I must say I’m not loving how all my recent blogs scream CORONAVIRUS (do you say it in Cardi B’s voice, too?) but it has unintentionally turned into a ‘series’ so I’ll stick with it. Get your coffee and get comfy because this post is a long one.
I didn’t experience the full psychological impact of lockdown because although kids were sent home on March 9th, we were still teaching from the school site. This didn’t feel very sensible – by now you know about my feeble immune system because I never shut up about it – and desert sandstorms were further aggravating my allergies. Driving to work every day was like a trip to Paranoia City but, in hindsight, the social time with colleagues and friends kept us all sane while others around the world were stockpiling toilet paper.
I couldn’t stop feeling annoyed at people who were working from home AND COMPLAINING ABOUT THIS PRIVILEGE because being warm and safe indoors, with food, with clothes, with your loved ones, and internet…such a tough life, right?
Easter vacay, woohoo!
Easter break was my first ‘proper’ taste of the lockdown. Hubby is away so I’m all on my tod which is distressing my family to no end. No amount of reassurance is enough for them, understandably. To be frank, I thought I’d struggle too but I told myself early on to treat this like any other time Hubby was away. And putting it into perspective like that has been helpful, especially when I think about the benefits: it’s peaceful, tranquil, stress-free, no-one’s pulling my hair, having the whole duvet to myself…take your pick, haha.
Niece #2 put it aptly when she asked, “How does it feel not having Chachu there, eating all your food?”
Dunno to be honest, kinda loving being able to eat it all m’self like but also wish he was here ‘coz I’m not too far from looking like this, ya get me?Sidenote: Hubby was in Azad Kashmir in January and kept asking me what I wanted, seeing as I am still keeping up with my no-buy 2020 I said, “NO CLOTHES!”
To my surprise, he bought books! Why is this surprising you ask? Because I’m the book worm in this relationship, not him. The cutest thing is these aren’t just any old books. I’ve been silently yearning to read more Sufi poetry, and more works by Elif Shafak and Parveen Shakir – all of which are difficult to find in Qatar.
I didn’t share my wishlist with him yet it’s as if he read my mind, or (more likely) we’ve moulded into the same person. Anyway, these books among others have been my LIFELINE this Easter vacation.
Getting to the point
All jokes aside, time to answer the question in the title: How am I coping?
I feel as if I’m under a microscope now… like there’s no correct way to respond to this and here’s why:
The first wave of memes and motivational quotes were all about how you could use this self-isolation time to improve yourself, be productive, learn a new skill etc. Quickly that was followed by messages like: stop making people feel sh*t if they’re not being their most productive selves, it’s ok if you are just getting through the day, it’s a global pandemic etc.
What’s the solution? Be your most productive self, and invoke the envy and hatred of others when you share how brilliantly you’re coping? Or do you allow apprehension and fear to fester until getting out of bed is accomplishment enough? And if this dilemma doesn’t sound familiar to you then it must be because you’re part of the idiot crew carrying on as if nothing’s changed…
#1 – Protect your energy.
The Prophet SAW said good companions are like sellers of musk, you might purchase a perfume, receive a gift or have the chance to smell something beautiful. In other words, simply being in their presence is enough to uplift you.
Toxic friends and family taught me very early in life that musk sellers are hard to come by. And when you’re surrounded by blacksmiths, not only are your clothes singed and burned, not only do you leave covered in soot, smelling and looking bad, but eventually you realise your inner cup of optimism is drained in your efforts to uplift the blacksmiths.
Does that make sense or have I elaborated the metaphor too much?
My point is: we’re all on a new, scary journey and people respond to trials differently. As crucial as it is to check in on people, it is important to check in on yourself too.
Sidenote: If you are a parent with young children at home, do check out my friend’s insta page – she has been homeschooling for years and has lots of amazing ideas.
#2 – Find a new (balanced) routine
The Easter break was much needed: lounging about the house, reading books, catching up on Dirilis Ertugrul… But I did reach a stage where I craved the stability and security of timetables and to-do lists of the days of yore. Things may not return to ‘normal’, now or ever again. In the meantime, it’s crucial to find a balance and add some consistency to daily habits. Staying in bed all day is not healthy, nor is it wise to wear yourself out…
I’m working from home which means there’s some structure to my day. But now I’ve discovered there’s no ‘off’ button.
Somedays my attention is being pulled between several electronic devices: trying to respond to questions from students, catching up with marking, recording lessons, sending emails, listening to or reading WhatsApp voice notes/messages, fending off calls from family – and it’s hard. It easily carries on until the late evening if I’m not careful.
I’m still working on establishing a routine (it’s only week 1, I’ll figure it out soon). The non-stop screen time is wreaking havoc on my sleep pattern so if anyone has any advice…help a sister out!
#3 Turn to Allah (SWT)*
*for non-Muslim readers: God or a Higher Power.
In no way is this a lecture, I won’t be saying make sure you pray, or how important it is to build a relationship with Allah, nor am I saying I am the ‘perfect’ Muslim etc. This is me answering the question in the title, as honestly as I can.
For quite a while I’ve felt a sense of disconnect with what’s going on in the world: the lockdown in Kashmir, the fires in Australia and South America, widespread earthquakes, the possibility of a nuclear war…COVID-19 is just the latest catastrophe. I’ve felt flabbergasted by how easily serious issues, like a potential WW3, can turn into memes and humorous jokes. Like the rest of my generation, this is not the world I envisioned I’d grow up to see and it is definitely not the world I’d want to raise my kids in.
Therefore there is no better time than now to put things in perspective. There is no emptiness, no loneliness, no sadness, that can not be filled with the remembrance and love of Allah SWT. Focusing on my spirituality, alongside the afore-mentioned strategies, is what has worked for me. It has kept me uber sane during this uncertain time and given me a sense of sakoon that no-one and nothing else can provide.
I’m signing off by sharing a video I’ve watched about 3 times now because it has helped, A LOT. Yes, it is 30 mins long but we have nowhere elsewhere to be, right?