Being away from home at a time like this brings a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. For me, personally, it almost feels like having to go through the crisis two-fold, because I’m gathering and processing information about the situation in the Philippines and the UK simultaneously. With different strategies in place to contain the situation, directives from governments and health organizations changing at every turn, it’s hard to feel a sense of stability and peace of mind. (READ: Keep calm and cope: How to stay mentally healthy during coronavirus crisis)
The announcement of the community quarantine in NCR came over a week (almost two) ahead of any similar directive here in the UK. Since this wasn’t something we’d experienced before, naturally, the first line of thought that my family considered was to have me fly back to the Philippines temporarily. My medical history includes bronchial asthma and pulmonary health issues in the past, so my parents worried that I would be at risk. With a full-time job, no quarantine advice, or travel restrictions in place by the UK government at that time, much as I wanted, staying here in London felt like the logical choice. I was afraid that a long-haul flight would not only put my health at risk but possibly even risk exposure to my loved ones in the Philippines.
While the lockdown was imposed in the Philippines, health agencies and the media warned that Europe was now the epicenter of the pandemic. Though neighboring countries like Italy had enforced lockdown too, in the UK, life seemed pretty much business as usual. I tried to implement changes in my personal routine though, like practicing physical distancing, carrying a 500 ml bottle of Green Cross alcohol (yes, even here, love local pa rin!) to and from work every day, washing my hands more often with soap and water, and bringing disinfectant wipes everywhere I went. I guess for a while it humored people, especially when I would wipe down exercise equipment before and after use at my local gym.
It was only a matter of time until the gravity of the situation had caught up with the rest of the Britons. In London, we saw a daily increase in confirmed cases shoot up from 100, 200, to nearly 700 cases within a 24-hour period. As the numbers escalated, so too did my anxiety. Not only for fear of the coronavirus itself, but more importantly because of the onslaught of racism and discrimination hurled against the Asian community. Having been based in the UK for a while, I never really felt like I had to look over my shoulder. But living through it myself and hearing stories from people close to me, allow me to say this. Asians are not to blame for the spread of coronavirus. (READ: Stay home for 3 months, UK tells 1.5 million most at risk)
I’m fortunate that even without the government’s imposition of a lockdown, my workplace was very supportive and flexible with working remotely. Because of this situation, a week ago, I decided to go on a self-imposed lockdown here in London, to avoid any risks of exposure, and to do my part in helping #FlattenTheCurve. Even then, I had an unsettling urge to do something more for my community back home in the Philippines. (READ: [OPINION] Staying sane and centered in the time of the coronavirus)
In the first week of my self-imposed lockdown, I managed to find a way to channel all the stress and anxiety into something more positive and productive. Despite all the uncertainty that we are facing today, know that there is still so much that you can do. Your voice matters. Wherever in the world you may be. – Rappler.com
Isabel is a London-based Marketing and PR professional who is passionate about elevating storytelling through creative experiences. She was born and raised in the Philippines and is an island girl at heart.