Cw: discussions of mental illness; discussions of suicide
Apparently listening to the soundtrack for Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! every day is not enough to actually make me feel better about the current state of the world. Okay, it does help a bit. Unfortunately, I cannot currently run away to Kalokairi with Meryl Streep due to COVID-19 so I have to find other ways to get me through the day.
Like many others, I struggle with anxiety and depression and the effects of this lockdown have not been kind. My worries started as rather trivial in the grand scheme of things. My main issues were that I wouldn’t be able to go on a trip to Denmark with my friends and that my graduation would be cancelled. Just a few months later, I would find out one of my best friends had committed suicide, which really forced me to put things in perspective. We were messaging the night before, sending each other memes on Instagram, and I had no way of realising what she was going to do the next day. I think I have only just realised that it’s not my fault that I didn’t know and that there was nothing I could’ve done. This was the first step in now being able to think about my memories of her and smile rather than cry and blame myself.
One of the ways I coped in this time was by listening to my favourite podcast about theme parks, which is probably one of my more niche interests. I even subscribed to their Patreon so I could listen to even more episodes that would fill the silence of my grief. I then sent the creators a message on Patreon thanking them for helping me through this difficult time. Honestly, I thought I was yelling into the void when I sent that message, but to my surprise, I received a very heartfelt message from one of the hosts who thanked me for my support and that while he was sorry for what I was going through, he was glad they were able to help provide me with some laughs. Something that made me genuinely happy amidst the awful thoughts and feelings I had has now permanently attached itself to this dark period and will now always lighten it even just a bit when I now look back. As important as I think it is to actively work on your mental health, sometimes you do need a distraction to make it bearable, and this is mine.
So, it is now the end of September; I have just turned 22, and all I can think is, now what? I have worked on my personal issues and am starting to feel happier within myself, but what about the rest of the world? Every day there is more bad news and I find myself caught between wanting to stay informed and wanting to hide in my room for the rest of my life with a cup of tea, my cat and an episode of Shameless on Netflix. I think the key is balance but I’ve not quite worked out what that balance is or how to achieve it. It’s hard to stay positive when there doesn’t seem to be anything remotely good happening in the world. Finding the positivity is something I’ve struggled with since this whole thing began, but I suppose it can be as simple as the fact ‘Dancing Queen’ just started playing through my speakers.
My one piece of advice for people struggling like me is to find at least one thing a day that makes you smile, even if it is as small as a funny TikTok or the song you’re currently obsessed with.
Please look after yourselves in this time and try not to be hard on yourself if some days you can’t even find one positive thing. All we can really do is try our best.
The Hysteria Collective thanks Emily for this beautifully written and overwhelmingly heartfelt piece; we offer her and all of our contributors all our love and support.
Photo courtesy of Annie