Learning the World.

Musings on relocation, exploration and other general oddities.

Burnt out? Burn it down.

I really am very tired. I read a good book a few years ago about burnout, and one of the things I liked about it was that it talked about how you can’t ‘self-care’ yourself out of systemic issues. No amount of long hot baths is going to reduce the stressor of food poverty or structural racism – or a global pandemic. So much wellness seems to focus on the individual as being able to solve their own problem, when oftentimes (not always, but often) our problems are linked to systemic or structural issues that we cannot change or negotiate safely on our own.

In the last two years or so, I’ve kinda pulled in on myself – focusing on what’s in my zone of control, what I can do to keep myself and my wee family and those immediately around me safe. To be brutally honest, that hasn’t always worked out – we’ve all had covid, the toddler has had it twice. But now, apparently, it’s all over – restrictions gone, please go about your business as normal. I hate calling masks and air filters and capacity limits restrictions. Yes, they are restricting – but that’s missing the point. They are *protections*. And with mandatory protections gone, we’re putting the onus of public health back onto personal responsibility. Naturally, after two years of this shite, we’re all fucking *done* and burnt out to hell and want it to be over but the problem is, it’s not. We’re still in this storm – it might be dying down a little, but we’re not in calm waters yet (note to self – avoid nautical metaphors you do not understand the sea).

I can’t fathom going back to ‘normal’. Normal is what got us into this fucking mess tbh. Normal is underfunded public health, no paid sick days, mistrust of science. Millions of people have died around the world. Normal is why those deaths are disaproportionately among Black and brown people. Millions are living with the long term effects. We have all, to a greater or lesser extent, had a profoundly traumatic experience. People I know have lost spouses, parents, grandparents, friends. Have been to hospital alone through labour and pregnancy loss. Have lost jobs and homes. The stats on increases in domestic violence during the pandemic are shocking. Are we all supposed to nod and smile and ignore what it’s been like to live through this? I feel like I’ve said before that there’s a lot of complex-PTSD coming down the line but… there’s a lot of C-PTSD in our future if we continue to push towards ‘normal’. Fuck normal, if normal means going back to the fucked up systems that left us here. I want more (I want moooOOOOOOoooore).

And, of course, normal literally isn’t an option for many of us. For disabled, immunocompromised and chronically ill folks, ‘back to normal’ is still life-threatening. What should they do, just remove themselves from society because people are tired of wearing masks on the bus? The majority of children aren’t vaccinated. My toddler has had covid twice now – how many times do you think she can get it without lasting side effects? How many times can we roll that dicebefore her luck runs out?

I want this to be over. I want to go to the pub, I want to take my kid to one of those play centres where it’s far too loud and they all bounce around like maniacs, I want to have friends over, I want to go to the cinema, I want my kid to have playdates and stay in hotels and sit inside cafes and do a hundred tiny normal things that we’ve hardly done for two years. But I also want to stop her from getting the goddamn plague again and it’s increasingly looking like the ability to do that is being taken out of my hands. Because you know, the economy. And pubs.

I know I’m very tired. I know I’m burnt out from pandemic parenting and a hundred other things that I’m choosing not to write about today. I know that my ramblings probably sound like anxiety and fear and you know what, as someone who has lived with anxiety for many years now, I’m not anxious. I’m tired. Tired and angry. Tired of all this. Angry at the willingness to return to ‘normal’, fuck the consequences. Because the consequences are people’s lives and wellbeing. And sometimes I am so fucking done with all of this shit that I just want to burn it all down and start again. My anger fuels the best and worst parts of myself. It makes me fight and resist and try when I’ve nothing left but rage. It also makes me lash out and judge and snap and burns through me and I cannot turn it off.

So you’ll forgive me if I’m not thrilled things are ‘getting back to normal’, because ‘normal’ is what’s killing us.

Remembering to forget

I’m tired. I’m *really* tired. And overwhelmed. I think we’re all tired. I know why I’m tired. We’re over a year into a global pandemic and I have a toddler and brain full of anxiety and ADHD, so I get *why* (my toddler is a joy, my brain I’m 50/50 about tbh). But I’m also tired of remembering things. Remembering to make dinner, to pick up more nappies, to send cards for birthdays and birth days. Remembering where I put that mask I like, or those clothes she’s not grown into yet, or the suncream. And, of course, remembering things that perhaps I’d rather forget.

