May 30, 2020

Dear Friend,

Since the start of COVID-19 I personally haven’t felt too bad. I think I’m one of those people who can calm down when they have no social event to attend. Since we shouldn’t go outside, I wasn’t at my apartment but at my boyfriend’s place. That way I wasn’t alone with myself. I think that is the reason why I don’t feel as bad as I would have expected.

However, there are things going on which make me restless. A friend of mine is not dealing well with the whole COVID-19 situation. She drinks almost every day and tells me how difficult the whole situation is for her. When I had problems, she was the one helping me to cope with them. Because of her I’m doing so well lately. A year ago, I think I could have helped her more. I feel like lately I have become too content with myself to give her the help that she needs. That’s why I talked with her about going to therapy, but she won’t do it.  I wish I could be there for her. It bothers me that I can’t be there for her in person and am only able to communicate with her through video chat or messages.

This made me think about all the people who are alone at home. They need someone to listen to their struggles. Even in times before COVID-19 it was difficult to talk to someone about one’s feeling and sometimes one even dependent on the people surrounding one noticing that something is wrong. I really hope those people are doing all right and maybe find it in themselves to talk to someone.

Love,
Sunny

May 29, 2020

Dear Friend,

I’m sorry I haven’t written to you in a while.

Life is finally starting to get back to normal. Or, at least, to a way of living that one could consider to be “normal” during a pandemic. Or maybe I’ve just gotten used to wearing a face mask, disinfecting my hands, keeping my distance, queuing outside supermarkets, taking online lectures and so on and so forth. I sometimes even catch myself questioning certain behaviors and etiquettes on TV. Well, I guess COVID 19 really has changed our life.

However, sometimes there are also moments when you are aware of COVID 19 – and all those precautions that come with it – but it might still feel surreal. About two weeks ago, I visited my dentist for a regular dental checkup. As you might already know, patients are asked to bring their own face mask to wear (but, of course, there are (still!) some reckless and selfish people who refuse to do so). Anyway, after being seated on one of the few chairs that are currently available in your dentist’s waiting room, you are asked to “contactlessly” proceed to one of your treatment rooms. While everybody in the waiting room is still wearing a mask, you are finally told to take it off. And it does feel strange. Not only because you might get nervous about the treatment but also because it kind of feels as if you were about to commit a minor crime.

And then there are moment when COVID 19 makes you feel angry, sad and as if you don’t give a damn. I know that this might sound crazy, wrong and stupid. But, unfortunately, emotions can be quite irrational. And one of the most emotional moments during the pandemic has been my grandfather’s funeral. Even though standing in front of a grave with black face masks might be a “funny” image to some people, there is nothing more sad than losing a friend or family member during a pandemic. It. Really. Sucks. Trust me. While members from other funeral ceremonies seemed to leave their masks on, the five of us (there would have been more people under normal circumstances) took them off. And I am really happy about that. Firstly, I didn’t think tears and a face mask make a good combination. Secondly, I didn’t want to hide behind a mask when saying goodbye to my grandpa’s ashes. I guess I didn’t give a damn, did I?

Speaking of emotions, do you know that feeling when you’d finally managed to push certain emotions and feelings out of you mind? I mean you’d probably do it unconsciously but you might still feel relieved… at first. Well, I guess this has happened to me after I booked a flight to Arizona in January; hoping to finally go back and see my American family this summer. Yes, there are high death tolls and worldwide suffering is by far more worthy of respect than my wish for a family reunion. However, talking to loved ones would bring back those feelings that you had experienced after delightedly holding your flight’s booking confirmation. I do hope that this pandemic will be over soon, but I’m afraid that it is nothing more than wishful thinking for now.

Then again, two friends of mine asked me if I wanted to go on a bike tour this weekend and, similar to when I was taking my face mask of after entering my dentist’s treatment room, I started to think about what was said. Is it worth slumping when I don’t have to? Can I protect others from losing a loved one during this pandemic? Or am I just stuck in “quarantine mode” while everybody else has gone on with life?

My dear friend, stay safe!

