This is going to be very personal. Feel welcome to tune out. I have blurred the whining and personal details: if you don’t want to know about it and think I should just cheer up, don’t reveal the spoiler.
Continuing the discussion from How are you today?, which is more specifically about reactions to the Covid pandemic.
I have been having a bad time the last year and a half.
I have bipolar disorder that I can’t treat with antidepressants because they interfere with the drugs that control my cardiac arrhythmia. To manage my depressive episodes I need order in my life and a regular schedule to my days, but my life has been in turmoil for years. The area that I live in has had nineteen disaster declarations in the eleven years since my mother died. Last spring we were on water rationing and I had a lot of work to keep my fruit trees alive with grey water. Reactionary populism in the news has been driving me insane.Then last November–March we had a million-hectare bushfire between here and the next large town to the west. Several of my friends and one of my brothers had their properties swept by fire and lost everything outside their actual houses (including livestock, working dogs, and pets); other neighbours lost more. I was twice sent an SMS by the state emergency management system warning me to get ready to evacuate — and I live well inside the area of a town of 11,000. For seven weeks from 7 November to 26 December 2019 we here saw nothing either of the Sun nor of the sky because of the pall of smoke from burning forests and farms. In early March we got a spate of heavy showers that put the fires out, but two weeks later Australia was put into home isolation as a measure to control the Covid-19 outbreak. When that got relaxed a thick stream of friends and relatives who had been cooped up in the major cities or prevented from their intended international travels decided that they really ought to visit my sister and me to make sure we were okay, cheer us up, eat our food, walk our dog etc. The strain and chaos had me already in a bad way at the beginning of the month. Then on the 1st of December I tore a muscle in my shoulder while stacking firewood, and on Monday morning I was woken at three AM by intense abdominal pain, the beginning of a three-day bout of renal colic. We are under a flood warning and an extreme weather warning.
Yesterday, a little high on major pain relief, I had a whine about it all to my clinical psychologist. She advised me to make a concerted effort to rebuild my schedules and quell the chaos in my life. Using her as a big stick to beat my loving relatives with I have announced the following.
The next three weeks are a total write-off. They are going to have to be dedicated to cooking and cleaning for, and showing the teeth at, traditional family Christmas revels. This include my cooking two Christmas dinners and hosting a little party for about twenty adults and eight children under eleven.
On January the 7th Christmas can pack up all its shit and get the fuck out of my house.
From January the 8th I will spend three hours in the morning, every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in my study, at my desk, writing. My family are on instructions to treat this time as though I were at work, and that, regardless of their opinion of the matter, I am going to treat that time as though my writing were important and were urgent.
At other times I will consider reasonable requests and tolerate reasonable interruptions. But my time is still not just anybody’s.
I will cater for and charm the guests at one visit or dinner party per month; visits are not to last longer then three nights, and if I’m expected to cook &c. for the dinner-parties they have to be on Saturday nights.
We’ll see how it goes. I expect to have to snap and roar while refusing objectively reasonable requests at least three times before my brothers and sisters stop treating my wishes for the use of my time as being a tired joke.
But anyway: probably after a a month of teething problems and settling in I have some hope of starting to produce steady output. If you’re one of the people who like my output that will be good news.