A Reflection of Mental Health during the CoVid-19 Pandemic
From the Author: Some stuff about me! I despise with a deadly passion for writing "about me" blurbs. Things I would rather be doing: arresting the killers of Breonna Taylor, sewing scrunchies, baking a lopsided cake, making seasonally themed play-dough for my daughter, stress waxing, reminding gen pop the elite is rife with pedophiles that need castrating, processing a life full of trauma in 5 sentences. Oh wait, that is what I'm doing. Help.
Artwork By: Aria Linford
Let’s talk about the quiet. Because there is a lot said in between words, and that’s stretching out, all gooey gluten out before our eyes as we persist to be trapped inside. Or get to enjoy a staycation. I keep flip-flopping back and forth between the two. I guess that’s okay. Dialectical Behavioral therapy. Two opposite things can be true at the same time, or at least my TL;DR.
I wonder about the youth. I turned 25 seven days ago so I can speak of them as an abstract group. Growing up is very, very hard. That’s why people spend so much of their time/money/effort escaping reality, escaping themselves maybe. Or at least, that’s what I did, though not in ways you would expect. That’s probably what you did too, also not in ways you’d expect. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, escapism.
So I wonder what they will do in this silence, without all their usual escapisms. T.V. can only take you so far before your heart quite convincingly rots into a black hole. In fact, in some ways, it is more silence, more of a wall between your fingers that can clasp things and draw things and break things and cut things, and your mind, with all its pictures and voices that don’t match up.
I hope they survive.
That may sound dramatic but it’s really, really not. I don’t think the average adult realizes just how profoundly depressing it is to be a teenager. And how even “those doing well” really are on a tiny, four-inch ledge. It seems to me like we’re all just one bad week away from suicide.
In fact, I don’t think many of us realize just how depressing it is to be alive. Kid, adult. Teenager. Grandma. Whatever. It’s fucking hard.
Why are the heavy things so very heavy? Why do they stay, half-buried in the sand at the bottom of our soul, years and years without a conscious thought tossed their way? Why are the best moments like trying to trap a prism, always one step beyond containment, effervescent? A breath of sunlight or a passing cloud and it’s gone. I mean I suppose that’s why we need so many. Chug the sunlight, chug chug chug.
So now in this stillness, I’ve found a whole civilization in the deep below. Some sort of mix of a hippie junky Atlantis type thing. The ruins seem to indicate great stones only crest the sand, and as I unearth each one down down down I go. Hello, I am Alice and welcome to my sordid rabbit hole. Mind the needles on your way down below. Except why is my rabbit a man with a black, faceless mask?
We’re all quite shite company, is what it comes down to. Sam isn’t there with the funny jokes and Windy with the looser-slug boyfriend problems to solve. We’re laughing at the tv with a glass of white wine night after night. Except, each day our pretenses recede just a bit. Wine, then whiskey, then too long in the bath. Wrinkled prunes nervously avoiding the soap. Avoiding the bed with red covers and six pillows that may as well be rocks and dreams that turn to nightmares that turn to wake up in another day that’s called tomorrow but might as well be right now.
And now you’re at the store and wearing a mask. Even if they stopped talking to you, there's no reason to fake a smile. They can’t see it. And brick by brick the facade of function, and adulthood, and integration in society, it all starts to break apart. You are just as alone as you always were. Only now you see it. See not only the loneliness but the delusion of “good” and “fine” and “happy” and how very thin is its weight. So light and blown away with one good heavy sigh.
It’s worse than ever. To see what lays underneath.
We want to believe when we get better we get cleaner. All the little Spongebobs in our brain went down and sorted through the room. Toss it, scrub it, wax it. A new Daftpunk remix. All the cobwebs of self-doubt are gone forever now! That old stain on the desk, the handprint of blood, it’s all gone! Bad things don’t live inside you anymore! You’re better!
In reality, better just means better. The room bleeds to the ruins and the ruins bleed out down the rabbit hole, and it all is as it always has and always will be. Better doesn’t change the past. It doesn’t clean the file system that is your brain. All better does is open a window. Let some light in. Some fresh air. The stain may still be there, but so are you. Better is just time.
Please get drunk with your friends. Over skype or zoom or whatever app is pretending not to let randos spy on us this week. Just tell them the way you are. They might be that way too. Self-isolation is, surprisingly, very isolating. Let’s not be alone together. Or even better, let’s all be alone, together. Because tomorrow may look the same as today but one day, there will be brightness again. And hugs. And we may not be spick and span. But give it time, time will be better.
The ruins will always live inside me. As much therapy and pills and all whatever I throw at it, I’ve realized this very sad fact that nothing will undo what has been done. And all the brightness may blink in and out forever, but there are so many different kinds! So many different colors exist! And even those recurring, they never get old. I will never get bored of the way my daughter's face lights up like she’s just discovered electricity when I enter a room. I’ve seen it a million times, I’ll see it a million more. Every moment is a peach.
Don’t give up. We’ve all got our own rabbit holes. But, the ruins will grow flowers. Light and dark can both exist. And we are all alone, together.
-Emma Linford, @goodgawdmaude