Sunitha’s #MadCovidDiaries 27.7.2020
I’m back at my parents’ house for the first time this year and it’s been almost six months since I last saw them. Whilst I am mostly enjoying the experience, I also feel incredibly overwhelmed today and really feel like I haven’t had the space to decompress without them. The last couple of months taught me that this was something that negatively affects my ability to cope with anxiety. Since I have been here, I have had an increase in the volume of thoughts whirring around my head and whilst taking some time off has allowed me to rest and enjoy other things, my mind has gone into overdrive without any focus. That I made the conscious decision to take time off from all types of work last week, including unpaid, has left me feeling a little directionless. Whilst at home, I was able to put that energy into other things like cooking or reorganising, there’s a slight discomfort that I find triggering trying to do the same at my parents’ home.
In many ways, this trip cements in me the feeling that I do feel like a stranger in this home. For many of my friends, returning home is as much as returning to the familiarity of their teenage or childhood memories but I only spent a year here before leaving for university and there’s also a lot of trauma that I associate with this place. There are some good memories here but I strongly feel like the space connects me strongly to each of my three breakdowns. Whilst there are similar memories of that in my home in London, I realise and recognise that in that space, those memories have been diluted by many more wonderfully positive ones in the last few months, which creates balance and perspective. Equally, I feel like in many ways, I have moved on from a lot of my past experiences but being with my family together at the same time, doesn’t always feel natural to me as it is a very new concept.
At this point, I feel like getting a big piece of paper and writing all the things that are worrying me and whether I need to make decisions about them now, or if not, the timescale that is required. In learning how to exist again, I have in some ways learnt how to enjoy moment to moment but when I am under stress, I revert back to obsessively searching for answers to my problems, writing lists or thinking about every eventuality. My need to control every aspect of my life stems from my lack of control of everyone else’s behaviour around me. Whilst I have changed in that I am able to recognise that I fall into bad patterns, I really struggle to allow myself to go with the flow when it comes to big decisions in my life. This partially stems from the cognitive dissonance that I had to accept in order to get out of my last black hole of existential crisis.
When I accepted this job, a lot of things fell into place. For a moment, I believed that Ganesha, who is a Hindu deity that has an elephant head, had removed the obstacles in my way. As a mostly agnostic person, I suddenly felt huge gratitude for something that I could not even comprehend, whereas today, I feel like I have lost that connection to something bigger than me. The internal fight stems from the idea that I know I am insignificant within the contexts of the vastness of the universe, which makes everything in my life feel incredibly futile, whilst also needing a purpose that forces me out of my bed every morning. A few days ago, when speaking to a friend, I expressed this by saying, the acceptance of the futility of life to me has removed the pressure to be successful. In spite of that, due to my experiences, I still want to mitigate other people’s suffering.
For most people, the future is often filled with hope and warmth but when I was eight, I thought the world was going to end and I would routinely dream about this vast space with complete absence of light. Since that point, I could write plans for things I wanted to achieve but when I pictured the future, that’s exactly what I would imagine. When I consume news stories or social media, the world ending in my lifetime feels like an inevitable reality. In the past, it completely paralysed me into inaction and with it, I would drown in my anxieties. Again, I am fighting so hard against this because I know if I don’t, I might not make it out this time.
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