It’s anxiety; it’s boredom. It’s all of it in between. It’s the thought of not leaving this house until June, maybe August. And it’s what those thoughts incite within me—I’d say a stomach ache mixed with a longing for something just a little more.
I’ve seen these walls, felt the cold, unforgiving tile beneath my feet every day, all day. And every day to come. They are part of me and I them. I’ve lost my identity in these rooms—that or my sanity. But honestly, what is the difference?
I’ve breathed in the air of the surrounding valley, partly covered in wilting tea from the excess fertiliser, mostly covered in nature prevailed. I never saw myself living here, a stone’s throw from a town but removed from the hustle and bustle, one I couldn’t live without, but now I have no choice. This is my home, at least for now.
My siblings and I retreated to our childhood house, leaving our apartments or call it cave in the city to ride out the quarantine in The Great Rifts. I welcomed the idea of more space and added luxuries. The mere idea of moving “back home”—an option I didn’t have when this year begun—felt quaint, not a feeling often experienced in the city.
With limited options on what to do, I feel madness seeping into my bones. I imagine I am on the tip of understanding how gazelles and the other wild animals forced into small spaces at parks feel—confined confusion, wondering when, if ever, I’ll be able to leave.
At times I wander the house, unsure of what to do. I’m no stranger to the feelings of melancholia. I’ve grappled with anxiety, stress and depression since I was in primary school. I remember the first time when I felt like I didn’t want anymore. The feeling consumed me, and I kept it deep down inside, like a secret that was too messed up to share.
And though I know this isn’t my depression, rather circumstantial sadness, I feel the need to resort back to my arsenal of coping mechanisms. I go for walks. I talk to friends. I do things I enjoy. I open up. I express my feelings, even if they’re messed up.
It wasn’t until yesterday, as I stared at large green plantation like a golden retriever guarding the premises, that I remembered a specific thing that helped me during a particularly dark time two years ago. A single question. A single mindset shift.
What if this was enough? What if this time, the lockdown, was enough?
Don’t get me wrong. I see the pain. I see the worry families are feeling that their loved ones might not make it out of this alive. I see the endless hours and self-sacrifice doctors, nurses, supermarket or store workers, delivery drivers, and other essential workers put in every day. I see the anxiety of the individuals that lost their job, not sure if everything they worked their entire lives for could crumble in a matter of weeks. I feel the uncertainty. We all do.
It’s part of our reality, and I’m not looking past it.
But what if we came to terms with the fact that, for now, this is life? As messy and fucked up as it is, this is our new way of living. For each person, it looks different, but for each person, it’s not what it used to be.
You can act like I have these past few weeks, existing with sadness just beneath the surface, mourning a life once had.
Or you can take this less-than-perfect present and believe that, for now, it’s enough. That you may be living out your days between the same four walls, but at least you have those four walls. Some don’t. That you might be scrounging together meals from items shoved in the back of your cabinets that haven’t seen the light of day for months, but at least you have food.
And it extends beyond just being grateful, it’s a matter of shifting the way you see things. The mind is significantly altered by our perception of reality. So if we see ourselves as a victim to a force completely out of our control, our attitude is going to follow. If we accept the present as all we can have, we’re given the change to be okay with it.
We’ve all been caught up for so long in a fast-paced world that makes us feel like we always need more. And maybe we could function that way in our old lives, but we can’t afford to now. That kind of thinking will make anyone lose a bit of their sanity.
I still hope for a day when we do have more. When the markets, schools and churches open back up and we can go out and enjoy the company of our loved ones. When lovers can be reunited and new ones formed. When everyone can enter a supermarket and not worry that a person coming close to them is a potential danger. When people can stop to chat with their neighbors again.
I look forward to the day I can go back to my cave or wherever I want without reserve. I look forward to the day when I can do something as simple as eavesdrop on people around me while I sip a fresh cup of coffee I didn’t make.
But for now, and for the sake of my sanity, I’ve decided that this is enough.