For the last three years, every April through to late May, my social meejia has been throwing up “memories of this day”. Many of them are from 2018 – somewhat inevitably, as by the end I was posting and sharing constantly. Sometimes I can tell from the list of names in the preview what the memory is, and whether I want to see it or not at. Not often enough though. Sometimes I remember from the date (a good friend’s birthday was the Claire Byrne debacle). Sometimes I am plesantly surprised by a happy memory from *other* years (in May 2012, for example, I bought a wedding dress. And in April 2013, Thatcher died). Mostly though, I get blindsided by things I’d rather forget. Because although I am deeply, profoundly glad that we have repealed the 8th Amendment, I’m still really fucking angry that we had to do it at all. And remembering all the things that happened is just so much for my already tired mind.

Continue reading “Remembering to forget”


I don’t have any breastmilk in the freezer. I did, until this afternoon, when my wife took out the last pouch to give to our daughter tonight. It’s an unexpectedly emotional feeling, even though we’ve just been hanging onto that last portion, waiting for the clock to run down until it was time to either feed it to her or throw it away. I used to have a whole shelf; portioned, labelled, boxed up by date. First in, first out obviously – I remember my food handling course. But now, none at all.

Continue reading “Milestones.”

Patching things up

I’m sitting with coffee and my laptop in the garden, trying to write. Writing things out is good for me, it helps clear my head and give me space. It’s something I *should* do, like getting up in the morning or eating properly – something that will make me feel better. And I need things to feel better because frankly, I don’t feel good at all.

Continue reading “Patching things up”

Why I’m (still) marching

This post was originally published here as part of the Abortion Rights Campaign’s “why I’m marching” series relating to the 2020 (virtual) March for Choice.

Alright I confess – I won’t actually be marching anywhere this year for International Safe Abortion Day. Perhaps I’ll do a couple of laps of the garden with my toddler, and get my wife to follow us yelling “our bodies, our lives, our right to survive!” Perhaps I’ll even rope the neighbours in to lean over the wall and call us babykillers, just for the feel of the thing. Perhaps not.

Continue reading “Why I’m (still) marching”

Writing about (not) writing.

I write. It’s something I do. I am not arrogant enough to call myself a writer – I respect the work of far too many wordsmiths of fact and fiction to count myself among their number. But I enjoy writing. I write publicly, privately, academically, activistly (not a word, but I’m not a writer, see?). I write letters, journals, dissertations, this blog. Even though I update here infrequently, I write bits and pieces all the time. Or rather, I should say wrote. Because I haven’t really written in a long time. And I’m writing tonight not because I have something to say, but because I think I need to be writing again.

Continue reading “Writing about (not) writing.”

Holding together while staying apart

Today was not a good day for me and my brain. I don’t really have a bad brain days anymore, not the way that I used to. But a global pandemic and an anxious mind just aren’t a great mix. I didn’t want to do anything today. But I had to. So I did.

It is not easy keeping it together through all of this. We aren’t meant to be alone. I want to write more about it all, about how privileged I feel to have a back garden, about the impact this is going to have on a generation of kids, about how my heart aches for everyone going through the wonderful and terrible milestones of life with this as their unwanted backdrop. About how fearful I am for the vulnerable people I know and love, and for those who must stay in a home that isn’t safe for them, or who have no home at all. About how we’re not meant to raise children like this, in little pockets with screens between them and the rest of the world. About how hopefully this will all make us realise how fucking terribly society treats so many essential workers, and how completely fucking immoral billionaires are. About how I almost wish I wasn’t a parent right now, so I could sleep in and play video games all day. About how I can’t get this songout of my head. And about how even when I have days like today when I don’t want to do anything, my daughter gives me such joy that I can’t imagine being without her. And how grateful I am for the sound of her laughter and her squashy little hugs.

But I can’t right now. Those few sentences are pretty much all my brain can string together. So I hope you’re okay. And I hope you and I and everyone can keep holding it together, for just a little while longer. Until we can be together again.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important announcement….

This has been the strangest St Patricks Day. I know you don’t need me to tell you why. My anxiety wouldn’t let me type it out anyway (although it has supplied me with some great pitches for post apocalyptic fiction).

Today is also my daughter’s first St Patricks Day. And I’m thinking about what this all means for her – not the impact of the virus, but the impact of my mental health.

Me and my brain are not always the best of friends. I am so much better at balancing my mental health than I used to be. But it’s not great. And this whole thing isn’t helping.

Continue reading “We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important announcement….”

New Year, old me.

Today is Nollaig na mBan – Women’s Christmas – the day on which women get a day off after all their work over the festive period. For me however, it was my first day of paid employment in nine months. Today I left Spud with a kind stranger and went to work.
Continue reading “New Year, old me.”

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