A note on pandemic relapse

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Transitions are jarring, especially when you don’t pay attention. One day, you’re pounding a bitter drug into powder in this make-shift mortar-and-pestle, mixing it with your father’s milk. Next, you’re cutting your own medication in half. Restarting medication and therapy. Some symptoms are back, yet it feels different. Perhaps, it’s how people feel when they’re having a relapse of some kind. You feel odd and the feeling doesn’t stop.

Your mind turns into a film reel that slowly plays backwards. Looking closer at each scene of distress, trying to find that slip from normalcy. You ask “when” as if divining the exact moment or series of moments will help piece it all together into one diagnosis. You go back to filling in your calendar, each month marking a familiar route. It’s so familiar—your mind can calmly traverse the same streets even before you’re physically there, standing awkwardly in front of the clinic, wondering why the lights are off but no longer surprised about signages reminding people to mask on.

The poster by the door changed, too. It no longer features a person walking in the beach with a quote on a society compassionate to the mentally ill. Instead there’s a visual of a brain and texts. An infographic, probably about the chemicals on a person’s brain that’s altered when that person experiences depression. “Probably” because you’ve skated staring or reading the words in the poster, just as easily as you’ve skipped a lot of materials pertaining to your mental condition. You suspect bad habits. Because instinctively you know that if you don’t know that much, then there’s nothing to deny. And you hate denying, which is why you went there in the first place: you wanted to get to the bottom of every why.

Why you’ve been in a constant drowsy mood despite seven to eight hours of sleep? Why sadness is a regular even with the range of emotions coming? You have a full catalogue of episodes because books and egos taught you how to perpetually subject yourself into an almost-wired level of self-awareness that borders on voyeurism and internal antagonizing.

You sit on the chair between a glass. It seems silly to have it there, to use it to protect the occupants from an invisible enemy, when really, you’ve been fighting a war everyone thought was over.

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