The paralyzing overwhelm no one is talking about …

Some people have been asking me why have I not been writing. In fact, I have asked myself this question about my paralyzing overwhelm for the past two months or so. As far as I can look back, writing has been my thing.

I remember the time when I was in tenth grade. My dad decided to help me prepare for my final exams. To my shock, he just came in one day and said that he would ask me questions, like he used to when I was little. It was one thing to answer short questions, and a totally different concept of reciting essay style answers. I escaped that day by coming up with some vague excuse. But my dad was a persistent man.

Every time he saw me with a book in my hand, he would give me that “questioning” look. So, I decided to come up with a solution that would solve both our needs. His need was to be a part of my education and my need was to avoid public speaking in front of him. We decided that he would ask the questions and I would write down the answers. I have always believed that my writing skills developed during those days of preparing for my final exams with my dad.

I didn’t know it then but writing was going to be a big part of my life. I write to express my emotions. And my writing has this strange connection with my emotions. The sadder I get, my writing gets more intense. And when I’m done writing, the sense of relief I get is indescribable.

So, when I developed the biggest writing block that I ever faced in my life, it came as a big shock to me. The past couple of months, things have been going crazy all around us. The entire world is facing tragedies of massive proportion and there seems to be a sense of paralyzing overwhelm all around.

My personal emotions seem to be playing a roller coaster game with me. I’m up one day, and down in the dumps the next day. I’m hopeful one day and completely falling apart the next day. I’m laughing at something that my kids said or did, and feel guilty for being happy at such times. I’m downright sad one minute and then feel guilty for being such a pessimist. I should have been writing up a storm during such times. Every time some personal tragedy has struck me, I have always gone crazy writing. Words become my best friend and sentences flow in my head demanding to be written.

But, all I have faced in the last two months is a blank slate in my mind. It is dark in there, no words and no expressions. I kept searching for answers till I got them today as I talked with a good friend. These are not normal times of grieving. We are not grieving for anyone in particular. And yet, we are grieving for everyone.

Every single day, we hear stories of love, loss, sickness, separation and anxiety.

We hear the courageous stories of health care workers and other people on the frontline. We hear the sacrifices that people are making so that they can perform their duties to the best of their abilities.  We are hearing stories of hundreds and thousands of people being affected by this new challenge that humanity is facing.

And amidst all these struggles, when we struggle with something as small as cabin fever, we feel like a terrible person. When we worry about little things like our child’s online education, we feel a horrible sense of guilt.

Fear and guilt are the ruling emotions!

Fear that this pandemic might effect someone close to us. Guilt for stealing those magical moments with our family amidst all this chaos. Fear that I may never be able to write again. Then guilt that I’m worried about my inability to write, while there are people worried about putting their family at risk because they are out there in the open dealing with sick people. Fear that I may not be around to cook my family their favorite dishes. Guilt that there are parents worried about whether their next meal will be available for their family. These see-saw of emotions will continue, and hopefully we will all figure out solutions to our problems, like my dad and I did, not too long ago.

For now, all I can manage to do is to live my life one day at a time, not going too crazy over this paralyzing overwhelm and not losing too much of my valuable hope. I don’t have solutions to the big problems of our lives. I don’t even have solutions to my little problem of a writer’s block.

All I have are these see-saw of never-ending emotions, and allow myself to feel them with honesty.

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