I can’t think of another word to describe how I feel. It seems to sum up every aspect of who I appear to be as a person currently – and recently I really don’t like who stares back at me in the mirror.
He looks tired, overweight and drawn – and if I’m not mistaken he’s noticeably much whiter in the beard and thinner on top than he was year or so ago.
My other half tells me I’m loved (and I know I am) but I also don’t feel like I deserve it at the moment.
I feel like a complete fraud and failure.
Maybe like many others in the world I’ve lost my usual (trademark?) sense of humour – and given the UK’s recent Tier 5 announcement I can feel myself retreating once again into a place where I do not feel like I’m good company.
I’m much slower to smile, continually struggling to sleep and far more likely to be irritated by things that previously I took calmly in my stride.
Each day is basically a repeat of the one that came before it. All we appear to do these days (if we’re lucky enough to have a job in these crazy times) is work, work and more work in masks – or go to get groceries in masks.
I know that the opposite end of the spectrum is probably worse – and there are many out there struggling to make ends meet either because they’re once again furloughed, shielding or newly redundant – but good grief do feel like I need a break.
I don’t mean from work (although that would be nice in the not too distant future) because ultimately I’m glad to have a job that helps people.
I mean a break from walking out into a world every $@%*ing day where each man woman and child you meet is either fearful of being close enough to you to shake your hand – and who walk around you with a wide berth – or (even worse) they get close enough to make you want to beat them senseless with a broom handle.
I mean a break from half empty supermarket shelves, which have been half emptied once again by people whose sole preoccupation is selfishness and catering for their unhealthy obsession with toilet paper.
I mean a break from a daily news cycle that somehow has made Brexit a welcome and light hearted refrain from every Covid’s worries and concerns.
I mean a break from conversations that start with ‘did you have a good evening/weekend/christmas/new year?’ and end with ‘didn’t do much/very quiet/the usual.’
I mean a break from me – because currently I don’t recognise myself.
What happened to the positive, can do, energetic Dave that was winning at life back in 2018?
What happened to the guy who was always proud of his warm, reassuring handshake and who liked to smile at people?
What happened to the gregarious guy who gave hugs to everyone that seemed vaguely tactile?
He works in a room on his own where his smile is hidden behind a mask every day. His germ free hands are covered in 70% alcohol hand gel whenever possible and his arms remain folded at a safe distance.
He’s been replaced by someone that’s scared of losing everything that is dear to him and frozen into inactivity instead of bending the world to his will by determinedly walking from one end of it to another.
The very air he breathes as he passes someone nowadays could change everything.
Every person I meet at work or in the supermarket could be the one that ruins my life forever.
It’s a ridiculous way to live and view the world – I’m aware of that – but I guess this what it must be like to be hemmed in by crippling OCD, unable to leave the house without going back multiple times to check the cooker or having to flick a light switch on and off 50 times before heading up to bed.
The crazy thing is that I when I was insulated by loneliness and isolation (for many years not even realising that I was) I never feared losing anything. I was the one that was lost and alone – and I just naturally assumed that everyone that was important to me would be around long after I was gone.
Then I changed for the better – and all of a sudden the loneliness was uncovered, brought into uncomfortable focus, and lingered more and more each evening.
That was until I finally found a kindred spirit.
That was wonderful and everything – but it also meant I got smashed in the face with an huge emotional brick.
I started to wonder – what if the universe had a cruel sense of humour?
What if it had made me wait over 20 years for everything I needed and wanted, then let me have it, but shortly after decided to arbitrarily take it all away again?
What if this was the universe’s plan all along?
This thought process was with me well before someone decided to eat a bat with a dry cough in Wuhan (insert your own prejudice/interpretation/conspiracy theory here) and then get on a plane. Even before the world was going to hell I had begun to worry that I could lose all that I held dear – rather than the other way round.
That sensation is dialled up to 11 pretty much 24×7 these days – and I can’t turn it off.
It’s such a relentless hum in the background for so long now that often I fail to recognise that its there – but it is, no matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise.
I forget all manner of things I’d normally remember because of it and I can’t really relax.
The ridiculously deadly highly transmissible bat virus from thousands of miles away is now even ridiculously(er) deadly(er) and transmissible(er) then ever before – and my local hospital’s Covid in-patient numbers (which I see in e-mail updates every other day) reflect this.
This link to the official NHS figures shows just how crazy the numbers have become – and point 6 shows just how fast the situation is spiralling out of control.
How on earth is it possible to switch off from this kind of fear?!
Sure – you can get on with life, go to work, try your best to help people and be a good person – but how do you get rid of the constant background hum of fear and worry?
I’m not entirely sure you can.
You just have to plod onwards – hoping that a 3rd party website my boss found (proclaiming that my age group is likely to get a Covid vaccination jab around December 2022) is woefully mistaken.
Or go crazy.
One of the two.