A recent New York Times opinion editorial posed a question along the lines of – during these times of Covid-19, do you feel bored or depressed? Thought provoking for sure. Here’s how I answered:
“Do you feel like your life ‘has taken on a stultifying quality of sameness?’” My short answer: Yes. My long answer: Yes, but there’s a back story.
I’m thankful to say that I am not depressed, but I am bored. I’m no psychiatrist, but I assume that the lines of depression and boredom can be blurred. My recent diagnosis with a rare brain disease helps me distinguish the concepts.
I feel the stultifying quality of sameness, because I’ve mostly been within the walls of my home, since May, 2018. I left work at my law firm, thinking that I was struggling with depression and burnout. I later voluntarily committed myself to the psychiatric ward. I wasn’t depressed, I had autoimmune encephalitis, but I didn’t know that at the time.
After my diagnosis of a disease straight out of the devil’s playbook, I spent my recovery at home, isolated from the world, for nearly one year. I lost my livelihood as a lawyer. And just as I was starting to get back out into civilization, and rebuild my life, Covid-19 struck.
When America stopped in mid-March, I was nearly 40-weeks pregnant with my third child, a miracle baby after my illness. Nearly overnight, I became a teacher with an infant, and the walls of my home grew a bit smaller with my other two children and husband also stuck inside. Our situation is unchanged. We soon begin another school year from home.
For over two years, I have felt alone, sad, and angry. I’ve worried about my financial future, my health, and my children’s wellbeing. As my health improved, I became less fixated on life’s uncertainty, but I remain lonely. I miss having a job, I miss small talk, I miss errands, I miss taking my grandmother to church, and much more.
Every morning, I wake up in a similar fashion to Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog’s Day. I don’t hear the unchanged song as my alarm, but recognize the feeling of “sameness” when I open my eyes. For me, there is virtually no distinction between a Wednesday and a Saturday, and it’s been that way for a while.
My situation has given me the wonderful gift of appreciating every day’s unique purpose. It’s cliché, but I appreciate the little things. Unrushed morning coffee. My baby’s giggles, my preschooler singing, and my first grader reading. My husband and I holding hands on a walk. Even in my similar days, I feel happiness.
I know what it’s like to feel like your life has no purpose, and that you’re too sick to live. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re trapped in hell. That was autoimmune encephalitis; that was darkness; that was depression. Covid-19 is just another bump in my isolated road.
With positivity and gratefulness, I can handle boredom. But, that doesn’t always make the reality easy to swallow. I have sincere worry and empathy for those depressed or worse, because of Covid-19.
Please stay physically and mentally well everyone. Do what you can to make it through every day. Check in on family, friends, and neighbors too. We’re still, all in this together. While I was at a low point with my illness, but could still print, I repeatedly wrote the words, “Better days ahead.” I still believe that and always will.
All my best wishes to you,
“All the lonely people Where do they all come from? All the lonely people Where do they all belong?
“Father McKenzie Writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear No one comes near Look at him working Darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there What does he care?” Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles