February 1, 2023

Dear Manang,
When it rains, it pours. I wanted to die literally when I received the results of my test that I am positive for human immune virus (HIV). I found that my husband died abroad of HIV after he came home for a month and left again. That’s the story of my life, a part-time wife of an elderly man who was a former soldier and lived in America more than here with me and our six-year-old daughter. He came home as scheduled every year but this time he seemed weaker and paler. He said it was just that he was getting old and he was stressed out by travel during the pandemic. Actually, he died due to pneumonia and the HIV was an added diagnosis. But what do I do? I have heard of the difficulties of the disease. My doctor said he will take care of me and not to worry.
Keni of Bakakeng, Baguio City

Dear Keni,
Your doctor is right, leave it to him. HIV is no longer a disease that is beyond control. Treatment is advanced and you can get cured. But I am not a doctor and I know this because my friend was positive too and has survived it for more than 30 years now. Don’t be too harsh on your husband because he could have gotten it in other ways. As you will be able to manage it, there is no real alarm. Believe your doctor. Meantime, keep mentally healthy. That’s the key.
You can do this,
Manang

Dear Manang,
Suddenly, I am depressed about my meaningless life. I don’t see myself as having done anything for 50 years. My work in helping others has come to nothing after all. I did nothing and don’t deserve to be part of anything. I feel too old to do anything more. I don’t want to go out anymore. I just want to hide forever. I am useless.
Lorna

Dear Lorna,
What you have is called midlife crisis. Do you know that it is part of the diminishing strength and agility that you are experiencing that makes you depressed? On the other hand, it is also work related. You must do something that makes you happy. Find a new hobby or get involved in something new. It will pass; it is temporary. When you come to terms with aging and begin to look forward to new things or events, it will be better. Some say that you just need to feel young again. Look who’s talking about mental health and isn’t a doctor, all I brag about is how I have overcome your same feelings and tumult positively. I did find a new hobby and new job of minding plants.
Dance or sing,
Manang