McNevin

May 20, 2020

Dear Friend,

It’s Tuesday night, which means that I’ll have to power through 6 hours of online classes tomorrow. Being honest, I really think that I overestimated myself, yet again, when I planned the schedule for this semester because it can really be exhausting at times, and it’s not even an exam period yet. I considered dropping a class or two, but as my ambitious self wants to graduate as soon as possible, it didn’t really seem like the best idea, so I guess I’ll keep on endeavoring as I strain myself and regret my decisions. But then again, I once heard that you shouldn’t regret the decisions you’ve made in your life because, at one point, that was exactly what you wanted. That’s comforting to think about sometimes.

I didn’t go out today at all. My roommate asked me to accompany her on her trip to the grocery store, but I politely declined because I was too tired. Going out to the outside world became a lot scarier since the corona pandemic began. But it’s not the virus I’m not afraid of though; it’s the people. I know there are a lot more of kindhearted people in the world than the wicked, cruel ones. Or at least, I like to think so. But that doesn’t mean anything. Being an East Asian, I’ve always been an easy target concerning racism; people tend to minimalize the sufferings of Asians concerning racism compared to other minorities, saying that we’re playing victims and that others have it worse, but does that then mean that my fears and pains are invalid? That I should continue to live in fear?

Perhaps, we do have it easier than other races, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that our voices and pains be ignored and that we should continue to accept such injustice. Anyways, because of this, a very selfish part of me sometimes wishes that this virus began somewhere else in the world, or even not at all because as most people can’t tell the difference between Asians, they assume that all Asians are Chinese and tell me hurtful things. I know that it’s on them and that I shouldn’t blame myself for not being able to choose my own skin color, but sometimes even those words of comfort feel empty. I know with certainty that even after the virus is over, the world will not be the way it used to be, and this is especially true for us. I don’t really know what to think but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I do hope that more people will try to be understanding though. It pains me to think that some people think of me as a walking virus just because of the way I look.
I hope I didn’t strain you too much with my negativity today. I just get really defensive when people try to belittle me and my experiences, which happens kind of often when it comes to this topic. But don’t think too much of it; I’m fine. Just think of it as an angry little hedgehog with its small but sharp needles as its only defense; inevitably hurting itself as it defends itself. I think that’s the image I have of myself. A hedgehog. Small and insignificant but nevertheless important to the world. With that said, even though I, as a human being, am smaller and more worthless than a mere speck of cosmic dust in space, I realized that it’s me who gets hurt when I pinch myself, and it’s me who’s hurting when people tell me offensive things. When I’m sad, it’s my tears flowing down from my eyes with my pain in the end. Only I can feel the emotions that I experience; only I can feel my happiness. So, in that case, if there isn’t me, there’s a small, insignificant absence in the universe, an absence of all these ranges of emotions that I’ve felt, feel, and will feel. Me and my dear universe. This reminds me to be nicer to myself.

But, you know, it’s not just me with my universe though; the same applies to everyone. Just as my universe disappears when I’m not here, everyone’s universes are also absent when they’re gone. But I can’t really let sonder to sink me in right now. I’m busy. Anyways, what I wanted to say is that we’ve already lost a lot of universes because of the pandemic, and I can’t stand to watch more disappear. There isn’t much I can do about it though, and I guess that’s the most frustrating part: feeling helpless. I apologize if I sound like I’m just rambling; I don’t really know how to put this emotion into words, but I guess it’ll suffice for now that I’m feeling it at least.

I think this virus is really the worst because it’s so highly contagious. Because it’s so contagious, it forces you into isolation. You can’t embrace your loved ones as they are in pain or passing away, you don’t have anyone to look in the eyes when you’re scared and need affirmation, and you have no one to take care of you unless they are also risking their lives to care for you. So, instead, you are alone in your misery. What a lonesome way to die. What a hopeless disease. I hope that you’re fine in the midst of all of this. Also, you should try to be nicer to yourself, too.

Love you always,
W.A.

May 25, 2020

Dear friend,

I hate being alone with my thoughts. It is like being lost at sea– surrounded by masses of water that might pull you under, but I do not want to drown. Although I cannot swim quite well, I also do not want to sink. It is hard to keep myself above the water surface when everything seems to be so overwhelmingly terrible. I know that I am quite pessimistic at times which is probably why I feel like that at the moment. But at the same time, it is terrible, isn’t it? Don’t you feel the same? The waves are getting bigger each day. It is so tiring. Still, I try my best to keep going– to keep swimming (even though I am bad at it). I want to tell you how.

