Invisible Illness
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Invisible Illness

A Day in Quarantine…

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

A typical weekday morning. Well, as typical as it can get while being confined to your house due to a global medical emergency.

I am in my room. I had just woken up. Feeling disoriented.

Did you sleep really late again? Did the counting of the sheep not work again?

Shoot.

I sigh as I wake up…the aching body tells me I had slept quite late and woken up too early to a busy household. I groan. I missed the silent mornings. I chuckle.

What do you miss? the heaviness of the crippling loneliness? Or having your own space and privacy?

How strange are human beings? Dissatisfied with every situation. Always hoping and complaining about not achieving the alternative.

The TV set is playing the news although the living hall is empty. Deaths, new cases, global crisis. blah blah blah.

Lately, I’ve been waking up uneasy. Unable to pin down the thought that might be triggering my wave of negative emotions.

Is it the fear of health? Fear of safety of my family? Is it the stress of experiencing a global pandemic?

Yes, the Instagram pages and the hundreds of articles I come across every hour tell me it is normal. They suggest exercises and techniques to manage the stress. They tell me that I am not alone.

As I take out the toothbrush, I realize that, strangely, I do not find that comforting. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy we are all united and fighting this together. As we should be.

But a walk into myself tells me it is not just the distress of listening to the daily news that is bothering me.

Am I concerned and disturbed by the death of thousands around the world? Yes… I am terrified.

Is that it?… Definitely not.

The voices inside tell me it is more than that.

Hey, probe further…. Shh, only when you are ready.

I look in the mirror. The quarantine was good for my skin. No pollution or the scorching sun. I look around to see my mom finishing up the daily chores. Sigh, it would make her happy to see my glowing skin. She looks up and sees me smiling at her. “Listen to me and oil your hair and skin today.”

Did she read my mind? Damn.

I groan for the second time. “Oil? Ew no Ma!”

You don’t deserve that time or attention. Self-care? Ha ha, that was a foreign territory..

One day… maybe one day, I will conquer it.

Spiralling back…I realise that lately, I’ve been waking up uneasy. I wake up feeling empty. I feel the heavy urge to break down crying every night. As it darkens, I fear…I fear having to face myself. My racing thoughts.

No, wait. Stop.

Oil. Yes. Maybe self-care could help fill the void. It could be another activity added to the schedule.

Flashback moment. I am in the therapy room.
The therapist sitting across me looks at my uneasy postures, hands fiddling with each other and asks me.

“When are you going to stop running away from yourself?”

I shake my head. I splash the cold water onto my face.

No, you are not ready.

I stand up straight. I put on a smile. I was happy to be with my family in these difficult times. They were happy to have their joyous and talkative daughter back.

Of course, The mask was always strong.

No, It is who I am now.

Fast forward. It was midnight, after an entire day of keeping myself occupied with meaningless tasks.
The movie ends. I am alone in the room. The fear slowly creeps back into my chest.

Hey, Probe further.

I find myself frantically looking for my phone. Online games? Call your best friend. Call that boy who clearly shows he doesn’t give a damn. Maybe that friend you haven’t spoken to in years?

Do something. Anything.

But how long will I listen to her? Maybe I should fight back. Tell her it was time.

Go to sleep. You know you are not strong enough for this.

SHH, IT IS NORMAL.

Wait, Pause. What is? You mean this is what millions of us are all afraid of, while being locked up inside our four walls? The fear of being forced to face ourselves finally? Being forced to break the barriers of self loathe?

With no excuses of spontaneous plans, deadlines, work pressure, exhaustion and every other diversion we give ourselves to not be with ourselves. To not be kind to ourselves…to not love ourselves.

We complain of never having the time…”I never have the time to work on myself.” But do we ever ask ourselves if we want to? If we are ready to?

Flashback moment. I am in the therapy room.
The therapist sitting across me holds out her hand to soothe me. I can barely see through my eyes brimmed with tears.

“But I am not good with changes. My entire life would be toppled around…”

She smiles.
“Hey, but everything you want is on the other side of this fear, right?”

I am brought back to my bedroom by my heavy breathing. I could feel the world getting hazy around me.
I gasp to let the air in as my body is taken over by panic.

I told you, you weren’t ready.

One day, maybe one day…I will be strong enough to start over.

And sometimes, it is okay to say, “Not today”.

Fin.

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We don't talk enough about mental health.

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Ramitha Ramesh

Ramitha Ramesh

Grateful for all the art that has ever touched my life. Writing is how I purge the fixations of my impressionable mind.

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