Sunitha‘s #MadCovidDiaries 12.10.2020
I’m angry. I want to throw something. I feel like in spite of all the work I have done on myself in the past year, I am getting dragged back into the dysfunctional drama that causes me so much anxiety. I feel the increase in the emotional claustrophobia that threatens my existence, that creates the intensity inside me that makes me want to pack my bags and run away, far away from everything and everyone. It feels unfair that I had to grow up so early on in my life, that I only get the opportunity to be carefree when I’m acting in a destructive way, which essentially means that I can’t be healthily carefree. My internal turmoil makes me certain of who I am but what an exhausting way to live. For every little decision, I am running some sort of complex algorithm in my head with all the possible scenarios that I can think of before finally realising I have little to no control of the outcome. Perhaps it’s unhealthy that I have completely different lives with different people, sometimes even people that don’t exist. But it’s a strange coping mechanism that I have developed to process the overflowing of emotions I experience at any given time. Except, sometimes I get stuck. Sometimes I prefer living those lives because they’re always curated as free of the daily struggles I have with surviving and struggling with my mental health illnesses.
Two nights ago, I was convinced that a burglar was in the house at 2 in the morning. A light came on outside and I was certain. Every time I tried to fall asleep, I became hyper aware of all the noises and I even started shouting things out to the hypothetical burglar. My partner half woke up because who wouldn’t when someone starts shouting but I then realised the madness in it all. The burglary happened around 3 years ago and it’s inevitable that I still react in this way given that it was an incredibly traumatic situation and right now, I feel as if I am waiting for something bad to happen. People with an anxiety illness understand the absurdity in thinking the worst in situations like when my dad says he needs to speak to me about something, I immediately imagine the worst possible thing. Of course, 99% of the time, it’s fine. Yet, every now and then, the news is actually terrible and leaves you with that feeling that maybe that negativity protects you from the shock. Even though, deep down, you know that it’s not really who you are, it’s become a staple of your life with all its rocky moments.
Ultimately, I know that I am incredibly hopeful, that I hope for the best every day and I want things to work out in a positive way. There’s so much about my life that I know wouldn’t exist if I didn’t deep down feel this way. I know that I would be dead if I didn’t believe that things had the possibility of improving and my life in so many ways has improved. When I was a teenager, I felt alone in a way that I still feel on occasion but doesn’t exist in nearly the same way. I didn’t just feel like I was different, which I now understand that I am, but I felt like I was defective. Whilst other friends seemed to have these exciting lives in a good way, my life was exciting in a bad way. On two separate occasions, I thought each of my parents might die and I’d be left alone with my dad, who was the alcoholic, or my mum, who I believed was cold and cruel. In hindsight, they both behaved the way they did because they were suffering and trying to survive their own trauma and I genuinely believe that they did their best. So through events like this, optimism turned into cynicism.
So it’s no wonder, I prepare for the worst. In the seven years of my relationship with my partner, we’ve had some truly tragic deaths of friends and family, lots of one of us visiting hospitals and multiple episodes of time off work for mental health illness. In spite of it all, we are incredibly resilient but how life has worn us down. Truthfully, none of the individual tragedies caused us to break but you know, when it rains, it fucking pours. In some ways, at this point in the pandemic, we are actually in the best place we have ever been in our relationship. We have our individual difficulties and we have adjusted to the new situation. Except yesterday, when I shouted at him, for no real reason other than, I am reaching breaking point with all the shit that is going on around me. The news is driving me crazy, I feel like I need a medium term plan to survive something that no one is prepared for and our government seems to have decided PR is more important than people’s lives and their livelihood. Every conversation that people have had with me around different worse case scenarios has materialised in this complete mismanagement. My heart goes out right now to university students. If I was at university right now under the conditions I was in when I started university, I think I would have dropped out or ended up doing something drastic.
Right, going to try and actually end this positively rather than ranting because balance is such an important part of the semblance of my sanity. Yesterday, I chaired and spoke as part of the campaign that I am involved with around migrants, specifically campaigning for rights to be granted to undocumented migrants and migrants with insecure status. For someone who suffers with such social anxiety and genuinely fears any form of public speaking, it went better than anything that I could have hoped. There were inspiring people speaking and the diversity of the panel of mostly women, those with lived experience of living with precarious immigration status in the UK as well as people whose heritage is from different parts of the world. Getting involved with this campaign has been eye opening and also taught me that my attitude to reach for the stars but ensure a sustainable existence, which is echoed by the person who started the campaign, is so paramount to our motivation and enthusiasm. Our complementary characteristics make it a pleasure to collaborate and I feel so blessed to actually be doing something that ultimately makes me feel proud. They’re an inspiration but also they have allowed me to take on tasks and we’re constantly praising and congratulatory of the work each of us do. In this setting, I realise what the world would be like if it was more nurturing and cultivated talents rather than this need for always being in direct competition.
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