First of all, hello. It’s been a long ass time (5 months at least?) since I last updated my website. This is not because I totally forgot about it or because I don’t like writing anymore. It’s simply because I’ve been very sad. This post is going to be a lot of ranting and I hope it provides insights to mental health especially in this hard time I believe all of you are experiencing.
Beginning of the year and my father’s death
I lost my father on the 31st of December when I just made the flight back back to Melbourne on the 30th and needed to get the next flight to Bangkok. Apparently getting a flight last minute during new year’s will cost you around 3000AUD round trip. But it was my father so it’s okay. The funeral was pretty.. uneventful, I guess? My father has been sick for 10 years and in a vegetative state so it was not a shock to us but I guess it was for me since I just arrived in Melbourne and had to make the next flight back. But the mood was all confusing, it was the beginning of the year and everyone was just occupied. The temple was not even open to allow us to hold a funeral until later.
While the people who came were my dad’s friends I have not met in a while. I hate gatherings of family members and my parents’ friends. They are of the older generation who are toxic to my mental health. They think it’s okay, even during the funeral of my own dad, to criticize my appearance and my weight. Talk about being appropriate and having manners.
Also, I find Thai funerals can be rather.. impersonal. I feel like it’s a cookie cutter kind of format, where everyone hires the same food stalls (to provide food for the guests) for example. At least I was able to write a eulogy for him even though I wasn’t the one who deliver it and it was my oldest brother instead whose mic was not working most of the time, I’m grateful to have been the one who wrote that.
Coming back to Melbourne..
Fast forward to when I came back to Melbourne. I had to go to do my intensive summer course immediately. I did not mind despite it being crazy demanding, it was an interesting course. Then the news about this coronavirus came.. People in Australia were stocking up toilet rolls here like a lunatic and I’m not going to lie, it freaked me out.
For someone who already has a deficit mindset in normal times, this really put a lot of unnecessary stress on me. When the shelves start getting empty and there wee murmurs of a shutdown, I was really stressed out. I was far away from home, it’s not that I miss my family who I’m not that close to to begin with but you know when you’re sick you just want to be home? And home is not here. Home is where my mom is and where she can take care of the 12-year-old that I really am. All of the sudden, I miss home and just getting cared of. Not having to worry about stocking up food, or doing my laundry the right away for example.
But I decided to stay. First of all, my lease is no where near over and if I decided to leave then I need to pay until it ends. Second of all, I don’t want to travel and take the risk. Third, it’s not better in Thailand. It’s my last year in Melbourne before graduating and I already chose to be here. At least the healthcare is good here. Although there have been numerous racial attacks on Asians that I would definitely talk about later, at least the hospitals are ready and rate of infection is not crazy scary like the States or the UK.
I also felt like this was the time I had to overcome, alone. By myself. Not because I’m superwoman or anything but because I had to. It sucks but I need to go through it, I need to be stronger.
It’s okay not to be perfect at dealing with this pandemic
And I really would like to emphasize that. This is new to all of us. And it would probably only happen once in a lifetime (I hope?). It’s okay not to be perfect and optimizing your time at home doing amazing things. It’s okay not to feel motivated to exercise or eat healthy, or even do work. Sometimes getting out of bed is good enough. I saw this video about how toxic “daily motivational quotes” from all these influencers on Instagram can be to people. It makes you compare yourself in normal times and it even makes it worse in times like this. If you’re going to compare yourself, I think it’s being aware and appreciating that we can even be at home bored and sad in the first place when others don’t even have the choice or the privileges.
Mental health is a real thing. Cut yourself some slack. Embrace the fact that you’re not going to be okay for a while. This video hits home for me about mental health during this time. Not everyone has that intrinsic motivation to be amazing all the time. Getting by is already good enough.
Which leads to my anger towards one of the messages sent to me by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor International here. Nina is someone I know from the MBSSA (Melbourne Business School Student Association). I agree with her about choosing not to leave because I know I can be as productive here, if not more, than going back.
But what bothers me is talking about being in the “comfort zone”. It’s easier said than done especially when you’re from a place of privilege. Just like the video said, not everyone has the comfort of knowing they will have a home next month or have the money for food. Let alone bake cookies and do yoga. I understand that they’re trying to help you see positive light but for someone who struggles with mental health and is a pessimist (not the best trait to have during a global pandemic), I think it’s a bit out of touch.
Not everyone has the same access to the privilege and instead of sugar-coating the experience we are going through with COVID-19 right now, let’s not ignore how shit it is. And the truth is, it’s really shit. You can argue that instead of focusing on the bad part, why not see the bright side? True. But it’s also really important, even not vital, to also send a message that it’s okay not to do amazing during this time. There’s no harm in admitting that life is not always picture-perfect. This is one of the reasons I don’t like social media, they always highlight the good parts of life. There is so much you can do right now and self-help culture can be very toxic in times like this when there is a limit to things.
Ways to feel a little better during this time and getting by
I guess is to have a daily routine. COVID-19 is the most uncertain thing anyone has to face in a short period of time and giving yourself a routine is actually pretty useful. I usually go out to have my daily walks after I wake up and get a cup of coffee. That has been the only thing that makes me excited about the new day. It’s the most normal of things I tried not to take for granted.
However, my sleep schedule is so messed up though, not going to lie. I’ve been sleeping at 5am almost every night and it’s pretty shit because it’s becoming winter here so the sun goes down earlier which makes me even more sad. But I’m trying to wake up and not nap during the day!
Also, I tried to have a to-do list because university is getting crazy right now. With all the deadlines as I approach the final part of the semester. It is hard to get things done when you’re always home but it’s even harder when you have a bunch of shit to do piling up. I learn that having a to-do list really sets yourself up to focus and not make you overwhelming of all the shit you need to do. I learn from watching this video.
Also, if you are suffering from mental illness. Don’t be afraid to seek help. And do not stop taking medication if you’re on it. There are still therapists who are available online and through the phone. I personally was advised to make an appointment because of how much I struggle to cope with this but I cancelled last minute. This is because I want to try to work on myself, by myself first. Of course, this is not the case with everyone. So don’t take this lightly. Anxiety is very real and it’s very normal in this time. Even mentally healthy people are struggling.
Moreover, stop doing things that make you more depressed. You know exactly what it is. Watching the news every hour, going to the grocery every day to find empty shelves. Stop it. This is for me.
I’m going to leave it there for now, but I will definitely have more to say in the future.
Stay safe guys,