The Fog

By Wendy Ho

There have been several times in the past year where I have slipped into what I refer to as “the fog.” I scroll endlessly on social media, I click on YouTube video after YouTube video, only to start part of it and move onto the next one. I eat food until I’m sick. I stay up until 5 a.m. even though I felt tired hours ago. I sleep 14 hours a day and then take a two-hour nap on top of that. I binge all four seasons of The Good Place in a weekend. There is no past or future, only the present and the over-saturated indulgence. In non-pandemic times, I usually chalk “the fog” up to the utter emptiness that I feel after a semester has ended. I feel relieved. I can finally avoid all responsibility for a brief moment. I can let go of control, just for a second. But, this past year, during lockdown, “the fog” has come back several times, and it’s easy to forget that I used to not feel this way.

Needless to say, I think “the fog” is a symptom of poor mental health. It’s hard to escape sometimes, but here are the ways I’m trying to clear “the fog” this Winter Break. It’s going to be difficult because I won’t have anything to do for a whole month and a half — nothing to do but sit in my feelings, which can sometimes be helpful but also lead me to over-ruminate and then want to numb everything.

1. Reading books

2. Working on a creative project

3. Planning a hike outside (maybe with friends)

4. Reminding myself I’m not alone (I think it’s a great fallacy that we believe we are alone. There is someone out there that cares about you more than you realize, even when you feel fundamentally unlikable)

5. Writing/Journaling

6. Restoring relationships and leaning into relationships that are restorative

I know the next few weeks are going to be rough for me personally. As tiring as school can be, it keeps me distracted and oriented towards a series of short-term goals. This winter break, I’m going to try and find ways to do things I enjoy without either feeling inadequate for not achieving an artificially high standard or slipping back into “the fog.” I’m going to find a way not only to survive, but also thrive. Because existence and life doesn’t have to feel like one endless slog up a mountain. And because I know I have the creativity and love and people around me to get there.

A visual essay by Wendy Ho.
Web design by Kenny Peng.