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September 01 2020

How Covid-19 changes in the way we get together and work shook Deputy Editor Mat Amp’s recovery

It’s not dramatic to point out that the impact of Covid-19 is far from over, it’s not pessimistic, either. For the most part I’m a glass half full type of guy – even if occasionally the realist in me is pretty sure that it’s half full of piss.

I don’t think I’ve ever been one to shy away from reality. Life can be beautiful, amazing and wonderful but it can also be harsh, brutal and tragic. Whatever my perception of the way things are, I used to be confident that I would always be aware of how I felt in myself.

That all stopped when my life went tits up. Without boring you with the details, something happened that plunged my life into crisis and ended with me on the street. Unable to deal with it all, my life gradually fell apart and the numbness set in.

Before you get the string section of the orchestra tuning up its tiny violins, I was no angel, believe me, and I’m really not asking for anyone’s pity. The point of writing this column is in the hope that it speaks to someone who is going through something similar and helps them, even if in some very small way, to get through it.

When my life started to unravel, depression swept in so quickly that any self-awareness dissolved like a spoonful of sugar in a cup of hot tea, while my emotions were that old bag of frozen peas jammed in the back corner of a freezer for God knows how many months. Unable to deal with what had happened, I smothered my feelings in a blaze of class As, reducing my purpose in life to survival through a simple formula of get money, get drugs, get high, get sick, repeat.  

Before I knew it, I was deeply depressed but completely unaware of it. I’m guessing that was some sort of survival mechanism doing its thing but whatever it was part of my recovery is to try, at all times, to be aware of what’s happening to me on an emotional level.  And I’ve been doing okay with that until recently, until this Covid shit show hit town and reduced my relationships to time-limited conversations with heads in boxes on my computer screen. On some level I knew that I was finding this brave new world a bit difficult to deal with, but it wasn’t until I met up with some old friends in the park last week that I realised just how angry it had made me.

As I sat on the grass, chatting to old mates and having a laugh, I started to remember how to communicate on a human level. I could feel myself letting go of a white-hot rage that I’d wound tight inside my soul to stop it spilling out like molten lava. I wondered how much longer it would have taken for the volcano to explode, sending me totally friggin DHL [postal on a massive scale, geddit?]. In order to deal with this anger, I’ve gone back to the basics of my recovery, something I seem to do when things get shaky. To do that though, I had to realise there was a problem so just maybe I’m going to get my knuckle tats redone with the words SELF-AWARE so that I never forget how to feel again.