My dear GFPs
, this week I’m starting with something a little bit different, a little bit personal, which is scary because, well this is the internet after all. I hope you’ll indulge me. Usual service resumes after the line break – and excuse the extreme tone shift: I had written the bulk of this newsletter much earlier in the week, before things started looking so bleak on the Omicron front. What comes next is nevertheless something that has been brewing for a while, and that I now feel I must say.
GFPs, this week has been hard. Really hard. I’m sure it has for many of you too.
Doom-laden headlines that seem to throw us all the way back to square one, and make us feel like the world as we know it truly is over, forever. That we will always be playing catch-up with this wretched virus. That all the things that make life worth living will be forever on the edge of being snatched away from us. It feels like we are being asked to live without hope – and how can anyone live like that?
Like a lot of people, I really struggled last winter. I went to a very dark and scary place over those long, cold dark months. (Was it really colder and for longer than usual? It felt like it, but perhaps that was just a function of the long lockdown.)
I was unable to work. I struggled a lot with suicidal thoughts. I struggled with panic attacks. I felt scared of my own mind: I felt scared of its black emptiness, and I felt scared of my inability to think, which after all is literally my job.
I went back on antidepressants. I started to claw my way out of this deep dark scary hole I found myself in. The days got longer, warmer. And with the weather, we started unlocking. Most of us did our societal duty and got our vaccines. I stopped feeling so scared. It felt like I was crawling out of the darkness, in tandem with society. As the country unlocked, so I was able to climb another rung up out of the hole. I stopped looking down.
But this week has threatened that recovery, both of society and of my mind. And I feel scared again, so scared. I had no idea how much this misanthropic introvert needed human contact and the ability to move freely until this pandemic took it away from us. And I’m terrified that it’s going to be taken away again.
After too long reading up on the growing threat of Omicron I spent most of Saturday afternoon crying. Crying for the life that I felt was being taken away from me. Crying for the almost two years I feel I have already lost – years which feel like they should have been important creative productive years but which I have instead merely survived. Crying for the future that I am scared I may not get back. Crying out of fear that I will never be able to get back my ability to work, to think, to create properly because my well keeps being sucked dry just by existing in this fearful new world. I can sense that black hole, squatting like a vulture at the edge of my consciousness, and I’m so scared of falling back into it.
And I am someone who is, comparatively speaking, lucky. I may have lost my mental health, but I haven’t lost anyone I love. The members of my family I nursed through Covid both got scarily ill, but both ultimately survived. So you may call me weak for breaking down like this – and well, yes, I admit that I am. I am not resilient. Not anymore.
And so GFPs, I have a heartfelt plea to end on. Please, PLEASE, if you haven’t yet got your vaccine, just go out and get it right now. We have to stop giving this virus the bodies in which it can spread, mutate, and keep taking our freedoms away. And yes I am aware that if you haven’t got the vaccine by now you have probably made an active choice not to get vaccinated based on what you want to put in your own body.
But I am not asking you to do this for yourself. For most of us, the vaccine isn’t for ourselves. It’s for our parents, our grandparents. It’s for the world at large – so it can stop having to periodically grind to a halt.
This isn’t about you: to tell the truth if it were just about me, I wouldn’t be getting my next dose.
I’m young enough that Covid doesn’t pose a particular risk to me. Plus, I’m trying to get pregnant and the second jab threw my cycle out of whack. As a 37-year-old struggling to get pregnant with one miscarriage under her belt, losing those months while your cycle gets back on track is no tiny thing, and trust me, I have railed at the unfairness of trying to get pregnant in the middle of a pandemic where I have to make these kinds of decisions. I have railed at pharmaceutical companies that didn’t bother to investigate menstrual cycle impacts, and a medical community that isn’t interested in finding out if there is an optimal time in her cycle a woman who wants to avoid menstrual cycle irregularities should get jabbed.
So I’m not saying it’s nothing. It is hard. It may even feel unfair. But today I am still going to get my booster because we as a society cannot carry on living like this and that is more important than my ability to have a baby this month. (Also to be clear, all the research shows there is NO long term impact on fertility as my very pregnant double jabbed friend can confirm and pregnant women with covid are at extremely elevated risk of death, so there’s another reason to get the jab if you’re a woman planning to get pregnant any time soon).
You may feel that to ask you to get a vaccine is to impinge on your freedom. To that I say: by refusing to get vaccinated you are impinging on the freedoms of the whole world. It’s time to stop putting yourself first. It’s time to get your vaccine.