Three years ago, my world shattered. I came back from a holiday; my house was trashed by house sitters. To add salt to the wound, I was victim blamed by someone because apparently it was my fault for choosing the wrong type of house sitter. I then lost my job and I was later diagnosed with ME/CFS. I faced a future that was unknown. I lost my income, probably forever and with it, independence. I also lost a 17-year career that I had worked hard on and made up very much of my identity. I had to learn how to deal with my body which had finally fallen apart, after about 10 years of trying to work out what was wrong. This meant not going out much, rarely leaving the house. In doing this I lost connection with most friends. I thought I had lost my ability to perform, which was also part of who I am and my queer voice. My health meant that I will probably never travel to all the places I thought I might one day visit. My future was entirely uncertain. I’ve been mostly terrified ever since.
I feel like I can empathise with what many people are feeling now because of the Covid-19. A lot of what you are feeling is grief. Grief has many responses.
It’s okay to lay around and not do anything. It’s also okay to want to do all the things. Grief and loss have many responses.
When these things happened to me, I sat round stunned for some time. Then I got ultra-busy (within my body’s capacity). I did an online course and I developed a business. I worried about my appearance because, my body doesn’t work properly, sitting around in comfortable clothes was the only option. Trackies.
Comfy clothes or whatever clothes that make you feel ‘good’ or ‘soothed’ are important. Wear them. Fuck what anyone else thinks. If you don’t want to be dressed up for work at home, don’t do it. If you, do. Do it. Clothing and appearance carry a lot of ableist attitudes. I don’t think it’s important that you look great for your zoom meetings. Most people are wearing comfy clothes. Own it.
Later I realised I was doing all the ‘busy’ things towards a business because I thought I had to, because society puts so much pressure on us to ‘earn a living’ above all else. Another bad or ableist attitude, I need to look after my body and my mental health more than what I need to be busy. Being busy can stop us facing our aching hearts, chances are if we don’t, it will emerge later, like a boil and still need to be dealt with.
You might put on weight because of extra snacking or the inability to get out to do your regular exercise. Guess what? that might be comfort eating, or not. There are many people in the world who have been made to feel they should be ashamed because of their weight. Don’t share your fat shaming memes. They don’t need to be seen. You may or may not lose that weight when things settle, chances are you probably will. However, some of us won’t and can’t and for some of us we are fat all the time. We don’t need to deal with your issues.
For people who have kids at home. I can only imagine. Not having children, myself. I am however I trained teacher (at a master’s degree level) and my entire career was based around the education of young people in alternative settings. I am/was an expert in my field. I can tell you, from my experience working with the hardest to teach young people, that the most important thing for your children is making sure they feel safe and loved. Leaders of the country and education can’t turn around and say, ‘school is called off’. It would be negligent, and the broader community would think it ‘terrible’. Therefore, teachers and schools must try to operate somehow. If children and young people don’t feel safe and loved, they can’t learn effectively anyway.
Most children and young people will learn through their daily activities anyway. Most caregivers have the capacity to offer reasonable learning activities, often it’s just the ‘normal’ activities they do. Structured lessons are not the only way kids learn. The caregivers that are not able to do this, are probably facing any number of difficult circumstances and are also most likely people whose kids’ education is impacted by family circumstances, regardless of Covid-19.
We are living in difficult times, with an uncertain future. There are more important things i.e. your mental health and well being and that of your loved ones, to worry about than appearance, a bit of weight gain, and if our friends have more organised cupboards than us. Be kind to each other, realise that this is different for everyone, don’t judge how others do this. Make sure you are getting your information from reliable sources. Stop with the racism. Concentrate on yourself.
When ‘this’ settles please remember that there are people who live much ‘like this’ all the time. We’ve always been here. We get lonely, we’d like you to contact us, just like you learnt to do with other friends in the Covid-19 Pandemic. We’d also like you to remember some of the things you learnt about making events accessible, so that you can continue to make them accessible for everyone, including us, who are still socially isolated. We’d like you to include us, even if it’s a bit hard, because we are worthy and have valuable things to contribute to society.