When Depression and COVID-19 Make Some Days ‘Flat’
Some days are flat. Some days I feel very flat — not flat-chested, flatlined or flat-earthed, just plain flat; the feeling where you really don’t care what happens, what you eat or wear.
I’m not sure if you class it as fatigue, depression or some other title that may fit the mood. I don’t like to admit that any of these words apply to me, so it is merely a flat day. Maybe I am not feeling well, which is why I just cannot be bothered for a whole day, or perhaps it has nothing to do with my illness. I just don’t know.
What Happens on a Flat Day?
The day starts with not really fancying breakfast, randomly staring into various cupboards trying to work out what to eat. I tend to go for lemon curd on toast with the hope that the sharp taste of lemon will kick start my day. It rarely does and typically tastes too sweet.
Next is the “force yourself” to get showered and dressed. Showering is an effort and leads to me standing there, staring at the showerhead, hopeful that the hot water will awaken my senses. Often, it doesn’t have the desired effect.
The shower can be exhausting, so I need to sit down to rest. This is also met with my body being uncontrollably hot, which ruins the shower’s desired outcome.
Yet another reason to feel flat.
The choice of clothes does not matter just as long as they are practical and do the required job; i.e., keep me warm and presentable for a video call. Time spent on hair and makeup is minimal (if there is any effort at all). Priority is to get through the day without crash landing.
The day continues along these lines, everything requires a massive effort, and I am strangely unemotional about the whole shebang.
Don’t Post on Social Media!
These days, my brain is working nonstop; all my worries come to the surface. Am I starting a flare? Is something seriously wrong? Why do I feel like this? How can I change these feelings? Can I get away with going back to bed?
I know these days are not positive, but I know that they will pass, and I will bounce back and be cheerful again. I am resilient, but some days there just isn’t the energy to face the world. Sometimes I post on social media, and the next day when I read it, I’m embarrassed by my message and quickly delete the comment as I hate the “weakness” it shows.
Why do I regret posting the reality? Probably because I don’t want sympathy or fuss, these days are hard, and I know that everybody has them. I don’t want my friends and family to worry that the illness has retaken hold. It is frustrating to never ‘get better’, this is an extension to that feeling. I want to be better and healthy again, but I also know this will probably never happen.
Let’s Just Get the Day Over.
I would prefer it if these days did not happen, but they do, and they will continue to happen. So, how can we cope? How do we just get them over? We want them to be finished as soon as possible and return to feeling a bit brighter. We can rarely cheer ourselves up on these days.
If I can, I try to indulge the feelings and let them play out. There are reasons for these days, so I think if I can let my body and mind process them, maybe I am doing the right thing. Sadly, most days are crammed full with an increasingly busy schedule and the number of possible PJ days are in short supply.
So, I do what I always do: I put on a big smile, act like all is fine and go out and face the world.
Sometimes the world lifts my spirits, and sometimes it grinds me down further. Either way, I try to remember it is only one day.
The next day I wake up and feel different.
So, I brush aside the previous day and blame the medication for my changing moods. Nobody wants to talk about illness and misery, so the day gets wiped from memory, until the next time.
This is my experience with a rare disease, but I feel that COVID-19 and lockdowns have brought this feeling to us all. Flat days will happen; it is how we react to them that will make us a little stronger or resilient.
Take care and stay safe from this horrible virus.
Jane Edwards is an author of “Chronic Illness: Learning to live behind my smile,” about a journey of learning to live with a rare, invisible chronic illness.·
Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash