I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that one of my biggest fears is being forgotten. Not just being forgotten, but feeling as though I’m being left behind while my loved ones are the perpetrators of these actions. It’s an issue that my therapist and I have discussed in length several times (basically weekly). I came to the realization that the more friends I made meant more attachments created and more likely it was for someone to leave. From these several conversations with my therapist, I learned that growing attachments to people and things can be a great thing. They can help through dark, traumatic times (re: my manic depressive state), and when life throws curveballs at you, you know, when you’re required to stay indoors and social distance from people for weeks at a time.
In line with my fears of being forgotten, these self-isolating days of being forced away from my friends, my university, and all of my belongings have shown me how I’ve become reliant on these relationships and materialistic things. As someone who hated the thought of creating attachments, I’m struggling severely through anxieties that I’ve prepared for and newfound stress of all the uncertainties going on. As I have a lot of time to examine and feel the true void of these relationships, I’m learning to cope with these temporary losses through different forms of communication, creative outlets, and self-reflection.
I Miss My Therapist
I had been seeing a counselor at my university’s counseling center for a long time, and with the looming threat of COVID-19, my university made the (albeit smart) choice to close down the campus, including the dorms that I lived in, for the safety of everyone. Totally understandable, I get it. However, I didn’t realize that within 48 hours, everything was going to change. If I’m being completely candid, that didn’t make me anxious. I’ve spent over a year working with my counselor to properly handle my anxiety during times like these so now that they were here I was prepared. Yet, I didn’t expect to feel an emptiness when I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to see my counselor anymore. I had become so reliant and dependent on our sessions and the growing relationship that when the time came for our in-person appointment, I was upset because I wouldn’t be able to share space and time with her to discuss all that was happening.
Keeping real with you all, I still get sad when I think of the missed sessions and time with my counselor and the fear of what to do if I get in a bad headspace again. Thankfully there are several resources online to help through these stressful times when you may not be able to see a therapist. For most universities, there are also ways to virtually meet with counselors on staff during times of distress or in cases of emergencies. The National Alliance of Mental Illness also has several tips and resources for those who may be feeling anxious and depressed because of the Coronavirus.
I Miss My Friends
I have always been an introvert and I usually didn’t have any issues being by myself, but I became accustomed to being surrounded by people during my time at college. Joining different clubs, having roommates, being a leader on campus, and generally being surrounded by people all the time became my norm. Don’t get me wrong I often retreated to my room on numerous occasions to get away from people, but after some time alone, I began to crave the relationships that I made. Now that I am being forced away from these connections, only to rely on my two cats and grandmother, I miss all the times I could have gone out with friends but didn’t.
Thankfully, we are in a time of social media and connecting with people is as easy as sending a text. Every morning, I text my close friends, spam certain group chats, spend hours on end FaceTiming my friends just to feel around them. Communicating with the people I’ve grown attached to has made me appreciate these relationships even more now that we are distant. When I get really sad and start to miss my friends, I text them: it can be something silly like a meme or a long heartfelt paragraph about all the times we spent together. Even now, I have begun writing letters and creating art to share with my friends when we get to see each other again.
I Miss My Stuff
I left the comforts of my college dorm for spring break with only a duffle bag of toiletries and two outfits, expecting to return to my belongings. That was not the case at all and I found myself stuck at home with limited clothes and none of my things to keep me preoccupied during this quarantine period. I realized very quickly that while I missed my stacks of books, makeup, paints, and clothes, these materialistic things that I grew an emotional attachment to were not a necessity. I’ve realized that Marie Condo was right and the things I thought sparked joy only did so temporarily. Now, I do miss my clothes, I can only wear the same band tee for so long before I question my dedication to the particular music group (still love you, Paramore). I’m actually thankful for this time away from my stuff because I do realize that it’s just that…stuff.
My anxiety is still apparent when I think of all the changes that are happening in my life so fast and the lack of control that I have. It makes me want to bleach my hair again and start learning TikTok dances. I think it’s okay to want to do these things and to try to find some semblance of control when you can’t control anything. With the time we have and the time to come, I’ve grown to appreciate these attachments and I’ve learned that it’s okay to feel sad for things lost and even for the time that is lost.. for the lost graduations, weddings, dates, and people. But the biggest way I’m learning to cope with what’s happening is to remember how it felt for me to be so utterly alone with no one, and how it feels strangely nice to miss things because at least I’m capable of missing something and someone. My counselor and I often discussed how when people are anxious they tend to run away from the things that are making them feel that way, but like anything with life and all these vague happenings, the only way to overcome them is to go through them.
Feature Image via Daniela Spector