I hope this newsletter finds you in a better headspace. (Whatever that may mean right now).
This is my third week after recovering from COVID, and man, oh man, do I have thoughts!
Even before my COVID symptoms had set in, I was barely hanging on by a thread. What with the constant news of family and family friends getting sick (or worse!), my mental health was in shambles to begin with. I was hardly able to cope with work, I was shutting myself off, and I was dissociating every free second. I was still somehow getting by — albeit with a few anxiety attacks a day, and a buttload of insomnia.
Then, came the early symptoms of COVID. Sniffles, loss of appetite and mild fever. But me being me, I gaslighted myself into believing that these were psychosomatic, because I was trying to seek attention from my very distracted and distraught sister and parents. I convinced myself I was being bratty, and kept quiet.
It was only when my father started exhibiting symptoms and insisted on checking all our vitals, that we found that my body was blowing up at a 102 degree fever. This might not make sense to all of you, but this is exactly how I function.
I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) three years ago. And well, once I was told what it was, it pretty much sounded like my whole life. Constant internal conflicts and self-gaslighting. Oscillating between extremes with no balance whatsoever. And that’s precisely what happened with my COVID recovery too.
I would get better, overexert myself (because I would be freaking out about getting no work done), and break out into a fever again. I kept giving myself a hard time when I was sick. Kept getting mad at my body for being so weak and tried to convince myself that I was being a big baby and how other people had it worse. During the time I was at my sickest, I did not cut myself the tiniest bit of slack, which of course delayed my recovery. Because I was driving my already sick brain into a frenzy.
And guess what? When I finally started getting better, and could actually use the “motivation” to get back to work — I completely babied myself. I kept using “Oh, but you were so sick” as an internal excuse to not do anything...WHEN I WAS FINALLY CAPABLE OF IT.
I know, this sounds like some A-grade whining. But I’m putting this out here just in case anyone else feels the same way or ever has. Trust me, you’re definitely not alone.
Mental illness makes it hard for people to process everyday realities. Let alone this apocalyptic world we’re living in right now. Yes, really bad things are happening out there, but that in no way means your problems are not real. So, do not convince yourself that you’re trying to “steal the spotlight.”
Give yourself the chance that you give others. You and your brain need you to take care of it — not keep bashing yourself up for not having it worse! When you say “Something doesn’t feel right” or “I need a break,” believe in yourself.
I’m going to sign off because my BPD is beginning to convince me that no one needed to or wanted to hear this.But before I go let me just tell you that there is no go-to guide to surviving any of this. There is no right way to do it. But repressing it and keeping it all in is never the answer.
So, talk to me. Tell me how you’re doing? What do your coping mechanisms look like? How are you getting by?
Lots of love,
Sadaf Raza Zaidi
Community and Social Media
(You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my Instagram: @sadafrazaidi)
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