The empath’s view of 2021

Yeah, that image? Don’t laugh, but that’s the view from inside my head right now. It’s been a bit like that in there since 2020, when the thing of which I try not to speak (and don’t usually manage it) hit the news and refused to leave. The c-word that’s still there. I can’t bear it.

Not just because I’m physically falling apart

Right now, I am, though. I’m going to be trying an experiment as from my next post — looking at whether visualising, positive thinking and all that jazz can make me feel better. I tried to imagine the sauna in the spa I like to go to just now…the feeling of warmth enveloping me, the gentle heat roasting my bum cheeks from below, the feeling of muscles relaxing into the experience. Then I opened my eyes and I was in my living room, on the sofa, with back and neck ache. But for a couple of minutes…I wasn’t. I can do this.

Not just because I miss literally everything and everyone

I do. My mum is two minutes walk away and I only see her when Sainsbury’s misses something off her online order and I try and get it for her. She popped round this morning for a carrier bag full of berries, on the way back from walking the dog and even the dog was excited to see me. He used to take one look at me when I let myself in, give me a disinterested sniff and then run off to find a toy to drop at my feet. Today he wanted to come in and say hello. I don’t even let myself into mum’s anymore, I message in advance, drop the shopping off and stand six feet away while we talk.

I miss coffee shops. Mundane as it is, the luxury of sitting there people watching, spending an hour on a coffee the size of a small boat and just letting life slowly pass me by was one of my favourite things. I’d go after the gym (I miss the gym so badly I’d even go back with the restrictions and put up with the allergic reaction to viricide spray). I’d pop in on my way to uni…

God I miss uni. Last September I went back for two months and it was lovely to see people but horrible. No chatting before seminars, no gossiping over coffee in the cafe. No hanging around, just single file, masked up, don’t touch anything or anyone, socially distanced seminars. I spent them trying to project my voice through a bit of fabric for two hours, around a room that was larger than normal and in which we were all spaced out. I have to confess to an inordinate amount of saying ‘what?’ and several seminar-induced sore throats.

My friends…I miss them so much. Just hanging out, going for food, going for drinks. Pub quizzes. Dad Rock and Indie nights with dancing. Parties. Weddings. Coffee dates. Zumba classes…all gone. Comedy gigs with my partner, nights out, eating out, hotels, holidays, walking along the sea front and chatting over a drink on the Pier…all gone…

But no…that’s not it.

No, I can’t bear what’s happening with C***d because I’m an empath. If that sounds woo-woo, it’s not — it’s just a word for someone who is emotionally tuned in to just about everything and finds it extremely hard to switch off from other people’s emotions.

I found out I was an empath about 15 years ago. I never understood why I was so badly affected by arguments. I had to leave the room if one was brewing — or tune myself out of it. If I was involved I would put up a mental barrier and freeze. It’s something I struggle with even now, I can’t deal with confrontation face on. All my wise cracks and clever replies desert me and I genuinely have no idea what to say. My instinct is to defuse the argument and run away from it.

I pick up on emotions intensely and I can’t bear seeing people cry, even on TV. There are SO MANY SAD PEOPLE right now. If it’s not bad news about extra mutations, everlasting lockdown or 1000-plus more dead people, it’s views of exhausted nurses and doctors, interviews with people who’ve lost loved ones, interviews with people who are losing their businesses, interviews with people who are crying because they can’t see elderly parents and they don’t know how much longer they have left…you get the picture. I have to psychically distance myself from the news if my partner is watching it. If someone is crying and there’s a lot of emotion, I won’t look at it, I look at my phone, my dinner, my Kindle. I physically can’t speak sometimes, I’m trying not to cry so much.

I could just let myself cry but then I’d be constantly leaking and blotchy.

I’m terrible for crying anyway and it’s got worse. Now, I can’t even listen to music that reminds me of fun times without wanting to cry. I’ll watch old Top of the Pops and well up at TERRIBLE songs because they remind me of a time I went clubbing, or was at a party, or just something funny or nice. I’m getting to a point where I could literally cry at ANYTHING. My emotions are shot.

Angry

I get very angry too. I shout at the TV a lot these days, more than I even did during Brexit arguments. I get upset at the constant onslaught of shitty news and my total powerlessness to do anything about it. I feel despair welling up at the thought of people dying alone, people losing their livelihoods, kids not being able to see their friends or get educated, uni students trapped in student accommodation on their own, people living alone who haven’t had a hug for almost a year. I worry about everyone. Another empathic trait is seeing things from everyone’s point of view so I feel for the people who go out raving when they shouldn’t because I feel cooped up and miserable too, and I crave a night out letting my hair down. I get why people cary on seeing their families. They miss them like I do.

I also feel for the people who are doing everything they should and have been ignored, and are struggling. People with no jobs being told they have to feed their kids with a bag of old tuna and some manky bananas. I can’t deal with it all and something’s got to give. That’s on top of the things I’m personally dealing with; I consider myself lucky as my friends and family are all safe and well, we’re getting by at the moment with a bit of juggling here and there, and we’re all well ourselves. But I don’t think I can take any more, empathetically (I think that’s a word). I’m full. I’m brimming over to the point that I’m leaking and it’s coming out on me physically too. I’m not sleeping, my physical health isn’t great and my mental health is under siege.

Social Media Blanket Ban

I’m banning c***d and associated words from my Twitter and anything that comes up on Facebook is ignored. News sites are muted and my news notifications were turned off months ago. Unless it’s positive news, I don’t want to hear it any more. La la la la. I can’t do anything about it so why torture myself? If that sounds callous, it really isn’t. I’m just trying to de-fray my nerves a bit and soothe myself. I’m watching old TV that makes me happy and listening to audiobooks on The Secret in a vain hope that I can change how I feel about things, even if I can’t change the things. I mentioned an experiment; I’m working on it now but as my mind is so suggestible, I’m thinking of suggesting things that are positive and ignoring the shit show that is 2021 so far. Writing about it also helps so apologies in advance for my cathartic meanderings.

I’m reminded of an old TV show — and while I can’t actually GO OUT, the sentiment remains:

I think it’s for the best…don’t you?

Of course that's not my real name.

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