The List

Lists are good. Lists are purveyors of sanity. Lists may not get tasks done, but they bring order to the chaos that is life.

Lists, at certain places of work, can literally save lives.

Checklists, do-to-lists, index lists, bucket lists, shopping lists- call them what you will, they certainly make life that teeny bit easier.

If you ask me though, there is one list that trumps (I think I can finally lift the moratorium I had placed on this word!) all else. A list we should all have, tucked away, or in glaring sight. Whether you are someone who struggles with mental health issues, or someone just navigating the customary undulations of day- to- day existence – this emergency document is our Protocol in times of crisis.

There is a mental health epidemic woven into this pandemic we are currently facing. People feel trapped, anxious. There is fear of the future. Lack of childcare, families worried about their next meal, parents worried about their children’s screen- times, rents and EMIs, health- care bills, business shut down, jobs lost..

Being cooped up endlessly with no respite in sight. It is a recipe for mental health disaster. Anxieties teamed up with demons both real and imagined; it will be a miracle if any of us come out of this unscathed. We have no idea what the ramifications of these years will be- on all of us.

My demons are not the offspring of current circumstance, but they certainly are being fed and nurtured by them. Like, I suppose almost everyone else, I too have my good days and not so good days. The List is for the days when I feel uninspired to even get out of bed. What is the point, I ask myself, some days. What is the bloody point?

Then, I force myself to look at the damn phone which somehow is always at hand’s length. I tell myself, do not bother with anything else, but please just open the Notes app. Please, just this once.

BRUSH

PUT KETTLE ON– CUP–2 TEA BAGS–1 SUGAR–HOTWATER—2 MILK—-MIX

DRINK TEA WITH BISCUITS

EMPTY LAUNDRY

GET THE KIDS—GET IPADS—CHILL

RUNNING SHOES—TREADMILL—— 15 MINS

ONE PHONE CALL

SHOWER

This is not a permanent solution. This is no substitute for formal counselling or treatment. But this is a way to get moving. When you feel crippled by anxiety, engulfed by grief or paralysed by apathy.

In fact we should all have multiple lists. Made in times of reasonable normalcy. A list for for when you don’t want to get out of bed. A list for when you lose someone you love. A list for when you face financial ruin. One for when you are faced with a life- altering medical diagnosis. Another for the time, when the- worst- that- can- happen happens at work. Because, bleak as it sounds, almost all the above will happen, at some point in our lives. Some more than once, some together.

We may be brilliant, we may be strong, we may be stoic- but we are human. And mortal. And susceptible to the vicissitudes of nature and destiny. Therefore, at the most basic, no one is stronger than the other. A brilliant man is no less saddened by the loss of a child. The most stoic is suddenly made vulnerable by the fact that her mortality stares her in the face. We aren’t so strong when we realise the the cushion of wealth has been yanked away from beneath us, and there is nothing to protect our soft, squishy arses from the thorns, sticks and stones.

In short, my lovely friends, grab a piece of paper, open up your email, or just your darned notes app- and make lists. Thought- out ones. Furious ones. Mundane ones. Complicated ones. Basic ones. Trust me, you will need them. And some day you will thank me.

Till next time,

J.

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