The lockdown epiphany that rescued me from myself
In the panic and chaos of life after lockdown, a moment of clarity sets the pace for a new beginning.
In the panic and chaos of life after lockdown, a moment of clarity sets the pace for a new beginning
The cursor flashes impatiently on the blank screen. This is not merely a statement to set the scene; it’s a metaphor for my life since lockdown ended and I went back to work.
I have constantly been several steps behind, missing deadlines, delaying meetings, always exhausted, always frantic, always convinced that this is the hour, minute and second that I will shut down completely, never to reboot.
With each passing day, the panic and frustration have threatened to overwhelm me. Often, I would feel like packing it in and going off to do…what? Hmm. Not sure.
But not this. This wasn’t the world I’d signed up for. On many occasions I have felt resentful, blind to the fact that I am one of the lucky ones.
I still have a job, a roof over my head, and food on the table. And a little bit of stress-related mania, too, let’s be honest.
So how to manage the chaos? Hiding under my duvet or trying to eat the entire menu from McDonalds has not worked as well as I’d hoped. I was frantic. Overwhelmed. Overwrought.
And even more overweight, which meant that now, added to my already impossible to-do list, I’ve had to brave the outside world to find roomier clothes.
I joke, but things were getting out of control, and the world does not like it when I am out of control. Yes, I know that technically, the world doesn’t really care, but let me have my moment of delusional grandeur.
After much wailing and gnashing, many courageous conversations with family, and a few more deeply unsatisfying midnight binges, I…stopped.
And took a breath.
And had an epiphany, which is this: all of this crushing urgency is completely man-made. Most often, the man that has forced all these demands on me, is me.
The fact is that I’ve been trying to do too much. I have to cover more of the work because we are a small team, but there are plenty of things I can scale back on.
Take the ads for our business, for example. Instead of rushing to issue one every day, shooting and editing new content, I could scale back to three a week, each with a longer cycle to run. Such an elegantly simple solution. So efficient.
I took time out. I needed it. I took in a sunrise on the beach, and coped with the jellyfish stings as I floated in the Arabian Gulf. I saw them as a gentle reminder that despite everything, I am still alive and mostly well.
I decided to speak to a professional, someone with an external perspective who could make sense of the chaos that had taken over my life.
This was the hardest step, because I have been determined not to reduce the solution to self-medicating. But I was losing that battle, so off I went.
A short course of anti-anxiety medication was prescribed, neatly ending the crippling anxiety, and the only thing I regret is that I did not seek professional help sooner.
Having a calmer mind has given me the space to realise that the world will not come to an end if my SEO report is a day late, and nor will Armageddon ensue if we publish two ads this week, instead of three.
Managing the chaos is more about managing the expectations of everyone around me, which means having the testicular fortitude to call time, ask for breathing room, and focus on projects that are less flexible and more critical.
As part of my self-care, I’ve hibernated most of my social media accounts, because the constant drive to be available to internet strangers is just another energy-sapping, mind-bending non-necessity right now.
Everything else can wait. The world is in no rush to end, and neither am I. Self-imposed and unrealistic expectations? I’m opting out. See you on the beach.