COVID-19 came unexpectedly and did not give time to any of us to plan anything. I remember when I was travelling back from the UK for the Global Fund Advocacy meeting two years back, suddenly Delhi Airport in India was flooded with the inspection centers. Each of us was asked where we travelled back and trace of our contacts during our meeting. I went through the test for COVID-19, thankfully I was clean and they allowed me to go home. However, I could see a few passengers were detained in the glass enclosure. I was confused and was not able to understand the depth of the issue aroused due to COVID-19 infections.
We started reading about COVID-19 and like any other disease in the beginning the misleading information for everywhere rather than accurate information on COVID-19 protection. We were house arrested and were looking at every neighbor with suspect for COVID-19. We saw people helpless, the health systems overwhelmed and struggling to cope up with the everyday increasing patients for the COVID-19. In the beginning we were just counting on deaths in the country and everyone thought, this is it! We should offer prayers to our gods and be prepared for the worst case. The businesses were down, people lost their jobs, people wanted to go to their native places. Millions of people on the street travelled without any transportation and without hope from the metro cities. Small children and women were struggling to cope up with the domestic violence since everyone was house arrested and it was taking a huge toll on their mental health. Situation was getting difficult every day, people were dying without oxygen, we were also hearing that the dead bodies were not handed to their relatives and none of the priests was ready to perform last rites to the bodies that died of COVID-19. Stigma was at its highest peak and everyone was looking for a miracle! Fortunately, WHO started talking about prevention and our government in India introduced a vaccine for COVID-19. As a health worker I got prioritized for the vaccination.
However, during COVID-19 for me the focus was on reaching to our LGBTI community, providing mental health support through phone counselling, reaching out to the government for the financial & dry ration help work. We were also working towards providing the crucial ARV drugs for the transgender & MSM people living with HIV and not being able to access the health centers. Community based organizations were ensuring that they work very closely with the government to reach the marginalized people who have been impacted due to the COVID-19 outburst. However, COVID-19 house arrest also provided me with a huge opportunity to connect with my aspirations and fun elements. I am a disastrous cook and I can barely cook for myself. However, through our ‘internet god’ I was learning new dishes to cook and trying to make hilarious cooking disasters. When I realized cooking is not my thing, I got hooked on the ‘magic mania of dance’ – TikTok! I remember spending nights and days surfing on the internet watching amazing TikTok reels created in India and across the world. It was a huge time pass and slowly I realized I was already hooked on to the same. I started getting pressure from the ‘followers’ through countless surfing of the ‘influencers’ on the internet. I was really liking this new format, short videos that can have dialogues, music, philosophy, dance and many more. It took some time for me to understand the filter (not to forget filters on the internet is our life now lol), video editing, mixing music and making it more presentable. My fever for TikTok was not restricted to me only but already took a storm at my house. My adopted sons, maid, and community daughters all of us were really loyal customers of ‘TikTok’. I was not bothered about my image in public or how much likes I will get through my TikTok video. It was my crazy ‘creativity’ ride and I was enjoying it the most.
Spent several days just surfing on the internet, saving right music, understanding the right approach for TikTok making and following liked influencers who were creating magic on the internet. My favorite was old Bollywood music, I could dig out all my costumes from my previous dance performances and spend countless hours in front of the mirror just to get that 45 second video right and as per my quality standards. Our home has already become ‘TikTok home’. We used to sleep till late in the morning because the entire night was spent tirelessly till, we dropped dead making videos. Some of the things I learned during my TikTok experience;
- don’t run behind likes, you will get additionally stressed and it will hamper your creativity
- do what you like, nobody cares, don’t think about what world will think as far as you are enjoying everything what you create
- you can put emotional blackmail’ to your close friends liking your videos or get agreement liking each other’s videos
- Filters are gods, learn them well use them well my dears
- Make your video life larger than life, there is nothing like being real on internet, I guess no one cares I guess
- be inspirational to yourself and others as well, a message through your videos can help several people
- If you don’t get great followers don’t run behind them, just chill; they might like to play hard to get lol
Just have fun in what you do and enjoy every moment of your creativity! As the wise people say, it does not matter how long your life is, what matters is how you are spending each moment of your life. Be happy and make others smile more! COVID-19 has taught us ‘difficult lessons’ of our lives. Some of them I learned would like to quote below so that it can also help others,
- Your happiness is in your hand; so, smile more because a smile is the most expensive gift that you can give to anyone which is FREE of cost!
- Resilience and patience are the key, the hardship will not be there always and you will find courage to cope with the problems. Don’t give up!
- Sometimes it is important to look inside your heart, if you want to go a long way. We spend so many hours in front of our mirror and ignore our beautiful heart capable of healing others.
- Health is wealth! Prevention is better than cure.
- Show your loved ones how much you love them, because sometimes we don’t get time to express the way we feel.
During COVID19 despite having the vaccine, I got infected two times with the COVID-19 infection. What gave me strength to cope up is the amazing videos I created on TikTok which brought a smile to my face. I am TikTok Queen!
APCOM staff share their activities for maintaining good mental health
Click on the photo to read their articles.
A (Wattana Keiangpa)
Arm (Siripong Srichau)
Mill (Natthakorn Chatsakulsri)
Shan (Tanet Vongvisitsin)