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Opening Up, a Mental Wellness Series: Menakshi's Struggle Through the Pandemic

Iʼve always struggled with my mental health. In high school I was hospitalized for depression coupled with a diagnosis of PTSD and for most of my life, the way I dealt with that was by not dealing with it. After a breaking point, I would see a counselor, a therapist, read the self-help books, and ‘tried to get betterʼ but the existential dread and toxic relationships persisted, falling into the cycles.

In March 2020, as the world was locking down, my relationship was falling apart. Weʼve had our problems before but this was the true test, and we didnʼt pass.

With a strained family relationship and parents in Guyana, I was having my 29th birthday alone in what used to be ‘our apartmentʼ during a pandemic. I spent the day/night stuffing my face with donuts and beer and binging something on Netflix. In retrospect though, they were gourmet mini donuts and Singha, one of the favourite Thai beers- it really wasnʼt that bad.

For the first bit of the pandemic, I donʼt think there was a day went by that I didnʼt imagine graphically killing myself. I self-medicated with weed and threw myself into my work, a project Iʼm tremendously proud of and care about but at the time, just going through the motions - there but not there.

As the days drifted by my mental health was deteriorating even further. My anxiety was becoming so debilitating, I couldnʼt continue working at my part-time job, finish the paper for my last course in university, or even speak to my friends. The self-isolation of the pandemic fed my sense of loneliness and I sank further into dread and numbness.

At my rock bottom, I realized I needed to give myself the one thing others couldnʼt, time - time to learn, to unlearn, to cry, to be angry, to dance, to cry again- to simply be.

Realizing no-one else or nothing else can fill that void - as painful as that realization was- alone as the world was irrevocably changing- all I had was time, time for myself.

Its a struggle every day, but each day (or most days) I remind myself that I exist - that my identity, who I love, how I love, what I do, what I look like, and how others perceive that, doesnʼt define me. ‘Iʼ exist beyond that. My Identity, particles based on coding passed down through my DNA, my family, my culture, my traumas can be decoded. ‘Iʼ the thing beyond the ego, beyond ‘myselfʼ is so much more than the constructs Iʼve associated myself with. I remind myself that true meaning can only derive from my own doing, and to take pleasure in the mundane, the simple things. Each day is a gift, a new beginning, and an opportunity to create my own construct. It was in those moments of gratitude the world opened up and the bigger picture revealed itself.

Someone once revered the sentiment ‘how strange it is to be anything at allʼ and I must concur, how strange it is indeed to simply exist, to be, and to create.



A Different View Project

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