This is one of those blog posts about self care during the pandemic. And about those that argue against those that write about self care during the pandemic. Its about learning new skills, taking time for yourself, feeling good but also about not feeling good.
There are two types of content currently circling around my online space – one with all the tips on how to stay positive and improve your life/business/health/you-name-it, during this strange time; and the other one is all about not wanting to learn new languages, opting out of trying new dishes, but rather just coping with the situation the best way possible. Former points out how this time could be used in a positive and productive way, and the latter how all of this productivity talk is terrible for our mental health and well being in general. I definitely fall under the first category and almost feel bad about it, like I can’t say I enjoy the current state I am in, since it will be seen as enjoying what is truly a terrible time for many.
I feel for what people are going through – I am going through it myself to some extent. No job is secure, I would say. Company I work for already closed the office for good, and has let go of one of the employees (out of only four!). My savings are enough to get me through a couple of months, probably not more than 4. My boyfriend is an artist, you may imagine how all of this has affected his income. My family members and myself most have some health issues which would cause severe problems if we were to get infected by corona virus. I’ve left my apartment less than 10 times in the past 3 months. And so on, and on, and on.
Yet, I have never felt better.
I feel guilty for even writing this down. But it had to be said. If for nothing else, but to show to myself how unwell I have been before, and since I am probably the only one reading this blog, I see no problem in sharing this wild thought. I barely cooked. I was never home, I was working sometimes for 16 hours straight, and this year, up until the middle of March, I already had two working days which lasted over – wait for it – 30 hours! That’s 30 hours of no sleep, no rest, just work work work. I was always tired, cranky, hungry, sad… Last year I lost 18 kg (40 lbs) through hard work, lots of exercising and dieting only to gain it all back (and more!) due to lack of sleep, activity and proper nutrition. My relationship of ten years worsened cause I never had enough time or energy for meaningful conversations or intimacy. I was so stressed I cried on the floor of my office bathroom three times in one week. To be fair, I love what I do, most days it really brings me joy to see the results of my work come to life. But lately, and that “lately” being last 12 months and more, have been truly overwhelming.
So, my life during the lockdown is actually far better than my life beforehand. We, my boyfriend and I, made breakfast together and drank coffee every single morning for the past two and a half months. We cook and eat together, play games, watch movies, laugh more than ever… I started working out every single day, and have been doing it for two months already. I finished some courses and got certificates, I read, I paint, I write (scientific papers, none the less!), I care for plants. For the first time in a very long time, I managed to keep a plant alive and to bring it to bloom. Before, I was so rarely home I would forget to care for them so all of my plants died. Now, I think I’ll even manage to grow some strawberries!
I am calm and dare I say – happy? Everything is more meaningful – I really listen to music, its not just background noise. I read with so much interest, things I would never have been able to tackle otherwise (600 pages of SF which has its own dictionary? Yes, please!). I cook and care about what I eat. I have time to deal with my back pain. I am loosing weight with simple but durable changes. I am improving every tiny bit of my life.
So, why do I feel bad about feeling good?
One of the things I would like to change the most about me is the extent to which the troubles of others bother me. I feel everything very closely, as if I was the one experiencing problems first hand. This annoying condition summed up in the word “empathy” exhausts me. Especially if I can’t do much to help resolve whatever the problem might be. I would put myself at other’s service at all times, being either a pushover or an avid people-pleaser, just to make myself somehow useful and needed. I would spend days being sad and worried over other people’s problems, thinking how to best support my friends or family, how to solve their problems or ease them. Nobody likes feeling helpless and useless. But I also don’t like feeling the weight of all the problems around me. There are periods when nothing is wrong with my own life, yet I am sad and depressed all the time, just because I feel I couldn’t be happy if my friends or family were having some issues. I even feel guilty for enjoying my childless life while my friends who are mothers barely have time to stop and think. How insane is that? I admire them and help them if I can, but I must stop putting so much unneeded pressure on myself. Now, I just want to breath and relax and just be still. Not necessarily happy, but calm, at peace. And during this pandemic and lockdown, that is exactly what I got.
It turns out – it was all I needed. However sad that might sound. And I am going to enjoy the hell out of it. I don’t know if I’ll have a job in a few months. I don’t know how all of this uncertainty will affect me or the people I care about or will I ever learn how to deal with all the sadness in the world around me. But still, this was all I needed. To realize how unhealthy my life has been, to learn what I don’t want and what I really really REALLY want.
Breakfast and coffee with him, every morning. Before life wakes up.