I’ve been spending a lot my online social time on Mastodon these days. That’s where all the cool kids have gone to. Amongst which is Medium, of all “people”. They’re embracing the fediverse and I’m honestly happy to see it. Anyhow, because of their large presence on the platform, I’ve been exposed to a ton of independent writers with wonderful articles and blog posts.
One of those was
Debdutta Pal’s 2020 post on the effects of the lockdown had when you were already a homebody working remotely. Reading this
sent hurled me back in time to a moment in my life that feels surreal when I remember it.
I am an introvert, I live with my partner, and I work from home; my life has barely changed. The similarities are uncanny…
Like Debdutta, I was a remote worker before 2020. It had been a couple of years since I transitioned, but it was enough for me to have settled into the lifestyle. And it sure is a lifestyle. One does not simply work from home. It’s a complete restructuring of your relationship with work. You’d think we’d be the ones best prepared for a lockdown. But I think I speak for most pre-COVID WFH folks when I say that the lockdown destroyed our way of life.
At first, I was feeling a little off and got easily distracted with the news while I worked or spent time with my wife. But I eventually began to fall behind on my work. Lost interest in many of the regular activities I did in between and after work. It wasn’t that I took on too much. I lost the motivation to do what I was doing before.
Why am I having difficulty doing regular, day-to-day tasks?
Looking back, I think I understand what I was feeling during that time. As soon as everyone went indoors, a lot of people found ways to connect and find a use for their extra time. Social media was inundated with baking, cooking, pastry making, and all sorts of home activities. It seemed like everyone was finding something to do. But I, who just worked from home, began to feel like I wasn’t doing enough. It felt like I was slacking off.
I felt trapped. It’s one thing deciding not to leave the house for 2 weeks. It’s another being told you can’t. Yes, I know that sounds backwards. And it’s purely psychological. But it’s what made this so terrible. I felt tied down. Chained to my house. And on top of that, nobody had any idea what the future held. It was uncertain what the world would look like next week or next month. Everything pointed towards chaos on the horizon.
I was depressed most days. But managed to power through it. My wife —who was used to moving around in an open floor office space— felt like “a lab rat trapped in a maze for someone’s amusement”. It was hard on her. On both. After a month, we took a mini vacation.
Yes, I did the unthinkable; I took a 4-day break in the middle of lockdown.
Like Debdutta’s, it was short and sweet. We grabbed some clothes and went to a nearby hotel for a few days. Nothing fancy or special. We stayed somewhere else and did nothing, together. We were lucky a hotel was operating at all. Even if at limited capacity. But it was wonderful. We had some control back of our lives. Or at least the sensation of control. And that was enough to reset things in our heads.
The break worked. I calmed down, processed my thoughts, and came out of it with a newfound determination.
We spent all that time talking. Reminiscing past trips and planning new ones. It felt like a regular Sunday evening. Except in a different place. With a clearer head.
But while our mental health did improve, the situation with the pandemic didn’t. The anxiety left temporarily.
I was finally able to do more, but not so surprisingly, it still wasn’t enough.
We all know what happened next (it’s 2023 at the time of writing this). But most of us never went back to being the same people we were before. Nor did the world. We mostly live in this perpetual nostalgia of a past life that shouldn’t feel so far behind. Maybe it’s because COVID never really left, even if it’s not as bad now. Or maybe it’s because we now know just how fragile our way of life is. Hell, the world nearly stopped BECAUSE A BOAT GOT STUCK.
But all we can do is push forward. Making the best out of our lives as they are now. With those that we still have with us. And treasure the life we live because everything is far more fragile than we think.