The days are blending into one long April day. There’s a lot of “is that a cough starting up?” and “is my chest feeling tight anxiety or the coronavirus?”and “what is that tickle at the back of my throat?” and sometimes, in the night, in the dark, that anxiety can become overwhelming. I have read posts from multiple therapists talking about how this pandemic and all of its consequences are exacerbating mental health problems, triggering trauma, and also is on its own a new, collective trauma for people. It has flipped some people’s brains inside out, and suddenly the anxieties they have been trying to rationalise are now real; out in the actual world. The threat is real and everyone is experiencing and responding to that threat. It’s a scary place to be for everybody right now, but it also is a more difficult place for those who already are suffering from mental health issues and those whose mental health issues are re-emerging again because of the coronavirus. It can also be hard differentiating between what is a reasonable and rational response to the threat of COVID-19, and what is a reaction from your mental health issue when right now they are one and the same, or at least very close together.
This week my friend came over and dropped a birthday present for me off at my door: a beautiful necklace that she made herself. Then I got to see her and her boyfriend from 10ft away and have a chat before they left again. Josh and I had a beautiful walk at a viewpoint that was deserted. We drank Pimms on a blanket in the communal grassy area outside the front of our block of flats. We spent ages looking up what kind of tiny spider has been cohabiting with us for the last 8 months or so. We created the dog I borrow in Sims form because we miss her. I looked up where I can get freshly baked bread without having to go into the supermarket. I tried a new peanut butter. I slept 9.5hrs. We did a pub quiz with friends using Zoom. We got a food delivery. We argued.
That’s the thing about being stuck together in a flat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Josh has been working in the lounge too, from the dining room table, and so we are almost always in the same room. Sometimes I want to murder him and throw his body into the canal and I think the feeling is mutual. But we are managing it. We are talking about our feelings and trying to give each other space and support.
It is weird being both constantly bored and constantly on edge; like my central nervous system is being fried every day. I am restless and sometimes finding it hard to engage with things. I am keeping very busy by finding jobs and chores to do, as well as spending time doing exercise and I think that my difficulty in sitting still is to do with the anxiety of the situation at hand, and the avoidance of that anxiety.
This is such a weird time, full of uncertainty, anxiety, instability, doubt, and distrust. We don’t know what is going to happen and we don’t know when things will happen and we are in the dark, relying on a government that a lot of us don’t even have faith in to make the right decisions that will keep us as safe as possible. However, it is uplifting to see that around the world there is so much humanity, and community spirit; so many acts of kindness that bring us together even when we are apart. There are so many people reaching out to others; so many people helping each other; so many people showing solidarity; so many people connecting with others at a time when we are so physically disconnected. It is comforting to see people coming together like this. What acts of kindness have you seen since the coronavirus hit? Make a list of these: it could help restore a bit of faith in these otherwise dark times.