It’s currently 1:44 am. Almost two hours ago, I finished my first-ever article pitch. Before that, I struggled to write a 500-word article. It took me 8 hours to finish it.
I’ve been on my phone for almost two hours, excusing it as a way to unwind. I’ve never listened to Lo-Fi Hiphop Beats to study/relax to, but—I guess—facing a whole lot of work and *emotional* backlog really changes you.
We all know things started going downhill when the pandemic started but—boy—did things hit rock bottom. For starters, I’ve lost track of where my personal life and my work life begins and ends. Sometimes, it’s at one in the afternoon. Other times, it’s midnight.
Before the pandemic, coworking spaces and cafes rescued me from laziness. Losing that choice meant losing the privileges of a home-based job. The get-things-done-within-the-day freedom and the illusion of being able to control my time are all gone.
And so did hanging out with friends. Honestly, I’m not surprised by the realization that so much of my sanity relied on afternoon beers and/or coffee with friends. To sit at a coffee shop for hours is a memory that seems so distant, and I am simply left to wonder for its return.
Even then, showing up at a friend’s place once every two weeks should suffice. There are far more pressing issues than this.
Then again, how am I supposed to deal with this paralyzing weird, heavy feeling? This inexplicable dread and anxiety with no apparent source. Is it the loss in the family? Is it the forced confrontation of family issues? Is it blatant and outright oppression of my basic human rights? Although I’m aware it’s a cocktail of different kinds of grief, I can’t help but convince myself that I just miss going out.
As I cross out one backlog after another, I can’t help but pay attention to the mental health repercussions of whatever this is. While my job is forgiving of mental health issues, I know I can’t keep using it to justify backlogs.
I’ve written several self-help articles on how to beat boredom, cabin fever, and other things people can do when they’re stuck at home. Some tips I’ve tried for myself. I’ve baked. I’ve binge-watched Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, and Lucifer. I’ve journaled. I’ve had a game night with friends. I’ve… manifested.
I don’t know how the remaining months of 2020 will turn out, but I know I have backlogs I have to get to. I’ve made the mistake of spreading myself too thin, processing the news while dealing with personal problems. It never goes well, but I’ve learned to take it one step at a time.
While my work and personal life are melded, I try to remind myself that there’s a time to write. A time to back read group chats. A time for activism.
I’m slowly learning to accept my limits. Perhaps, this piece is written out of the recognition that spending 8 hours to finish a 500-word article is a sign that I need some rest. As one too many articles have reiterated online, productivity shouldn’t be one’s driving force in the middle of a global pandemic.
Still try and do your job, though! Capitalism is still very much in place.