It is a mind game. I am the only player, trying to trick myself. That sounds a bit confusing, doesn’t it? Let me explain. I am constantly working on myself inside my head, wanting to create a healthy headspace. Imagine a room. So, I built this room and I am trying to decorate it, to put some cute furniture in, to hang some pictures on the walls which are nice to look at, and so on. Occasionally, while I am pretending to be a knowledgeable interior designer, there comes a wave. Suddenly. Out of nowhere. Well, that is not entirely true, I must confess. Sometimes I can already feel it coming– like you can tell by a sudden change in weather that a tsunami is approaching. The water floods my room. Everything. Now and then it reaches a certain level, so I need to release this gulping water in the shape of tears. I might to be good at swimming, but I am a decent crybaby. Anyways, I do not want you to worry about me. Currently, I am draining my little room– it is quite waterless, to be honest. I can dip my big toe in, that’s it. Progress, right?

So, what I want to say by telling you about all of this is: life is like a tidal wave. There is high tide and low tide. I am sure you already know that; I am sure we all know that, but sometimes we might forget. Because sometimes (just like now) everything seems so utterly dark and terrible, waves keeps crashing above our heads and water fills our lungs and it gets incredibly hard to breath… and then, after struggling, and hoping, and coughing the water out, there is warmth and light and smiles and hope. And the realisation that it is always worth swimming, even if you wish to be buried by these damned waves. They will not bury you as long as you see the sky behind the clouds. I know that you know that this sky is just way too beautiful to be forgotten.

Again, the situation is terrible, and I feel terrible, but I will not drown. I sincerely hope you will not drown, too. Keep the little room inside your head nice and tidy. Keep the waves crashing at your walls, not at you.

Please know that I love you and hope to hear from you soon.

Until then,
your Crybaby

May 25, 2020

Dear Friend,

I am not okay. But not any worse than before. Not too much has actually changed for me since … then, only that I have come to realize my life has never been normal. Suddenly having to see everyone else living my life has taught me that. I don’t think the world has gone crazy over night, but the last weeks have only revealed the craziness that has been lurking around for a long time.

However, I have come see that I have already been living in quarantine for years. Hidden behind walls, wrapped in masks and gloves, unable to truly touch or be touched by anyone, because infection would be fatal. Some people are born with a pre-existing condition called introversion and an additional affliction named hypersensitivity. It compromises not your physical but in a way your mental and emotional immune system and thus sometimes requires distancing for you to survive, because the world and its people carry so many germs that could be fatal to you. Your brain cells do not recognize them as deadly intruders, as a lethal virus, they let it enter, let it multiply and change the DNA of your thought, let it drain and
exhaust your mind, your body, your emotions, your fantasy, your thought. everything. Until they turn against yourself and destroy you. I have so long been so careful to move around the world, for I am still so weak from my last serious infections.

When you’re like one of those people, like me, there are so many germs out there, so you resign to only going out when you have to, only visiting quiet places, watching through windows, talking amongst trees, feeling the wind, a touch you can bear, one which won’t harm you. You want to survive, but it seems that survival asks you to give up anything that counts for life. So, yes, quarantine sucks. Always and in every form. And no, I am not okay and I don’t know when will truly be. But the fact that at least we are all not okay together right now is somehow a bit comforting. I have found it is important to learn to embrace yourself within your own walls, even though that can be sad, but now I can’t remember the last time I felt so close to so many people. In a way it has been long since I have felt and given so many embraces. I didn’t know there was such a thing as being alone together.

And somehow the world continues even when it seems to have stopped spinning. And I am still here. Within my own walls. Looking out of the window, every day. Watching life. Breathing. Surviving. Every day.

What I see doesn’t scare me, not more than before. And I am not worried about my future. That is, not more than usual. Not afraid of what will be tomorrow, of the immediate effects of the disease, but nervous when I try to look into the distance, worried about the world on a day that still seems very far away. And in the labyrinth of my mind I try to make sense of it. Try to put my gravity it into words, these things that sometimes have magical powers to break down walls and bridge enormous distances.

