My head was empty, my brain exploded into a thousand pieces I couldn’t connect back together. I sat, huddled in the corner by the front door. Cold air from outside brushed my lower back. Dimly I thought we should do something about that but the thought glided past me. Instead I felt the cold, something I could understand.
‘I am tired,’ I mumble to myself. I remember the offer of the doctor in week 11 to sign me off work for however long I thought I would need. It is so tempting to call them and ask to be signed off but it is only a week until the Christmas break, just one week to live through before time is my own, before I can retreat within myself and be free to begin to process the enormity of what I have come to realise about myself and start to live anew.
In the evening, my partner picks me up from work. I rest my head against the car window and breathe. My world is changing again, my body and mind reeling against the change in spite of wanting this return of the public at work. I feel like a boat rocking on an ever shifting sea, my being carried along without any control.
Two mugs of tea brewed, I head back to the bedroom and open the curtains. In the distance, the world is tinted pink from an invisible sun, too low on the horizon to be seen. I sit on the windowsill watching the colours shift as the sun rises higher, swirling the mist into candy floss.
I leave the clinic and head home. I resist the urge to pull my headphones out of my coat pocket. Instead, I look at my surroundings, the sky dark above me, street lights illuminating my path.
The mantra to live day to day anchored itself in my brain, refusing to entertain the thought of being made furloughed again, of Trump winning the presidency in the USA, of the utter certainty of not seeing my family for Christmas. But all those thoughts lingered in the background, sending me crashing down on Tuesday. My anxiety took hold of me, my body rattled by fear, my brain trapped by an overwhelming onslaught of emotions.
Tears well up in my eyes. I am unsure if it is the tension being released, the sadness of another lockdown, how much I am dreading being made furloughed, the sudden certainty that I will not be able to visit my family in France for another few months, the paralysing fear of my own vulnerability. Or all of it at once.
The cycle path runs out and I am cycling on a four lane A-road without the makeshift protection of white lines on the road. I feel like I am trespassing a space I have no right to be in. On all sides, cars and lorries hurtle past, mildly annoyed when my presence slows them down. Ahead, I can see the cycle path reappear on the pavement but it is not obvious how I can get to it. Traffic is too fast for me to stop and climb on the pavement. I hope there is a recess or I will be stuck on the ring road for far too long.
I wonder what could have made her so emotional, memories of childhood, teases and failures echoing in her mind? She had been so eager and joyful when she had arrived. But I know, this means very little. I had been happy the day before when my anxiety had bubbled inside of me.