One evening in late August 2020
I was cycling around my neighbourhood.
Just a leisurely cycle, something that I do to keep fit. Ever since I began working from home, I have been cycling more often. I like cycling in the evenings best. The evening air is cool and crisp. When I cycle past houses, I can smell various kinds of dinners cooking. Sometimes, I look up and see the stars.
That evening, as I cycled, I was suddenly aware of this feeling in my heart.
It’s as if my heart was floating, rather than being weighed down by something. A pleasant, peaceful, and buoyant feeling. Could this be what people mean when they talk about “lightness of the heart”?
I feel happy, I realised. A smile bloomed on my face.
It’s been a while since I truly felt this beautiful feeling.
This has been a hard year
Plus, other things that I do not talk about publicly.
It’s not just me. I know other people who have lost their jobs, lost loved ones, or got divorced.
As a result of everything that has been happening, my mental health was erratic this year. I felt helpless, angry, uncertain, anxious, stressed, sad… At one point, I even considered getting depression medication.
Still, I soldier on
I remind myself about precession. Forward, forward, just go forward. Who knows what opportunities I might stumble upon, along the way?
I worked hard at my new job.
I read books.
I drew with a vengeance.
It’s not that I was in a constant state of depression. I did smile, laugh, and fool around. I was happiest the day I got the news about my new job.
Just that there was an undercurrent of sadness in spite of everything happening around me.
“It’s grief,” my therapist told me. “Give yourself time to heal and be patient.”
One day at a time.
What getting better looks like
That lightness of the heart I experienced in late August was a milestone for me.
It made me realise that I was truly getting better. I’m making progress with my life, in spite of how tumultuous this year has been.
I still read, work, and draw. I’m doing great on these fronts.
But I am also coming out of my shell to build human connections. Old ones and new ones. For an introvert like me, this is a big development. I’m picking up new skills too.
My mental health remains a work in progress. In fact, a couple of weeks after that August evening, I had an anxiety attack and burst into tears. Pandemic fatigue is still real. So is uncertainty about the future.
But these days, I smile more and my heart feels lighter. My various projects keep me going. Cycling, walking, and yoga keep me healthy. I have people who care about me (and I, them). I’m alive and well.
Sometimes, I actually look forward to the future.