So I say: Dear World, I think we ought to talk. I know that we usually don’t do that. We haven’t for quite a while, because of all the bad blood between us. But I think it is time. Take a walk with me, listen to me and I will try to listen to you. After all, the hour is late. Perhaps later than we think … it has been quite hard to find a properly working clock lately.

Because minutes just bleed into hours, and hours into days, days into weeks …. I can’t believe it has been two month now. And three years.

Dear world. You seem so very thirsty at the moment. And hungry. In fact you’re not looking good at all. Haven’t in quite a while. You’re still not rid of your bulimia, don’t think I haven’t noticed. I see how you eat, I see how you gorge, I see how you swig, I know about all the injections and how you keep on poisoning your blood. I know what you do to your brains, in order to avoid facing the truth. The truth can hurt sometimes. Most of the times. Believe me, I know …

I know what you do to your lungs even now that you’re so sick. I know you’ve been avoiding the doctor. You look bloated, but your bones are cracking. There is a sour taste in your mouth, I know. And your skin, it is so cracked and dry, does it hurt you? Is it infected, does it bleed a lot? And your sunburn – careful not to scratch it, the scars will remain forever! Yes, I know, I’m not your mother – in fact, I learned all of this from you. And I worry about you. A lot. About what you’re going to do when you awake from your nightmares.

I can see how they plague you, how you’re twisting and turning. I can see your grimaces and how you bare your teeth. Your teeth! They look horrendous. If only you could stop sticking the finger into your throat. Yes, I know you are sick. Me too.

I would love to tell you that everything is going to be okay, but that is really not for me to say. If you could just stop screaming. For once. If you could just stop believing the monsters under your bed. You don’t have to fight those who are trying to help you. It’s okay to be sick, to be weak, to need help. You don’t have to pretend. If you would stop fighting the paramedics, the nurses, the doctors, the friends, if you would not spit out the medication, or rip out the transfusion! Yes, it’s your life, but not yours alone. Yes, you are old, but still so young. You still have so much living to do. Don’t let go just now. There is still so much work for us to do. You are so good, you know. And so messed up. You’re so beautiful! And you still have so much to do, to create, to screw up and to correct.
Just … don’t do something stupid. Just breathe.
You are older than anyone and you have the most severe pre-existing condition. You should be careful of what you do to yourself. You are the patient most at risk these days – we ought to protect you. And I fear we are failing. And if we continue I’m afraid you will finally go crazy.

Yours Ann on E-Miss

May 25, 2020

Dear Friend,

Have you ever loved like I did?
A Place
A Home
A Love

that entails more than words can describe … a feeling of infinite connection
I have, and I have lost it again, and jet it seems engraved in my heart forever. It seems as if the place and those people were a dream I could only behold for such little time. I wished I could have stayed longer, but the dream had to vanish, and what is left is my scope of imagination. My heart longing for the place of comfort and hope.

The saddest Moment.
I had to leave.
My heart burst into pieces.

I had to leave the place, the people… and the person I had become. At first, I was numb and could not feel the loss. After a while, it stopped, and I could feel again but the pain was overwhelming. Days would blend into each other. My heart acing and longing for the thing I missed the most. This overwhelming confusion would rest upon my heart with great distress. This notion of seeing colors more vividly and expressing my feelings with more passion and delight has never fully come back.

Nevertheless… I am determined to see the good and beautiful once again.

I am working hard.
to mend my heart,
to feel the depth of excitement, love, and affection.

Therefore, I must convey to you, my dear friend, that I am staying humble to accomplish my task of finding a new dream. I will strive to exceed my previous journey to find new treasures in my life. To share my love with greater joy and enthusiasm. To fill my life with joy and hope for the future. Dark times may come but they also go away, and when you endure the pain, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

New journeys await me…
to thrive
to love again

My heart once filled with fear of hurt and despair and loss is now filled with delight. I, my humble self, can experience the beauty of nature, land, and the comfort of loved once again. I am learning to see the world with delight and wanders again. I must say that it is not easy to convey my sincerest, dearest emotions to you so publicly. Still, I must spell them out to venture into a new beginning.
I must be brave to dream and mend my soul.

