I’ve noticed it for about the last week, most prominently since the DNC convention ended and the RNC circus started, but it’s likely that the deep malaise that comes over me when I’m not occupied with something has been going on much longer and just wasn’t as noticeable.
Just to be sure, I looked up “malaise” since I had a sneaking suspicion that it doesn’t adequately capture what I’ve been feeling and my suspicion was correct. Here’s the definition:
noun: malaise; plural noun: malaises
- a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify.
The first part isn’t all that far off, though I would add exhaustion and tiptoeing around the edge of despair to feelings of discomfort, illness, and uneasiness. The second part, however, is wildly inaccurate since I do know what is causing these feelings – the deep, deep concern that we aren’t going to be able to turn this ship away from the reef and that vast numbers of us will go down.
We’ve got tropical storm Laura that’s just turned into a Category 4 hurricane that will pummel the Gulf of Mexico and large parts of the Southeast while California is already ablaze with even more widespread wildfires than the horrible wildfire seasons of the last few years. We’ve got mounting COVID-19 cases all across the country, threatening children and young people in particular, as the ill-advised in-person school experiments go bust everywhere we look. We’ve got more Black men being gunned down by police as police otherwise take hands off approaches with right-wing vigilantes who are pointing real guns at peaceful protestors and actually shooting them.
So even putting your messed up gaslight-fest aside, things are scary and overwhelming, and just plain awful.
I’m guessing you’ve never let yourself feel this way so I’m going to describe it for you on the off chance that it might engender a tiny bit of empathy or insight (ok, I know that’s stupid – I’m really telling you because writing about stuff is how I process it for myself). It goes like so: my energy level and mood will be decent and reasonably positive when I’m working, writing these letters, or talking with people, but as soon as I am unoccupied and alone, my energy level plummets and I find myself on the verge of tears. I feel like I could go to sleep for 147 days (which would get us to the Biden/Harris inauguration day). I’m patently not used to feeling this low, this drained, this helpless and I’ll tell you, I don’t like it at all.
I will say, though, that seeing that the NBA, WNBA, and MLB all suspended play to protest the police gunning down Jacob Blake gave me a hopeful jolt. The Milwaukee Bucks’ statement was strong and righteous and I love that they closed with a reminder to vote in November.
You are so on your way out, bub. So gone. 147 days and counting…..
May we be safe from our POTUS.
May we be happy to support those who won’t pretend things are ok.
May we take courage and strength from their examples.
May we accept that things are seriously jacked up and we have to step up like never before.