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.