Sunitha’s #MadCovidDiaries, 23.06.20
CW: Mentions self harm and alcohol briefly
Today, I feel indecisive on how to start writing this. For me, I am struggling with a whole host of internal worries and fears, which makes me think what I really need now is help. You know when you’ve experienced long term mental health illnesses, you kind of accept that there are bad days sprinkled amongst the good. In the past months, I had resilience that I never expected I could have but also a feeling of impending doom about how long I can keep functioning like this before I go into meltdown.
Turns out, for me, at least, it’s much longer than I expected. There’s a detachment in me that actually means that I shutdown instead of going into a meltdown. Yet, I can see it in how I just stop eating or showering or sleeping, that I am in survival mode. On one hand, I wouldn’t mind except that I can feel it slowly breaking me down. For example, the other day, my partner had what can only be described as an extreme panic attack where he was slurring his words and couldn’t move his arms. Moments before, I had felt like jumping in the car and seeing my parents because I no longer felt the best place for my mental health was with him. Instead, when confronted with the situation, I calmly dealt with him and comforted him – in reality, I felt broken and beyond repair. There’s no way that I blame him for what happened or how I responded to it and whilst he’s been really open and doing much better since the incident, I have become more insular. In truth, it’s because my brain is kind of whirring around in overdrive like an overheated computer and where do I even start?
Yesterday, I was crying because I felt like no matter how hard I try, in times of extreme stress, I find myself fighting off the urge to fall back into old patterns. In some way, restricting my food intake is a form of self harm that I find less destructive than cutting myself or drinking myself into submission. The conversations that I have had recently with a friend made me hyper aware that for whatever reason, I still haven’t quite built myself up from the situation of being completely and emotionally destroyed. With new friendships, I am open but I still have a tendency to withdraw when I find myself feeling too vulnerable. Though I know it’s a coping mechanism from the situations where people around me have tried to target those weak spots in me, I find myself incapable of connecting and the only place that I can be is my cocoon.
Yet, there’s this part of me that genuinely believes in hope, in a better future for me as well as wider society. It feels like a huge stretch but even just the fact that I am writing, provides me with the hope that this has become a positive outlet for me. In a strange way, being able to express myself in this context has given me the confidence to write about my feelings around similarly difficult topics like race in a safe and respectful space. Additionally, in times of moderate lows (where I get out of bed but not much else), I am still able to find the energy to put into areas of my life where I believe that I can make a difference. By being involved with groups and organisations that are trying to shape the world into a better place, not only does it give me some focus, it helps me to distract from the negativity that I find encompasses me.
Still, every time I read the news or Twitter, I recognise that we have such a long way to go and sometimes I feel like all I want to do is pack my bags, go home and retreat from society. The emotional toil of being away from my family for this length of time or not having a cup of tea with friends when I am in dire straits, is only somewhat balanced by the reduction of expectations from society. The worst feeling I had yesterday was that after my mum opened up, I tried consoling her, which very quickly escalated to shouting because right now, just hearing her voice isn’t enough. That my experience and those shared in these blogs are the tip of the iceberg, highlights at least to me, why mental health illnesses are far less about weakness. Given certain conditions, it can happen to any of us.
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