I have been starting and stopping this post since the end of March. And it’s now June, in case that I hit trash again before publishing this. And when I started writing it, it had no mention of COVID but the more I think, the more that feels like ignoring the elephant in the room.
[Note: it is now the end of July – let’s see how this goes.]
I have, over the last year or so, found a sense of pride (if that’s the right word) in my ability to write about what mental health means to me, and how my mind works. Ending the stigma is something I would love to see during my lifetime, and I think continuing to talk helps greatly with that. I started the #StillTalking tag on social and strive to share in hopes that others see and learn or maybe not feel so alone.
But then, well, 2020 happened. And I never thought such a vague statement could be so…ominous.
I’m still learning about myself on a good day, and it’s not like any of us know how to deal right now.
And with 2020 came COVID – seeing people getting laid off, die, lose loved ones and not be able to properly grieve. That’s just me wrapping up a whole damn pandemic too, and I’m sure I don’t need to go on about what it has caused around the world.
A lot of people are feeling frustrated when they see friends and family not following the ‘rules’ online and for me it passes frustration and into rage. Risking other’s lives aside, in a world where I’ve very much lost control and then seeing my fate put into the hands of people partying on like this is a normal summer is devastating.
Granted, everyone’s priorities and thinking is different.
I am constantly on the tipping edge, this slope that threatens to give-way into I don’t know what.
I have been watching and listening to my mom and her sisters struggle through my gramma being in and out of the hospital, which is stressful in the non-COVID world, but has whipped past stressful into a state of mind we are not used to coping with. I am now counting down the days until I can drive 7 hours to visit them, while they’re on the second floor and we’re outside the window.
And then, in what feels like something straight out of a dystopian novel, I watch people complain about parties being cancelled or Halloween maybe not happening. It feels surreal, like we’re not even living in the same world.
And I get that the bachelorette parties I’m seeing on Instagram have no direct toll on how long it will take for my grandparents to be able to leave a building, but it’s strange you know? It’s a weird disconnect.
I have seen tweets and memes and whatever you file it under about how it’s almost like gaslighting – and I can see the similarities. I sit in my house, my mom and sister and I, while my dad goes to work and deals with the public. I read the news and watch the COVID numbers, my mindset fluctuating between hope and dismay.
Some days I’m like this is almost over! We are doing amazing! And then I see people patio hopping and I freeze. Are we in the same world? Did I make all this COVID worry up?
Usually I get through bad things by thinking of all the good things to come.
I don’t think that’s only related to anxiety or depression or mental health in general. But how the heck do you do that when everything is so unknown?
I can’t truly put into words how strange it is to have an entire year (and maybe even longer) wiped into the unknown when one of my biggest triggers with anxiety IS the unknown. I don’t like last minute plans, now imagine life being a giant last minute plan riding on something that is completely out of anyone’s control?
I am a big self-care person, in that I know how important it is to take care of yourself ahead of others. I used to think that was selfish but now I know that I can’t help anyone if I am unfit. But my usual methods aren’t working. You’re allowed to say ‘well, duh’ at this and roll your eyes.
It has gotten easier, since March, I’ll admit. The first few weeks I was in the mindset that this is temporary and I put my usual routines on hold as I waited. And then, at some point, this melted from temporary to maybe forever and I realized I needed to start picking habits back up again.
Because what else am I supposed to do?
And I know it’s not just me, too.
I don’t exactly have a plan but I have been taking note of what helps and what doesn’t.
Not going to the gym I loved? Big difference but not something I can change. But I can decide to go on walks and go swimming and have mini dance parties with myself in my new room.
Deleting Twitter and Facebook off my phone was a good move I think, and I’ll be taking my usual blogger Instagram break in August. On the other hand, starting a bookstagram was probably my best idea this whole time because reading is a great escape and I miss working sat a bookstore.
As cheesy as it is, I have (thanks to my work!) found an app that tracks your mood and seeing it mapped out and then reflecting on the reasons why my moods have changed keeps me aware of what’s working for me and what isn’t.
Redoing my space was key. It makes me feel like I have a place of my own again, as having to move back home has taken away me having my place, obviously. And if you know me, you know I love having my own space.
I have found comfort in family time though too, don’t get me wrong.
It is, I’m sure you can imagine, hard to switch back to family living after living on your own for a decade.
So, anyway, sometimes silence is an option but sometimes it’s all we can handle.
Perhaps I am being too hard on myself, or maybe this will fall on ‘deaf ears’ so to speak, but it (like most ramblings of mine) is more for me anyway. In hopes that a year from now I can read this and it will be the bad time I (we?) was going through and I’ll be living in the good times again, without COVID but more importantly without uncertainty and fear.
Right now my mental health feels very tiny compared to what the world is facing, and maybe that’s okay as long as I remember that just because talking about it is hard for a bit doesn’t mean it is being ignored. It can just mean more thinking and less talking.