Being a creative in an upturned world
Covid19 is holding the world in an iron grip. Countries have gone into lock down, self-isolating has become the norm, schools are closed, and working from home has been forced upon most. People in healthcare are fighting a battle none of us 'common' folk can even consider, and many people have lost their lives. The world's gone topsy-turvy overnight, and whether we like it or not, once this is over, the world as we know it won't exist anymore.
At the end of January, I had to call my work that I couldn't do it anymore. I was exhausted. I was spent. I was overwhelmed, and all I could do was cry and sleep. I was told to stay home and rest up, because chances were I had a 'burnout'. Two doctors later, and I had it confirmed. My life changed as of that point. I had to let go of feeling guilty towards my colleagues, my students, my employer. I had to choose for me, which is something I've never been good at. At that time, I thought a couple of weeks would be enough, maybe until Spring break, and after that I could try again. But Spring break came and went, and although I felt somewhat better, I wasn't anywhere near ready to get back to work.
That month, I spent most of my time home alone. I did get up at 6 am to help my husband get the children ready, and he would bring them to our child minder. I usually went back to bed for a few hours, and then went and did stuff for myself, all in the quiet of my own home. I felt how I was getting less overwhelmed. After about two weeks, I didn't feel as tired anymore, and I was starting to get energy. Being exhausted wasn't new to me. I've been dealing with fibromyalgia for the past twelve years, so I know what it's like to be exhausted all the time, but this was infinitely worse than that. It was deeper and not just on a physical level, but a mental level as well. Being mentally exhausted is possibly even worse to deal with than being physically tired, in my opinion.
At the end of February, someone in the Netherlands tested positive for Corona. At first, no real measures were taken, but a few days later, we were told to work from home as much as possible. That wasn't an issue for me, but when a week later pretty much everything was closed, schools included, things began to change rapidly. All of a sudden, I went from being home alone during the days to having everyone around me. I was scared I wouldn't be able to manage it. Mind you, I love my children to the end of the world, but aside from needing a job, I'm a much better person for it if I work. I'd be lying if I told you I'd be a fantastic stay-at-home mom. In any regard, I was scared of the situation. I still am. I was finally starting to do better burnout wise, and now there was suddenly no more room to 'rest' and 'take it easy'. See, my husband still has to work from home, which means the care for our children, including my daughter's schoolwork, falls on my shoulders.
The first two weeks went much better than expected. I didn't get too overwhelmed, and I could deal with everything rather well. I got my own things done in between. My husband and I cleaned and cleared the garden so the kids could play there, weather permitting, and we got a sort of schedule that worked for both of us.
There was just one thing that got overlooked again. Alone time.
In those two weeks, the only alone time I got was in the shower, and not always then either. I had no alone time to indulge in my hobbies, to have a bit of peace and quiet so I could relax and charge, and that has been taking it's toll. We figured out a new schedule, but that hasn't been implemented that well yet, and so the last week, I was getting overwhelmed more and more until on Friday, something give and I ended up in a sobbing ball of misery. Not just because of that, but because of everything that wasn't working.
If you're a creative like myself, and you are anywhere on social media, you cannot have missed the posts about how much time you have now, and how much you can get done in that time. I suppose, in a way, these messages are right. Yes, we have 'more' time now (relative), and yes, we could get a lot done in that time, but you know what, as much as I want to get stuff done, I just don't seem to be able to. As a creative and someone who has been struggling with mental health for a long time, having the world in utter confusion has me in a strange state of being.
I want to create, but the moment I open my word file, I stare at a blinking cursor and seem to forget how to string a coherent sentence together. For the past three weeks, my focus has been lacking. What am I saying? It's been gone. The only thing I actually could focus on was my diamond painting because it didn't require any real brain power. But writing? I thought it was perhaps because I didn't have a clear idea where I wanted my third book to go in the first few chapters, so I made an outline (something I rarely do) per chapter, and guess what? Nothing. I started a new story, and got totally excited about it! I managed to write down ideas, write the first chapter, start on the second, and now I'm staring at that blinking cursor again.
The thing is, it's not that I don't want to create, it's just that I don't seem to have the focus for it, or the energy, or whatever you want to call it, and I know I'm not the only one. The problem is that I struggle with it, more than I like to admit, simply because I just want to write and enjoy it.
And I've been saying on my Instagram to everyone that it's fine if you cannot do that, because the world's mad right now, so why can I not follow my own advice? Perhaps it's because I care too much about my work. Perhaps it's because I'm scared I won't get back to writing. Perhaps it's because I really love to write and I'm just frustrated that I can't get to it.
So, I'm going to try and figure out how to make this situation work for me, and I'll share what works and what doesn't in the upcoming weeks.