Weeks have passed by in lockdown and it is all too easy to feel like the days blur together and time has warped into one long day. Scratch that — it feels like years dragging on. No, surely it feels like one long day. Honestly, none of it feels real anymore. There’s nothing to look forward to except Monday’s 4pm announcement, which somehow is always a follow-up from a spike in cases over the weekend. Or in the most recent conferences, an announcement that has left people even more confused than before. How can I be expected to stay present and grounded when everything is so uncertain?
Being detached feels as though my body is in attendance, but my mind is in an entirely different dimension. I stare into the distance and allow my eyes to shift out of focus. I’m aware of its occurrence yet my mind stays empty. It’s a strange comfort because everything becomes quiet. Everything becomes numb. The numbness isn’t quite as comfortable as Pink Floyd claims once my eyes shift back into focus and I am overcome by a dense, concentrated energy that resides in my chest. Being surrounded by the same people every day also produces a similar feeling. Two branches stem from the familiarity of those around me. The first is the comfort and deeper bonds formed over this duration. The other only furthers the feeling of things remaining still and stagnant. Everyone is dealing with their own demons during this time and I often feel guilty for not being able to support those around me in the way I usually know how. I listen in a passive way where I hear the words and somehow, on autopilot, I respond. My mind experiences a system overload of sorts. That’s not only the reason I have become so detached, this feeling is also further propelled by how mundane the day-to-day has become.
I’d like to think I’m not the only one feeling this way. There’s a sense of safety in knowing there are people out there who share this experience and are still pushing through. Being detached is a common experience whether those who are confronted with it are aware of what they’re feeling or not. With any big change or time of precarity, our bodies find different ways to cope. It is important to feel what is needed, then eventually conjure up any amount of durability left inside us to tell ourselves to not be afraid of the uncertainty. As much as I’d like, it won’t happen overnight. The process of accepting that our lives are floating in the air right now, alongside telling ourselves it will also be okay regardless, will help in time. Our journeys are not linear. There are occasions where escapism seems like the only viable option. This doesn’t even need to be in the form of something wildly unhealthy. Wanting our favourite takeaways or buying that cute dress that is way out of budget will also take our minds off the emptiness. We certainly cannot guilt ourselves for doing this — because it does feel good. We are allowed to do what we can to feel good. Especially while we navigate this phase in our lives.
What helps me, and what I hope would help anyone that reads this, is sitting in my room with music that draws out a feeling. I’d just stare at the ceiling until I feel something. I have to push myself to, even if my body is determined to resist. I call my best friends and reach out for help in ways that make me feel comfortable. Whether it’s a video call where we just talk shit for hours, or even reading words of assurance that I will eventually be okay through text. It makes a world of difference. Find out what works for you, and the only way to do that is by making yourself feel absolutely anything. Once the heaviness of being numb is released, listen to what your gut is telling you. What would make you feel better right now? Only you know the right solution for yourself. Consequently, you can communicate to your loved ones how they can best support you.
A feeling might be common but lived experiences are unique to just you. I’m not here to say what has already been said in millions of articles all over the internet. Wake up early, have a routine, exercise, etc. I think we all know that stuff already, and it can often be hard to do all those things when there is an all-consuming (lack of) feeling that is being experienced. We do what we can to get by, and sometimes just listening to yourself — as simple as it sounds — can go a long way.