Sunitha’s #MadCovidDiaries – 15th of September 2020
Content warning: suicide, alcohol
This week, I have been continuing to feel out of sorts. There’s a feeling that I can’t quite shake where it just feels like too much effort to do more than function. As my partner reminded me, I still went to work and I managed to get other voluntary work done within the deadlines. I suppose my real issue is that I didn’t feel nearly as productive as I believe I should have been. In trying to explain the reason for the change in mood to other people, I can justify it as the days getting shorter, the new anxiety over the next stage of this pandemic or general political life. As always, being sleep deprived does very little for my mental health and with that in mind, I have to accept that they all feed into each other. The niggling feeling in my head also accounts for the sense that I want to run away from it all, though I can never quite describe what I am running away from. Sometimes, it’s adult life, other times, it’s the remnants of the arbitrary responsibility that was drilled into me by various members of my extended family given that I’m the eldest grandchild. All I can say is that, whilst I can be responsible, right now, I really need to conserve my energy to keep myself alive.
Without taking on such additional responsibilities, my need to let loose or go has been diminished. Instead, I have recognised that I can take care of myself and relax without past destructive behaviours. That’s not to say that I don’t miss going out with friends and letting the night just carry me away. The escapist feeling of going to a nightclub, where I can just dance the night away and occasionally make new friends, if only for one, night is kind of special in its own way. There is no equivalent in Covid; I never tried attending any online parties because I know that it’ll only exacerbate my social anxieties. I can barely get through a video call without sweating profusely and there’s a beauty in the contradiction between being around people but kind of being in my own head. Whilst I still have awareness of myself and others, there’s definitely a clear thread of thought without all the random distractions or deviations that my mind normally takes just in a simple conversation. Plus dancing, unlike conversation, was always perfectly fine to do sober.
The last week I have been thinking a lot about sobriety and what it actually means for different people. We all have our addictions and different ideas of what healthy means. In reflecting on my relationship with alcohol for example, few of my friends would have ever said that I was an alcoholic but almost all of them would have said that they have seen me drunk. Alcohol was my crutch when I struggled to exist in my own head and having one drink would almost always mean that I would get drunk. At the time, I enjoyed feeling nothing even though I struggled to function given alcohol’s depressive nature and in those moments, the often visceral desire to die was ever present. Usually, it would follow with periods of abstinence but I’d often return back. I clearly remember the point where I realised that I needed to stop, that my behaviour was having an impact on my relationship. To my credit, I cut back completely. These days, I drink infrequently and very little, immune to external peer pressure by embracing myself.
The biggest hurdle that I have managed to overcome in the last six months is that I accept myself. In all the strange behaviours, I have found spaces where that is not only embraced but celebrated. My insomnia became a credit when I was able to collaborate with others on a deadline. Whilst, it’s unsustainable in the long term. In bursts, I can work around it, napping when I need to and smashing out work in an hour. Even writing for this blog has become another way for me to nurture the acceptance, slowly allowing me to open up in different ways and own all the parts of me. The shift that writing in this way has provided is so different from writing for myself as I have to really consider whether my message is coming across, allowing me to reflect and gain clarity.
This type of distance allowed me to realise in a conversation with a friend that I have been this way since I was 8. Evidently, there has been trauma in between that, which exacerbated the situation and worsened how I interact with the world. However, I now realise in order to move forward, I have to accept that child in the way that she never was accepted. Over the weekend, I was helping my cousin with some school work, physically distanced obviously. He was asking a lot of questions, which made me get frustrated at him and I immediately felt terrible. Whilst I tried to make sure he understood the reasons why he had to learn in this way, I also realised that as an adult, I am still no different. When I see him tomorrow, I am going to make it really clear to him the importance of noting all those questions down and when we’re done, we will dedicate a few hours going through all those questions together. I’m tearing up – History will not repeat itself.
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