Sunitha’s #MadCovidDiaries 14.7.2020
I sat down to write the last few days and felt little to no motivation as there was too much going on in my head. Even today, I feel a little conflicted and confused. One part of me is super excited as I will be seeing my parents in a few weeks’ time and strange as it seems, I can’t even imagine what it will be like to hug them again. Through most of my difficulties living with a mental health illness, my parents have always been there to support me and help me when I needed it. Admittedly, my mum wasn’t the most sympathetic at the beginning but I think over the years and particularly in lockdown, her mindset has really shifted. The tough decision for me at the start of all this picking between two difficult situations : living with my parents long term and living away from them. At this point, I feel like I made the right call by not going home but I know in the early days, I really felt that emptiness. Of course, I could call them and occasionally see them on video but when I’ve been completely broken, I needed my parents to hug me and love me unconditionally in the way that no one else does.
Today I’ve mostly been in and out of sleep on the sofa, though I think it was the day off I really needed. Last week was intense and even my weekend, didn’t feel like it was entirely restful. There’s an element of readjusting for me between volunteering and actually working, that I didn’t expect to be so mentally draining. Plus the other aspects of my life, all reached an intensity last week, which also took its toll. When it comes to looking after myself, I know that I require purpose but sometimes I know that I take on too much as a distraction from the chaos in my mind. Whilst I have improved considerably, the coronavirus crisis has compounded these issues so hyper productivity often leads to burnout a day later rather than the usual timescale of several weeks delay. These are unprecedented times so I constantly have to focus on being kind to myself but that requires a lot of rewiring.
Last week, I spoke to a friend that I met through meetings for Adult children of Alcoholics. Though I stopped going to the meetings because I had my breakdown, the bond I have with this particular friend is one I cherish deeply. The understanding that I have with this friend is beyond many of my other friendships and we’ve seen each other at some really lows in our lives, but equally we’ve been able to offer each other support. 12 step recovery programs, whilst not for everyone, provided me the first space to realise that I wasn’t alone and helped me to acknowledge the impact of that trauma on my adulthood. When I spoke to my friend, one thing that really came up for me and continues to come up again, is that I am over this idea that I need to be fixed. I live with long term mental health illnesses, which under crisis situations are exacerbated. As time goes on, I learn how to manage the impact better but also learn acceptance of them within my life.
In another aspect of accepting myself, I recognise that for a long time, I had been struggling with being dishonest to my dad about my sexual orientation and gender identity. Unfortunately due to coronavirus, the idea of a face to face chat went out of the window, but being able to craft what I wanted through a whatsapp message was better in so many ways. When I finally messaged him, I felt in some ways like I wished I’d spoken about it sooner but also realised the beauty in telling him from a desire to share my life rather than wanting approval. His response was accepting, which has allowed me to safely share about the activism that I have done around this subject and deepened our relationship. Understandably, I know that it really isn’t the same with my extended family but I accept that there are many aspects of my life that they will never know.
Relating to the above, on Sunday, I was able for the first time to intersect two parts of my life : my Tamil side with my gender identity and sexual orientation. In my head, I understand the impact on my mental health of compartmentalising these two distinct identities as I always believed that this was something that could never coexist together. Being able to occupy a space, where I could be both in all its complexity, was something I never knew I needed until that moment. I realised that though we had differences for example of being brought up in different countries, there was a shared experience that had brought us altogether in that space. People talk about your chosen family and in that space, we all realised that was something we could have without having to leave one of our identities at the door. So whilst today I feel huge amounts of turmoil, I am really trying to hope that whenever this crisis ends, I will have more internal clarity.
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