Looking Back On My Lockdown Experience

Juan Villela

I’ve been spending much of my online social time on Mastodon. 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 happy to see it. Because of their significant presence on the platform, I’ve been exposed to many independent writers with beautiful articles and blog posts.

One of those was Debdutta Pal’s 2020 post on the effects of the lockdown 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. It’s a complete restructuring of your relationship with work. So 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 felt a little off and got easily distracted by the news while I worked or spent time with my partner. I had to constantly remind myself that I needed to get back to work. I then lost interest in many of my regular activities in between and after work. It wasn’t that I took on too much. I just lost the motivation to do what I was doing before.

Why am I having difficulty doing regular, day-to-day tasks?

Looking back, I understand what I was feeling during that time. As soon as everyone went indoors, many people found ways to connect and find a use for their extra time. Social media was inundated with baking, cooking, and 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 two weeks. It’s another being told you can’t. Yes, I know that sounds backward. 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, we had no idea what the future held. It was still up in the air what the world would look like next week or next month. Everything pointed towards chaos on the horizon.

I was depressed most days. But I managed to power through it. My wife—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. So, after a month of going crazy, 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 beautiful. 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 about 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 returned to being the same people. Nor did the world. We mostly live in this perpetual nostalgia for a past life that shouldn’t feel so far behind. It could be because COVID never really left, even if it’s not as bad now. It could be 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. We are making the best out of our lives now with those we still have with us. And treasure our lives because everything is far more fragile than we think.

See Also

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