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“Praise is something that I have learnt to accept, but I don’t think I will ever accept praise from myself. Writing in this blog has allowed me to put myself out there but I never expected anybody to care about what I have to say.”

Sunitha‘s #MadCovidDiaries 14.12.2020

Last week has been a rollercoaster of really good moments and really weird feelings of being overwhelmed with the anxiety of life. Let’s start with the terrible stuff because well, I’m feeling a lot of anxiety still. Since Friday, I have been feeling debilitating anxiety, worrying about every little thing possible and before I know it, I’m so far down the pit that I can’t even remember what sparked it off.

The current anxiety has been over my job or potentially not having one in the early parts of next year, which is in part due to the financial anxiety that comes with it. Firstly, I want to say that I am incredibly privileged to have a family and an extended family that would be able and willing to help me out if I was in financial difficulty and secondly, my partner is in full time work. In theory, both these things should give me some security but I know the anxiety comes from somewhere deeper. It comes from having to deal with my father being out of work when I went to university and from both my partner and I, having periods of time where we were long term sick from work. In my head, I always have to prepare for the worst, which is why I have an unhealthy obsession with being in financial difficulty whilst my partner just shrugs it off. It leads me to all sorts of worries, manifesting in constant calculations even to buy the simplest of things and I rarely even buy myself anything nice.

Christmas is a time where people think that they know exactly what I want, thinking it is lovely but in my mind, highlights that people especially in my extended family, don’t really understand me. As a person, I am particularly against consumerism because well I don’t feel the need to buy things and one of the lovely things about this period of the pandemic is that I have been actively prevented from going shopping. I mean, it’s not only about consuming but about the atmosphere in shops, which is often anxiety inducing and my limit of how long I can shop is around an hour before I decide what I really need is to be at home. The exception to this rule is charity shops but there’s something about owning something that was pre-loved that makes me happy. On one occasion, after seeing my psychologist, I remember being really happy because I had gone to a charity shop nearby and purchased 10 items for £10. It was like Christmas had come early for me and some of the items were amazing finds. I don’t want to read into this too much but perhaps, I actually feel comfortable identifying with things that have been thrown away.

There’s definitely a feeling that I feel concerned about which is that I lack value. Compared to a year ago, I have achieved things that were beyond my wildest dreams and would have felt impossible at the time, however I wonder if I can ever feel proud of my achievements. There’s something to say that fear doesn’t hold me back in the same way that it has in the past but I still exist in a place of anxiety about every little thing that I do. Recently, I spoke on a panel about the campaign that I have been involved in alongside other representatives from organisations within our network for Human Rights’ Day. When I say that I hate public speaking, it’s not a mild exaggeration but that I hate that people are all looking at me and the anxiety was flooding my system during my whole speech. Even though I got positive feedback, even writing about that moment is causing me to tense my lower back. Praise is something that I have learnt to accept but I don’t think I will ever accept praise from myself. This whole process of writing in this blog has allowed me to put myself out there but I never expected anybody to care about what I have to say. It was the little words from supposed strangers that connected with my innermost thoughts that propelled me to submit a fictional piece for a zine where I wrote about a night out where I felt accepted for all my intersections and ended up with a consenting kiss on a dancefloor with a genderqueer stranger. Suddenly writing, which was historically a way that I made sense of the world but for my eyes only, has transformed into something that has allowed others to experience how I perceived the world in all its glory. So for everyone who has read even a paragraph of my blog, I want to thank you for giving me some connection to others and the confidence to share.

Connections are something I so desperately hope for but find myself feeling dissociative to other people at all sorts of periods of time. Perhaps, connection for me can only be sporadic as I am someone who does feel intensely, I think I find myself needing breaks from friends because my brain feels overwhelmed with emotion. Oftentimes, I also find myself struggling to understand how to behave as a friend to show appreciation and love without coming across like it’s something more. Sometimes my brain doesn’t even know what I’m feeling as it does feel like a fine line between appreciation and attraction. Although I know that I have used relationships including friendships as a way to escape emotional difficulties in my life, I really struggle trying to navigate that as time passes. Growing up, there was a lot of codependent behaviour in my family and manifested in that all types of my relationships took on the same traits. At times, even the feeling of attachment overwhelms me or sends me into a spiral where I am trying hard not to feel anything. I have managed to find healthier friendships over the years but they often result from setting healthy boundaries early on with open communication and connecting with people in a mutually respectful way.

One of those friends is a friend I met first from meeting on an online dating site. There was probably a reluctance on my side at that time but that was understandable given that a psychologically abusive relationship that preceded it. However, she is one of these people I really clicked with and I so enjoyed having hot drinks and cake in her company, especially given that she is an impressively smart person. Last Friday, we had a catch up where we spoke a lot about our lives even though we haven’t been in contact too much over the last few years, again something that happens when you enter a dark hole of despair, become suicidal and give up on life. The conversation had such a beautiful flow to it with such great energy especially because we have even more to talk about given how my life has progressed. In spite of all that, the wonderful click that I still find is there with her, has made me examine all of my friendships really closely. I know I don’t need to have friends forever but I do think trying to make new friends when I have been at my lowest point and at my most vulnerable has very mixed results. In some cases, I have found friends for life and in other cases, I end up attracting dysfunctional narcissists who leave me hating myself.

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