MY BED & I
When I think of home, a bed is the first thing that comes to mind. There’s nothing wrong with that most of the time, it’s the monolith of household comfort. But since my mid teens, my bed went from being a necessity to something not too far off a cell. A mattress has the gravitational pull to keep me wrapped up to the point I never want to leave.
It’s now been over a year since I was hospitalised for a mental breakdown, something I don’t want to focus on in this piece, but important nonetheless. The feeling was completely uncanny, everything around me had changed; even my identity had been replaced, I was wearing the exact same gown as every other patient and I was surrounded by strangers. Yet I was still in a bed. The feeling of lockdown wasn’t too dissimilar, so I found myself having to evaluate why that was and the parts of myself I should value when everything is taken away.
During the last year I thought I was proud of my recovery, and then lockdown happened. Covid-19 will remain in our vernacular for a long while, so I won’t pretend that it hasn’t sparked a colossal change, which is infuriating to admit. Putting the catastrophe of a global pandemic aside for a minute, as a socially anxious introvert I was actually rather gleeful at the idea of staying inside and not having to confront the outside world. And to many other introverts who value their downtime, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
Of course the novelty wore off, I was once again left with my own company and a bed. That, and my phone which I now slightly resent for the endless doom-scrolling. Seeing other creatives produce stunning work, in relation to the covid zeitgeist should’ve made me happy, but it actually dragged me further into my pillowy nest. All while I felt bombarded with pseudo-inspirational posts on how it’s okay for creatives to take a break, and start again when they felt ready. Instead I was in my bed, feeling as if that was the only place I could feel good (ironic, I know).
What had actually happened was that my fragile recovery had begun to crack. The facade I kept up for other people had become obsolete, and so I couldn’t even rely on believing my own lies. It had become painstakingly apparent that I was relying on temporary and unsustainable means of fulfillment, once again leaving me with the one constant which was my bed. When we struggle with mental health, we struggle bad. So many of us try to find a ‘constant’; a concept that involuntarily becomes the epitome of stability. When I talk about unsustainable means of fulfillment, I don’t mean they’re bad per se; rather they’re ways we can experience joy momentarily, they become unhealthy when we perpetually rely on them to feel good. For me, nothing I wanted to rely on could give me that; not even most of the relationships I had. And for the copious grindr users out there, I’m sure lockdown was a wake up call on how you treat intimate encounters, both frequent and infrequent.
”What had actually happened was that my fragile recovery had begun to crack. The facade I kept up for other people had become obsolete, and so I couldn't even rely on believing my own lies.
Queers and marginalised groups have one thing in common; in that home often becomes something a little less tangible. Some find it through choosing their families, producing art or surrounding themselves with scented candles. There isn’t often a solid feeling of home, that ‘constant’ is so hard to grab a hold of. We look in the most obviously unhelpful places, through alcohol, drugs, hookup culture and pretentious gallery openings. Personally I don’t have a problem with any of those things. However, there is always an unhealthy way to satiate ourselves, and none of those things are sustainable. When we feel displaced, we fall into the trap of looking in darker corners. Especially when we’ve finally reached a point where we feel comfortable enough to release a heavily suppressed appetite.
Gen Z is currently dealing with more than one pandemic, COVID-19 and an exponential increase of anxiety diagnoses’. The uncertainty that looms over millennials is more than just the pressure of pursuing a steady career, but also housing, body image and an increase of attacks on marginalised groups. When the pay off from education and unpaid internships takes time to accumulate it’s difficult to not want to give up. So if you can’t see a future in the next week or month, that’s completely realistic; look instead to a future 2,3 or 5 years from now.
And for the queer community, let’s take this as an oppurtunity to evaluate. None of us have to look at every human interaction as transactional, that’s unhealthy in itself. We must adjust our circles, spend our energy wisely, not give into toxic positivity or pursue the job our relatives picked out for us. And most of all if you feel as though you’re following the wrong path for you, no matter how far down the line, find a new one. The things that tie us down to our beds aren’t fixed, we hold the power to control them, change just won’t happen overnight.