By Saima Ferdows.
“Don’t beat yourself up, allow it.”
This is the mantra I’ve been saying to myself since this whole thing began. I’m trying my best to readjust the way I deal with anxiety and depression because this isn’t a normal, regular situation. This is, for us in the UK, something we’ve never had to deal with. Nothing comes close. It’s ok if your normal coping mechanisms aren’t working, allow yourself to feel out new ways to cope.
Outside of Corona I usually deal with anxiety with a rigid routine focused around work, crafts and Netflix binges. I turn into a professional cross-stitcher in times of crisis. What I love about cross-stitch is that I don’t have to think about it. There’s a set pattern and I just follow it, it’s completely out of my hands yet I am in control and I have accomplished something at the end of it. I do it whilst binging Netflix, usually something I’ve already seen before. Much like cross stitching, I don’t have to think about it; episode after episode just rolls over me. All I have to do is focus on the task and breathe and it calms me. Between these crises I throw myself at work, I’m good at it and I’m fixing problems that aren’t my own. I can take control of things that aren’t attached to me emotionally; the accomplishment of those tasks settles me.
So what did I do when Corona dried up all my work? I fell apart. I couldn’t watch anything; I couldn’t do any crafts; I couldn’t even read books. All I could do was sit in one place and continuously scroll through socials. An endless loop of opening Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Which of course made everything so much worse, because everything was about Corona and it was terrifying. Despite being in a hole of depression, I found comfort in checking in on friends and eventually video-calling them, something I would never have done before. I found solace in my new routine of seeing and hearing my friends in the evening, playing games with them online, cleaning every aspect of my tiny flat. It helped me to get back into crafts, and watch some TV, mainly really bad horror films. I guess I find comfort that their lives are worse than ours right now.
I’ve started to feel creative again, but not in any way that makes me want to write scripts or any kind of work, and that’s ok. I wanted to carve out some space on my socials where I had fun again and allowed me to have some space where I wasn’t talking about Corona or if the Edinburgh Fringe was going to go ahead or what the new comedy landscape would be after this. I figured if it gave me joy then there will be at least one person that would also find joy in it and that was enough for me. I leant into every dumb idea I’ve had that I was too embarrassed to lean into before. I gave up caring what others thought and just had fun. Turns out it was an escape for plenty of other people too.
The first thing I did was ask people to send me a picture of a celebrity and I would tell them if I would risk catching Coronavirus to smash them or not. It brought me so much joy and for a couple of days it gave me something to focus on in the day that made me happy. Second thing I did was create a knockout tournament for the “Old White Men with a Beard that you would Bone Olympics”. Like I said, dumb. But it just lets me forget everything that’s happening right now, makes me feel like I’m being creative just in a different kind of way. I’m still making people laugh just on my own terms, ones that my Corona-related anxiety will allow.
There’s a pressure right now for creatives to be making content. If you feel inspired and you want to, great, please do; we need something to watch. If you don’t feel like creating, that’s also ok. Allow it. Take time for yourself, remember to breathe; we’re all in the same boat. It’s going to be ok. Take care of yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for not creating. This isn’t a holiday. It’s not a relaxing few weeks at home. It’s a pandemic. Give yourself some space.
Don’t beat yourself up, allow it.