Sunitha‘s #MadCovidDiaries 07.12.2020
As always, I seem to have a habit of leaving things until the last minute, which is what has happened with writing today. That said, I don’t think I really took much time out to relax today as it’s been ongoing. When I left work, I caught up with a friend who I haven’t seen since before lockdown. We both seemed to have found healthy boundaries during this period of time and fortunately, have broken free from this burn out cycle that we always seem to end up repeating. One thing that they pointed out was that I used to travel a lot for our meetings as we used to put on a queer club night in London together and that must have been exhausting for me. In truth, I think I’d never really realised that it had been evident to other people that travelling really took its toll on me. Without meaning to, I have recognised that whilst full time work is a possibility in the future, there’s no chance that I could ever do it fully in person, travelling hours every day. Irrespective of the fact that I am far more productive in my own space, I’m also far more productive when I haven’t had to fight off an anxiety attack during my whole journey to and from work. As much as my recovery support worker tried to convince me that if I distracted myself with an object, such as touching my ring, or as she preferred to frame it mindfulness, this did not work for me and beyond that, it only delayed the inevitable and actually built up more stress and tension in my body.
This evening, I had the lovely pleasure of speaking to another friend that I hadn’t spoken to in a long while. This particular friend, who is pretty unique in my life, lives in New York and we’ve been friends since we were teenagers. We had a really deep, meaningful call and we caught up on the crazy things that have been happening in our lives since we last spoke. There’s something about this particular friendship that has always brought me such happiness since we first connected. In so many ways, we have never really had a normal friendship because we’ve always been separated by a vast ocean but we supported each other through years of emotional difficulties and she’s someone that I always feel like I can be completely honest. When I last saw her in London, I knew that it was challenging for me as I was still struggling with my mental health illnesses but it was also a really special time where we created a handful of really wonderful memories. In some ways, we were making up for all the things that we never got to do together in a short time like partying together, hanging out in the sun, staying up until stupid hours chatting in my kitchen. I’m smiling thinking of those moments and excited that on the phone, we were already planning our next reunion. We share these beautiful windows into each other’s lives and souls, and I genuinely feel so blessed to have someone like that in my life.
In general, I think I have struggled with forming connections with people in my life. Twenty years ago, I had few friends and maybe one that I was close to and I would spend a lot of my time reading Harry Potter in the playground. So much has changed as I not only have multiple friends, but people that understand my inner workings and I despise Harry Potter. Childhood did feel lonely for me and I think sometimes that loneliness still exists inside myself when I find myself awake at 2 or 3 in the morning, wondering, who do I have right now? I mean it’s an absurd thought but it’s one that as an insomniac, sometimes I find myself craving that connection at those times in the morning. Perhaps in future, I should ascertain with friends whether they like to stay awake late at night so that I can then decide if I want to pursue a friendship. Perhaps, to keep it more inclusive and save time, I could just ask a series of questions so that I can work out whether we have compatible lives. Often, I wonder that I waste far too much time with people that are fundamentally different to me and I know that’s part of life but sometimes I find myself getting frustrated.
Recently, I think I am finding certain things far too frustrating, which I now recognise has more to do with my intolerance for the ongoing pandemic than other people’s behaviour. There’s just a lot of really quite irritating behaviour around trivial things, which at the best of times gets on my nerves because the cumulative effect of all this wears me down. It also shows me how people who fixate on such things, taking the time to complain for hours about it, ignore that in the context of my life, I just don’t have time or patience for that. This isn’t to say that people who have mental health illnesses don’t sometimes present in that way but there’s a banality and disconnect that comes with people telling me about something that if it happened to me, I’d have forgotten momentarily because I’d be too preoccupied with just trying to keep afloat. The best thing to come from the pandemic is that work forces me to walk so often I use that time to ruminate and let go of the minor irritations that people have decided to put on my plate that day. Ultimately, by the time I am home, I am too preoccupied with the lives and rights of those that have been made vulnerable by the decisions made by this government, to even care.
Since I stopped passively consuming the news, I would like to say that I have found my mental health has improved. However, as we are in a pandemic and people around me are still feeding me some information, it’s not that clear cut. It’s improved in that I don’t get immersed and overwhelmed but the other day, I thought I’d just check the headlines and there was something absurd about the government having to use military planes for the vaccine because of Brexit and I wanted to laugh to stop myself from crying. Even in this situation of the pandemic, I feel like the government and their self serving friends continue to screw us over. When I first wrote this blog, I was reluctant to discuss politics as people often say that politics is a controversial topic. However, it’s such a privilege to be in a situation where you don’t have to think or discuss politics, because for the vast numbers of us, we are affected on a daily basis by the decisions that our government has made supposedly on our behalf. Beyond that, I also think the political landscape has created uncertainty that has increased my anxiety and as we all know, the changes that have been made because of austerity have affected people’s financial situations and access to mental health services. For me, I get stuck in this cycle of I never have the energy to fight the medical professionals because I’m not well enough and when I’m well enough, I’m not sick enough to get help.
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