The last few weeks have been straight up hard. The little bit of work I have had has been hard, because I would spend the whole day reading headlines about the coronavirus epidemic and watching the economy spiral out of control. Then, not having any work anymore was even harder.
It’s been hard worrying about my parents, whether they are getting enough food and staying heathy and positive. It’s been hard trying to isolate as much as possible in a campervan (especially during recent rainy weather) and worrying that the lockdown rules might get stricter and leave us completely stuck inside this tiny space.
But until today I have felt like I wasn’t really allowed to take time out to just be sad about it all. After all, I don’t really have it that bad. The lockdown in Greece isn’t horribly strict so far, we don’t have any shortages in the supermarkets and we still have enough money to survive on for a while. So why should I feel unhappy, when others are struggling so much more?
So for weeks I have been irritable, getting annoyed at every little thing and snapping at my partner for no good reason. For weeks I have felt jumpy and stressed and unable to focus. For weeks I have struggled to get excited or passionate about anything. And for weeks I have tried to pretend that none of this was the case, because I had no right to be stressed out when nothing is really that wrong.
Today though, I finally realised I need to look after myself and my mental health. If I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything, then I can just stay in bed all day and not feel bad about it. If I need a little cry, I’m entitled to it. It’s OK to feel down, even if other people have more reasons than I do to feel this way. Even if other people around me are not feeling down or are dealing with it differently.
A friend shared a great article with me, which really helped me put things into perspective. It suggests that what many of us are feeling right now is grief. Different kinds of grief – for the life we had, for the things we are losing, anticipatory grief for the uncertainty and pain that could still come before things get better. And it’s OK to stop and let yourself feel this way, because ignoring it will not make it go away.
Of course, that’s not all that this is about. We should all be feeling grateful for what we have, and reconnecting with people, and using the time wisely to better ourselves. But it’s OK to feel down about all of this too. It’s all part of the process.