In March 2020 Australia joined the rest of the world by going into isolation.
There were mixed feelings. Some people panicked beyond belief and others shrugged thinking the whole thing would be over in a few weeks.
Being true to myself, I took to instagram to post selfies of myself in isolation, to blog more frequently as a way to offer what I could back to a world that might be looking for a distraction.
I started posting goofy videos on Instagram urging people to stay positive and I was video-calling friends using apps like House Party.
But the world doesn’t adapt that easily and nor do people’s personalities.
In a world that is being squeezed so tightly by this coronavirus, people are succumbing to their least flattering behaviours.
In January this year I got back to wrestling after a 6 month drought. I was out of shape and I needed to start filling my life with things that made me happy. I had also just exited a relationship which had become nasty and toxic in the end. Celebrating like any recently single bachelor, I was having great sex around the clock. My scruff account was very active, the way it always is when you’re a new piece of meat on the scene. But just a few months later, I found myself unable to wrestle and I was working from home.
I developed a routine. I would ride my bike around the park during my lunch break, draw and paint, or write my blog. When I jumped on social media to talk to others I would get told ‘I’m so bored’ and I would arrogantly scoff at that. How on Earth is anyone bored in a first world country with Playstation, Netflix and Spotify?
But people were just using the wrong word. They were lonely. As I have a tendency to first embrace a challenge, I poured my trademark passion and enthusiasm into keeping myself busy. My optimism told me isolation wouldn’t last long either. I would get through this because I wasn’t a basic bitch. I was capable of more than just drinks at the bar and casual sex to keep me interesting and engaged with the world.
As months passed the fad of staying busy to stay positive started to wane. I think impatience started to take it’s toll on me and if I didn’t see outcomes straight away, I started to self sabotage.
You see for me there’s a danger in engaging in so called toxic positivity. That is, masking emotional discomfort and distress with joyful activities and apparent progress/success.
If you decide to stay fit, you enter the world of fitness fanatics. If you want to stay creative, you mix in those circles. If you want to side hustle, you look to what other entrepreneurs are saying. This kind of comparison can make you feel inadequate fast.
I saw an Instagram post with some meathead flexing his bicep with the tagline ‘tough people make it through tough times’ and I couldn’t resist rolling my eyes. You see, in my current emotional state I sarcastically think ‘how are your biceps going to get you through COVID-19? Are you going to box the virus to death?’
The black dog had started biting. I was becoming nasty to others because I was becoming depressed. I started feeling as though the things I held dear were slipping away from me. Depression distorts one’s view of a situation though. My blog wasn’t some amazing side hustle, my friendships with the people at life drawing felt strained, I felt untalented, and in my opinion my wrestling club wasn’t doing enough to rally the members. Most of those things were untrue btw but this is how mental illness attacks the mind.
I drank excessively, I stopped bike riding, I even stopped painting and drawing. Writer’s block took over because I was uninspired to write blogs and I binged watched Netflix.
In June this year, the Black Lives Matter resistance broke out in response to the murder of George Floyd. As someone who abhors racism, this created immense distress in me. I found myself inspired to write a blog about colourism in my family but for the first time I noticed the writing ended on a confused and unfinished note.
I started gaining weight and writing angry, distressed posts on Facebook. Friends were noticing and one by one they either supported me or withdrew but it was all too much in general.
In isolation I felt trapped in the world I had created for myself. A single gay man expressing himself in the dangerous world of social media and eating and drinking himself into a mess.
So in July I decided to reclaim some of my sanity. I did Dry July to stop excessive drinking and to do something worthwhile. I raised over $1000 for people affected by cancer and I felt great to have smashed such a significant goal.
This has reignited my passion for life and belief in myself. I’ve got weight to lose but I’m going to lose it. I’ve started running again and convinced myself I don’t need others around me to achieve it.
I’m not going to punish myself for not achieving something great during isolation. Because I actually did. I’ve survived. I’m resilient and I am evolving. I’m still me and that’s bloody awesome.
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