December 6, 2023

Dear Manang,
Among the many questions that run through my mind is “What if?” This question pairs off with my first love or the person I loved in high school but the relationship failed. I still think that my married life would have been happier if I married the first girl I liked as a teenager. In my mind, I entertain thoughts of having beautiful children with her and perhaps would better understand my work. I have a deep feeling that my marriage is a mismatch because my life right now lacks luster even if my wife loves me more than I can reciprocate.
Andre of Liteng, Baguio City

Dear Andre,
I have encountered friends who are in the same predicament as yours. The unhappiness at home arises from thinking that life would be better with another mate that you loved once. Sometimes, what it really needs is some closure. Given modern technology, you can search for that person in FB messenger and ask how the person is. A few exchanges may give you answers to your question and who knows you might find out that your romanticizing of that relationship is actually not what you made it out to be. It reminds me of the story, “Dead Stars” by Paz Marquez Benitez where the man fell out of love because his love wasn’t the ideal after he met her again.

Dear Manang,
When there are mass shootings, mental health is blamed. Today under this Covid-19 pandemic, mental health is urgent. When we are depressed, mental health is challenged. Two months under this quarantine has made me anxious and worried about where to get the money to pay for rent and bills. My savings have been depleted by this unexpected vacation without pay. The money I put away for my family’s future needs has been compromised. They still say staying mentally healthy is a must. Anxiety and stress are normal and mental illness is not.
Marie of Itogon, Benguet

Dear Marie,
Mental health emphasizes on the way we balance our coping mechanisms with challenges and tests. I am not an expert on mental health but I know that if I get obsessed with worry and anxiety instead of playing it cool when there is no immediate relief from this quarantine, I need diversion. Do you remember some words in Desiderata that tell you to accept the things you cannot change? Well, this is that time. We also plan ahead because we need to tighten our belts when we will finally return to work to fill up old budget holes. Mental health is a state where one is able to positively act on his problem instead of being sad and depressed. Actually, mental illness is more the point when we evaluate the perpetrators of mass killings and at this time when we seem to have no remedies to food and work. But truly, solutions abound, if you want to solve it.
Find your strength,