At the beginning of the pandemic I snapped into shape. I had just been fired and dumped, my visa on the verge of expiring. All things looked down and to the right. One day, in an effort to stop feeling sorry for myself, I dragged an exercise bike into the empty bedroom of my ex-roommate. It was here that I kicked my ass every day for 8 months until I lost 70 pounds by the end of it. It felt great, and I felt invincible.
“Fuck the pandemic,” I thought. “Just look how jacked I am!”
I let go of the discipline eventually, once I moved into a much smaller apartment before the 2020 election. For some reason working out and kicking my ass every day no longer felt punk rock. Now it felt sad, and the isolation kicked in again: my people had left the city, and other friendships were deteriorating at a rapid pace. With no family or friends or partner close by it was extremely hard to keep moving, to keep writing, to pretend that I was okay.
(We were all not okay.)
Then I didn’t sleep for a week or two before the vote. Days of panic ensued. Insomnia and anxiety twisted themselves together in that tiny studio apartment of mine until one mid-morning I heard someone cry “MY GOD!” outside. People were confused and didn’t know how to express their relief. The vote had just come in and Biden had won: some began clapping, others started hugging their friends and random strangers cheered with each other. Celebrations broke out just on the other side of my goth-apartment-cum-isolation-chamber but I was still curled up in bed delirious from panic. After years of anxiety it didn’t feel safe yet, it didn’t feel like the right time to celebrate. It was a warm morning, the golden California light illuminated everything in my room that whole day. But it wasn’t safe outside, although now it was safer and that alone was worthy of celebration. Whilst folks still cheered and hugged themselves silly, I cried my guts out for an hour and then immediately fell into the deepest sleep all afternoon and all evening and it was the most I’ve ever rested in my life.
Now I’m facing something not entirely similar but the impact is the same. No sleep, again. Bad diet, again. The small things are hard for some reason, too. Taking care of myself requires enormous amounts of effort. Being kind and helpful to others feels somewhat impossible. Friendships have likewise deteriorated, perhaps beyond repair. What’s happening to me?
I’m not sure, it always takes an age to get out of these personal recessions and I never really understand how they start or how they stop. It’s so weird too because things are so much better for me personally and professionally now.
And yet...and yet...