View of a teenager living in Switzerland
Remember when we were young, we would get sent to our rooms when we got into trouble? When we got older, we came to enjoy the personal space, and our parents might have struggled to get us out of our rooms. Now, we are all sitting at home, because Mother Earth decided to give us a time out.
Now just turned twenty, and normally this is the time that I would be out and about experiencing life and all it has to offer. Yet here I sit, in the same house I grew up in, quarantined. I have no excuses to avoid my growing to-do list, and no way of escaping my thoughts. It feels vaguely familiar.
I spent most of my conscious life quarantined in my own head… Never letting anything in, or out. I was scared that maybe I was the virus, and if I let anything slip it would mean infecting and ultimately hurting others. I was a disease, a thing capable of mass destruction that targeted the people I loved the most. A little dramatic, but how I felt nevertheless.
I think back to the years I spent like that, it felt like a prison sentence. Like I was being punished for a crime I didn’t commit, or didn’t understand. It felt cold and dark, and I felt helpless. It took me a very long time to realise that I was the one punishing myself and making myself pay for the harm others inflicted. All because I was too scared to hold others accountable for their actions. The mind can be both the thing that keeps you landlocked or the key to soaring into freedom.
From the age of twelve, I had to come to terms with the fact that I, unlike most other twelve-year-olds, had a different set of priorities. I had my education and I had my health. My mental health, more specifically. At first, that meant obligatory therapy. Now, I’ll let you in on a secret… I was a very stubborn little sh*t at that age. I didn’t see the point in working with a therapist because, according to me, there was nothing wrong. Honestly, it makes me laugh a little looking back, the psychiatrist was impossibly patient with me. From there, it became blatantly obvious to the outside world (and slowly to me too) that I was very unwell. A lot of sexual violence, bullying, and chaos at home meant I was putting my emotions in a cage, and when they boiled over, I reacted poorly. Usually in anger and self-loathing. I lashed out at the world, thinking it would somehow remove and rectify the gaping wound that I had been left with. But what’s done is done, and how you react to the harsh reality defines how successful you are at overcoming it.
It takes perseverance and patience, two virtues we are now strong-armed into learning. That being said, this time is hard for all of us. It’s scary to be on lockdown and have a worldwide pandemic. Aside from the fear, it can feel lonely. But this is also a time where we come together. Not physically (please stay home unless you need milk or something), but we all have a part to play in fighting COVID-19. We are all working together to keep the vulnerable safe, by staying home and creating a new normal until this passes. After every winter, there is always spring.
It took me a long time to accept my past, and love the iterations of myself I locked away for so long. It took equally as long to rebuild myself and my frame of mind. Now that we are all at home, instead of tackling the to-do list or contemplating texting your ex, take a moment to reflect. Help yourself heal, without the hindrance of what your life is usually like.
It’s like updating to the latest iOS, it’s annoying, and you put it off for as long as you can. But, when you finally decide to update and wait the painful hour, everything runs a little smoother. The screen is a little clearer, and the colours are a little brighter. There will always be glitches, some of them funny, some annoying, and some that drive you crazy. But every update is a step forward in the right direction.
For further information
Surviving the Coronavirus Lockdown and Social Isolation is a guide to creating a new normal in a changing world. Download a copy of the ebook for free now.
Get your free copy of the book here.