Recovery in Plague Era


My condition has my name in it: dysthymia, chronic mild depression. When you break it down by the syllable — dys — thy — mia — it sounds like This Thy Mia.

My Mom passed away in 2010. I was the first child and had worked so hard to keep everything together only to find that I’ve always been worn and weary, cracked even. It got to the point where it had become too-obvious that I no longer had the energy to take care of myself. I almost wished that my depression was the stuff that is usually talked about: doom, gloom, and suicide ideation.

It was weird to have snapped when I did.

“Why now?” My partner wondered, “Why now when you’ve started exercising and eating better? When you’ve started to like working again?”

I wish I knew.

This we’ve unpacked so far: the jokes were truer than I thought, I had grown up too quickly and given too-big shoes to wear. Mom tried her best, but she was on her own, and she never really knew what it meant to break things down into chunks.

Flashback to a locked entry from January 31, 2020:

My Mom used to insist that my sister and I were test tube babies. One of her more unstable friends would undo that elaborate lie during what was supposed to be a friendly catch up social event in my late twenties. I was stunned, asked Mom about it, and she still stuck to her story. Mom was a terrible liar, and I accept that my family’s estrangement was likely seeded from her frantic attempts to save face.

It was late in life that I got to appreciate the paradox of her lying out of love. In a way, it is true. She raised and loved us by herself, why should That Man, the one who wanted to be called Dad, share credit? I respect That Man, mind. I have good memories of him, but like I always say — we were our best when we didn’t expect much out of each other.

My worst times growing up were in vying to fill in the blanks of the definition of family. I lament over how my childhood would have been made So Much Easier if Gilmore Girls were a 90s show.

It’s 2020. There’s even bigger and louder noise over the expanding concept of families. Let there be other definitions.

May 2020, I think

A twitter meme asked what my favorite place in the world is. The living room in Skyland, our apartment in Makati where we spent the last few years as a family, came to mind.

In one of those days in lockdown where I could do little else but despair, I imagined being in lockdown with my family.

My sister, who slept often because she preferred to live in her dreams where she could be anything she wanted to be.

My Mom, who never knew how to talk about her feelings.

We who never knew how to talk unless it was to get something done their way. A family who never really knew how to listen to each other.

February 26, 2021, with Anne over Google Meet.

“If you could talk to your old self, what would you tell her?”

“I’d give the much younger me a hug,” I said, “She needed to be a kid but no one told her that. But I don’t know if I could really talk to the 20-something me who should have known better.”

Mii untucked, unfiltered, and done giving a fuck. Profile photo from Hulyen.