Perspectives On Staying Indoors
On 24th March, 2020, the Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi announced a national lockdown of 21 days in order to control the ongoing pandemic, COVID-19. Since the lockdown, many lives have taken an unexpected turn. Although everyone has been instructed to be indoors, and given the same set of instructions, everyone is experiencing this lockdown in their own way. All of us lie differently in the spectrum of life. We have become what we are due to our own experiences. We differ in terms of our appearance, personality, how we were raised, and our perception of the world. Since the lockdown, the world has come to a standstill, and so have our lives. Many of us planned and strategized 2020 as THE year or “MY” year, but none of us, even in our wildest dreams thought of this to be our future.
When I think about how staying indoors has been for me, I see it as an unsolicited boon. It has helped me come to terms with my feelings, my thoughts and take a step back from my monotonous way of life. Each member of my family has been trying to cope and adapt to this abrupt halt in their own ways. As a unit, we have been supportive of each other while valuing each other’s personal space. This interval in my diurnal repetitious life has given me time to reflect upon the differences of experiencing lockdown and how it affects mental health. A disruption as such, along with lack of human interaction, can be a trigger for a lot of people, specially those who are experiencing disorders such as anxiety and depression. In this particular time of our lives, most people might be having feelings of uncertainty and unpredictability. When these feelings are coupled with anxiety or depression, they become more than what they are. Staying positive becomes less of an attitude, and more of a task. Hence, we need to realize the fact that those who are in good health and in a positive state of mind, should remind those in need that however the situation may be - we are all in this together. Happy and “normal” days might seem distant. But even on the hardest of the days, we need to believe that better days lie ahead of us. All of us are trying to make sense of this sudden change. Yes, we don’t have it figured out yet. But going through every day is a sign of courage. The only part of us that has control over us, is our thoughts. Extrinsic elements such as the news, social media posts, messages, a remark by a friend, or even our own past experiences try to creep in at such times. What we need to do is, acknowledge them, reflect on them, and yet, not let them affect our sense of being. What is coming our way, will come no matter what, and when it shall arrive, we will be there to receive it with strength and courage. Mentally, we need to re-train ourselves to think that we are “safe at home” and not “stuck at home”. Remember, one day at a time.
For a few individuals, their day to day routine includes substance abuse. Be it nicotine, alcohol, or any other psychoactive substance. This period of isolation, inability to go out, and loss of access to these items might be distressing for them. No matter how toxic this intake may be for them, some of it has become an integral part of their lives. The internal chaos they may be experiencing, might be getting projected onto those living with them. This in turn, creates a hostile environment at home. Closed doors and boundaries add to the already existing frustration, the scariest part of it all being, withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal are hard to deal with, but even harder to watch, especially in the case of a loved one. Nevertheless, such chaotic conditions can be managed. It begins with empathy. When an individual gets involved in the vicious cycle of substance abuse, it becomes a priority in their life. But it’s not entirely their fault. People engage in addictive substances due to different reasons and their experiences. Losing their own selves in that cycle is an inevitable part of it. Catering to their physiological needs is the first part of taking care of them. Make sure they are well fed, hydrated and not skipping meals in order to cope with the battle they are having with their body. Activities such as mindfulness and yoga will help them take control of their body, and then their mind. Resistance to do so is expected. But patience and empathy win over all kinds of defiance. Help them realise the importance of life above substance and intoxication. Help them get in touch with the reality around them and the reality within them. One of the biggest advantages of this lockdown is being able to get in touch with the struggles and feelings of those who are closest to us, and yet seem so far. It’s important for them to know that they are the ones in control, not the substance.
However, a hostile environment at home, exclusively during isolation, can be highly dangerous and toxic. Living with household tribulation such as domestic violence and domestic abuse can cause a great amount of damage and distress. People who used to escape these situations even by a mere step out of their homes may be feeling overwhelmed with being locked in the same house as the abuser. Feelings of helplessness and vulnerability may take over. It may feel like these days are headed towards doom and eternal misery. In this time, it is important to protect yourself first. Protect yourself physically, emotionally and mentally. It can be through a friend, relative, or even the law. It’s never too late to raise your voice against such circumstances. A hostile environment at home plays an important role in the condition of an individual’s mental health. Taking a big step as coming out of a toxic pattern requires strength, all of which, comes from within. Love and respect yourself enough to know what you deserve. It is not necessary to completely abandon the abuser. Try to get them help. Try to look through them and see beyond their actions and look for reason. Try to make them realize what they’re doing is wrong. Make sure that you’re keeping your well being and peace in mind while going through this process.
These grave circumstances require the privileged to be giving, selfless and altruistic towards those in need. People from weak socio-economic backgrounds don’t even have the opportunity to think about and understand the concept of mental health. In order to write this article, I conducted a small survey among my friends. While going through their answers, I came across this insightful observation made by one of the respondents, Sanjana Malik: “Staying indoors during this lockdown has made me realise that to be very honest, every single thing is just a social construct: socialising, worrying about future goals like education, career etc., worrying about how you come across to others/how you look etc, — every single thing is just a social construct. Because in a time of crisis like the one we are facing, none of that matters. It all comes down to you, your family and your health.”
With regards to her thoughts, I have come to an incisive conclusion that in the end what everything really comes down to is human interaction and human lives. This period of isolation has been able to bring out a side of humanity where it blooms from support and care towards one another. It is crucial for us treat each other with kindness. When we meet new people, we meet their surfaces. We don’t decide what to eat from the fridge in the first go. We don’t decide what to wear on our birthday in the first trial. We don’t decide who we will become in the first go. Why treat people otherwise? It is normal and human to be judgemental, but framing an individual to a singular judgement is simply unjust. This qualitative interaction is necessary on an interpersonal level as well. In order to not lose ourselves, we need to find ourselves first. This time of staying indoors can be fruitful in terms of discovering yourself and who you are within the mere vessel of your body. We often forget ourselves in the daily hustle and strive to live for trivial and superficial objects. We start thinking of life to be a race with pouring rain, blurred vision, burning shoes, hopping over huddles, falling into the ground, getting back up and running with bruised knees.
Trust me, it can be as simple as a walk in the park. It’s all about perspective.
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