When we speak about the arts, music and culture, it’s so important we acknowledge the freedom that it gives us in our lives. The ability to step back from reality, even if it’s for an hour or in some cases, the whole night.

Sunitha‘s #MadCovidDiaries 26.10.2020

TW: Bereavement

What a long week, which has brought a whole host of challenges that I could not have predicted a week ago. My partner went into complete shutdown, barely interacting with me; my mum has been staying with us; I have barely been able to sleep, let alone function in a healthy manner. In spite of all of this, I managed to get to work and eat at least one meal a day even if towards the end of the week, that meal consisted of Lucky Charms with milk. If anything, I need a complete recharge but I know that the chance of this actually happening becomes less and less possible when the world feels increasingly uncertain, yet again. The truth is that in every iteration of this uncertainty created by the incompetence of the government, I feel like my anxiety becomes harder to manage.

Whilst I am fortunate to be supported by such lovely friends, especially in this difficult time of my uncle’s death, the truth is that I am more scared as I feel like I am getting closer to the precipice. I’ve been here so many times before and this time of year is challenging with the early nights, the darkness and what for me used to be described as the dread of Christmas but now I realise is the dread of spending extended time with my family. The anxiety I am having right now and part of why I am still awake is caused by the worry about seeing them all tomorrow at my uncle’s funeral. The much needed space that Covid-19 has allowed me to have has given me the freedom to explore who I am without their constraints and though I am glad to be part of a big family, I can finally reconcile that I exist both individually and within the context of them. For example, the traits that I exhibit with them are echoed in other settings rather than being in direct contrast. As mentioned previously, my need to fight against the feeling of responsibility might have led me to some slightly irresponsible behaviour but strangely, everything was always a calculated risk.

My brain is struggling to form sentences in any meaningful way so instead I am going to talk about something that I have wanted to write about for a while but never seem to get around to as something always comes up in life. Since I was 17 or so, I have had keloid scars, which are raised scars, on my shoulders. In some ways, to the external person looking at my skin, they seem superficial and I think most of the time, they find them unpleasant to look at. As I have got older, I have also developed scars on my chest with a few smaller ones between my breasts. The aesthetics I am able to handle as I recognise it’s other people’s problem for their judgement but the pain is what gets me. Although the pain is impacted by factors such as heat, intense anxiety, sometimes the fabric I wear, very little helps alleviate it. Sometimes, I’ve found myself fighting back the tears because of the sharp, stabbing pains, the way in which it manifests. For me, I know the chronic pain is sometimes interlinked with my anxiety or depression or complex PTSD and beyond that, both affect my output in ways. However, whilst I accept the limitations my mental health illnesses have on my output, I recognise that I still struggle with how my physical pain has an impact.

There’s little that I can manage to write. I have spent the last hour vacating my mind to various friends, trying to explain a feeling that I am unable to place. Right now, more than anything in the world, I want to get dressed in some colourful clothes, put on some make up and dance the night away with friends. There’s something liberating about that feeling that is missing from my life and has been during this period of time, in a way that I know, could never exist in a pandemic. When we speak about the arts, music and culture, it’s so important we acknowledge the freedom that it gives us in our lives. The ability to step back from reality, even if it’s for an hour or in some cases, the whole night. This allows a space for so many people to connect, express themselves and on a simplistic level, escape from the difficulties of life.
So finally, I want to consider a plan forward, where instead of a few weeks’ back where I had an idea of knitting amongst things, where I focus on survival. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this approach but if I am to make it to 30, it’s the only approach that is going to succeed for me. In our culture, we have food cooked by the community for the family following a death and if it wasn’t for the pandemic, I would be eating food at my grandfather’s house every night.  Therefore, if I need to ask people to bring me food because I am unable to cook for myself, I think I should refrain from feelings of inadequacy. If in a few weeks’ time, I need further support, I might have to figure out a broader plan that involves friends and family around me supporting me in bigger ways because right now, the cliffs are crumbling and I’m fighting the urge to dive headfirst.

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