Staying afloat | Inquirer Opinion

Staying afloat

/ 04:03 AM April 20, 2021

Trying to get up from my bed is always the hardest thing to do every time I wake up. I am physically healthy, but my mind has been sick for a very long time. It’s true that you can’t make a plant grow by changing it; you need to change its environment. But how can I change mine when it’s not even safe to go out? It’s scary to even buy essentials, or have groceries delivered home because the virus could be anywhere. There’s nothing more terrifying than not knowing what you’re up against.

My anxiety has reached its peak, with random bouts of depression here and there, and I’m already used to it. We’re at this point in our lives where everything is uncertain. I am not the kind of person who can go on with my life unaffected by what’s happening around me. I can’t comfortably sit in my chair in the comfort of my room when I know that people are suffering, and that things have gotten even worse than last year.


The worst part is, I can’t do anything about it. I am currently a medical post-graduate intern, and this point in my life feels like being in a boat in a vast sea of possibilities. If only I could get through the storm, I would be able to help people. But that storm is uncertain. Its behavior is erratic. I don’t know where to sail; I don’t even have a life vest. My oar is broken, my sense of direction askew. Before I know it, I am drowning, because trying to save people while failing to save myself is the mistake I keep on doing.

We have been online medical clerks turned online post-grad interns since March last year. I know we are underqualified in all aspects of our clinical experience, theoretical and practical. While they tell us to study hard when we have time because it’s the only thing we can do, I still find it hard to wake up every morning and act as if everything is all right. I can barely move, let alone read my textbooks. I can’t even reply to messages when people ask how I am. It’s hard to stop myself from sleeping, for it is one of my few coping mechanisms. Whenever my family consults me about a certain tummy ache, or a simple cough, I feel so empty. How would I be able to help people when I can’t even possibly help the people I care about?


Maybe trying hard to be licensed physicians could be our greatest contribution. I always ask myself, am I studying to pass? Or am I studying for my future patients? Is it possible that someone like me could be another set of eyes and hands, an additional thinking mind, to help our colleagues who are now fighting for their lives? Would we be able to live through the day when things would go back to normal? Or would everything be much worse? Would I still be able to see a future with this dream I have, which now seems so difficult to reach?

Sometimes it feels so hard to get up from bed. But today I did. I even made my bed and prepared coffee. Before studying, I asked myself if I could do another day. I hoped that today would be different, that I could be better and that my mind could go to brighter places. I’ve always thought that my mental illness hindered me from helping myself, therefore I couldn’t help others. But I always go back to what our priest told me during the darkest moments of my life — “You’ll be a good doctor. You’ll know how to heal, for you yourself have been wounded.”

That has stayed in my heart ever since.

* * *

Liel Tria, 26, is a post-graduate intern from the University of the East-Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center.


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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, Liel Tria, medical post-graduate internship, survival, surviving through COVID-19 pandemic, Young Blood
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