Emilie #MadCovidDiaries 24.3.2020

Emile @gothcat_emilie writes about her experiences living in a European country that has been on lock down for a number of weeks….

TW: COVID and its impact on mental health

Quarantine is slowly recreating, through external factors, everything I once would have considered symptoms of me going into a breakdown again.

Not leaving my house? Check. Not talking to people? Check. Feeling guilty about opening up about my issues when people have it worse? Check. Feeling like people avoid me whenever I do indeed get out because I need groceries? Check. Feeling abandoned and forgotten by the healthcare system as my therapist’s office closed? Check. 

It’s becoming more and more difficult each day to distinguish true symptoms from my mental illness from the weird circumstances of this pandemic. More than ever, I feel like I’m living a half-life. I sleep pretty much all day and all night because this is the best escape I have. I already had issues with hypersomnia before this started, but now I’m in bed with the lights off for more than 15 hours a day every day. 

Sure, I can’t actually fall asleep without sleeping pills, and that worries me. I should call my psychiatrist to get a new prescription because I wasn’t meant to take them daily. I feel I have the right to, these are weird times, but at the same time I feel immensely guilty. Sleep is too easy. But the rest is too hard. I’m afraid I’ll come out of quarantine completely addicted to benzodiazepines, and being dependant on something has always been terrifying for me. I try to sleep without them, I do. At 5 AM, most of the time, I give up, go to the kitchen, swallow two pills. I feel shame as I go back to bed. Whatever.

My anxiety isn’t focused on the disease itself. I don’t care enough about my health and as I live alone, I don’t fear that I’ll be endangering anyone. No, as a true borderline, my anxiety is turned towards people. Going outside is a nightmare: everyone has started treating others as if we were all plague bearing rats. People don’t meet your eyes. They talk in very low voices, scared of something nobody can see. Do they think the virus has more chances to attack if they scream? Even when I’m alone in the streets, I feel vulnerable. I shouldn’t be outside, it’s forbidden, I don’t have the right to… My thoughts escape me even though I clutch the permission slip saying that I do, indeed, have the right to be outside, because I need a refill from the pharmacy and groceries. It’s fine, I don’t eat that much anyway, these days.

When I’m inside, the fear is more vicious because it’s more discreet. At 3AM yesterday, waiting for the sleeping pills to kick in, I realized that it would take me a while to notice if everyone in my street were to move out at the same time, leaving me completely alone. As long as my timeline on Twitter was still full, I probably wouldn’t notice a thing. And god I feel selfish for saying it, but this is exactly what it feels like: one day I woke up, and everyone was gone, but I couldn’t be sure because I didn’t have the right to go out and check.

The government closed my therapist’s office, because it didn’t deem it to be essential to the country’s life in times of emergency. I’ve been able to organize phone calls with my therapist but the disembodied voice doesn’t help even half as much. As for my psychiatrist, I haven’t had a word from the centre in which she works telling me whether it’s still open or not, if the hours have changed… I will have to, at one point, but I’m scared to call and ask. I’d rather deal with possibilities than the reality right now. The government also didn’t think it was important to create a mental health hotline. Even if I don’t need it right now, I deem it truly unfair. 

I sleep. A lot. I don’t actively go out of my way to talk to people, to call, because I feel like they’re not really there. More so, I feel like I’m not really there. Slowly, I feel like I’m disappearing. 

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