journal/

on-going mostly unedited stream of thoughts

every day now

This pandemic has not been good for my nervous system (I wanted to write “mental health”, but I think that is potentially a misleading term because it makes it seems like actual biological conditions are just “mental”, as though it is a pure product of the mind). I already had generalised anxiety pre-pandemic, so for almost two years I’ve just been even more worried, stressed and anxious.

The vaccine held some hope, but with more recent data it seems some people are still getting pretty ill – anything that doesn’t require oxygen is considered “mild” but you can still feel like shit for weeks and also risk long covid – with breakthrough infections and older people with underlying conditions are still at risk of serious illness. The risk is lower of course, but it is still there. The underlying conditions are diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol which most people above the age of 40 probably have some form of the above because of our national carb-heavy diet with high stress levels.

People close to me have been getting non-covid related illnesses, and everytime they need to visit a clinic or hospital it stresses me out, because the probability of getting infected in these places are higher. Some of the elderly live with unvaccinated kids or people who have to regularly expose themselves due to work, so that worries me too. I can’t stop worrying.

I am already pretty lucky in terms of what I have to deal with compared to many other people, yet I’m still so stressed and anxious. I cannot imagine what it is like for other people.

On the other hand I see many people trying to go on with their lives as per normal, because what else can we do except to try to survive? But the pandemic for me and probably some of us is not just about the uncontrollable virus situation. It is also about how much we’ve witnessed over the past 1.5 years: the competency of politicians, people being severely misled by misinformation, the lengths people go to defend their own beliefs and “sovereignty”, how people are harming others because of their own unchecked psyches.

The world is in chaos, but we’re trying to tell ourselves everything is fine and please carry on. We’re going to feel the repercussions of this for years to come, on top of dealing with climate change. I am not sure what to do myself except trying to cherish whatever time and peace I have now.

It still feels wrong to try to do fun things in these times when so many people are suffering. My pace of writing here has suffered, because each time I write something it sounds like this. Half the time I feel like I am an unlikeable wet blanket, the other half I feel like I am only expressing the reality I experience.

I “console” myself by reminding myself of the inherent absurdity and suffering of life – no one is spared the pain of existence, going through the process of living, ageing, getting ill, and eventually dying. People from former generations have been through wars and great famines. Perhaps we’ve been lulled into a false sense of safety for the past few decades, with promises of unbridled technology advancement that were supposed to solve all our existential problems. But can technology nourish our deprived psyches, our propensity to harm?

Every day now I mentally brace myself for bad news, like the ancient stoics. Every day that goes peacefully without drama I silently thank my lucky stars. I know I am living on borrowed time, because I know each time something heartbreaking happens a part of me dies.

I think the pandemic has changed the world dramatically permanently, but we’re still trying to believe it will go back to where it was. At this time I find buddhist philosophy helpful, even if I know it is simply another narrative for me. There is no other way, except to tell ourselves whatever stories that will make us feel better.

3 thoughts on “every day now”

  1. Robin says:

    You have put words to the feelings I have but just keep pushing back in the spirit of “one day at a time”. Thanks for this.

  2. Lola Hayes says:

    Depression has hit me like a tsunami this year. I was always one of those people who, even though I self-studied psychology here and there, I always wrote off the mood disorders. Even though I knew academically that depression does not equal sadness, I had been lumping them together in my mind anyway. All of the mood disorders seemed like either negative thinking that you just need to snap yourself out of or simply a chemical imbalance other people take a medication for and it makes them all better. Now that I’m experiencing it, neither of those ideas make sense any more. This is one of those things you actually have to deal with on a daily basis. I’ve never been great at that. I found this page through my search of mind gardens – especially of the self-directed learning network type which is an idea I have been obsessed with for over a decade. Like the real meaning of that word – obsessed – the kind that makes a little home in your mind and lives there permanently, casting its shadow over everything else. I guess it’s because that’s all I’ve ever been really good at. Since as far back as I can remember, my favorite activity has been going deep down self-directed learning rabbit holes. Soaking up information until it bores me (or just gets too hard) and then moving on to the next shiny thing. I’m a wealth of information on random subjects that don’t do much for a career in this world. I’ve never found a way to put value to it except to create such a network so other people can find a way to experience the same joy. I’ve never found anyone with enough passion on the subject to build it with me and I’ve never had the confidence to forge new ventures like that by myself. That’s why it remains a collection of notebooks I stuff in boxes and move from place to place over the years. But I digress… This habit, of chasing abstract epiphany highs, has not lent itself well to creating a defense, or now an offense, against depression. I guess you can’t intellectualize everything, right? More than anything else I’ve encountered, it requires the ability to stick with a plan and chip away at it day by day. Something made even more difficult amid the stress of the pandemic. I’ve learned not to trust one good day. It’s not a “bright and hopeful new beginning.” It’s one good day and you have to appreciate it for just that. Why don’t we teach these skills in school? I know that’s a common refrain, but let’s keep saying it until it manifests. I found a really good book that’s been helping. Maybe it will help you too? (Depression and Anxiety are so intertwined, it’s hard to tease out which feelings belong to which.) Whenever I start to have one of those moments (hollowed out loneliness with electric shocks of worthlessness under an opaque shadow of meaninglessness), usually at night, I’ll read a chapter and if nothing else, it makes me feel validated. Once I’m done, I’ll have to find another similar book to keep me on track. The current one is called Lost Connections by Johann Hari. His thesis is that depression is a result of lost connections which he breaks down as follows:
    1. disconnection from meaningful work
    2. disconnection from other people
    3. disconnection from meaningful values
    4. disconnection from childhood trauma
    5. disconnection from status and respect
    6. disconnection from the natural world
    7. disconnection from a hopeful or secure future
    Resonate?

    1. Pete Sylvestre says:

      Totally resonates. Came here randomly through LinkLonk to discover this gem, which also sounds like a desperate call for connection.

      From my own experience with depression and therapy I can fully confirm that disconnections as described are a major issue, and for me learning to connect, again or at all, feels like a second youth, like a new life.

      Don’t despair. You‘re good as you are, you are not alone, and it is in your hands to be an integral part of this universe, and feel connected, meaningful, and confident about it.

      Random but real Internet people: empathize!

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