I’m on Day 10 of the self-quarantine and something strange happened yesterday.
I freaked out.
No, I get it. It’s not exactly strange. But for me it is.
See, I’m a Type A personality. When I’m in trouble emotionally, I bury it in work.
When I was alone and brokenhearted and filled with rage and loathing for the Assholy Ex, I threw myself into making a work portfolio that eventually landed me a job at my dream agency.
The second time this happened, I plunged myself in work till I walked away with multiple international awards a few months later.
Work – be it writing or advertising – had helped me deal with everything from grief over my grandmother’s death to a dislocated toe. Five times, in the case of the toe. In other words, occupational therapy is my thing.
But this time, things are different.
I’m inches away from great news work-wise. I’ve begun work on the fourth book. For a week I’ve sat through conference calls and VCs, taken work calls and been professional and motivated and yesterday… I just stopped.
It was like running confidently on solid ground and suddenly finding that you’ve run out of ground to run on.
I was flailing mid-air. And I crashed, you guys. I crashed hard.
All the anxiety and fear I thought I was channeling into work, turns out I was just shoving it away someplace convenient and it all landed on me like a ton of bricks. Suddenly, I was afraid for Pookie’s health (she’s been having cough and fever these past few days), afraid of how I’d manage to churn out meals for 21 more days (with the bad back and all), afraid of how I’d keep going, staying productive while handling all this.
It was all too much to take.
And look, I get it. I’m EXTREMELY privileged. I have to be grateful. I have a healthy family, a home in a good area, the resources to deal with this curfew and a husband with foresight, so we broadly have provisions that will last us these next few weeks.
But the onslaught of COVID related news is too much.
On group after Whatsapp group, on every friend’s social media account, on Twitter and Insta, all you see is news of death, sickness, new patients, panic, rumours, a falling apart of the system, despite the best, if delayed efforts of the authorities.
It’s quite simply too much.
There is some wisdom in accepting that nobody, even I, can be productive at all times in the times of a global pandemic. And I’d be happy to sit back with a book and not think of it all till the next 21 days are over.
But capitalism never sleeps. And it’s capitalism that pays my salary, like it or not. It’s capitalism and the corporates it has birthed, that help me pay my bills and keep my family in this secure and safe environment that I’m grateful for.
And capitalism will have it’s due. My mental health, I suppose, will simply count as collateral damage.
But here’s the good news. I’ve been in dark places before. So I can feel it when the darkness is closing in. And I’m fighting back, before it gets too close. By watching brain-dead movies and listening to catchy, crazy Bollywood songs. It worked yesterday. So I’ll do it again today. And tomorrow. And the day after. Till the darkness creeps away.
Is this resilience? Or just stubbornness? I don’t know.
But I’ve got 21 days to find out.