P.S.
I hope you find inspiration and comfort in my words and this poem. For a blink of an eye venture into your own mind and find your own treasures to then find the strength to seek a new adventure and dream…

With affection J

May 19, 2020

Dear Friend,

I am alright, I guess. Right know I’m listening to John Denver’s song “Sunshine On My Shoulders”, because it calms me down and it slightly reminds me of different places and certain people. My mother really likes his music and therefore, I’ve listened to these country-melancholic-vibes since I was little. Melancholic. I guess that this is the predominant feeling I am having right now.

Yesterday I had to cry a lot. Currently, this happens quite often, even when I don’t really expect it to happen. I was outside and doing something that others and under normal circumstances me, too, would define as “fun”, which was going to fetch ice-cream with my boyfriend. Due to the corona crisis it is prohibited to eat inside a 50 meter radius of the restaurant or provider, in order to keep enough distance to other people. So we went to an open field that is near to my tram station and sat down. The ice-cream tasted nice and the sun was shining. Even some bees were flying around and buzzing over our heads, trying to find the next flower to get honey from. It all seemed so perfect, that something had to be wrong.

Suddenly, I got tangled into all these emotions and thoughts inside my head which made me ignore the happy things. I already had that feeling since the morning of the same day, but it was afternoon and apparently it did not work to get rid of it. Sometimes I really try to stop this feeling, because I know that if I don’t, it usually gets worse. And it did get worse, so I started to cry. First very softly, trying to hold my tears back because I did not want him to notice how I was feeling. At one point he noticed and asked me what the matter was, and I just cried really hard. After some time, I told him that the problem is that I don’t really know why I feel so sad.

Because if I would see things from another point of view, I am one of the rather lucky people in this world. Nobody of my loved ones is seriously sick or poor and I have plenty of resources and receive higher education. But besides having all of these things that make me a privileged human being, I feel empty at times. Even though I try to explain how this feels to someone else, it is almost impossible to figure out the source of this sudden sadness that lies within me.

When I was informed around two years ago that I have BPD, I started talking with my therapist about all my issues and gained a bit of hope to find a way out. This way out is, for example, doing all the things that make me happy, like drawing, singing, dancing, going out, hiking, reading, meeting people, etc. When I do one of those little things that give me hope and make me smile, it is harder for the sad feelings to stay and dominate my emotions. But as most people know, the social activities are restricted right now for our own safety. I thought I would never say such a thing, but I even miss writing an exam. Well, not the actual preparation and stress of writing it, but rather the feeling before entering the room and leaving afterwards. Just all the chatting with the other students and wishing each other luck and crossing fingers for each other. I also used to call my grandparents right after I wrote one to tell them how it went, because my parents don’t live in Germany and the time period does not always allow a call. I miss the excitement in the replete halls of our university during the first weeks of each semester, when the new students need to find rooms and you give them some advice about which professor or tutor is nicer than the other.

I also miss dancing. Dancing really helped me throughout my therapy to regain confidence and I am lucky enough to be part of an incredible community, who shares this passion. At the beginning of the restrictions I did not imagine how deeply not being able to dance would affect me. But yesterday I really noticed how sad that made me. I know that the dancing schools are reopening now and my teacher called me if I am still able to teach a course with him, but I told him that I won’t go for now, because of the safety of my family, myself and others. Somehow, this decision feels right and wrong at the same time. From an overall perspective it is the more “reasonable” decision, but it also made me really sad.

So these were some of the things I told my boyfriend and he just held me in his arms before going home and said that in the end it will all be alright. I still cried when he left my place and I watched him leave from my balcony, waving slightly as he waved back. I took one of my teddy bears with me and sat there for a while. Just thinking. Those are little problems, at least that is how they seem to for other people, because they don’t have anxiety when someone leaves and you see them just days after saying goodbye. I don’t blame them for not understanding it.

Sometimes I wish to be able to switch down a button and stop thinking about sad things, just embrace the sunshine on my shoulders and be happy. And when the sun is staring me in the eye, I wish to be able to smile and cry, but this time cry because of the happy things that surround me. Maybe I find a way to cope better with this situation and my mental condition. Now I am going to fetch something, because I am starting to get that melancholic feeling again! I like to call it the “emergency suitcase”, it is a little box which contains pictures, pieces of paper, little personal, but happy stuff, you know? It is meant to battle the sad feelings.

I hope, dear friend, that you are alright and healthy. Until next time!

Yours,
Z.