It’s been a while, right? Regular visitors and subscribers may be wondering where I’ve been since the beginning of the year. Certainly those writers and publishers for whom I’ve promised reviews may have been tapping their fingers impatiently, saying to themselves that was a waste of time and energy. In fairness, I did let some of them know that I was taking some downtime. Some, but not all, and for that I apologise.
In truth, since the end of last year, just after Christmas I guess, I went into hibernation mode. You could call it a funk, too, I suppose. We had so much going on behind the scenes at home and across the Pond that I let a lot of things that brought me personal joy go by the wayside. I stopped reading as much, and I spent a lot of time doom-scrolling Twitter and media publications (as many of us are doing right now). I moved clinics at the beginning of this year for my dialysis session, and went from three hours on a chair to four immediately. The extra hour connected to a machine that is saving my life took more out of me than I was willing to admit at the time. Currently I’m transitioning from a line connected to my chest to a fistula in my left arm. Anyone on dialysis will know that this is a LOT.
The upside of the new clinic, apart from its wonderful and caring staff of nurses and doctors (God bless the Irish health service), is its WiFi. My previous clinic had a woeful service, so all I could do was read. Now I can stream shows on my laptop, listening to them on the headphones my wife got me for Christmas. So, basically, instead of reading to my heart’s content, I was now catching up on all the shows I don’t watch when I’m at home. As a result, I’ve barely read four books this year. And you know what? I’ve felt this loss deeply.
I can also admit to feelings of mild depression, nothing clinical, just the sads, since the beginning of the year. I even stopped listening to music, even though when I do, my mood always brightens. I wasn’t baking as much–another activity that brings me lots of pleasure. So you could say that I became inert and passive, when the ideal me loves to create, be active, and enjoy the little things in life. What I found, though, was that the ongoing pandemic (people I know are still becoming infected with Covid), and the failing health of a loved one, and concerns about my own and my wife’s general well-being became all-encompassing. In the end, I started catastrophising, and that is not a good place for anyone to be. There’s a lot going on that I and those around me have no control over; but the corollary is: there’s a lot we can control. Our own outlook is the main one, I think. What we do in any given moment; how we approach a situation that requires attention; and how we communicate our needs, fears, thoughts, and emotions to the people who care about us is the one important step any of us can take in times of personal crisis, big or small. We. Need. To. Talk.
It’s the middle of March now, and the world is as shit now as it was this time last year. But you know what? Apart from looking after ourselves and taking care of the people and space around us, and trying to be as kind and considerate as possible, there’s little we can do unless we run for office ourselves. Many of you are active in your activism, and I genuinely applaud you for that. I hope you succeed for all our sakes, but I know if I attempted to take this route, it would destroy what peace I’m trying to find for me and mine. Twitter, as much I love and hate it, sends me on a spiral at the best of times. This as much as my health and mental well-being has taken me away from what I love to do. I need to read. I need to write. I need to bring joy back into my life.
So I’m taking some fresh steps, starting now. I’m not bringing my laptop into my clinic for a while. Instead, I’ll bring my Kindle and get back to reading again. If I fall asleep at the wheel, well and good, but that won’t always happen. I have a pile of books I need to read. I need to make good on my promises to my authors, publishing companies, and my wife. I need to do better for me and get what pleasure I know I can achieve from what I enjoy doing. I also need to exercise more, and so when the weather gets better, more walks and more music. It may take me a couple of weeks to get back to my best (whatever that is), but I’ll get there.
Thank you for reading.