Living in the time of Covid-19

My Sanity is tested and . . .

It didn’t pass with flying colours. Since March, I have been working remotely from home. The first month was quite easy, and I was excited, thinking, “Ah, I can multitask while working” — or at least that’s what I thought. During the initial month of working at home, my excitement grew, especially since I had a reason to buy a work desk and an office chair to create a designated office space in the house. However, creating the office corner turned out to be quite expensive for my budget. In an attempt to consolidate, I purchased a side desk with rolling wheels, allowing me to move it to any place at home. Unfortunately, that arrangement didn’t last long. My back and neck started hurting because the desk was shorter than my living room chair, leading to frustration with the situation. It became uncomfortable, challenging to focus, and I became overly sensitive about everything.

My work-at-home situation became increasingly distressful. After three months, I couldn’t leave the house due to the prevailing situation and the limited access policy imposed by the local government. The constant media updates about the victims of Covid-19 added to my paranoia, instilling a fear of engaging in activities. I even found myself frequently frustrated with my mom, who appeared nonchalant about the situation.

The situation worsened when the impact of Covid-19 reached the financial sector. Many people suffered due to the pandemic, with numerous businesses closing and payments being delayed, including those at my office. Personally, my cash flow was disrupted by this, and it started to get on my nerves. However, I somehow managed to repress my frustration and remain composed about it.

A (not) Beautiful Mind

During the 5th month, the flood of emotional crankiness got the best of me. I was consistently irritable, and even minor things would stress and agitate me. My mum always seemed to annoy me. I found myself yelling, screaming, and feeling frustrated.

Things continued to worsen. Despite my efforts to find a distraction and escape this version of myself, I was unsuccessful. At that time, I attributed it to my premenstrual syndrome, believing it would pass after my period. Blaming the period, as always.

I felt incredibly alone, with moments where no one seemed to understand or help me. As my situation began affecting my work and how I led projects, I hit a low point. When my work wasn’t going well and I felt helpless, alone, and stupid, I knew I had reached my limits. My defenses were shattered, and I cried. I cried until my tears dried, with only this keyboard and the silent house as witnesses.

During that moment, I even felt abandoned by God. It was not a beautiful mind.

I realized I was on the edge of depression, and if I didn’t pay attention, I could become sick not just physically but mentally. I needed to manage my emotions well to avoid losing myself entirely. Step by step, I first addressed my relationship with my mum. I talked to her about why I was always angry when she casually left the house, expressing my fear of her getting sick or contracting the virus.

Next, I focused on my work. I tried to plan more effectively, acknowledging that I might not meet my bosses’ expectations perfectly. I decided to let go of the pressure. If my efforts didn’t satisfy them, so be it. Some things are beyond my control. Still, I gave myself a friendly pat on the shoulder.

I then shared my struggles with my best friends. It’s not easy to admit difficulties, especially as a senior staff member. There are expectations from bosses and colleagues when you reach that level. Naturally, you’re not supposed to make the petty mistakes that rookies often do.

Sharing our problems with friends doesn’t always provide solutions, but it prevents you from feeling alone in carrying the burden. At the end of the day, you bear the burden yourself, but having that support and comfort is invaluable.

It’s Okay to be Not Okay

Automatically, when people ask, I would casually reply with ‘I am healthy too’ without much thought. However, I now realize that, in my current state of mind, such a response doesn’t come easily. This doesn’t mean that I’ll start openly sharing with everyone that I am not okay. Instead, I acknowledge to myself that I am not okay.

This marks the first time I’ve admitted on this blog that I am not okay mentally, and surprisingly, I am okay with that. I may not be proud of it, but admitting that I am not okay is the first step towards acknowledging the unknown steps that follow.

My mind is a tangle of scrambled threads, and I’m uncertain about how to unravel them all. Perhaps they’ll unwind one by one, or perhaps they won’t. I’ve come to understand that time doesn’t heal everything. Ignoring issues and hoping time will resolve them is a lesson I’ve learned from experience—it doesn’t work. The issues linger until you confront and address them, or you carry them with you until the end.

Now that I’ve honestly admitted I am not okay, I must summon the courage to identify the roots of my issues and confront them. As I’ve always believed, my health and happiness are my own responsibility—not others, not even my parents. Therefore, I need to “take care of myself first so that I can take care of others.”