After the lockdown, being stuck in the same space for two months can never be good. It takes a toll on your mental health as well as your creativity and productivity. It is the uncertainty of not knowing when all this will be over. I have canceled all plans for the foreseeable future. I have not met my friends in over two months (and I miss them terribly). No birthday celebrations together except for wishing each other through virtual calls and posting Instagram stories. I have stopped writing in my daily journal that I bought at the beginning of this year to coordinate my life. It has been sitting on the desk collecting dust since mid-March.
There is not much to do out here when you are locked in an environment for too long. At first, you may have planned out creative ways to keep yourself busy. Whether it’s planting or painting, this is the perfect time to pick up a new hobby. Accomplish something you have been meaning to do but was not able to finish because you had too much work. The first few weeks were fine, my work was keeping me (partly) sane and I was busy trying to complete all the tasks and follow my routine every day. I knew that being (unwillingly) locked away in a space for a long time was not good for my mental health and I had to try and keep myself and my mind busy.
Before going into lockdown, I had just gotten used to a routine, waking up early in the morning, eating a healthy breakfast, and then heading to work. After work, I would come home and swim for 30 minutes and go to bed. Then the cycle would start over again. The routine was mainly implemented for the sake of my mental health and it has helped keep my life in order since I had a massive panic attack six months ago. Unfortunately, all the efforts that I put into following a routine and trying to keep my mental and physical health in check are going down the drain. Since the lockdown, I feel mentally tired in the morning. I find myself waking up late and not eating a good healthy breakfast. It was putting me down mentally and I kept beating myself up for not following the routine. I didn’t want to go back to what happened before and it scared me that I was returning to square one.
The days bleed into each other. I have nothing to look forward to, even though I have a job and tasks to finish. I feel anxious when I start working and get frustrated when I can’t figure out a way to make the projects more creative. It sounds so stupid because there are so many people who have lost their jobs because of this pandemic. Why am I not being grateful for mine? Do I sound selfish for complaining about this? It’s not the case at all. I know the arrival of depression when I see it and that is what is happening right now.
It’s still difficult. My motivation fluctuates every day. I can’t figure out what else I can do to keep it consistent. I picked a day to work on my mental health last week, thinking I would conquer it as I did before, but when the next day came, I just wanted to lie down in my bed and do absolutely nothing. I wrote articles during the weekend, but Monday came, and I did not want to work on anything else.
For the past two months, I have watched movies, read books, listened to albums that I never had the chance to listen to (stream Fetch The Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple), listened to podcasts, and started writing for my blog. I have very much needed to sit and write an article related to the current situation that the world is facing right now. It’s never an easy thing to write about people suffering from a deadly virus when you’re stuck in a country that is not entirely your own. The unknown reality of what’s going to happen when the curfew is lifted makes me anxious.
Other than work, I used to spend my time scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, and back almost every ten minutes to check if there is any news that I missed. During a pandemic, when the death toll and positive cases are increasing its best to keep yourself out of that loop. It was making me anxious almost every day. As the number of cases in the Maldives reached more than 1000 in only three weeks with four fatalities, I decided to shift my attention to something else instead of the chaos. To change this, I muted all of the ‘COVID-19’ related accounts and posts as it got too overwhelming for me to read about them every hour. I decided to focus my attention entirely on bettering my mental health and completing tasks that I have procrastinated.
I have so much time to focus on myself and the betterment of my mental health in the time being. Surely, this is the time to do that. But it seems that I am back at the place I started a few months ago: angry, frustrated, and confused because of how impatient and uncertain everything is right now. All I know is that the world is not going back to normal after this pandemic is over. Neither do I have any idea what this new ‘normal’ is going to look like.
I don’t know if this piece of writing brings validation to anyone who is reading this right now. All I know is that it is okay to be in a slump. It is ok if you don’t work every day and put your mental health as a priority. Depression can always be tricky to deal with during this time. I am not the only person dealing with this and many people feel the same way as I am feeling right now. It is fine to take a step back and work on your mental health.
A version of this article is published on Medium.