There is no sun in Dundee today. As I type these words, it’s bang on 7am so it’s light outside, but there’s no sun: the sky is a gun-metal gray. And I can tell there’s no wind – at least at the moment – because the ivy outside my living room and kitchen windows is still; not slapping against the windows the way they would if it were windy out. I suppose it doesn’t matter, as I have done all the laundry there was to do: yesterday I even removed the covers from the cushions of both sofas and washed them. There’s no need for me to clean my wee flat; it’s fuckin’ immaculate, and it still smells of bleach and Dettol from the thorough wiping down I gave everything on Sunday.
Do animals think? I think my fish are confused…they’ve been hanging in front of the tank in a line like aquatic soldiers at attention, staring out at me for a little over 90 minutes now. Are they wondering why the overhead light is still on? Why their Benevolent Fish Goddess is still seated at her desk in her pajamas, her hair an uncombed and nappy nimbus around her head?
It’s been five days since my work shut down. And since I have been avoiding the news for the sake of my mental health, I missed BoJo’s speech yesterday, which means I awakened this morning to discover the country is now in lockdown.
The first thing that popped into my head upon learning this was that ancient (supposedly, as it’s never been proven) Chinese curse: “may you live in interesting times.” As a boomer, I’ve seen a lot of “interesting times.” Wars. The successful and unsuccessful assassinations of political figures. LBJ signing the act that gave black people the right to vote on television. Man’s cruelty to man as evinced by Matthew Shepherd and Rodney King. Roe v Wade. Too many school shootings. Katrina. I could go on, but why bother? None of those events has given me a frame of reference, or any kind of preparation, for this.
My emotions vacillate wildly between hope and positivity, fear, anger, sorrow and dread. I’m a control freak; I knew this about myself long before my therapist brought this facet of my character to my attention. I need to feel like I have a measure of control over my life, and I’m certain many other people feel the same way. Now, an event out with everyone’s control has forever changed life as it once was.
I can’t help but feel dismayed, watching people spread wild conspiracy theories on Facebook and other social media platforms. I’m annoyed by the proliferation of “it’s the end of the world posts.” It’s appalling, watching people fight on Facebook. I’m deeply concerned, watching my friends in the care home industry, the NHS, Police Scotland and those who work in supermarkets go to work every day while I – like the vast majority of the populace with common sense – remain safe indoors. Apart from those times when I go out in my garden, to weed, to cut the grass, to trim the shrubs. I thank God for that small patch of earth.
Mostly, I am broken-hearted watching my friends with mental health issues grow more and more distressed. I can see it in their posts. I can see it in their private messages and their texts to me. I can only speak to my own experience, but I know, on those days when depression has a relentless grip on me, getting out helped. Going to work helped. Especially where I worked, where people hugged one another. If you scroll through this blog, you will see several poems and essays I’ve written about touch. Touch is healing; it’s essential to good mental health. One of the things I love about my partner is how he touches me…he holds my hand, he hugs me. We always fall asleep holding each other. Lockdown puts an end to that.
So I try hard to keep my spirits up. I need – I want – to keep that black dog at bay. I am going to see the end of this nightmare, and although I don’t know the how or the when, I just keep telling myself “this too shall pass” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, KJV).
Y’all stay safe.