COVID19: At its peak, around a thousand loved ones dying became an everyday phenomenon.

Sunitha’s #MadCovidDiaries 25.9.2020 

Interactions and friendships with people have always been a challenge for me. There are times when I speak to people and all the anxiety kind of disappears into the background. Other times, I realise that the interactions make me feel hyper aware and make me consider all the things that I probably said or did that were wrong. Then there are the special times when I am able to accept the feelings that come up in the interactions but they aren’t necessarily a direct result of that person, but perhaps, something that one of us has said. With those few people, the bond is this deep connection that for me overcomes periods of emotional and physical distance. 

When a friend, who I have on multiple occasions referred to as one of my soul mates, messaged me recently, we hadn’t spoken for a while. Him and I couldn’t be more opposite externally but he’s someone where there’s generally always been an open form of communication as well as a huge amount of love shared since the start of our friendship. Although he messaged me about some bad health news and I was in shock, I didn’t actually freak out.  Processing it between then and now, I genuinely feel optimistic because the likelihood is that he will be alright. One aspect of it, is my acceptance that I have no control over the outcome, which makes my anxiety manageable. Perhaps on some level, due to a previous scare with this friend, we agreed we would live life to its fullest if something ever happened. Alternatively, it could be that the pandemic puts a weird shine on things – at its peak, around a thousand loved ones dying became an everyday phenomenon.

However, beyond that, I think I have what feels like dysfunctional behaviour around death: I am both desensitised and obsessed with it. At the beginning of the pandemic, this morbid obsession manifested as me checking the daily death rates every night and examining them trying to predict what that would mean for the UK. Also, in the losses that I have experienced in my life, there’s something seemingly random about them. As my friend and I discussed, there’s something that makes you feel the world is unjust, when someone with such a beautiful soul dies. Admittedly, part of my grief process in the past was accepting that there is no pattern to death whilst also not getting into a frenzy that everyone I love might die at any given point. 

Accepting that the world has an element of cruelness was probably the catalyst for my atheism these days, I describe my feelings as someone who is indifferent about the existence of God. When I’m experiencing incredible emotional pain, it convinces me that there’s no way that this was intended. At times, I so wish that I have a belief in something bigger than me and sometimes, I try to convince myself that it’s something of which I am capable. Honestly though, it doesn’t really work when I’m severely distressed, sweat soaked sheets and shaking from some anxiety inducing dreams. If anything, in those moments, I feel incredibly alone and beyond that, I feel like this is an existence that is beyond my coping mechanisms. Generally at that point, I go into survival mode of finding something to at least sooth the anxiety, which might be watching some light hearted TV show or asking my partner for some cuddles or simply going back to sleep because the real world is harder to deal with than the distressing dreams in my head.

Today, my writing has been all over the place as that’s exactly how I feel at this moment. In some ways, I have structure and routine but I don’t feel like I trust anything about what I process about my surroundings. There’s a constant underlying feeling that threads through everything that I do, which makes me doubt everything about myself. Though the pandemic reversed a lot of my socialisation, I am still in the space of trying to understand if psychological trauma made me the way I was or if I have always been different. At this point in life, can I even know?

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