Bad brain blog
Knocking on wood and hoping that the horrors of COVID are mostly behind us.
A little while back, I created a section within the larger The Present Age infrastructure for things that were a little more off-the-cuff and a little less structured than my standard posts. These will be posts that I tend not to send out via email as actual newsletters, though I may sometimes do that. I called it The Present Blog. I thought of maybe going with something like The Parker Age, but that just reminds me of my actual age (35… 36 next month). Anyway, moving on…
I used to love Twitter. I’d see new perspectives, I’d learn about new things, I’d see stories from news outlets I otherwise wouldn’t have, and I’d connect with new people. As a somewhat reclusive person who has worked from home for the better part of a decade, social media had been one of the only outlets to make new friends and acquaintances. This isn’t to say that Twitter has been all positive, but the good had outweighed the bad.
My mental health hasn’t handled 2+ years of pandemic conditions particularly well. In December, I wrote about how I’ve always used benchmarks to will myself out of times of psychological distress. Since I was a kid, I’d count down the days until Christmas break or summer vacation, or the due date of a big project. As an adult, I’ve done this same thing with projects, years, vacations, birthdays, concerts, anniversaries, and so on. But the pandemic has made that a lot more challenging.
Even in the piece that I wrote about this (see above), I expressed relief that there were moments of hope along the way. My friend Lane came into town! My wife Kayla and I went to see her show at the Hideout! Things felt, for a brief moment, like they were edging back to something resembling normalcy.
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What I didn’t know was that by the time I’d started writing the newsletter, the Hideout had already shut down once again because of the Omicron variant. I ended up eating the cost of two tickets to a different concert I’d been excited about attending.
Unfortunately, the more time that passes, the less “good” that I’m finding. Even worse, the amount of “bad” seems to be steadily increasing. It’s all becoming a lot more chaotic, and I don’t quite know what to make of this. Is it Twitter? Is it the pandemic? Is it just… me?
My mental health has always been a bit of a work in progress, and sure, it makes sense that a pandemic AND a war AND a barrage of legislative attacks on trans people would wear me a bit thin. The problem I have is that logging off isn’t an answer — at least for me. In the back of my mind, I’ll still know about the challenges facing the world and how things are getting worse. It only creates a new kind of anxiety.
And the worry turns to frustration.
And the frustration turns to anger.
And the anger turns to rage.
And then what is there? There’s nothing. There’s just a void.
The optimist in me wants to believe that if COVID continues to wane and another scarier variant doesn’t emerge, it’ll be easier to compartmentalize the negative in the world with bursts of positive. To be fair, though, I’m just glad that “the optimist in me” still exists at all.