It’s been a year since the Covid pandemic truly took hold.
It’s been a year since I had Covid.
It’s been a year since SA lockdown started.
It’s been a year since my business stopped making money.
It’s been a year since I hit one of my two darkest depressions to date.
Time is a funny thing. It can feel as if it is dragging, like watching a bubble trying to make its way to the surface through a particularly viscous substance – so painfully slow but going on anyway. It can feel as if it is whizzing by, faster than the speed of light. The odd thing is that it can feel like both of those at the same time.
For the last few years I have often felt that a day feels like it has had an entire week rolled into that 24 hour stretch. So much going on that there is hardly a moment to breathe. To the extent that from one week to the next, I struggled to remember what I had done and where I had been, just from the sheer volume of it all.
Then the world stopped. Lockdowns came into effect all over the planet, South Africa being no exception. But, it was just for 3 weeks. We only had to get through 3 weeks. Hell, I could do that. I got ready. I bought into the mass hysteria and stockpiled pantry basics. (As much as one can in a flat with a small kitchen!) I thought I was ready. It was a bit upsetting that the business I owned lost a whole lot of bookings due to everything being closed down, but it was a temporary situation. The govt said 3 weeks, right? 26 March to 16 April.
The first shoe dropped when in some fit of lunacy, regulations were put out that children could not be moved from one parent to the other. Wherever they were at the start of lockdown, they would have to stay. And my ex had ours. He refused to answer my calls, voicemails and messages. I wanted to make a plan with him, but he refused to engage. I went to the police to ask for help and they told me that since it was only my day from midnight, there was nothing they could do. I needed to make my own plan to get them to my place before the curfew was started. “Just go and speak to your ex”, the oh-so-helpful officer said. I replied that I had been trying to do that for the entire day. He shrugged and turned away. I stood there in the middle of the police station crying. I felt so hopeless and as I hate crying in front of other people, I felt embarrassed to boot. My ex started responding at around 1am. Too late for me to do anything.
I felt so despondent. I was already in a depression before this hit, still reaming with the ex about the very large amount of money he owed me, so this was a further kick in the gut. I had to deal with my slow descent into the murk of my own private abyss, but try and put on a brave face for my daughter, who was weeping on the phone telling me that she was missing me. My daughter who I know struggles with being at her father’s house for long periods of time. It took all of my energy to be her support.
I was struggling – drowning in the tar pit of my depression. I was trying so hard to kick up, but the way things panned out from here on out was just like having a hand on my head pushing me down.
The lockdown was extended. Just for another 3 weeks. And then more and more. And you know how this plays out, it continues today – 16 months after it was for just 3 weeks. 16 months since the business earned any income.
So it was my first lockdown birthday. I was on my own and turned 45 – half way to dead. (Everyone dies at 90 don’t they?) I had thought that I would be with friends for the day, but clearly that was a non-event. As much as I don’t feel the need to have a huge birthday bash, I like to see at least one other person on the day. It was so dismal. (I know – a minor blip in the bigger scheme of things, but a disappointment nonetheless.)
I made an offer on a house, but had to retract it, because I had not received the money I was owed. I found another house, with which I fell in love. I put in an offer on that house. It was also accepted, but again I had to pull out of the purchase. I had to do more fighting with the ex about the money that was now 4 months overdue.
Then I had a proposal which I put forward to a friend, that was soundly rejected. It broke my heart. I cried for days. I had hoped against hope that it would go in my favour, but to no avail. Hope was in vain. But I put on my brave face and carried on regardless.
The final straw was a splitting of ways with another friend. It was the one of the last things that I was clinging to and I just knew in that moment that I could not fight anymore. I didn’t know what to do, which way to turn or how to get out of bed another day. I was so tired that I couldn’t think straight – I was emotionally wrought. My brain was so stunned with all the events going on; my body felt like a dead weight. I went to see my therapist. It didn’t help one iota. That night, I just collapsed under the weight of it all. The fighting, the rejection, the broken mind, the responsibility of trying to show up for my children consistently with my “everything is fine” face.
So I just gave up. I rolled into the darkness with the wish that I would never have to see this world again. I couldn’t fix myself anymore. It wasn’t worth it. I wasn’t worth it. I hadn’t been enough. I had failed on every front. And I didn’t think I could make myself any better. Not that I had been flying for the last few months, I had been scraping the bottom of the barrel at being a decent human being anyway.
Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of that day. As I sit here and think back on it, I realise that I still don’t feel that I am enough. I still don’t feel like I am worthy. I have managed the long trek back up from that silky black dark night, but it lingers on the edge of my mind, just in sight of my peripheral vision. Not front and centre, but still there. One year on and I can still feel that pain. I know how dead parts of me felt. I cry for myself then and myself now. Changes have happened although some things are constant, but to a different intensity I suppose.
I still have days where I have to pick myself up to function. I still have to show up and be responsible. I still put my mask on and smile at the world. I still feel the pain of not being enough. I still feel unlovable. I still feel helpless at times. I still have times when I wish I could get off this Earth.