Sunitha‘s #MadCovidDiaries 10.11.2020
My week has mostly consisted of watching a lot of CNN and their ‘Key Race alerts’, though hilariously, when the election was finally called for Biden, I only found out by the excited texts from my friends and family. Although the whole situation has given me a lot of anxiety as well as impeding my sleep so that I am now operating as if I live in New York City, it did have its positives. For example, it gave me a brief respite from the fixation of the pandemic and it also meant that my partner and I were able to watch something together even if he abandoned me for my ridiculous early morning Wednesday watching of the anti-climatic election results. In fact, I was really happy that my friend suggested a Zoom so I didn’t have to watch it alone – I especially chuckled at the optics of him having stayed up, drinking a glass of wine as I had just woken up in my nightie, treating myself to some pastries. Literally both of us giving no shits and just being nerdy about the elections though our conversation ended up with us talking about the concept of work, mental health and various other aspects of society. Weirdly enough, we only met once before the lockdown but we’ve become friends over various group zoom calls, group drinks in the park as well as collaborating on political campaigns. Genuinely I realise though that making friends during a pandemic is probably something that few people have managed, which makes me realise I am quite bizarre. I credit my pen pal from the US for the skill of maintaining our friendship over 15 years where the first time we met was 7 years in, and our emails are heartfelt with the intensity of love letters.
Love letters are something I don’t really receive from my partner, nearly enough. As such a cynical person, who most would say is the representation of being anti-romantic, I love writing to my partner. Perhaps, I know that words when said don’t quite come out right, but when I write, I can capture its essence better. Today was our seven year anniversary and it feels formidable that we have made it this far with both of us in one piece. We both gave each other cat cards, which clearly indicates that we both really want a cat but also our affinity with cat-like behaviour. Last night, instead of writing this, I wrote something for him because I knew that I only had enough mental capacity to do one or the other. It felt special as over the last few years I stopped giving him cards because he would sometimes struggle to reciprocate, not because he didn’t love me but because he was battling his inner demons. However, this year I realised that giving him a card where I put something on paper about him was something that was for him and something that he needs to remind him of how much I value him. It’s strange as I never expect anyone to describe us as those soppy romantic people yet I consistently write about him on this blog. The truth is that for me, our love is something far more resilient, that has got us through some of our darkest times and will need to be there to get us through our future struggles.
The immediate future struggle that we are both managing is being beyond overwhelmed. In my case, I have miraculously been able to continue working under all the stress, which is mostly because on my days off, I hide and recuperate. However, for him, the change of routine especially with my mum around was something that really unsettled him, and he has now been signed off work. Honestly, it feels like we have been through this so many times before but I am adamant that this time, I support him but acknowledge that this is his battle. This means that I am not going to turn up to GP appointments with him unless he explicitly asks for that support and I am going to put myself first. Even just writing that fills me with a pang of guilt and a moderate amount of anxiety but I have been on rocky ground the last few weeks especially with the physical symptoms of anxiety being felt by my body. Every so often I have to remind myself that I am in the middle of a pandemic, still working through my grief, and that being hungry but struggling to cook for myself is part of how things affect me. Right now, I am quite hungry but having managed three meals today, I can’t imagine what I could possibly eat that could hit the spot. Perhaps, I will treat myself to a hot chocolate with whipped cream.
After my uncle died, I was vegetarian for the expected number of days except when we had to finish off the one meat item in the house. However, I made a decision to continue to be a vegetarian for as long as I can manage. In the past, I have struggled because when I visit other people’s houses, I end up eating meat because I don’t want to be fussy and also because I strongly dislike wasting food. Recently, I realised that if I can manage it, I would really like to see if I can stick to it this time at least whilst we are in this semi lockdown as I can’t visit people anyway. Hopefully it’ll give me a chance to find and try out all sorts of interesting recipes especially given that a friend and I were discussing the possibility of swapping meals when we bulk cook. From both our sides, it’ll be a bit more variation especially if I can offload some of the meat meals that my partner makes and from my side, it’ll be a good incentive since I struggle to cook when it’s only for my own sustenance. Genuinely, I hate when the depression hits and my mind tells me that I don’t really deserve food since I’ve not done anything that day to deserve anything. When people speak about how skinny I am, apart from being incredibly inappropriate in the first place, it can be a complex subject, given that I know because of my mental health illnesses I struggle to eat enough and the right types of food. Even writing about it now, I feel conscious about it remembering how people have said they want to fatten me up, which goes beyond my extended family.
Being conscious of how everything I do and say can be perceived after the fact is something else that I have been reflecting on recently. On Saturday afternoon, I met a friend, whose dad has known my mum for forty years, in the park as it was her birthday. It’s a recent reconnection and one that I feel demonstrates the strength of our parents’ friendship given that we have grown close again after years apart. At some point she mentioned a situation that had happened earlier which had made her anxious and was additionally anxious that I thought it was trivial. However, I responded that I completely understood how she felt as this was a common anxiety of mine probably because we both have analytical minds but she should also understand that not everyone thinks like this. If I have a conversation with someone and I pick up on something that may have offended them, I will replay things in my head hundreds of times. Usually the only way that I let go of it is if I speak to my partner who reminds me that people forget and nobody is going to stop being friends with me because I misspoke that one time. Though I am warm and love connecting with people, I really struggle in a group dynamics or where I feel like I am on show so that always layers additional anxiety on top of that. On the weekend, I mentioned to my partner that I feel more relaxed when I can’t see him looking at me and I can speak to him without having to also process all of his facial expressions on top of the internal workings of my mind. Truthfully, I can’t remember a time in my life where I haven’t felt overwhelmed by life. Being me is so exhausting sometimes, no wonder I feel the need to sleep for days.
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