Lovely people, how are you doing out there? How are things where you are? Are you doing okay?
I ask that seriously, because I think an awful lot of us are not doing okay at the moment. I mean, we’re okay, as in we have roofs over our heads and food in the fridge (even if, in my case, it’s tilted heavily in the direction of chocolate and cake), and maybe life hasn’t changed a huge amount, or not in a way that is insurmountable.
But we’re not okay.
We’re tired. We’re worried – about friends and family and neighbours and acquaintances and people we’ve never met and income and jobs and homeschooling and social distancing and virus variants and vaccines and just the world. We’re sick of not being able to hug the ones we love, or even see them. We’re fed up of yet another weekend – or weekday, or day, because they all feel the same – of not going anywhere or doing anything. We miss going to cafes and movies and restaurants, miss holidays and being able to just pop to the shops rather than planning every trip out like a military operation.
Maybe we’re not sleeping. Maybe we’re eating too much, or not enough, or the wrong things. Maybe we’re fractious and nervous, snapping at our family or crying over a torn bin bag. Maybe getting up feels too hard, or going to bed does. Maybe any number of things that are really, really small in the grand scheme of the world and the pandemic, but are plenty big enough in our own lives, lives that have grown smaller and tighter over the months of lockdowns and precautions.
And yet we still say we’re okay. Because we can’t complain. Because we know so many people have it so very, very much worse.
We’re right to be aware of that. We’re right to look at all the things in our life that are, if not good, at least manageable and tolerable. We’re right to count ourselves lucky in all the ways we can see. This matters.
But, you know what? We’re also right to say, no. No, I’m not okay. I’m exhausted and fed-up and want to scream at someone – anyone – and this just plain sucks.
Because we can’t pretend to be okay all the time just because we know it could be worse. Because sometimes we need to recognise when we’re struggling, and ask ourselves genuinely and kindly what we can do about it, even if all we can do is crawl onto the sofa under the largest blanket we can find and eat three packets of chocolate hobnobs while watching utterly rubbish TV.
It’s okay to know that right now, your best isn’t particularly good. It’s okay if your best is just getting by. It’s okay if you’re not being creative, or productive, or “using your time well” (whatever that means). You’re surviving. You’re getting by. You’re keeping yourself and the ones you love as safe as you can. This is enough. We do not have to be upbeat and positive all the time just because we know we could be in a worse position. That helps no one.
When you extend empathy and kindness to others, I hope you extend it to yourself too. Because you deserve it.
You’re doing brilliantly.
And you can complain.
So this was actually a book chat post, but my reading patterns are horrible at the moment, and I can’t seem to focus very well at all. Every night I end up going back to what I read the night before because I’ve forgotten who a character was, or what happened, or why I picked the book up in the first place.
Which I think is rather more to do with my lockdown brain than with the books I’m reading.
All that aside, I have picked two books that I did manage to remember, so I shall pop my normal tea and cookies ratings below the vid. As well as an explanation about that lettuce thing …
Nine Goblins, T Kingfisher. A funny, warmly observed novella about a squadron of goblins who are accidentally whisked out of battle and dumped behind enemy lines by a wizard. Includes a scruffy elf veterinarian, skeletal deer, and very few humans but a lot of truth about humanity and our faults. A large pot of tea, a plate of cookies, and all the cake.
“He had no particular opinion about the war, except that it was probably a shame. In his experience, people were usually people, even the ones who were four feet tall and lumpy, and if you treated them well, they mostly returned the favour.”
Before and After, Andrew Shanahan. A less action-packed (although still fairly squicky in places) zombie-ish apocalypse tale, revolving around Ben, a man who hasn’t been out of his flat in nine years and currently weighs 600lb, and his dog. Entertaining, sympathetic, and I really want to know what happens next. A large pot of tea and a pack of bourbon creams.
“There will always be problems, all I can do is to focus on what I can solve now.”
And that is it for this month’s books, as I’d only be rude about the others, and I actually think it’s not their fault that I couldn’t enjoy them. Or not entirely their fault, anyway.
Oh, and about that lettuce thing … Back in October I dropped the SO off at the airport and did a shop on the way home, including my usual supplies for salad, because I mostly live on salads while he’s away. Or I did. I ate salad that night and promptly got myself a spectacular tummy bug, which means I have not had a salad since (I also went off muesli for some reason).
The remaining lettuce lived in my veggie drawer, unchanging, until last week when it finally went brown enough to throw away.
I suspect it was an alien lettuce, and hence the stomach bug. But somehow I felt this strange little snippet of lockdown entertainment was worth sharing with you, and then couldn’t stop talking about lettuce.
I blame lockdown brain, and if that’s not a thing, it should be.
As promised in the main vid, here’s the link to the article regarding pandemic burnout. It’s not the only one I’ve read, but it is a really good summary of how I think a lot of us are feeling. I found it really helped, seeing all these things I was struggling with laid out as, this is not unusual. Maybe it’ll help you too.
And, lovely people, I hope you’re looking after yourselves. I hope that you don’t feel you can’t complain, that you have to keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on. I hope you can have a right good whinge when you need to, and come back from it feeling better.
And if you need to whinge, the comments are always open, as are my messages on social media. Share away.