For the most part, I’ve been maintaining and doing alright during this quarantine. Like, I’m a homebody, so being home hasn’t as much been the problem as it is being told I can’t leave freely is. It wasn’t until now, and perhaps as a result of being told we’re in the house for another 3 months (I live in Los Angeles), that I’m finally, fully starting to feel the effects of this stay at home order. For most, I think it has been a time where you’ve learned a lot about yourself. Or you’ve learned about your partner, or you’ve been forced to face the various things you’ve been able to actively avoid. I’ve been on this self-discovery journey for quite some time, so there hasn’t been much about myself that I didn’t already know. Nor that I didn’t know about my boyfriend. Though there have been things that we’ve managed to sweep under the rug for some time, that is now thrust to the forefront in ways that we have no other choice to confront them. I’ve worked on operating in a space that tackles these types of things head-on anyway so I can handle that. No, I think for me, it’s finally wrapping my mind around the reality that we are, in fact, in the middle of a fucking pandemic with an idiot for a president. Even the most competent of Governors, including my own, is now willing to risk the lives of so many. Put our health care, and essential workers in an even more dangerous situation than they already are in by reopening the states all in the name of capitalism. More than that, though, is the uncertainty of it all. With so many theories and lies circulating, it’s hard to know what to believe. What I do know is that I am not interested in putting myself, my loved ones, or anyone else in harm’s way. So I’d rather be overly cautious than to not. As I prepare to stay indoors as much as possible, I realize that its because I do know me and what I want and what I like and not having access to those things is taking its toll. I love hanging with my friends, going out to eat and for drinks, it would be the NBA playoffs right now and the start of the season. (Though rumblings of the NBA’s return has given me a little joy.) I would have been to Disney at least 3 times by now and preparing myself for the excitement of the opening of the new marvel land. Then there was my trip to Jamaica, a bachelorette party in AZ, and best friend’s wedding that was supposed to set the year off right. I’d finally found my groove and the perfect blend of the life that I’d desire to live while I was working towards the life I know I’m destined for, and that has suddenly been interrupted and at least for the foreseeable future, canceled. So now what? How do I maintain my mental health without my help aids? How do I stay off the route to the dark place when my detours are closed? This is one of those times when people like me have to find new and creatives ways to dig deep. As it just so happens to be mental health awareness month, it is probably very fitting that I’ve been even more aware of my mental health as of late. What I’ve learned is that it is okay to pay extra close attention to how I am feeling and then to honor those feelings. Some days I am feeling super productive, and I can get all of my to-do list done, including diving deep into my creative projects. On other days, I can’t seem to keep my eyes open. I just feel so worn out. My energy levels and low and my motivation almost none existent. Though I’ve learned how to be a functioning depressive many years ago, in these unusual times, the whole just push through, put on a brave face thing doesn’t seem to work. No matter what type of day it is, I am finding that when I allow myself to go with it, not wallow in depression per se but to be okay to not be productive on some days and to work hard at whatever pace I am capable of on others. To listen to my inner voice and take note of what tends to trigger either of these feelings. It’s essential to be aware of when you are at your happiest and best, and what you are doing, who you are with at that time. You want to try to fill your days with those things, and eliminate anything that triggers the opposite. This is true for any time, but especially now, where outlets are limited, and reality is heightened. Here are a few things I live by to get through days when I feel the dark cloud coming:
- Get creative. How can you do some of the things you enjoy out in the world at home. For me, it’s following Disney accounts with videos of rides and behind the scenes stories and did you know information about rides, parks, and lands. It’s going for a walk in my neighborhood that happens to be waterside, so I feel like I’m on vacation. It’s my favorite IG Live parties, D-Nice’s Club Quarantine, 9th Wonder’s Fasss Auntie Lounge, Djrtistic’s party, and PJ Butta’s Night Cap. There’s something about enjoying the music and feeling a sense of community in the comments as we crack jokes, greet each other with warm welcomes and send out prayers for each other when someone announces some unfortunate news. I might not get to physically go and do my favorite pastimes, but at least I can find new ways to enjoy them, and God has it been helpful.
- Write. Journaling is one of the therapeutic and healing activities you can do, especially when you’re feeling in a dark space. There is something about getting your thoughts and feelings out onto paper in a form that is free of judgment, it’s beyond liberating. Instead of having these swirling thoughts that could plague you in the confined nature of isolation, you can free yourself of the constant nagging of your mind and hopefully help pull yourself out of a potential spiral.
- Pray/meditate. The idea of meditation can sound very gimmicky in a day and age where everyone is into healthy and holistic living. I know I sure haven’t mastered the practice yet. Still, there is truly something about surrendering yourself to stillness and allowing the universe or the Holy Spirit to speak or even just the calmness of silence to prevail. There is something about recentering that brings you back to reality, and a sense of a burden lifted when you set aside time to speak to God in prayer. Whether you are religious or not, a believer or not, whatever version this looks like for you, I encourage you to do it anytime you find yourself feeling off-balance or disconnected. If it’s one thing I’ve learned, its that now, staying connected to your true self is the only means of thriving even in the most frightening of times.
- Talk about it. I am blessed to have a solid foundation of people that I can talk to about the things I am experiencing and feeling. In part, it serves as built-in accountability. Once I express that I am in a bad place, those who love and care for me instantly feel some sense of responsibility to check in with and challenge me to do everything I can for the best interest of myself and my health. It is also a form of therapy to speak the words out loud to someone you trust and receive either words of encouragement or to just have a listening ear. (Of course, I highly recommend actual therapy if you have access or as soon as you can get it.) I know for a fact had it not been for my circle, I wouldn’t still be here and true to form as I work my way through this current episode they are showing up once again. I pray that you have a sound group of people in your life, and if not, I will gladly stand in the gap for you in any way I can. Feel free to reach out.
Listen, these times are crazy and hard, and the news is changing every day. States are opening, and we know its not safe. Move at your own pace and take precautions to protect yourself. At the end of the day, all you can do is focus on what you can control and have faith with the rest. The priority is your mental and physical health, and I pray that whatever it takes for you to maintain it, you will do so and then some. Here’s to surviving this shit, but in the meantime, I am over it!