The Demented Emotions Of Lockdown

Photo credit: Volkan Olmez

Mostly I was doing okay until suddenly I wasn’t. It was day 54 of lockdown that broke me. Or maybe it was day 57. The days were curling back in on themselves like so much melted plastic that it could have been anything between day 48 and day 59.

When I was doing okay I was meditating for an hour each day, whispering my invocations, and meeting myself on the yoga mat every morning. I practiced stillness, poured my heart into art, guarded my sleep, ate clean, and drank all my carefully curated supplements and potions.

When I was doing okay I was oscillating between serene acceptance and wild rebellion, I was equal parts wise warrior goddess and trembling worm, swinging from one to the other and back again, sometimes even in the same minute, but always, always, pulling myself back to centre, no matter how dizzying it got.

When I suddenly wasn’t okay anymore I was wild witch, raging mantis, striking snake, fallen child, wingless, faceless, fading, discarded, ash.

The abstract piece I poured my demented emotions into

After struggling with grief, depression, and PTSD for over two and half years, I had only just started to feel like I was stabilising my bipolar disorder when we went into lockdown. I was also just 24 days into recovery from an almost decade-long opioid addiction. And then the state decided to ban tobacco.

My body wasn’t ready for another challenge yet. But I went with it. Cautiously optimistic. Until eventually the helter skelter of my bipolar swirling in some kind of nicotine-deprived internal chemical warfare just got a little too much.

There were times when I felt like my mind was sliding down the walls of my skull, tears helplessly carving into my cheeks at the torment of it all and the blinding fear that I would lose myself in a black hole of insanity forever.

I felt like I was trying to hold onto my heart the way a drowning girl desperately clings to a broken branch while the storming river does everything to pull her away.

Do I let go and give in? Or do I keep fighting?

It’s exhausting. This wild swinging between the mind and the heart. The dark and the light. The fear and the healing.

Do I keep pulling myself back to centre? Or do I just give myself to the river?

I was so busy fighting and not fighting that it took me a while to realise I was suicidal again. And even though I didn’t think that I would keep pulling myself back into my heart, I did. I didn’t think that I would keep going, but I did.

I logged out of social media. I stopped paying attention to the news. I cut short repetitive conversations about the virus, the virus, the fucking virus. I chanted even more invocations, switched back to guided meditations, completed courses on mindfulness for addictions, had daily microcurrent electrical therapy, and coached myself through, moment by moment, reminding myself that for every night there is a day, and still it just wasn’t enough.

And then I did the strangest thing. I reached out to my doctor.

I judged myself as being weak for not being able to ‘do this’ on my own, for asking for help, but I have been learning to love myself lately, and to love myself means to have compassion for myself, and that means asking for help when I can’t do it on my own. And so I had to push that judgement aside and tell my doctor that I was suicidal.

Spiritually I wanted to be my own guide, to find my own way through this, to rise. But no matter what I did, I just wasn’t finding the light, I wasn’t learning the lesson. I was so soul weary that all I wanted to do was walk into the river. And so I had to ask for help.

And maybe that was the lesson. To ask for help.

I don’t like it that I’m writing this. I like it even less that I’m posting this. But I promised myself that I wouldn’t let you feel alone. The details aren’t important; we all have our lockdown stories. Even the most grounded and sane people I know have been losing their shit, see-sawing between states of being okay and states of very definitely not being okay.

So don’t beat yourself up for losing your shit. This isn’t easy on anyone. And do not listen to anyone who tells you that you shouldn’t be feeling whatever you’re feeling right now.

We each have our own dance, our own pain, our own undoing and our own becoming, and none could ever compare to the other. So close your eyes to their judgements, listen only to your heart, play by your own rules, and whenever you need to, reach out your hand and unfurl in borrowed strength; stay for another day.

Because tomorrow’s sunrise could be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.

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