Last night was the first one I’ve had in quite a while of decent sleep. I went to bed around 23:30, I read a few pages from a book and then I just collapsed into oblivion, waking up this morning around 8:45 – and, for the first time in a while, feeling a bit more rested than the night before. The lack of decent sleep has had a heavy impact on me. It’s been like this for months now and this has had repercussions on all aspects of my life – my job, my daily life, my hobbies including this very blog. All of this is probably caused by anxiety, stemming from a condition of chronic depression I’ve been battling throughout all of my life as well as, more recently, the lockdown that Glasgow has been in since last October. It’s been nearly nine months of practically uninterrupted lockdown, with just supermarkets open. There is a toll to be paid for this, and it’s mental health.
The discourse on mental health is thankfully starting to open up and it’s been a theme that the BBC, the Guardian and basically every other major publication has touched on in the past year and a half. But the thing is, the resources allotted by the government to battle this other, invisible pandemic are absolutely insufficient. And the remedies proposed to overcome it, inadequate. Finding a counsellor now is a bit of an impossible task, unless you are willing to shell out loads of cash – something that, unfortunately, I don’t have at all.
I’ve known for months now that something was wrong and that I needed some change in my life – I have grown more and more weary of my job, dreading the moments in which I have to work, up to the point I had multiple panic attacks. The realisation that I was not in my right mind at all came when I had to face the ugly truth that even writing here, for this blog I founded almost five years ago and in which I’ve poured my soul, was a burden and not a joy. I came to think of writing a review as yet another thing I had to do, instead of something I like, and this added to the pressure of finding moments of respite from the increasingly suffocating routine of daily life – always in the same place, always with the same stuff to do, always with the same people. I yearned for change, for some kind of variation over what seemed the endless repetition of the same day, over and over again. Groundhog day, without the (extremely) sexist undertones.
A trip to the supermarket to buy the usual stuff started to seem like a holiday. At one point I got so desperate I went to the furthest supermarket in my area just to see more people and to make a small change in the routine. But then, the problem is that I’ve always worked from home: my whole career has developed with me sitting on my own chair in front of my own monitor in my own room. My work ethos and my perfectionism have always led me to basically overwork, so I’ve been working more than I should have for years now, trying to do everything and do it to the very best of my abilities. So lockdown life was nothing really new for me – except for the not-so-small detail of having no way to get out of this vicious circle: with everything closed and with bans imposed on meeting people outside your household, dealing with my issues suddenly became quite harder. What kept me sane, which is meeting with others in places that were not my own home, was suddenly taken away from me. For all the right reasons, mind you, but the effect was devastating.
The situation thankfully started improving around two months ago, with good weather and a relaxation of the lockdown rules, but still it wasn’t enough to make me recover fully. I realised how my state was still precarious two days ago, when I found myself alone in the house and wanting to cry. I knew I needed to get out, so I just picked up my backpack and headed out to a pub. Being around other people, seeing them talk to each other and enjoying the “solitary togetherness” of sitting alone when surrounded by other people really was a balm for my soul.
Next week I am heading back to my parents’ home, in Italy. The other part of the issue is that – my family and long-time friends are all on the other side of the continent, literally 2,000 km away from me. And that didn’t help at all. I’ve had to mourn losses from here, not only without the possibility to say “goodbye” to loved ones, but not even to fully process their departure because I had no physical token of that. It has taken me a year to finally be at peace with my grandfather’s death and to stop dreaming of him and of his house in an anxious way.
As you can see, anxiety keeps coming back as a recurring theme – I have to do things, but when I am doing them I realise I have to do other things as well, so I end up not doing anything as well as I would like, which further fuels my anxiety in a vicious circle. With no end in sight and no way to get out of it. I’m trapped, and getting out is increasingly harder. Every change to get out requires more and more effort, which is quite an issue when your energies are dwindling.
There is a toll to be paid for the past year and a half. With vaccinations in progress (I’ve got my first jab, thankfully) and with the gradual reopening of society, it is my hope that things will start to be more normal again so that I can start to level out the emotional debt that I’ve gotten into. At least so much so that I can finally breathe again and look upon life and what gives me pleasure, like this blog, under the right light once again.