We are now on Day 6 of the lockdown.
It has been an interesting week. A mix of good and bad, of optimism and despair, anger and hope.
I know a lot of people who have struggled with depression and staying positive. They may be far from their families, they may be struggling with the emptiness of days, they may feel frustrated that they can’t do anything, they may be lonely or any number of things.
At the same time, I see a lot of “be positive” messages on social media, pointing out, rightly so, that we are privileged to have a roof over our heads, particularly as compared to the thousands of migrant workers, with no choice left but to walk home, and those of lesser circumstances.
We are, indeed, lucky, that we have a roof over our heads, and the means (however temporary, since some of us run businesses) to put food on the table. We are incredibly fortunate that our biggest problem is now we are spending time doing household chores and cooking, when we could previously hire people to do this. That we can’t go out and buy our favorite brand of curd. That we have to queue up for groceries and can’t get them delivered.
But pointing this out, does little to help one feel better. It makes those who are struggling with depression, with anxiety, and fear, feel like awful superficial people, and altogether is unproductive.
We need to acknowledge, that even within our bubbles of privilege, this is hard. This is hard for everyone. We need to forgive ourselves with struggling with it, in order to then recognize our own privilege.
So, if you are feeling down and out about what’s going on, it’s okay! Acknowledge this first, and then you’ll have the bandwidth to process the types of suffering that are happening among the less privileged.
You’ll have the capability to think about how lucky you are in a much more constructive way that doesn’t make you feel like a horrible person for feeling the pinch. And hey, maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to do something in some small way to help another person or group of people.
And for those around these people who are struggling with mental health issues, be kind. Don’t just tell them to be positive, to snap out of it, or that so many others have it way worse. It won’t help. Just allow them to feel it and move past it with their own pace. They’ll get there a lot faster.
Another thing I’ve seen on social media is hate. Hate against China, hate against NRIs, hate against the government, hate against those who oppose the government, hate against those who ran away from quarantine and testing. There is just so much hate, it’s hard to know what to do.
The virus does not distinguish between nations, religions, class, caste or any other lines. Yet we seem to have made a way to polarize it, often in the most creative of ways. In fact, just this morning, I saw a Facebook discussion turn unusually heated with name calling (foolish, idiot, ignorant etc.). The post was about the correct way to wash vegetables.
I get it, we are all tense, a little on edge, and upset at those things going on around us. And it is okay to feel this way. But we have to recognize that it accomplishes little to lash out.
The mandate to stay indoors, to remain in isolation, to not have routines to cling to, or be busy, has a different effect on everyone. While some may respond with depression, others may respond with anger. And perhaps this is where it comes from.
Coupled with this anger is judgement. As humans, we feel good when we can deem something right or wrong. Judgement is a cheap thrill, and in times of distress, it can be a temporary balm on our angst, a moment of respite from our despair.
I understand, because I do it too.
But I think it has reached a tipping point. The enormous Whatsapp flow of mix of real and fake information has ensured that many people are ill-informed, and on top of that, defensive about their false information.
If we are truly to get back to a place of simplicity, we need to stop advising each other and judging each other, and getting angry with each other. We need to stop needing to have the last word, or to be seen as well-informed. That is insecurity my friends, and we all struggle with it. In fact, I’m doing my best to make sure this post doesn’t come across in that way (apologies if it does).
But that negativity is only going to fester.
It really won’t help the pandemic situation if someone is right or wrong about a particular thing. It won’t stop the spread of the virus. Perhaps, the underlying lesson for us in all of this is that these small things we cling to, how evolved or informed we appear, really don’t make a damn difference in the world.
Being alone with ourselves is difficult. And these tensions that are rising are all part of a normal reaction to a challenging situation, even within our domains of privilege. We can let these feelings overwhelm us, or we could learn to learn from one another, learn to co-exist and agree to disagree. Ease up on the judgement a bit.
I would hazard a guess it would make us happier people. And that can’t be all that bad for our immunity 😉
Cheers! And stay safe 🙂