Mental Health and Quarantine: An Excerpt from my Journal

Sunday, May 24th

I woke up feeling intoxicated. That was not my intention. The Alprazolam was meant to restart me, after putting me to sleep, instead of just making me feel the same way I did yesterday (except for the odd headache I have after hitting myself in the face three times). Now I find it difficult to walk, but it seems that my other capacities weren’t affected (after all, it was just 1mg of Alprazolam, enough to “calm me down”). I really thought I shouldn’t be here sitting and typing this diary, but I felt the urge to, especially now that I have drained my family. My husband is exhausted. I know he has used every single penny of his patience to help me to see things that for him are obvious. He is damn tired of hearing me crying in different rooms in the house for stupid reasons. He can’t see how to convince me that I work too much. And he can’t help getting fucking angry.

Bipolar disorder is a name psychiatrists have given me to try to rationalize that most of what I feel is not my fault. But it is such a curse, making it impossible to know when you are really being “you”, when you are “ok”, and also virtually impossible to separate reason from emotion. Yesterday, for example, after causing my husband much trouble for being depressed, I tried to help him in the kitchen, making french fries and taking them to the living room. What I didn’t know is that a cockroach had been hiding behind the salt shaker, and as soon as I touched it, the damn bug climbed on me. I couldn’t help making a scandal. Even though I saw the cockroach on the floor, I could still feel its legs over me, and I cried, yelled, asked him to check out my hair, clothes, went straight to the bathroom, got naked, and took a shower. I guess it’s not really necessary to say I felt terribly embarrassed. Nothing I could say would make him feel better. And the embarrassment turns into guilt, and now I want to disappear.

Being quarantined is as paradoxical as being bipolar. I wished many times I had any reason to not go to work. I wished I had been sick. I wished there had been a blackout in the city. Now I know how stupid I was. At the same time, I don’t have to take a bus to go to work and run the risk of being robbed (which is quite common in most capital cities in Brazil, such as the one where I live). But now I have lost something, realizing only now how invaluable it was: the different social circles I participated in. I used to think about them just as places I need to move through. But now I see the people in such places. They are important for my mental health. I used to go to the university, for example, where I could talk to people about the academic issues I love, about literature, about language, about education. I used to go to work, at an English course, where we teachers shared jokes and info about students (laughed about and cursed the bad ones, mostly), parents, and other super funny stuff. And only then I headed home, where I didn’t have to overwhelm my husband with matters that just don’t interest him. And yet I feel lonely.

Tagged: #Affect #Disabilities #Domesticity #Emotional labour #English #Gender #Health care #Quarantine #Self-care

02 octobre 2020 — Cecilia Bath

Cecilia Bath

Fortaleza, Brasil