I think I’ve had a reasonable head through the pandemic. I’m mindful, socially distanced, and I keep an eye on the news. I remember when the pandemic first started and everyone around me was freaking out and all I could think is the panic you people are experiencing right now is how I live my everyday life – thank you anxiety disorder.
So I managed to never get too terribly anxious about the illness itself. But the changes I saw in people broke my heart. Over the summer I found myself wishing for the rapture – I saw no hope in society and wondered why the hell we were still on earth.
Eventually that did pass but winter arrived and the warm sun faded into the chilly air and my senses returned to a dullish state and dysthymia crept in, as it always does. Yet I trudged on.
I realized yesterday I had been carrying some kind of hope that January 1st would wave its magic wand and the pandemic would be but a memory. As the evening wore on, my childlike hope faded and today I’m full on Eeyore. I have clients who have lost loved ones recently to COVID. My heart cries when I see the death numbers tick.
Remember in the beginning when we were all there for each other? When people were donating salaries? When it was the world fighting together to stop COVID? People are still dying but now we’re fighting each other. I fear for the early months of 2021 as my country transitions presidential administrations when so much is already bubbling.
The pandemic is a trauma. We are going through a collective traumatic experience to varying degrees. Take care of each other.
It is as if the corners of my mouth are fatigued. My cheeks have atrophied. The dreary gray of October has drained the life out of my face, like Winifred drains the souls of the children.
I am not quite sad, but less interested. The contrast of colors are muted, blurring one into the next; their vividness passing through the doorway of dull.
Anxiety in the dismal is worse than the frenetic angst. It calls forth demons of the past without warning. Does the smell not exist when the sun is warm or does the sun provide hope and reassurance, its absence known in the bleak fall?
Turn on all the lights.
“We were too late.”
Walking down the street, wrestling with fury.
My feet are sand, no water to anchor them and yet creeping forward.
We were soldiers, girded with our sustained agony
Under siege of foreboding promise.
Collapse is imminent.
One has fallen.
“We were too late.”
I’m exhausted from the mental battle of the last few days but specifically fatigued over learning of the loss of a friend.
Just days ago I shared my experience when my dad completed suicide on this blog and on social media. September is suicide prevention month and today especially.
In a cruel twist of 2020, the year I actively reduced my time on Facebook in response to increasing division and hate, I visited Facebook today and saw in horror 6 days ago a friend posted her goodbye. Which had prompted a flurry of activity on that Facebook post, culminating with the obituary posted just today.
I am stunned. She was a beautiful soul. We went to high school together and recently physically reconnected through a mutual therapy experience, though we’d always maintained contact via Facebook sharing the love of ballet.
We were born only hours apart. She was my birthday sister. Now she’s gone. As one does I am replaying our last exchange and wishing I’d done more, tried harder.
My beautiful, empathic son, himself planning to study psychology in college next year stated: “Suicide doesn’t really end the pain though does it? It just transfers it.”
Yes. I will never say suicide is selfish because I know the pain of living in mental agony, but it absolutely leaves wreckage in its wake. Wreckage that never heals, only scars.
If you are suffering, reach out to loved ones, get help. You can present at your nearest emergency room and just sit there if you don’t want to talk. Sit and be safe. Or admit you’re worried about your own safety. Or call 1800-273-8255. text 741741 in US and Canada. 85258 in UK. 50808 in Ireland. You don’t have to suffer in silence. You are not alone.
“Oh,” I say resignedly. “It’s you. Mmhmm come on in.”
Inwardly I roll my eyes at myself, surely you didn’t think she was actually gone did you? Tears cloud my vision.
“You know what the definition of insanity is?” She asks.
Like forgetting that at the end of every productive summer comes the insufferable pain of fall? “Yes,” I say quietly.
She smiles. “Well, come now help me set out my things.” She reaches into her absurdly Mary Poppins-like bag and pulls out the weighted vest, ankle shackles, an elephant, and… what was that?
I groan inwardly. “Oh you brought the funhouse mirror again. I was really doing so good at…” I trail off, close my eyes and allow the tears to begin their descent down my cheeks.
“Where are you going?” She asks as I turn to leave the room.
“I need to make a phone call. She’ll want to know you’re here. For planning purposes you know.”
She smiles knowingly. “Riiight.”