I’ve grown up a bit since starting this blog. A few short years ago, when I wrote a blog for mum’s birthday, I mentioned my disappointment in failing to secure Adele tickets. I knew every word to her new album 25. But oh, how priorities change! Although my daughter is almost ten, I’m not as time-rich as I’d envisioned. I still have to parent, albeit it has become easier physically (though trickier emotionally – the joys of parenting a preteen, what with monitoring screen-time and conversations that turn into mini-debates). I’ve been so busy that I haven’t even had time to listen to Adele’s new album, but I’ve heard “Easy on Me” and it’s definitely a message that I want to scream at the top of my lungs.
World, go easy on me. No, that’s not what I want to say. I want to say: Sarah, go easy on yourself.
Almost twenty-two months. It’s been almost twenty-two months since the “old normal” disappeared overnight. The end of February will mark two years since Covid19 reached us here in Ireland. None of us could have imagined how much would change between then and now.
We were resilient then. We were prepared to do whatever we had to in order to curb the spread of this new virus. We stayed at home and worked in our pyjamas. We homeschooled the kids, against all of our wills. This was only going to be for two weeks, to flatten the curve, we were told (but nobody believed this). Our children saw out the end of the 2019/2020 school year at the kitchen table. On the day that the first lockdown was announced, our daughter had just brought back into school her consent form for her school tour, an indication that none of us really foresaw what was about to happen. On Sunday 8th March 2020, I stood in the Church at a pre-First Communion mass with a group of parent friends, speculating about this virus that we assumed was millions of miles away.
Four days later, Leo plunged us into lockdown, and the rest is history.
You know all this. I just wonder is anyone else where I am now. I feel exhausted, absolutely worn out. Like my daughter who is waiting in anticipation of Santa, I’ve been a good girl. I’ve done everything I’ve been asked. I’ve barely been anywhere in two years. Being captive in my own house, I willingly got involved in many activist groups (namely with ILMI, which I loved), and I gathered a collection of activists’ stories, which kept my mind from wandering into dangerous places. At first it was just for fun, but I never was one for doing things by half. I refused to acknowledge the glaring warning signs of burnout.
And I’m sure burnout is a common phenomenon. I’d imagine that those in the medical profession, who quickly discovered the meaning of the word “vocation” would scoff at the rest of us using that word. But that’s how I feel right now-completely burned out. I’ve written many times about how writing is my go-to tool in times of mental distress, but it is incredibly difficult to be in a creative mindset when the media is constantly reminding you that just as we get a handle on this pandemic malarkey, things change again. If you turn off your notifications, your partner or someone you randomly meet in town is always willing to bring up the dreaded “C” word.
To be honest with you, I’m at the point now where I would gladly shut out the world for a while and chill watching telly all day in my pyjamas. I’d love to remove myself to somewhere remote with a stack of books and read, write and sleep without interruption. I’d love to be on a train to Dublin for no other reason than to meet friends, eat good food and talk shite before heading into the city to look around the shops and buy unnecessary shite. I could still do this if I wanted to, I suppose, but it’s not the same. There’s always that undercurrent of fear. It’s not difficult to see why the so-called “conspiracy theorists” become so annoyed at the mention of restrictions. Some of these restrictions don’t even make sense. Mixed messages from the media, it’s all enough to make your head melt.
And the pandemic isn’t the only thing occupying our minds. We’re still working, raising our kids, caring for loved ones. We’re still experiencing the everyday drudgeries of life: bills, sickness, bereavements. It hasn’t been an easy time. So if you feel exhausted right now, I reckon that sounds about right.
And if you feel this way, you are not alone. This cursed pandemic is far from over, but I say it’s time to indulge in some serious self-care. Turn off the news, turn off your phone, take a deep breath and go easy on yourself.
We need to look after ourselves, and each other now.