Maisie Wong-Paredes, mom and caregiver of NEA Ambassador Jeremy Paredes, shares her story about raising two boys with eczema.
Published On: May 4, 2020
Last Updated On: Nov 2, 2020
Singapore goes into partial lockdown tomorrow, and I’m sitting at my computer, writing this with a sense of fear and trepidation, yet it’s coupled with a strange aura of calm. Maybe it is because our government has slowly eased us into today, with the gradual introduction of measures to support us while ensuring the virus is contained.
It is stressful here, just like everywhere else,, and we are all doing our best to cope. So many things are running through my mind every single moment of every single day. Being in the fashion and events industry, all of our bookings since February have been cancelled, and there are no confirmed jobs for the rest of the year.
Attempts to reconfigure some of our events with smaller groups were dashed when all businesses except for essential services were required to close for a month. Speaking engagements, photoshoots and filming sessions are also cancelled.
No jobs mean no income. Yet I have staff to take care of, rentals to pay and loans to fulfill. The government has introduced a financial support system for companies in Singapore, which goes some way towards alleviating our financial burden. Still, I fear I will lose the financial means to feed and care for myself and my dog. I wonder how much more of the storm my business can weather before we need to call it quits.
I broke out in a severe rash all over my body because of the stress. From my face to my neck, down my limbs to my joints and my fingertips, it spread rapidly in a matter of days. It was painful to move, and the itch was unbearable!
A trip to the National Skin Centre created even more anxiety, as it was revealed the next day that an infected person had visited the centre. I freaked out, but it was also a massive wake-up call for me.
I realised that we can either choose to wallow in our own distress or take control of the situation by keepinghealthy, keeping safe and finding solutions and alternatives to every new challenge.
I was struck with a fever at the beginning of March and decided to self-quarantine myself at home. With my new mindset, I threw myself into doing things I love. In one month, I wrote four children’s books, planned a launch campaign for them with my publisher, started a new podcast series and joined forces with other Singapore creatives to work on pitches for new television shows.
Inspired by a group of Malaysian fashion designers who had to shut their stores because of the lockdown but used their free time to sew hospital gowns for their healthcare frontliners, I reached out to help a politician friend galvanise my fashion friends to help sew masks for the sick and elderly.
I’ve also been working to help find homes for shelter animals.
When one door closes, others open.
I also try to surround myself with happy, positive feeds on my social media. It’s so easy to be caught up in the anger, hate, stupidity and distrust swirling around the internet, but that only serves to rile me up and make me even more upset.
I have, instead, chosen to focus on the many inspirational stories of selfless generosity and courage out there that can help lift a gloomy day. And this has spurred me on to do whatever I can to help my community.
At the end of the day, no matter how dire your situation may be, there are so many others out there who are in worse circumstances and need a helping hand. I try to find opportunities to help someone who is homebound, unable to do a grocery run, pick up meds from the clinic, or bring their dog to the vet. Helping them helps lift my spirits too.
The one who is most happy with me staying home is my dog, Leia. Waking every morning to her smiling face helps me start the day right. She is always there when I need a listening ear or a hug.
Sometimes, this is all I really need to get through these dark times.
Daniel Boey is a creative director and TV personality who has designed experiences for fashion events worldwide. His TV credit includes being a fashion director in Asia’s Next Top Model. He is the author of Behind Every *Itch is a Back Story: The Struggles of Growing Up with Rash.