Hello from the living room couch in my and Rick’s new place. I had a hard time getting here, to this text box. As a matter of fact, I’ve been having a hard time doing things I know I need to or should do in general. I made a deal to myself to post something related to mental health on Bummed Out Bailey every Wednesday, and last week I blew it. I think I’m the only one who noticed a post missing last week, though (lol), but to me that’s just as bad as a bunch of people noticing. Not doing what I say I’m gonna do is letting myself down.
I try to remember to practice what I preach, to exhibit grace in the face of human fallibility but, as so many people are, I am harder on myself than I am on anyone else. It’s challenging to find the line between reasonable grace and just straight up failing to fulfill my responsibilities. I just find myself wading through a littered pond, sorting through trash: what’s a reasonable excuse? What’s unreasonable? What’s just my mental illness in action, and I need to relax and give myself a break? What am I gonna do with this empty Pepsi bottle floating past me? Who drinks Pepsi? Etc, etc.
Anyway. During this bizarre COVID-19* time, when self-quarantine is being advised, at first I thought, Okay, Bailey. You’re a germaphobe homebody who’s been training for this your whole life. This is your time to rise up and SHINE. But after a couple days I started getting blue and wishing I was with the goldens (who’re on Long Island w my in-laws, where they belong for many reasons).
As a person who exists with a baseline of guilt coursing through my body at all times that I’m not doing or being enough in all senses, being shut in at home has given that guilt a steroid shot. It’s officially mandated I stay in and write my magnum opus and read my ass off. It’s ridiculous if I don’t, what wasted time, right? What is my mental illness in action? What’s me just avoiding responsibility? Am I depressed because I have Major Depressive Disorder, or am I depressed because I’m underperforming in general and my thesis is due in six weeks? It’s all muddled.
I enjoy being safe, comfortable, and clean at home. But being told to stay home, which should be my time to shine, has had an adverse effect. I need a quarantine from my quarantine. It’s messing with my self-worth and mental health.
With the right lens, writers and artists in general are being given a great opportunity during this social isolation. We are given the opportunity to produce, hone, tweak, invent, and expand, all interrupted. We are also being given the opportunity to rest. But, who deserves what? How do you know if you’re being a bum, or if you’re sleeping because of the exhaustion of carrying around a boulder of guilt on your shoulders all day, every day, and it’s just gotten heavier? Then, I think about all the folks who are having very real professional concerns right now, those who work in service and aren’t being patronized, those who are facing a lay-off, and those who have children to care for and may not make rent… and then I feel stupid for feeling the way I do and again for not taking proper advantage of the time I’ve been gifted. And then I feel even dumber for being a privileged white person writing such a navel-gaze of a post.
I’ve seen some posts about our fellow friends with mental illnesses and how this quarantine is extremely challenging for some. One, you may feel more isolated than usual while sitting at home (physically alone or not), and two, some people w mental illness require regular social interaction to keep healthy, and that’s no longer available. FaceTime just isn’t the same as a hug.
So, I suppose my points are these: I’ll continue chipping away at the guilt boulder that keeps gaining weight and following me around. And then nestling down into my neck and shoulders. I also want people who are struggling w their mental health during this weird time to know you’re not alone, and that my mood’s taken a dive, too. And it’s led me to post a bunch of weird stuff on Instagram stories. You’re welcome ?
If you need to talk, I’m here for you. As always, please feel free to comment below or message me privately. I’d love it if people with similar issues could find community in each other via Bummed Out Bailey. What a gift that could be!
*Say it to the tune of “Come On Eileen,” and you’ll never be able to read it another way. I’m sorry for cursing you in this footnote.
Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.
More on Bummed Out Bailey:
Mental Health: Moving. Improving?
Mental Health: The Social Toll of Invisible Illness
Mental Health: The Things we Carry
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