Some people are good at denial, forgetting, and moving on. I am good at none of those. I accumulate trauma, remember them deeply like they are etched into my bones helpless as they compound onto each other, hyper-aware that terrifying things can happen at any given moment. I am self-admittedly, a very unhappy person.
I am afraid of life. It is paralysing to live as though there is a booby trap waiting for me at every corner. It gets worse as I age, because it turns out there are plenty of booby traps in life – every now and then these days I receive news of something that saddens me and traumatises me further.
I am afraid to get infected again, afraid that my first infection has already predisposed me to health issues down the road. I am tired of people laughing at my cautiousness and them telling me it is mild, that it is “nothing”. It feels like every time I step out of the house I have to choose between my physical health and my mental health.
But I know I can’t avoid suffering in life. It is either this or that. I can pretend for a while that suffering does not exist, before something knocks the wind out of my sails again. I feel like for me this pretension is not sustainable as it makes me plunge into dark depths each time I am reminded how precarious life can be. I wish to co-exist peacefully with all of this: the fear, sadness, disappointment, frustration. But I don’t know how yet.
Every night I fall asleep afraid of tomorrow. Every morning I wake up uneasy. Is it going to be today? Will I wake up to another horrible notification on my phone while I seem safely asleep? Each time the phone rings it makes my heart sink. Every time I get a tingle in my throat I wonder if I caught covid again.
I try to fill up my life with little moments of joy. I have no idea if I am escaping, rebelling, or racing against something. I don’t know how to cope, so I swing between letting my feelings eat me or trying to eat my feelings. Will I get used to this?
I don’t see a way out. People tell me to “think positive” but I don’t see how to think positively in a rapidly warming world with viruses that are threatening to bestow disability or accelerated ageing. Why am I being gaslighted to feel like I am the one being insane when I have a mountain of scientific evidence behind me? Why is it on me to be positive when I am raised in a society that hasn’t been very kind to people like me?
I ask these questions in my head every day. I feel perturbed when I see seas of people interacting unmasked. Don’t they care about their long-term health? We have lost the information war, and I am afraid to witness its consequences on our civilisation as the years go by.
I feel like this is my new reality. Previously my chronic depression and existential anxiety felt personal: they were my response towards how I feel towards my existence in general. Now I think the world has gone off the rails and it is no longer a personal maladjustment but a logical reasonable response to what is actually happening around me and to me.
I don’t believe it is ever going to go away, so now I am starting to wonder if I am able to adjust to having a perpetual torrent of negative feelings swirling inside me. A true inoculating vaccine will go a long way in making me feel better, but the issue has never really been covid itself isn’t it? It has been how we’re collectively choosing to respond. The virus is just mirroring to us who we truly are.
If not for covid, it would just be more senseless wars, other pandemics, the worsening effects of a rapidly changing climate. And us, harbouring a psyche that reflects more of our primal history than the potential of our intelligence.