Content Warning: Discussion of mental health, insanity, & COVID.
Happy Sunday morning, y’all. I just wanted to pop in briefly today and share a mental health update. Even though I’m an introvert, isolation has been taking a negative toll on my mind and emotions. I have certain routines that I practise as a form of self-care and due to the chaos of this pandemic, I haven’t been able to do any of them. What brings me a small sense of comfort is knowing that I’m not alone with my despair and during difficult times, such as these, leaning on one another can be the greatest of coping methods. Luckily, I’ve met a couple of people through the blogging sphere who’ve become dear friends that have been helping me maintain my sanity. My gratitude for them is almost as big as my love of Kheb.
Over the last two weeks, things took somewhat of a negative turn for me. In past Self-Care Sunday posts I’ve chatted about how undergoing extreme stress can sometimes make me check out of reality. My brain escapes into a space that is unique and safe for me, but it’s also a delusion. It’s not healthy, even if it’s a coping technique, and depending on when my brain decides to go into these “Safe Spaces,” it can also be dangerous. There were recent incidents where my brain sort of took over and naturally transitioned into these realms while I was driving. When I finally escaped, I was left feeling wholly anxious, terrified, and very confused. This is just one example of the ways that my mental conditions are manifesting lately.
Now, writing this out and sharing this is an extremely vulnerable act on my part. I had an excruciatingly difficult time admitting that this occurred to my best friend, Madame Gabs, who is also my caretaker. I never know how people are going to treat me if they learn the various sorts of mental disorders that I have. For some reason, it’s a stigma to have depression or other conditions. People lose respect for you and they start to treat you like a fragile and delicate thing that can break easily. Delusional schizophrenia, which is one of my conditions, is one that has received some of the most toxic and harmful viewpoints out there by people who are able-minded. Even so, I have never hidden or shied away from who I am on BiblioNyan and I’m not going to start doing it now, even if I am pretty fucking anxious about it. I shouldn’t be ashamed of my mental health and I’m not going to be ashamed of what’s happening to me because of it.
I think it’s extremely easy for some people to talk about how all of the focus needs to be on fighting this pandemic, and I completely agree. It is supremely vital to find a vaccine for COVID as well as a means to try and slowly transition things back to normal when it’s safe to do so. But we also can’t forget that there is an emotional and mental element to a pandemic. There are people out there who because of self-isolation and quarantine are having their pre-existing conditions being exasperated, physical and psychological. For me, it’s working to speed up the deterioration of my mental capacities and that is something that is so beyond frightening and frustrating that I probably can’t properly express it in words.
I always knew that my mental faculties would slowly degrade over time as I got older. I’ve visited many psychologists and psychiatrists who have all said this, but I certainly didn’t expect certain aspects of that deterioration to start manifesting this soon. When I experienced these symptoms for the first time, I shrivelled up into a corner in my bed and just stayed there for a few days. I also refused to drive my car, particularly alone, because I didn’t want to take the chance that I may hurt myself or others. While I’m not ashamed of what is happening, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t being affected at all.
My goal is to get my Bachelor’s degree and then move on to a Master’s either for Creative Writing (Fine Arts) or Asian Studies. If my mental fortitude starts to unravel, then I may not be able to successfully accomplish these aspirations that I have. For the last two to three days, I have been planning and re-planning my degree paths to compensate for the fact that I may not have as much time left on my plate as I originally anticipated. I also can’t go out there and get help via a psychologist or psychiatrist because a) I can’t fucking afford it with the way healthcare is set up in the United States and b) most professionals that is covered via my healthcare plan is either not seeing people (even virtually) due to COVID, or only seeing people if it’s related to COVID. You’d think that my case would be considered “related to COVID,” but it’s not. I have one more option to attempt with the hopes of getting counselling, however, I don’t have much hope.
I haven’t taken mind-altering drugs in years, which includes antidepressants and other things. It greatly impacts my ability to write, which is literally everything that I have. Being able to write means everything to me. I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was 6-years old. I’m 32 and that dream hasn’t happened yet, but I’ll be fucking damned if I give up now. Nonetheless, if I have to take mind-altering medication to help me get through this very trying time, then I’m willing to do it. I want to survive, and I want to be able to relish the things that mean the most to me. Like getting that first publishing gig or visiting Ireland and Scotland with Madame Gabs and screaming at the giant spiders in the castle. I want to visit Kyoto so I can pray in the original shrines and I want to go to Germany and get inspired to write some more because it’s such a gorgeous fucking country. I have languages I still want to learn and so many books to read. The idea of losing my ability to function on a psychological level is… as traumatising as it is tragic. And the thing that makes it worse is when everyone around me is telling me “to suck it up because at least you don’t have COVID.” Or they tell me “you just need sleep and to relax. Once you do that, you’ll be normal in no time.”
Fuck that. I don’t want to be normal, but having mental disorders isn’t about “sucking it up.” There are worse things out there than physical ailments and people need to stop belittling the fact that mental disorders are just as much of a medical issue as COVID or heart disease or cancer. Some would argue that it’s worse and that’s entirely a person-by-person thing. I’m not here to make that judgement. I’m only here to say that invalidating my illnesses because they’re inconceivable to some people or because they can’t be written off with neat little symptoms like coughing and bleeding doesn’t make them less real or less vital for treatment. It doesn’t make me less of a human being or person.
Taking that power back and being fierce in the face of the negativity and the hatred and the bigotry that people like me are faced with is how I combat my quarantine blues. In spite of everything that is going on, crawling out of bed (usually literally) and building a new blog, or preparing Master’s programme applications is how I combat the bitterness of self-isolation. Chatting with my mum about how her life is going and being able to hear her and my dad laugh and make jokes even though I know they are so sad underneath it all is how I combat the painful loneliness that eats away at me. Signing onto the computer and writing a thousand plus words about how my mind is falling apart because quarantine has taken my access to necessary self-care routines, which is further exasperated by people being fucking selfish in a time of death and suffering, and by owning the fact that mental health illnesses desperately need attention and treatment just as much as COVID during a time of pandemic and uncertainty is how I combat my impending insanity.