Working through Melancholy
As we near the end of the COVID-19 Crisis, it has dawned on me that we are not over with crises. Since the beginning of 2020, I have lost two relatives, lived through a pandemic and an uprising. The constant murders of community members by law enforcement and other community members have left a deep, agonizing wound on my heart. We’ve lost so much, yet we have to keep going with the grueling work ahead of us.
There are times, like today, when I am bombarded by unannounced waves of sadness, pain, guilt, anger, frustration, and melancholy. I am constantly fighting the want to check out and stop caring. For me, it’s best to fight back through daily practices of acknowledgment, balance, and perseverance. So I hope to help others by giving some guidance on how to continue through these bleak times.
- Acknowledge the Pain
There is power in naming what you are going through and recognizing what that means for yourself. Even just finding the right word for how I feel gives me clarity, and I allow myself space for that feeling.
2. Make Accommodations
Have grace for yourself. Don’t feel guilty about what you can’t do; reframe your thoughts and make accommodations for your current capacity and state. This will allow you to prioritize and stay consistent without being overwhelmed. You must care for your wounded spirit the way you would care for an injury, by doing daily check-ins, and at times being honest about what you can and cannot do.
3. Just keep going
There are daily practices, weekly practices, and things we all need to try to do. Suppose you fail at them or experience what feels like a failure at your job or in life. Just keep going. A perfect example is this blog. I have taken my hiatus from this blog, but I had wanted to keep a promise to myself of just writing. I have forced myself to write words in a journal for the past few months, but it has been gnawing at me that I haven’t maintained my blog. So I said to myself, let me keep going. Writing calms my mind, so on this blog, I will keep going, even half-heartedly, whether what I publish is ‘worthy,’ or whether I even publish frequently, my goal is to keep going, and that settles my heart.
I hope during these times you are rethinking what it means to care for yourself. We live in a hyper-capitalist world that benefits from exploited and undervalued labor. We don’t need to participate in exploitive systems or practices that leave us and the world depleted. I hope you value yourself over your productivity, although I cannot even say I have placed myself over my productivity in my own life. So until that day comes, I’ll practice ways to manage work with the new normal of constant crises, change, and melancholy emotions.