It has been a while, hasn’t it? It’d be an understatement to say a lot’s happened since my last post at the start of 2020.
During the most challenging months of the pandemic, we were kept going by some wonderful entertainers appearing seemingly out of nowhere. As people were forced into their homes, many of the more creative among them figured out how to make the best of their situation and continue creating. People started podcasts, recorded videos, started streaming, created new music in hastily-assembled home studios, and designed new games. A lot of us were significantly aided through these most difficult times by these creative heroes.
I did nothing.
There were reasons. Moving internationally during a pandemic takes a lot out of you (I live in Germany now), but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have the time and energy at certain points over the last couple of years. I absolutely could have made things. I could have continued doing FAWM. I considered streaming. I could have maybe written something on this blog. Maybe I could have finished up that third album I’ve got all the songs for and just need time to record. I just didn’t… feel like it.
I know from living with depression that energy is a limited resource. You want to get from waking up to going to sleep doing only what is absolutely and completely necessary because if you were to try to do more than that you would risk not having the energy to get through what needed doing the next day. I probably started to hit burnout point around February 2020 and I don’t think I’m fully out of it yet, though I am out of what I call my “survival mode”. I’m no longer doing the bare minimum to just exist. I’m not quite going above and beyond in my job or anything, but I am at least able to play some video games.
I was already pretty much burnt out then when the pandemic hit. I’ve made myself a career in IT infrastructure in healthcare, so at the time I was working for the NHS. I think the first few months of the pandemic wiped me out entirely. This isn’t to say I deserve any particular respect for working in the NHS during the pandemic. It was hard for all of us, but I wasn’t front line. My team started working from home and was tasked with equal parts expanding home-working provision for non-medical staff and answering the increased call load from medical staff. It was exhausting, but I was just sitting in my house and could switch off at the end of the day. I’m no hero. But the extra work and the stress definitely tipped me over the edge. It’s remarkable to me looking back that I was able to find a job in Germany (still IT infrastructure in healthcare, just not for the NHS) and move over here.
Two years then of survival mode. One thing I definitely learned is to forgive myself more for when I’m not achieving as much as I think I should. The worry and the stress and the sadness I feel no longer feel like entirely problems inside my own head, but reasonable reactions to the world around me. That makes it somehow easier to deal with. I know I’m not broken, I’m not ill, I’m just using all my energy coping with the state of the world in general and how I maintain my place in it… and that’s okay.
If anyone is reading this, I hope you are well. I hope you were able to enjoy the wonderful things people created during the pandemic and also not blame yourself for not being as productive as you wanted to be. If you’re in survival mode, I want you to know that every day you manage to maintain your lifestyle is an achievement. We’re all in it together, and we’re doing it!
We’ll make beautiful things when we’re ready.