This article is part of our series ‘Lockdown Diary’, where we invite women to share their experiences at home during the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown in India.
By Sonali Sudarshan
I’ve had some really good days across the COVID-19 lockdown.
I’ve also had some really bad ones. So bad, that I haven’t got out of bed, not cooked nor cleaned, and allowed my son to rustle up a vague meal at a vague time, had a bite and gone back to sleep. Some days I’ve had more to drink than is acceptable by my own standards.
On good days, I’ve cooked multi-course meals for the family, cleaned the house till it’s been sparkling, worked out, chatted with friends and even counselled a bunch of others.
This is what I call the bipolar lockdown syndrome!
A lot of this comes from the isolation of the lockdown. Yes, I am technically sharing home with my teenage son who has his own bipolar moments. There are days when he leaves the room only for meals, and on others I get piping hot tea and popcorn, which we sit and eat while we gossip.
We both have decided to treat each other with kindness. There are no longer any judgements. If we both end up in the kitchen for a drink of water, a spoonful of peanut butter, or leftovers at 3 am in the morning, we pretend we don’t know each other, finish our business and seek refuge in our rooms.
Some days snatches of literature and poetry flit through my mind, like old friends, whispering fragments of words and lines. On others, I recall fabulous holidays and try very hard not to think of when I might be able to travel again. Often, I just let my lockdown alter-ego Carebear do fun stuff to keep me calm: from eating, listening to music, to chilling. He keeps calm… and he stays home.
It’s a sense of hiatus, honestly. I have a sense that even while I make frantic phone calls, and work and try to keep a remote team together, this is a cakewalk and the storm is still to come. I’m wondering how it will feel like to step out of home again. Will I cry when I hug my friends? Will we look at each other and see changed people? It feels like a war will end and we will go back to normalcy, but normal will never be the same again. On other days, I pretend I’m on a long vacay, and drink lots of wine and giggle and watch Netflix.
In short, my behaviour borders bipolarity. A quick mood shift between toxic positivity (which I never knew was even a thing till people began protesting against it on Instagram), and morbid calm. Even on good days, small things make me cry very quickly. My mood can shift in a matter of few minutes, cry, smile, laugh, break down.
I’ve stopped questioning my behaviour and learnt to accept to and go with the flow. Even grief is flow, and receives its quiet moments of acquiescence. It’s a time of intense emotions and I’m living each and every one of them.
So, if like me, you have managed to find and delve into multiple personalities (Elsa from Frozen, Cuddly Care Bear, harried worker, and part-time masterchef), I guess it’s okay. Let’s meet all of them this lockdown, become friends with a few, give the others a chance to rant and rave and then bid them adieu, even the demons that visit unbidden at dawn or midnight. They are all a part of us, some emerging because isolation does not become us, in our harried busy lives, the others products of these strange and uncertain times.
I’m proudly bipolar through this lockdown and maybe even beyond it. It’s okay not to be perfect anymore. Life surely isn’t!
Sonali Sudarshan is a public-relations professional who also likes to dabble in writing as she has an opinion on everything. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org