Current Mood: NUMB!!!
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 260 million people worldwide suffer from anxiety disorders or depression in a year. It is estimated that together with depression this leads to low productivity, resulting in personal and professional losses. Certain situations, however, may even lead to exaggerated reactions, generating unfounded fears and numbness, leaving people in denial.
While I was working on my recent academic papers and publications, I happened to realize that I am also trying to keep myself busy with every opportunity that comes by. Not worrying much about how it is supporting me in achieving my professional goals.
I was Busy but not Productive!!!!
And, I was working more than my regular capacity and strength only because of fears. Fear may be of losing out on work or being just left behind in life in general or gradually falling into a darker hole of depression. These irrational fears, anxieties, and restlessness were slowly turning into a depression, and somewhere I was aware of these changes being a family therapist and a professor. I was noticing each of my acts, starting with increased sleeping hours, not answering calls or messages, and not keeping up to a good diet. Never shared or expressed this to anyone, but it was perpetually existing. I was becoming quieter and numb, apparently which is my current mood too.
Quarantine life was not completely rosy for me, though it looked like the one. April 2020, when the lockdown was announced and we were self-quarantining in our houses my life was smooth rather uber-cool. It began with all creative stuff, lots of Netflix, online Zumba classes, and cozy bedtimes until the fact of uncertainty became real to me. In the current pandemic situation, like many other individuals, I started also believing that the future at my work is uncertain. Reading news or hearing from closed ones about how some people among us are being laid off temporarily or made redundant. Naturally, all of this uncertainty has generated stress and anxiety in me leading to sadness and crazy mood swings.
I just couldn’t stop ruminating on my challenges and fear for hours or even days.
For once, I decided to take a pause and leave just everything…literally every single activity, task, responsibility, the relationships I am involved in. But my sister, Tarishi who is my first love was someone who kept inspiring and motivating me through her awesome work, staying all alone several miles away from home- Singapore. A country that is fully functional and technical but low in expression or emotions. Moreover, speaking to a close friend was a stepping stone during this time. He allowed me to shout at him, cry in front of them, and speak as much as I want without being judged. Tamta, I call him…my forever favorite man! Currently staying in North Carolina, United States of America. To my surprise, I could feel a lot better, and all of this was happening virtually.
Being numb or staying quiet for a long time is not the real me…you can literally just ask my friends. I haven’t been this hard on myself even after several breakdowns, rejections, or breakups. This numbness was getting into my nerves straight and I still couldn’t fully concentrate on the gamut of writing I was involved in. May be because I was yet not ready to acknowledge my fears, the current numb mood, and a thin line of depression I was experiencing.
It is not unusual to feel numb emotionally, and I did notice a temporary feeling of dissociation or disconnection from my body, work, and the outside world. Soon, I decided to get rid of this obnoxious feeling; if not completely but partially. I began by going deeper in my understanding by first measuring my current mood using a BMIS- Brief Mood Introspection Scale rating scale by Mayer, J. D., & Gaschke, Y. N. The BMIS scale is an open-source mood scale consisting of 16 mood-adjectives to which a person responds (e.g., Are you “happy”?). The scale can yield measures of overall pleasant-unpleasant mood, arousal-calm mood, and it also can be scored according to positive-tired and negative-calm mood.
I didn’t score well, I was not happy- the BMIS rating concluded!
Writing this blog was not easy, instead very confusing. I didn’t want people to know that I am feeling alone, low, or depressed. Primarily, because I wanted to avoid their unpleasant advices/suggestions like getting married or quitting my job, getting into a relationship, online dating etc. Maybe I know somewhere what I need or I may say I have started to work towards achieving it. This is a phase, feeling numb is currently my part of growing and learning experience.
This too shall pass! Moving forward, I strongly believe that feeling anxious or numb awakens us to situations that we see as dangerous only because we don’t have enough courage and neccessary resources to face these challenges. I am right now trying to pool enough resources to uplift myself once again and shine forever. Being a professor and a family therapist I think this is the best thing I can do!