It has been 2 years since I was diagnosed with anxiety and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). My friend and I had the courage to check ourselves in the Philippine Mental Health Association at Quezon City. I was early and took my number to wait for my friend. She got her number and waited for her turn.
After assessment and had our first session with a psychiatrist (medical doctor who prescribes you a medicine) and was asked to take a small dose of anti-depressants before sleeping.
The morning after, I woke up sluggish. I actually had a slow reaction unlike how I used to be. I hear my family and listen to what they say, and it will take about 2-3 minutes before I react. I wasn’t my usual self, but I like what I feel.
I have identified my triggers and they cannot be easily fixed:
- carjack incident in 2005
- childhood trauma
- current news
- hypocritical religious people
Mental health conditions were recently identified by WHO as a comorbidity.
When the first COVID-19 case happened in the Philippines, I was in Baguio by myself. It was already a year since I was diagnosed and I already am taking the full dosage of my anti-depressants. The longingness for contact was there and so I started a podcast and even joined activities online to keep me going.
The moment that Baguio allowed us to go down, after 4 months since lockdown, I was talking with my psychologist (the one who holds space for you) and she mentioned I am okay to get sessions on a periodic basis instead of monthly.
Fast forward 2021, COVID-19 is mutating and getting more severe and so WHO recommended having the booster even after completing full vaccination. I got Sinovac twice with my last shot last July 2021.
I am not proud to share this, but I relapsed.
I stopped taking my anti-depressants from April until August 2021. Then on September, I slowly took small dosages again as I felt a different trigger and a different panic attack.
I never really imagined the impact of the pandemic to me when last week, I went out with my parents to meet a relative in a mall nearby. As I was lining up to order, I shake unconsciously and I kept trembling while standing. What I did was tap my shoulders until I can calm down. I actually did not, but the tapping somehow brought me back to my senses and I was able to order our food.
I told my Mom and recently, boosters were recommended and so I asked for my psychiatrist for a medical certificate as I am under A3. Then I received it and I saw a new term: Major Depression Disorder (severe), recurrent without psychotic symptoms.
I actually do not know how to react as I already acknowledge I have mental health conditions. But the severity I did not know, as I have yet to schedule another follow-up session with my doctor.
Why is it they say people who are rich only suffer mental health conditions?
THE COST OF MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS
My simple answer to that, is because of the cost of sessions. An initial assessment and counseling costs PhP1,200 (USD 24.00) for Metro Manila and half in the provinces (depends also on the availability of a psychiatrist and psychologist). Follow through sessions cost PhP800 (USD 16.00) and it will be another if the psychiatrist find it good to have a session with a psychologist.
You have not yet considered the cost of the anti-depressants/medication. A capsule cost from PhP16.00 to PhP120 (USD 0.32 to 2.38) and usually you will take it monthly. So that’s about PhP500 to 3,600 (USD 10 to 70). Why am I sharing this? There are some brands that may cause reactions and side-effects to the patient, and so you will vary from the generic to the branded anti-depressant.
And that is why, the lower classes in the social status find other means to cope, and sometimes it is not good. That is why, this has been one of my drive in studying yoga and meditation. To be able to learn and apply it to myself, as well as help others make it accessible.
I am a long way and probably this will be lifelong event, but I will try to manage it.