Each time I sit down at my laptop to write about the impact of the pandemic I feel an immediate sense of frustration, and then I reconsider. Whether it’s attempting to finish the next chapter of a book I’m re-reading, a WhatsApp call with friends and family, or cooking an elaborate meal for one, I engage in a form of escapism. I look for new ways to distract me from the present situation. Mate, I’m tired.
The ‘to do’ list gets longer and I fall back to the friendly, warm and familiar spot on the sofa. I do nothing. The guilt sets it. They say “you’ll never get this time back again.” I can’t help but notice on social media that others are using their time more wisely than I am. Or so I perceive. Even in a pandemic the need to compare oneself to others does not appear to be muted.
On occasion it feels as though I’m just consuming, whether it’s lapping up the sweet crumbs of the coveted banana cake or it’s the additional hours of screen time, I’m tired.
Thinking critically about the lockdown situation, I notice that I, and many others, have become more intentional in our communication. That quick “how are you doing?” without pause for the reply, has now changed to “so how are you coping with the situation?”
I still notice that there are times when my fingers go into autopilot, and without thinking I quickly send a message to loved ones and default to “hope you’re well”. On the face of it, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that type of message, of course I wish them well. However, it doesn’t offer people space to talk about how they are really feeling. Over the last few weeks I’ve felt hemmed in by enforced positivity. Some of it self imposed and other times by well meaning people so keen for you to be ok that you don’t get a brief moment to discuss how shitty you’re feeling.
Though I attempt to limit my interaction with social media, I cannot help but notice the repeated calls for more positivity to be shared on our timelines. There’s also increased discussion in the workplace about the ‘new normal’ and needing to adjust. After a long day of having COVID19 related discussion my brain aches. I return home; clothes off, shower on. I lower myself yet again into the familiar warm spot on the sofa.
TV on for a brief moment to create a sense of noise in the home. More of the same. I try not to roll my eyes as hard this time but I do so because health and social care staff do not want to be referred to as heroes. They just want the adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to do their job. For some reason, the news reader doesn’t practice telepathy and continues to talk about the local nurses ‘fighting on the frontline’. I notice something else, not a Black or brown face in sight. Now is not a time to talk politics, right? Wrong!
Again, the guilt sets in. After all, how many times have we heard these past weeks; ‘Things could be worse. This will pass’. Whilst it’s understandable that we want to balance the situation with positivity, I cannot help but feel that we (myself included) push positivity to the point where we can feel guilty for feeling sad, frustrated or even scared during a pandemic.
We all need the space to experience our emotions without judgement from ourselves or others. Some days I feel happy and when I close my front door I can curate my experience and be safe from the steady stream of information. Other days I cry when I hear about victims or because I want to see my family. I’d love for us not to need a ‘new normal’, or to have to learn about the ways our communities, my community, is being disproportionately affected by this virus.
One thing is for certain, taking up space just to notice how I am feeling and understanding that being positive all of the time isn’t at the top of my list. It’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to be worried. Being positive and happy isn’t a crime either, but I’m reminded that there’ll be variations in my mood, and that too is ok.
Hope you’re well