Corona fatigue as they call it- this feeling of not being able to see an end in sight is starting to get at the most optimistic of us. The second wave in India is devastating, it suddenly feels closer home. Its no longer about statistics- number of deaths reported in media, insufficient hospital beds or oxygen concentrators, or someone somewhere distant having lost a beloved one. This time its about our near and dear ones, a close friend and for some of us a family member, a cousin , a class mate, a colleague at work.
The constant barrage of news around deaths, after effects of corona , suffering, loss is mind numbing. For those not impacted by the disease its the fear of the unknown- not knowing when this will end, when will we be able to step out without fear, get back to some semblance of normalcy. In such times its hard to really put on a brave face and stay optimistic. While everyone says we shouldn’t lose hope and “this too shall pass”, “Hold on” it seems hard to believe and feel comforted.
Is it ok to not feel ok and be open to talk about this? I watched this intriguing TED talk shorts shared by a colleague recently where the speaker says we should stop pretending we feel ok when in reality we don’t. Feelings of sadness, anguish, pain, anger are real and we all experience them , its the other side of the coin and a part of life just like joy, euphoria, laughter. The more we try to convince ourselves that we are ok when we are not and make an attempt to get rid of feelings of not being ok, the more harm we are doing to ourselves. By denying these feelings we are putting immense pressure on ourselves to feel happy all the time or at pretend to look happy. Imagine putting up a joyful demeanour at all times in front of family and friends, on social media, when inside we feel the opposite.
Rather, why not acknowledge these feelings ? Why not call out not feeling ok? Does it help?
A few weeks ago I lost a dear friend, he passed away and I heard the news through social media , it was devastating. I couldn’t believe someone could just leave the world and I would never ever speak to them- like never in my life. The finality of death is devastating. Thoughts around “I wish I had spoken more , why did I wait for so many months over a silly tiff to make up with someone I knew genuinely cared” these questions started to loom large. I picked up the phone and called a few friends , a handful who mattered. I wanted to badly make amends for all the wrong I had done. I barely slept for a day and found myself shedding copious tears in the washroom as I dint want others at home to see me in this state. That still wasn’t making me feel ok and when I spoke to someone at work , the customary question around “How are you?” suddenly felt something I wanted to avoid answering. The auto reply of “doing good or doing ok” felt hollow to my ears and I mustered the courage to tell a few people “I am not ok”. The conversation went into the reasons for not feeling ok and it made me feel better, the fact that I had acknowledged I don’t feel ok. This was a feeling I wasn’t fighting to get rid of .
I was living my life as usual, I am a stickler for routine. I exercised, read the newspaper, did my virtual office each day, but I wasn’t going to fight this feeling of still not being ok. Of grieving for someone I lost. Of the sense of unknown fear and fatigue from this whole situation, of not being able to step out, meet people for a 15 minute conversation, to read something in the newspapers other than death and devastation caused by the pandemic and the Gaza attacks.
This will end one day but till then let’s start acknowledging feelings of not being ok, let’s not deny them or put on a facade as we have to stay positive. Acknowledging feelings of sadness or despair do not mean we will languish in them forever, it just means we let ourselves experience them fully with no pressure to appear otherwise. It will pass one day, bit by bit, we will find something to laugh about, a happy moment , a good night’s rest, a heart to heart conversation with a pal or something random- each one of us are sure to find our silver lining. And we will look back one day at all the lessons we learnt through this difficult phase- one of them for me is being ok with not being “ok”.
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