Blank. I’ve been staring at the computer screen for hours, trying to come up with a kick-ass opening for my travel post. Still blank. It’s ironic because there seems to be a lot brewing in my head that my mind is spiraling downward. My emotions are on a free fall and I don’t have access to a parachute!
“I am a mess. I need help” was the distress message I sent to my boyfriend, who lives miles away and who, unfortunately, has to bear the brunt of my unpredictable bouts of depression. He usually understands, but this time, he was even more confused than I was, and every single day that passed I became more vague, irritable, ruthless, and needy. There seems to be no shortage of things to gripe about these days. There’s the bats that’s roosting inside my hut, the endless rains and mud, the constant threat of scorpion and snake bites, malaria, typhoid, the trigger-happy militia men next door who grace our evenings with the beautiful music of their gunfire, the boring meals of rice and eggs and tinned beans, the freezing showers, the smelly latrine, the lack of social life, the recent strike of the national staff, the workload, the chronic levels of low stress brought about by the volatile security situation—shall I continue?
In the normal world, I’m usually Zen about these things. No worries. No problem. There’s always a solution to everything. This too shall pass. But guess what, I am not only eating my words now, I’m gagging on them. My hut is teeming not only with the smell of bat urine but with the disgust I feel, not for my job, but for allowing myself to stoop so far as wallowing in self-pity to the brink of self-destruction. And I know it won’t be long before the place caves in under it, unless I do something.
Humanitarian aid work is never easy, that I know. But no one told me that it is this serious and excruciating. Every day you deal with suffering and become overwhelmed with unmet needs. Too much suffering in fact that you begin to question the universe and even God. Seeing all the poverty and misery around, I started losing interest in religion and God. What I was interested in was to help as many people as I can and at the same time climb out of the depressive hole I’d fallen into. I’ve abandoned my odd attempts at bedtime prayers and early-morning “conversations” with my Maker.
To top it all, I began to question my effectiveness and started looking for external validation—you know, appreciation of my efforts, praises, people telling me how awesome I am. And that is the beginning of the death of my self-worth. I started accusing people of being insensitive, when I was the one who was hyper-sensitive. Pathetic, isn’t it?
Back home, whenever I feel miserable, I would often find myself in church, and the priest would say, “I know you are lonely, but you are not alone. Look to your right and to your left. Someone is bound to be there to take care of you.” But here when I look both ways, I see a strange-looking reptile to my left and a blank-looking cat to my right.
I am a mess. I need help. I have come to the shattering realization that pursuing one’s passions means there are things to be endured. Things that are often too painful, but when overcome, will make you a better person.
I’m much calmer now after a long chat with one of my strongest support system standing (you know who you are). Things have been ugly between us in the past week, but it sure cracked me open. And I hope that’s a good thing.
Right now, I am in a phase of introspection, because I need to have faith again in something—cliched as it sounds—bigger than myself.
I did not mean for this post to be an account of my personal struggles and all the drama that comes with it. It’s not cool. But well, I am no Superwoman. And although I want to bury my head under the pillow and cry, I’m trying to comfort myself in the thought that the stories later will all be worth it.
P.S.: My Uganda series will resume next week.
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