When You’re Always Depressed, Worldwide Trauma Feels Normal

Your author, flexing and looking surprisingly happy during COVID
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A lot of my friends have been sharing this article about the six-month wall of the pandemic. It’s a good article. You should probably read it.

And yet when I sat down with it, I felt no sense of resonance with the experience it described. It says “Yet, just as we seem to have adjusted to this global disaster, many of us feel as though we have suddenly hit a brick wall. Right now, you may feel enervated and despairing.”

“No,” I thought to myself. “I just feel…normal. Kind of better than usual actually. Is something wrong with me?”

It’s not so much that I feel disconnected from my emotions. I’ve been having emotions, certainly. I cried yesterday. It’s that I’m not experiencing the same kind of huge impact that many of my friends are describing, where they feel as if everything is falling apart, or they don’t know how they continue like this, or they’re constantly afraid and overwhelmed.

That just doesn’t feel familiar to me.

And here’s the thing: I know that it’s not because I’m some sort of very stoic person who manages crisis well. I’m a clusterfuck when it comes to my emotions. I’m semi-constantly on the verge of a major depression.

But that’s just it, isn’t it? I’ve lived my whole life feeling as if the world was about to end tomorrow. Now that it actually is…well it’s just another day.

When I found out that I was going to be working from home indefinitely, I immediately sat down and put a plan in place. I figured out what my ideal daily routine would be. I brainstormed things that I could do to keep myself occupied and happy around the house. I listed out who I wanted to keep in touch with and how. I prepared sensory activities and a list of projects just big enough that I could keep feeling productive. I brainstormed how to re-create my aerial workouts at home. I prepared everything.

Since then, I’ve mostly just been updating and then following that plan. When I start to feel too bad, I just look at what’s on my lists and tweak them. This is how I handle crises, and that applies to everything from stressful times at work to worldwide pandemics. Which means that right now I feel…about the same as I would during a stressful time at work. Except that this time everyone is making allowances for things and commiserating and being weirdly kind.

So for me, it’s just…normal.

This has brought me to two realizations.

First, I feel quite disconnected from the people around me and their experiences. I don’t find that I’m struggling because of pandemic. I find that I’m struggling because I can’t relate to other people.

Second, it hits me just how stressed I must be all of the time. I’ve seen some articles and posts floating around saying that if you’re more tired than usual that makes sense because of trauma and how we’re all doing huge amounts of emotional work right now just to manage. I don’t feel more tired than usual though. I feel normal amount of tired. By that I mean I need upwards of 8 and a half hours of sleep every night, I nap multiple times a week, and sometimes I just go ahead and sleep for 16 hours straight.

And then I think about how that’s normal for me. And how this whole situation feels normal. And a few things click into place.

And I have to ask myself…why does just living evoke a trauma response in me?

I don’t really have an answer. Just an unsettled feeling that it probably shouldn’t be like that.

 

2 thoughts on “When You’re Always Depressed, Worldwide Trauma Feels Normal

  1. Thanks for writing about this- I’ve had a similar experience, (although I did just hit a major depressive episode). I’ve been thinking about the idea that many autistic people walk around in an almost constant state flight or flight or freeze response because we’re living inside a reaction to trauma that other people can’t see. I think that for many of us the emotional and physical abuse suffered in childhood is one cause. I think the rational fear of angering someone who is not autistic without intending to makes most social interactions potentially painful, and the random, (from our perspective), nature of their anger provokes a learned helplessness response. Plus, I’ve read that ABA more than doubles the chance that an autistic person will have PTSD. To me, the common thread is that our trauma is a normal response to how we’ve been treated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My experience is similar to yours. I’m less lonely and way less exhausted than when I had to interact with people daily in the office. My co-workers are returning to the office, while I’ve been approved to continue working from home, and I feel some social dissonance around that, but then that’s a normal feeling, too, right?

    Liked by 1 person

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