities, countries, and the world,” explained Dr. Eleanor Ronquillo, a fellow at the Philippine Psychiatric Association.

Photo by Cottonbro via Pexels

According to the study of YouGov and Synergy Market Research, “almost seven in 10 of Filipino millennials are showing mild to severe signs of anxiety disorders and depression recently, which is significantly higher than the general population.”

Despite being healthier than other age groups, millennials are the most badly hit segment because they worry about their loved ones more than themselves—especially if they have a vulnerable family member. They can’t help but worry about how to take care of them, as they perceive the COVID situation could only get worse. Another YouGov study shows that six of 10 in this age group have this sentiment.

There’s also the factor of high news consumption and the disruption of the millennials’ life plans. They are in the adulting phase or in the stage of making major life decisions, says the report. Before the pandemic, they may have had set their plans carefully—buying their first home, starting a business, getting married, or having kids. Now, they feel lost.

Whatever our age, we are all going through a tough time. But it won’t take much to ask our friends and neighbors how they are. 

Dr. Ronquillo added, “On top of the threat, now you have this restriction. So the usual coping mechanisms such as going out, shopping, traveling, dining out, meeting with friends, and entertaining — these are not there anymore.”

Through video calls or emoji-peppered chats, most young adults nowadays share their happy rants or get their worries off their chests with a support system, mainly family and very close friends. Some have joined online groups and communities where they share their thoughts or passions, and whose members feel like long-lost cousins, talking about their college days, daily recipes, frugal living, anything under the sun that could take away the dark clouds in their heads.

On the bright side, the quarantine has made many of us realize the little joys — like waiting for a little bud to bloom at sunrise, or waking up late while the rain pours outside, spring cleaning and donating excess clothes and toys, and sharing a new tsamba recipe with the family.

Photo by Cottonbro via Pexels

Still, there are those who cannot stand the physical isolation, and they need our help. Where have the very vocal, achievement-oriented millennials gone? They’re known to be confident in all their ways, yes, but deep within, they need validation.

Two months ago, I checked on a friend—an award-winning writer, also a millennial. It hurt when I learned she had unfriended me on Facebook. But speaking with her again answered all my questions.

She was jobless. She coolly said she’s doing fine and that she wanted to go to Manila. But she had no idea that public transportation wasn’t available at the time. She didn’t know about COVID at all. She doesn’t even know she is sick, and those years of “sadness” have taken the best of her.

Whatever our age, we are all going through a tough time. But it won’t take much to ask our friends and neighbors how they are. 

If they don't want to talk, we can share our own dealings with things, our feelings. Who knows? Maybe by sharing, we are already reaching out to them who need help the most.

Banner image by Cottonbro via Pexels