I’ve been feeling more down these days. I am not sure if it is pms, covid, both, or just responding to reality in general. I don’t really get why people are not depressed when a pathogenic virus capable of disabling anyone is still running rampant around a world that is rapidly heating up, and the human species seem to have no collective will to preserve our long-term survival. We need great leadership, but the type of people who would run for political positions are precisely those who are attracted to power, not people.
I was getting traditional chinese medicine (tcm) treatment for my hormonal imbalance since mid last year which contributed to my overall health getting better prior to covid, but now the physician is focused on treating my post-covid symptoms so I wonder if that is making my hormones go out of whack. It is already known that covid itself does affect hormones (if not everything), menstruating people do experience weirdness in their cycles, so it could compound my pre-existing issue.
I’ve always been melancholic, as far as I can remember. Even as numerous external factors in my life improved including meeting my partner, the sadness seemed like a permanent part of me underlying all my perception and actions.
So it takes tremendous effort for me just to convince myself that I can be alive. Things that people take for granted – mere living, enjoying life, connecting to people – are all difficult for me. It is difficult just existing in my body. I am never at ease, some uncomfortable emotion is always plaguing me, I feel fatigued most of the time. Even if I am not physically fatigued, I am psychologically drained. How can I not feel drained when every moment feels like it is filled with so much friction? And it seems the main perpetuator of this friction is my mind. My mind, which knows nothing much apart from pain and suffering.
I had to learn how to live. I feel like the dynamic that exists between my mind and me was never right to begin with, so it feels like I had lived my entire life continually being sabotaged by my mind. Maybe it is just trying to protect me, in its own insidious way. I don’t know what it means to simply live. There has never been simplicity for me, that is why I am drawn to philosophy like zen.
It feels like prior to getting covid I was on some track to somewhere – a place I’ve never been, never lived in. A place that has some sunlight and lightness. Now, I am struggling again. I cannot exercise so my body feels weak, slow and uncirculated. The lack of exercise has a profound hormonal effect on me on top of the whatever damage that was done by the virus.
I know intellectually this is just a process, I just need to give myself some time. But the feelings plaguing me threatens to drown me before I get there. I remind myself I am no longer the same person who existed a few years ago, and now I know I am not my mind or emotions.
Unlike the person who used to dwell and spiral downwards, I let myself float gently in my despair. I don’t attempt to squash my feelings or to dismiss it, because I don’t want to deal with the aftermath of repression.
I try to do at least one thing a day that would enrich my inner life. Try a new food, read fiction, draw, learn something, write, work on my website, spend quality time with my partner. If I cannot be happier, at least I can try to be richer inside?
Some days I am full of pity and reproach for myself. Some time in the future perhaps I would read this entry and wonder in amusement why was I so trapped by myself? Many times in my life I have realised the way to walk out of this despair is simply to sidestep it. But the process to just take that one step can be long. There must be enough buy-in from the broken mind. It has to be tired of being broken for so long.
I am also profoundly affected by the lack of physical energy, so not being able to exercise is also contributing to the downswing of my emotions. But this morning – 17 days since I’ve truly tested negative and 12 days after my fainting episode I took a morning walk for the first time. I’ve only been walking to malls and also walking in place while watching tv post-meals, so this is the first time I’ve done any deliberate exercise. There is a track below my apartment that has some gentle inclines.
I felt breathless at first, scared. But I slowly get used to the cadence. I try to get some sunlight in my eyes. I monitored my heart rate carefully, not letting it go beyond 120bpm. It didn’t get higher than 103. I walked only for 30 minutes, though I felt like I could walk longer. I let music fill my brain, calming my nervous system down.
On a typical day, I don’t feel compelled to do anything. If I just live based on my feelings I would simply lie in bed wondering what is the point of it all. I have to design a lot of infrastructure in my day to day life to ensure I keep myself alive. Being alive is not just about being able to function biologically. For me it is the process of enriching our spirit. I may feel dead inside, but my broken mind is still capable of making something, learning, experiencing. It is almost like cajoling a convalescing patient to go outside and get some sunlight even though that is the last thing the person wants to do because they are suffering. Except in my case I am both the caregiver and the patient. To co-exist with my broken mind, I have to learn how to be a caregiver to it. I have to be sensitive to my mind’s feelings, and yet challenge it, but I can’t push it too far. I have to compassionate to its damage, but I cannot allow it to be the automatic pilot of my life.
Who am I really? Is there a person that exists beyond this broken mind? At a time like this, it seems delusional to believe so. But this journal, all my documented memories, they display some evidence of…I want to say “an other”, but this other is still me. A wholeness I guess? A wholeness that is obscured by chronic feelings of grief. A grief for never truly being able to know my self I guess, a self who felt like she would never be accepted for who she is, because I was born into a world that keeps trying to make me someone else.