The outside world for me has always felt scary. In that respect, the pandemic has set me back.

Sunitha’s #MadCovidDiaries 31.8.2020 

This week has been almost normal. I saw my family on the weekend, had lunch with my mum’s cousin and peeled a lot of apples. Okay, the last part is definitely not a normal week but there was something about peeling apples that felt vaguely cathartic, something that I imagine normal people do around this time of year. Plus, I was so proud that I made an apple crumble, which it turns out is easier than most other things I have managed in the past. However, it was special because I adore apple crumble and along with chocolate concrete, it takes me back to a simpler time in my childhood. The time that represented blissful ignorance. The time before I felt different or anxious or conflicted.

In contrast to this week, this morning I woke up feeling out of sorts. There was a feeling that things were beyond my reach and I really felt like it was going to be a struggle to get through the day. There’s something about oversleeping that makes me feel a bit uneasy. Even though it is a bank holiday, I still had things that I wanted to do. It all feels completely polarising to the months where waking up before midday was a difficulty and I was lucky to get out of bed at all. Compared to my partner, I definitely sleep longer but he is a natural early riser whilst I have always been a night owl. Yet, I want to know what it is that has clearly transformed in my life to shift my sleep the last few months. Admittedly, I still enjoy low energy days where I might be resting on the sofa or have time to myself without seeing anyone but gone are the days of hiding under the duvet from the rest of the world.

The outside world for me has always felt scary. When I would travel late at night, I would always be weary but the hypervigilance only started in the last four years. Whether it would be travelling on the tube to work, dancing on a night out or even just shopping in a supermarket, I was always on edge. Even if I had company, I found it hard to relax but wherever my home was, that felt safe. Slowly but surely, in the last year, I built up some resilience to be able to cope with these things though I still preferred to avoid travelling at rush hour. In that respect, the pandemic has set me back and though avoiding public transport might be acceptable for a little while longer, I am keen to at least try it before it becomes an obstacle that I am unable to overcome. Even then, I am keeping it achievable and to travel to something that matters, which I hope mitigates the risk of having a full blown anxiety attack.

Honestly, though, I know I am anxious. It might not be constant but every so often, I can feel it. Last night, I felt like my heart was coming out of my chest. There had been a lot that had been building internally the last week. Whilst I’d had some downtime as well as spending time with a cherished friend, there was a feeling of maybe I had pushed past my limit by visiting some of my extended family. All my life I have always felt like my family would never understand me but I genuinely thought having some time apart, I would feel differently about them. Unfortunately, whilst I enjoyed part of the interactions, particularly with my older cousin, I recognised that reliving toxic family dynamics through different people in my family is akin to emotional torture. For the first time, I acknowledged that maybe the distance is better for me in the long term and there’s no obligation to continue being surrounded by behaviour that affects my self worth.

Right now, I am feeling pretty worthless and unproductive. Whilst I know that I need to be kind to myself, I am struggling to do exactly that. It’s not just the numb feeling but the feeling of being overwhelmed as well as realising that I have work tomorrow. One step at a time doesn’t seem to be working and instead I seem to be doing the flicking between trying to do all the steps at the same time. My focus on writing has been alright but I have simultaneously wanted custard, to get ready for bed and to continue watching something all whilst trying to write this particular paragraph. Tomorrow is going to be good fun if it’s anything like today. Genuinely, I feel more than just apprehension but fear for the future.

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