In his review of 2020 Jay Springett wrote how, contrary to what most might expect, the lockdown for Covid helped lift his depression:
"This year as everyone else went into Lockdown 1 in the UK and began to find things really grim, the weight of ashen sadness that had been pressing down on me for the past few years evaporated away."
I remember reading something else recently (I can't recall who or where) about the author realising that everyone else was now on their level, that everyone else was now having to deal with seemingly insurmountable problems - it made them feel more normal. In a decidedly selfish way this has more than a ring of truth to it.
But more that that, working from home, being isolated from most outside of our family, has almost been an introvert's paradise: an exercise in avoidance. I have been lucky enough to have worked from home, to not have to go out and mix with others or really put myself at risk.
Going in to the office for just a few days last month caused an absolute meltdown, not necessarily because it meant an increased risk from Covid, more that it represented a version of my life that I desperately don't want to return to.
This isolationist existence has, however, made it all too easy to fold in on one's self. I tell myself a story that lockdown and the pandemic has made it hard, if not impossible, to achieve things when, in reality, it has just been an excuse. Shutting out the world and living in a bubble (to use the current vernacular) has been so easy.
And then I feel bad and guilty.
It's more likely that the experience of lockdown is actually just a mask for my depression, a way of avoiding it, avoiding many of the triggers rather than an actual cure. If life were to return to "normal" tomorrow and I had to go back to that version of my life then I have no doubt that the depression would instantly return. As I have said before, depression is situational.
I know it's there, under the surface, around the corner, just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
The realisation has kicked in that what I do in these next few months has to be focused on ensuring that I don't return to that other life. I have wasted enough time believing that I have plenty of it but we have ticked over into 2021 with me no further along the road than I was in March of last year when the first lockdown began.
That, in itself, is a depressing thought; that I have essentially let nine months pass without taking positive action, expecting something to turn up rather than doing all I can to make it happen. Time is well and truly of the essence and I don't think I have ever felt its pressing more strongly than at present.