2020 was a lot. Almost too much in fact. Sometimes I actually wonder if this year really happened or it was just a stimulation. A figment of my overactive imagination. One look at my working table and the array of facemasks, I am pinched back to reality.
This year happened!
Personally, I didn’t have any expectations for this year. I sincerely just wanted to be overwhelmed with sincere joy and satisfaction in whatever way possible. Oh, and pass my professional exam. But even with how low the bars were, this year still shocked me in ways words often fail me to explain.
I learnt about the word ‘pandemic’ for the first time this year. I might have heard it passively in community medicine class but this was the year my brain registered its existence. When it ensued in March, I had no idea what to expect. I was so sure the longest I would have to spend at home was two months. I even packed my cloth in that light. So, imagine my surprise when we were in the fifth month and things weren’t getting any better.
Adjusting to a new system of living for me is usually very tough. Especially if the transition was done abruptly. This was where my problem started this year.
Writing this is quite hard because a lot has happened this year and there is so much to say but to make things easier for us both, I have made this into two halves
1. First half
It can be you.
You see this erroneous belief that when the shower of mishaps begins to wet the surface of people’s heads, a magical umbrella always appears over yours and keeps you dry and warm, dead it! Terrible things happen to the best of us.
In the past, I have worked with a number of people for projects and in associations that have ghosted me without any given reason. During these periods, it usually leaves my team stranded or unable to progress and it just usually made me angry and overwhelmed with disappointment.
‘Why will you just leave without explaining’
‘How will not inform me about your absence’
As much of an advocate of ‘Treat people nicely and never assume’ I was, this anger and fury still came anyway.
This year, I was the ghostee. I saw a whole different level of ‘It takes experience to fully understand a situation’
My mental health for most of this year was in shambles. An absolute mess. The worst it has ever been my entire life. Being someone that has a lot of responsibilities and held a number of positions I disappointed a lot of people but most importantly, I disappointed myself. Someone even called me a disappointment.
It was really painful watching the supposed reputation I had built fall apart. I went from ‘The girl for the job’ to ‘The girl you should never give a job to’.
I tried to hold things together. Patching here and there but everything kept crumbling down. At some point, I sat, crossed legs and face in palms, in the middle of the chaos and let it all fall because I had lost control over anything.
Having a history with self-sabotage didn’t help matters, I spent a great deal of the period beating myself up for a situation I couldn’t control. My mind did a great job magnifying the problems and mistakes I made.
I had no drop of motivation left in me, I lost interest in almost everything and didn’t want to talk to anyone. Friendships that were solely based on constant, almost everyday communication suffered greatly and I had no desire to fix it. The panic attacks I thought I was done with came back in full force and I didn’t know why or how.
It is one thing to have a name for an occurrence but not knowing how to control it is the actual ghetto. One minute I’m watching a movie, the next I’m on the floor hyperventilating with my hands clasped together. Everything was a trigger. The internet! Phone calls! Anything that reminded me of how much I had failed tore me apart.
This made it worse to explain my needed absence and ‘out-of-place’ sate to anyone. I mean, even I didn’t understand. And considering I wasn’t strapped to a hospital bed, ‘I’m ill’ wasn’t a worthy excuse and nobody was ready to hear ‘I’m not in the right space right now’ because I had to be in the right space.
What made this period most devastating was how hurts I was so sure I had gotten over reappeared like they never left. Memories from years before I thought I had buried deep enough rose to the surface and haunted me.
The uncertainty surrounding the entire world was literally driving me nuts.
‘When will this end?”
‘When do we get back to school?’
‘Will this ever end?’
‘When will I now graduate from medical school like this?’
Questions. Questions. Questions.
With no answer in sight.
I eventually decided to get therapy a few weeks to my birthday in July of which I shared the experience here and started the journey to revamp my entire life.
This was the hard part. Starting all over. Picking pieces of myself. Trying to make sense of my entire existence after doubting everything and everyone in my life. It was difficult but I learnt the trick of living one day at a time. Learning to start with lifting my feet one foot at a time.
Faith for me also had an entire overhaul. I had to unlearn a lot of things and relearn what was really important; the basics of empathy not just to the world but to myself.
I learnt that life is one big bowl of beans ready to hit you in the right places with the element of surprise. I understood that the language of empathy is not one we ever stop learning because we never really see it all.
I learnt to embrace the uncertainty and thrive in it, hoping tomorrow is better than today.
2. Second Half
‘Healing is a constant rocking back and forth Forgive yourself for the backward motion
Give thanks for the courage to inch forward anyway.’
It is easy to fall into the rabbit hole of believing the recognition of a problem is the solution to that problem.
‘Oh, the reason I can’t sleep is that I have my phone in my hand’ doesn’t immediately solve the problem till you actually drop your phone and close your eyes.
Same for therapy and healing. Admitting that you need help is one very big step to getting it and the beginning of many tiny and big steps you’ll take on this journey. That’s the point. It is one long journey we don’t get to tell the end.
In this second half, I made progress in getting whole and was in a way better place
But Sometimes, it felt like I was moonwalking to that very dark place again. Like I was addicted to the bitter taste of gloom.
Sometimes it felt like I wasn’t even better. On some days, I remember ‘Healing is a constant rocking back and forth’ and I have some form of consolation and just let the moment pass.
I learnt not to fetishize my sadness, (I still do this sometimes but less often). I learnt to enjoy the good days in full, not let the fear of bad days steal the joy of the moment from me.
And perhaps the bad days come, I will let them be. On days I have the strength to fight, I will fight like hell. On days I’m too weak, I’ll lay in bed and let the tears be.
I saw the inside of this piece of poetry by our aunty Titi- ‘rock bottom is a perfect place for rebuilding’. I had a lot of rebuilding this year. My ideologies and perspective went through the furnace and sometimes when I see how differently I react to situations, I’m filled with pride at how much growth I have made.
This year was a lot alright but I’m grateful for the growth and rebuilding.