Holy shit, I’ve been so damn depressed the past three weeks. My boyfriend and I started sheltering in place March 14th, and it’s been quite the emotional roller coaster. I’m so thankful for our shoebox sized apartment, I’m thankful for our sweet kittens, I’m thankful that I can talk to my mom everyday, I’m thankful that my boyfriend and I are still laughing with each other everyday, and we don’t want to kill each other yet.
But I’m also a wreck. Sometimes, it feels like my body absorbs the pain of the world, sucks it all up, and places it in my chest, where it balloons to the point that it threatens to crack my ribs. The first two weeks of the pandemic hitting the U.S. were some of the worst anxiety weeks I’ve had since the major medication switch back in August. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think, my body wouldn’t stop shaking. I felt fear and sadness and hurt for the people suffering. I felt worry for my own family, my own physical and financial security. I felt rage at people refusing to take it seriously. I felt despair. Then, I got a round of rejections from publishers (I know this is par for the course, but damn did it hurt so badly), and I felt such acute and personal rejection (thanks ADHD and Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria). I felt so damn much that I think my body kind of shut down and said “Okay, that’s enough feeling for the next month,” and powered off into a numb depression. I couldn’t feel much of anything besides exhaustion and this dull, pulsing sadness.
It’s been rough. I’ve felt ashamed by my reaction, by my anxiety when I’m not personally sick. When I haven’t lost a loved one to this crisis. But I’m also trying to be patient with myself. My empathy, my sensitivity, they often feel like burdens, but I’m trying to view them as super powers. As blessings. Feeling so much hurts, but after feeling so down these past few weeks, I realize I’d rather feel too much than feel nothing at all.
I’ve slowly been fighting out of it. It isn’t easy to claw your way out of that dark blueness. It take so much energy to resurface, to pull yourself up and breathe and feel and think again. But yesterday, for the first time in five weeks, I felt like myself again. I felt happiness. I felt gratitude. I felt okay.
If anything, this pandemic has forced me to slow down. My body, my mind, my spirit, have been in a dead sprint for the past two years through school, and the pain and sadness and trauma of the past six weeks has forced me to stop moving at that break neck speed. Our school has accelerated our lecture schedule, but do you know how hard it is to try and actually learn during a global crisis? It’s fucking HARD. I can’t keep going at this rate. My brain is an oversaturated sponge, threatening to painfully burst if I keep forcing it to sprint and work and keep up with some weird outside expectations on how I should be performing.
And one of the problems with slowing down is how you start to actually hear yourself think again. And holy shit, the things you hear are not very pretty. Something about this time and this space has allowed me to hear the thoughts, those tiny little buzzing noises that usually are too low to consciously register, but still burrow into corners of your brain, plant roots, gain purchase, and hurt you.
For example: yesterday morning, I had an exam. This was the third exam in two days. And, since I’m trying to be nicer to myself, I got up at 6am instead of 4am like I customarily do to study. I was sitting on my couch, guzzling down coffee, scrolling through a power point, when a thought flashed across my brain, so fast I almost didn’t catch, almost didn’t hear it. But my brain said “Hold up, what the fuck did you just say to me?” I did a little rewind and realized the words “You’re disgusting,” had flashed through my head, almost undetectable in all the other clutter up there. What the actual fuck is that?? Why am I so mean to myself? Here I am, waking up at the crack of fucking dawn to study, to try my hardest, and the best thing I can think to say to myself is I’m disgusting???
There is no way we as humans are meant to say such awful things to ourselves, to hurt ourselves like this. And yet, we do. I do, at least. Little thoughts like failure, loser, faker, disgusting, unworthy pass through my brain all the time. They shoot across my mind’s eye like silent little missiles, collecting in a corner until they start taking up more and more space. Until they fill so much room they think they are entitled to hurt me.
And what’s odder still, is how, even in the face of calling myself cruel words, it’s a challenge to be nice to myself. It feels so uncomfortable to take those nasty words, crumple them into a little ball, light it on fire, and then shower myself with nice words. Words like hard-worker, determined, honest, lovely (like, I almost couldn’t type that last one! My fingers stalled out on the keys. They were like, “uhhhh no you shouldn’t call yourself that. Not publicly. Because what if people reading this think you actually think of yourself as lovely?” See how fucked up all of this is??).
I don’t have an answer yet on how to abolish this mean way of thinking. It honestly feels embarrassing to even admit all of this. There’s always shame, there’s always fear, there’s always What if I’m the only one? But, even if I am (which I highly doubt), articulating this yucky tendency might be the first step in freeing myself from it. My mom’s therapist told her to write out twenty-five of her strengths and say them out loud everyday. I did this, I honestly made myself LAUGH at how hard it was for me to come up with twenty-five whole strengths, like, girl, you are a writer, you can’t think of twenty-five words that are nice about yourself?? Ridiculous. I’ve also started doing a little bit of journaling. I just try to write how I felt that day, thank God for the blessings He’s constantly bestowing on me during this time, and give myself space to really feel everything right now. The future has never felt so uncertain, but even in this awful time, there is beauty, we just have to search a little harder to find it, but we can enjoy it all the more because of that.
Bonus: here are a bunch of pics of my cats cuddling.