Listen, We’re Not Okay!

How the pandemic is affecting mental health

/ September 19, 2021
Accepting the struggle we have with mental health; Image via Sasha Freemind
  • More and more people are experiencing emotional distress
  • The health crisis is making it worse as activities are restricted
  • Losing jobs, families and getting infected with the virus are making people suffer
  • Suicide rates are increasing every day and the situation doesn’t seem to have an end

No. Nobody is okay and it’s about time that we stop perceiving mental health issues like it’s a laughing matter. Because it isn’t and it will never be. Some may say “those who struggle with their mental health just don’t know how to navigate through life. Take it easy and it will all be alright.” 

Well, what if it will never be? What if those who you think don’t know how to deal with their problems, actually do know the solutions but they’re just lacking the resources or even support. What if they’re just tired because the people and the circumstances they’re in at that moment makes them feel like there’s no hope? 

You never know the battles that they’re fighting in their heads. If you’re reading this, I urge you to start educating yourself on how serious this problem is. And it has become even more critical since the virus breakout that happened almost two years ago. 

It’s unfortunate that we all have to live in a pandemic and it’s crazier to think that the last year of normalcy was in 2019. That was two years ago but does it not feel like it has been a decade? Two years of staying at home, two years of dealing with uncertainties and possibly two years of not seeing our loved ones. 

The current health crisis that has caused 4.8 million deaths globally seems to not show any signs of slowing down or even going away. It has hurt many of us in various different ways. Some are affected physically and some are struggling to sustain their livelihoods because they’ve lost their source of income. Truth is, we’re all in the same boat, except that some boats are sinking at a quicker rate than others. 

 

Living in the new norm; Image via Arturo Rey

However, if there’s one thing that we can all relate to, it’ll be the emotional stress because there seems to have no end in sight and we’re all told to accept the “new norm”.

The norm where face masks are compulsory, keeping a distance of at least 1 metre when you’re talking to someone, sanitising your hands and every surface you’re going to touch and lastly, the dreadful 10 to 14 days of quarantine. 

Also, did I mention the possibility of taking a yearly shot to keep ourselves safe from the virus? How fast has life changed? And will we be able to get used to this new life that we never asked for? Nobody knows. 

Frankly, I do agree that everything took us by surprise but we had the chance to do things differently. Malaysia had the opportunity of implementing stricter strategies in order to combat the virus, but we lost to humanity’s greatest enemy – ego and greed. We’re clouded by judgments that benefited only the tiniest percentage of the people in the country while the majority of them are now suffering the consequences. 

In spite of that, we did quite well during the first year but the sweet taste of victory didn’t stay for too long. We were featured in many news outlets as an exemplary country that handled the crisis well. People from different sides of the world praised the efforts of our frontliners and we even got our freedom back. Until… well you know what happened. 

My point is, all that we’re going through right now is the result of poor management. When most of the countries are opening up, countries are seeing great improvements in their economies, we’re still where we were two years ago; at home. Sure, there are improvements but it’s going at a tremendously slower rate than our neighbouring countries. 

At the rate that we’re going, many will continue to hurt. Your favourite cafe is closing down, your dearest clothing brand is filing for bankruptcy, your neighbour is raising the white flag and more of your friends are telling you they’re seeing a therapist. 

Now, those are just from the people or community you’re aware of. What about those who you don’t know. Those whose stories are made public only after something awful happened to them?

 

The pandemic has left many in despair; Image via whoislimos

For instance, the 56-year-old man who was found dead, hanging from the pedestrian crossing near Taman Impian Ehsan, Balakong. The deceased was allegedly facing financial problems but was that the main reason why he took his own life? Maybe but it wasn’t just that. In reality, he was devastated to find out that he along with his other family members were tested positive for COVID-19. 

From the oldest to some of the youngest, the demons in our heads will always be there. Gone were the days where those who are older than us will say, “you’re so young, what worries do you have?”. Personally, I never understood why young adults cannot have worries? Where in the books of life did it state something about you having to be at a certain age in order to have any sorts of worries. 

In April of this year, we were shocked by the news of a 25-year-old male who jumped off the third floor of an iconic shopping mall at Kuala Lumpur City Centre. What made the case even more tragic was the fact that they found a psychiatric treatment card issued by Klang Hospital. Incredibly devastating but such is life right? Something has to happen in order to help people like you and I realise how people are fighting for their lives. 

Those are just some examples of ordinary people who have blamed themselves for the situation they were in. They felt like there was no other option but to end their lives in hopes that would lessen their burdens or wash away their worries. It may not be the best solution for some, but to them, that was the only way to witness rainbows again. 

In short, we’re not okay and almost nobody is! We’re all craving for some sort of human interaction. Children are constantly asking when they can go back to school? Parents are wondering until when can they sustain the family? Business owners are wrecking their brains trying to find ways to keep the business going. 

We may not have the solutions for you but what we at Pokok.asia can do is to assure you that we know you’re struggling and we hear you. We’re all in this together and we hope that we’ll see you at the finishing line. Just remember, if you wish to talk to someone, here are some numbers you may call. 

 

Befrienders: 03 7627 2929

Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA): 03 2780 6830

All Women’s Action Society: 03 7877 0224

Women’s Aid Organization: 03 7956 3488

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