I don’t usually give in to despair. I take pride in being an out and out optimist who bounces back in no time from any challenging or desperate situation, be it professional or personal. But when I rarely do despair it sinks in very deep, leaving me incapacitated emotionally, making every day feel like drudgery.
The lockdown due to COVID-19 was one such rare occasion. For almost a month I felt as if my world would collapse, at times I felt I would break down. There were times at night when I would wake up, gripped by anxiety for the well-being of my loved ones, an odd fear that I may die all alone.
One night I woke up startled by the sound of an airplane, a warplane I thought, that would drop a bomb and roof would collapse over me. The fear froze me for a few minutes. Maybe there was no plane, maybe it was just one of those special airplanes, can’t say for sure!
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The past few months have been difficult, the lockdown has been hard on most of us. For me, staying alone, I was suddenly hit by a feeling of complete isolation. It’s not that I have a thriving social life, or even miss not having one. I am selectively social at best, catching up with a close friend over a coffee or beer after work or on the weekends.
Many weekends I happily spent with myself – reading, writing, cooking, watching something, or just doing nothing. But once locked in, I started missing the routine. I missed going to the office every day and greeting my colleagues.
I missed my infrequent evening outings terribly. Though I have been working from home, virtual meetings and phone calls were an everyday affair, it didn’t feel the same. I would talk to my friends and family every day, sometimes on video, but I so missed the human touch.
And the fact that I am somewhat of a perfectionist, trying to keep my house spick and span while meeting all the deadlines at work, only made things worse.
I would jump off the bed every morning, rush through chores like sweeping, mopping, and dusting, open my laptop by 9 a.m., for somehow with work from home the deadlines only got steeper. I would be completely drained by the end of the day, often surviving on Maggie.
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One evening the sinking feeling gripped me so hard that I called my cousin who happens to be a psychiatrist. A long chat with her, friendly, sisterly, sometimes her professional tone helped. I decided to let go, I decided to focus on the positives.
House could be messy, it’s ok if start work at 9:30, I told myself. I would spend hours on the balcony gazing at the stars or my little flowers. Nature that healed since the lockdown, helped me heal. The promise of a special someone that he would be with me the moment the flights resumed gave me hope.
But when the time came for him to arrive, he let me down. I was stunned, the sudden turn of events left me numb. I was afraid that I would sink to despair again, but surprisingly, I held my own.
I went on with my days, as usual, feeling less isolated as the restrictions eased. Despite my heartbreak and some moments when I would feel miserable (still do at times), I managed to look ahead with optimism and hope. My emotions found expressions in Lockdown Songs – a few poems that I penned.
Cliched as it may sound, I chose to believe the boomerang theory – whatever’s mine will come back to me if it doesn’t, it never was.
And it did come back, I don’t know for how long, but I decided to hold on to hope, no matter what. Or maybe, I finally realized, only I can make me happy!