The shared trauma of living through this situation has allowed me to feel connections with people that would otherwise be on a completely different wavelength

Sunitha’s #MadCovidDiaries 10.8.2020 

Well, what a full week. I can’t remember the last time in ages where I felt like I had fed all the different parts of myself: I’ve had time connecting with friends, focused on myself as well as the things I care about. Sometimes I struggle because if I do too much of one thing like being around people intensely for too long, I find myself really shutting down emotionally or getting overwhelmed and anxious. The balance is so important and it’s only been in the last few months that I have accepted that whilst I enjoy social interactions, especially when it’s one to one, I  can also find them emotionally draining.  For example, I can already see the coming week as being potentially a lot and the weekend being needed for some time for me. Yet, I also know five days is very far from now so if it’s just a case of getting through tomorrow, I think it’s best to focus on that.

When I remember the time in the past, my obsessiveness around ambitions, goals and planning for my future has always left me feeling a certain amount of disappointment. In a strange way, my extended family around me has always pushed these kinds of ideas and thoughts. So, it’s not enough to get a job but you have to always think about the next step. Whilst this might be particularly important when planning work or a campaign in the short term, I have essentially let go of these things with life. When someone asked me about where I saw myself in five years a couple of months ago, the answers I gave were something you just say to keep someone from asking further questions. In fact, I was at a big crossroads in my life and I couldn’t have given him honest answers if I tried. Within a few weeks of that conversation, everything transformed for me, I suddenly had a job offer, my relationship had improved drastically and seeing my parents, was getting closer. Mindfulness is not something I fundamentally feel any affinity for but there’s something to be said in letting life happen. My psychologist always thought it was daft that sometimes doing nothing would lead to things naturally improving, almost like for me, fighting against it would lead me to deteriorate. Also, trying to convince her that this was the steps that best worked for me, always felt frustrating. 

Last week, I wrote about feeling like because of my sunny demeanour, I have to try extra hard to convince psychologists and GPs that I am depressed. However, I am now realising that it goes beyond that. There’s a reason that things transformed so drastically after I attended 12 step meetings for Adult Children of Alcoholics. Finally I had a space where I would experience revelations about myself either because I would share something about myself without critique or because someone would describe something that I had felt but could never quite put into words. In contrast, apart from a wonderful psychologist I had three or four years ago, who made me feel listened to, I often felt in constant battle with those that were supposed to help me. The value of being listened to and heard in that situation is only becoming clear to me and it’s been distinctly lacking from most of these interactions. That the thought of seeking therapy, actually leads me to feel unbearable amounts of anxiety, stems from the distinct lack of empathy I have received in the past.

Yesterday I messaged a friend because I wanted to show my gratitude for her being in my life particularly as we reconnected a few years ago by chance on the tube. The message was very heartfelt and she replied with a message that almost made me cry where she mentioned that she appreciated my empathy. Part of why I was touched was because I often feel like my personality can be quite intense and I don’t always feel like being open about my feelings with friends for fear of being rejected. Prior to being at my parents’, I believed that the intensity was a new phenomenon but I realised reading my ramblings, that I feel and experience so much. Due to minimal friendships particularly with girls when I was at primary school, there’s a small part of me that worries that I will wake up one day and all my friends will confess that they actually hate me. Recently, a new friendship ended and it brought up this fear in me that when I am open and vulnerable, it brings with it all sorts of complications. Whilst I am lucky to have some special friendships, almost all of them are born from a shared trauma.

Perhaps in that way, coronavirus has allowed me to cultivate friendships with people that I would never otherwise be able to. The shared trauma of living through this situation has allowed me to feel these connections with people that would be otherwise be on a completely different wavelength. On a more superficial level, it is like when we complain about the trains being late or the unbearable heat, which is heavily contributing to me losing my focus to write at this moment. Those little moments, they help us to connect. All I know is that though the loneliness is present in this time, it hasn’t been all encompassing.

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