#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 52

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 52

Day 52

How’s anxiety stuff? a friend ask on Twitter private message.

My thumbs hover over the keyboard on the screen. A part of me would like to lie, pretend I’m okay, but what purpose would it serve.

My anxiety is both better and worse. I write. I’m much better at dealing with walks and supermarket trips (they don’t cripple me anymore and I can go for a quick thing if we have forgotten something). But at the same time, I feel I’ve grown something more deep rooted. I feel so profoundly unsafe outside of the boundaries of home, my local supermarket, and series of walks. The idea of going to work, going to walks further afield, or seeing people not from my immediate area really puts me on edge. My brain spirals into all the possibilities of catching the virus even if the possibilities are realistically so slim they are almost non existent.

I press send and immediately add But I’m good day to day. I tell her what I’ve been up to with photographic experiments and audio work on Queer Out Here. This is not a lie. I’m good day to day. I don’t think about how much anxiety lives in me. It remains unchallenged most of the time and I don’t have to consider it. What could I do about it anyway? I feel powerless in the face of it. It’s a lingering presence in the dark recess of my soul, ready to pounce if I let it, too strong to challenge eye to eye. So I let it be, acknowledge its presence when I notice it. It is a beast I have to live with for now and it is okay. What truly worries me is what will happen when lockdown ends and life has to return to what it was before. Will I be able to cope?

I put the phone back on the bedside table and picks up my book. It is easier to lose myself in the turbulent world of Mongolia in 1920 than to consider ours in 2020. I barely have time to read a chapter that my phone rings. Surprised by the sounds, I pick it up, expecting an unknown caller but instead I see my friend’s name on the screen, the very same one I was just chatting with on Twitter.

‘Hello,’ I answer putting a smile on my face.

‘I was going to type ‘hugs’ but that didn’t feel right. So instead I’m calling you to tell you ‘hugs’’.

‘Thank you,’ I answer, moved by her initiative.

Conversation flows easily about anxiety, the new found freedom and liberation of cutting your own hair, her PhD work and life in a new city, and this and that. Most of an hour has passed by the time we say our goodbyes, many laughs exchanged and talks of anxiety forgotten.

I return to my book for a while before moving to my computer and work on Queer Out Here. My submission may be finished but it it now time to edit issue 05 together and there is a lot of work to do.

I join my partner for lunch, checking my phone every now and again. I have not yet received any news from work this week and this is unusual. It is nearly 2pm. In a little more than an hour, all staff members still working will shut their computer off for the week-end. Maybe there will be no update this week?

Lunch over and the dishes piled in the sink, I check my phone again. There is an e-mail from work. In a long letter, the company managing director explains that all furloughed employees will no longer receive their full pay to ensure the business viability in the future. He reiterates that until our network of retailers open, and our end consumers are allowed to move freely, we are unlikely to resume full operation. Staff will be called back as and when needed. In the meantime, we are to remain at home, our pay diminished with no iteration that this will be reviewed in the future.

The rest of the e-mail talk about annual leave allowance, taking into account the requirements of our factory sites but not of the part of the business I work in. I send an e-mail for clarification but get none. One size fits all as ever. Annoyed by the lack of consideration for the different schedule the part of the business I work in, I head upstairs and revamp my CV. There is no real need for it. I do not intend to leave my job. I may have received a pay cut but I am still privileged. I can still afford my mortgage, bills, and food. But I have little faith in my employer to keep my interest at heart. It took them weeks of lockdown before they reminded all staff of their partnership with a health organisation that can provide free mental health support for staff, and the tone of their e-mail is rarely compassionate or understanding of what staff members may be going through. I understand they have a business to run, but what would the business be without its employees?

My CV updated, I consider it. It’s a jumble of jobs all so different from one another. I wonder what jobs I could do if I were to leave my current one. It is a question that crosses my mind on a regular basis and to which I still have no answer. During this lockdown, I have often pondered over it. My job has felt utterly meaningless more than once in a world that is crippled by an invisible virus but it is something. And for now, it will have to be enough. I am forbidden to attempt anything else while I’m furloughed or else I would lose any pay.

I update my profile on LinkedIn. This is allowed. I browse through the job offers section, open a new tab and explore roles related to my skills. This is allowed too. I register my details to a freelance website to see what hides behind the homepage. This too is allowed.

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