How are you really? #howareyoureallychallenge

A nonprofit organization called The Mental Health Coalition has come up with a really cool challenge called the #howareyoureallychallenge. This challenge urges you to look within yourself and be honest with yourself about how your mental health is doing during this time and to come out and speak up about it online so that more and more people find peace in knowing they’re not alone in how they feel during this time. May is mental health awareness month and this May is a particularly difficult one for everyone.

While I am not up for speaking on video about “how I am really” I wanted to take part in this challenge so I decided to write instead of speak. When we first went into lockdown around mid March I was very restless. The lockdown gave me much needed time to re-energize so I had all this new found energy and no place to direct it. I found a whole bunch of distractions and hobbies after that bout of energy and was productively occupied until my brain was just like “stop.trying.to.do.everything.”

I agreed with my brain, I needed to chill. I started to chill a little too much though. I could not get myself to finish anymore blog posts after the first one. This was really frustrating because writing was supposed to be one thing I was actually decently talented at. Because I thought I had to be perfect at it I put unnecessary pressure on myself to be perfect and alas no other posts were published.

The one hobby/ distraction that I got into during lockdown that I didn’t get tired of, was cooking. I’d have never imagined I’d enjoy cooking but the limited expectations helped me really just enjoy it. I had never cooked except for maybe twice or thrice in my whole life before lockdown. So I had little to no expectations of how my cooking should turn out. Since I went in with no expectations I was satisfied and overjoyed with every little accomplishment. And if I screwed up it was okay, it was just the first time and I had no reason to be hard on myself.

My mental health during this time has been a roller coaster to say the least. There were good weeks and horrible weeks and good days and bad days. Even under normal circumstances I’m someone who is always anxious, I sort of just ignore it for the most part and keep going or just make up reasons to not do stuff because I’m anxious to do them, all while pretending I’m not anxious, mostly to myself. During these days with not enough distractions I’ve been painfully aware of how anxious I am all the time. I’ve been having panic attacks about things that shouldn’t be affecting me. And on some days I’ve been forced to deal with certain things I’ve been repressing for years and ended up letting go and making peace. I’ve had identity crises and existential crises and I’ve come out of them with remarkable epiphanies. I’m depressed but have been disassociating like a pro. Today I’m feeling like I’m either PMSing or getting cabin fever but my guess is it’s both so I stuffed myself with some PB & J sandwiches and rice and brownies and orange juice to make myself feel better.

I take it one day at a time. Just because I was irritable and distant today doesn’t mean I won’t be up for a long catch up phone call tomorrow. If I can’t get myself to both eat and shower I’ll just eat because sustenance is more important and I’ve been losing weight. I find ways to cope and I get by.

I am grateful for technology. For keeping me connected with the ones I love even when we are apart, for making it possible to not lose touch. For Netflix, so I can bury myself in some alternate reality when I want to escape. There is a lot of things to be grateful for, but I think it’s okay to feel blue sometimes, we were all yanked out of our normal lives and forced into this new reality, some of us away from some people we love and it’s okay to admit that it sucks even if you do have a lot of good things to be grateful for.

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