I’m Not Okay. You’re Not Okay. And That’s Okay.

Pandemic Board Game

Even now, sometimes I still can’t believe we’re living in a pandemic. I go through days where I feel fine and accepting and other days where I’m frustrated and angry. There are days when I’m selfish and I take “calculated” risks and other days when I’m cautious and worried. And to add to all of this, the pandemic isn’t going away any time soon. F*ck COVID. F*ck it all.

Our lives have dramatically changed and well, it’ll never be what it “used to be”. Not that what “used to be” was that great to begin with, but there was a sense of control and comfort. I think that’s something I’m still grappling with – the “death” of my pre-COVID life. When the stay-at-home orders were enacted in March, I was actually kind of happy because I didn’t enjoy my job and this meant I could work from home and not see anyone. Still, I knew this was going to be an adjustment, especially with my social life. I barely moved to Seattle by then and I was bummed I couldn’t go climbing, be outside, and enjoy the “city life”. I hate to admit it, but I love being around people. I need human interactions.

With everything closed, I knew I couldn’t be a potato and do nothing for long. I get restless, so like many others, I found things to do and occupied my time with them. I was working out every other day, dove into a cookbook and went HAM in the kitchen (see slides below), read books, took care of my tomato plants and houseplants, worked on trying to do a handstand (still haven’t achieved that), got to really know my housemates and hung out with them all the time (BLESS HAVING HOUSEMATES!), did some online shopping, had virtual calls and movie nights with friends, browsed dumb stuff on the internet, and explored my neighborhood parks.

Having all of those activities were great, but it distracted me from really checking in with myself. People would ask me how I was doing and I really thought I was doing fine. But as time went on, I realized I wasn’t doing okay. My moods fluctuated and there came a point that I got really depressed and even contemplated suicide. (Whoa… that was really hard to type out). I was sad to be alive when I woke up the next morning. I saw no purpose to live and didn’t believe anyone would care if I was gone. I was this close to self harming myself. Not sure what stopped me, but I dropped what I was holding and started crying because I was so scared, confused, hopeless, and lost.

Thankfully, I slowly came out of that dark place. I’m not exactly sure what changed, but I think it started with a much-needed cry. Then a mix of allowing myself to be kind to myself, knowing that it’s okay to not be okay, talking with friends, reflecting, knowing that everyone is struggling, and understanding that this pandemic is beyond my control – well, sorta. There’s this weird comfort knowing that every single person on this Earth is affected by COVID one way or another. We’re all experiencing it nearly the same time. What other phenomenon can cause such a thing?

This may sound dramatic, but I actually mourned for the death of my pre-COVID life and gave it a mini memorial. I needed that closure even though I still struggle with it from time to time as death is. The Black Lives Matter movement also strangely helped me. I think it just put everything into perspective that there were larger issues to deal with besides my personal ones. I know that’s not to discount my personal struggles and feelings, but it gave me a different way to view the world and I guess, a purpose to fight on.

When summer rolled around, everything significantly improved. Friends, the sun, and the outdoors saved me. Now with winter approaching and more shutdown to come due to rising COVID cases, I’m trying to not fall back into that dark mindset and just breathe and stay hopeful.

So friends, be kind to yourself and take it day by day. Recognize that these are not normal times and it’s okay to not be okay. Come as you are and seek help if needed. I’m here for you if you need someone to talk to or laugh over a dumb video or meme. Remember to stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive, and stay strong.

Your friend,

Vivian

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