Skip to content

Blurred Days

The days are beginning to blur. Somehow I nd myself wearing the same clothes now since – well, I am not sure when. In fact every time I have to think about what day it is I have to check on my cellphone. I am used to working from home, so I cannot understand why this suddenly feels so different. It must be because I suddenly do not have the option to escape. Go to my favourite coffee shop, take the dogs to the beach, and have tea with my friends.

So one would think that having all this time at home we would all be super productive. I have hours of transcriptions to do for my Ph.D. Instead, I bake bread, I sketch, I potter in the garden. My attention span has shrunk to about five minutes before I get itchy and edgy. I am not depressed. I have locked-in syndrome.

So much of what it must feel to live in a Care Home now starts making sense to me. I have often wondered why some Elders would just not be interested in participating in activities, joining others for tea in the sunroom or playing bingo. So many would retire to their rooms and just hang out. Somehow, that is what I am doing now, hang. I feel in limbo, suspended. As if someone has pressed the “pause” button.

Why is that? There is no reason to not carry on with the “normal” activities, or work on my Ph.D. Why do I procrastinate day in and day out? Because this is not “normal”. We all feel a sense of disbelief, disconnect, disgruntled. We all have great aspirations of doing yoga, eating healthy, and doing art. Many of us end up lying in front of the TV watching Netflix. For hours on end!

Is this not exactly what we see in Care Homes? Elders withdrawing more and more, spending more and more time watching TV? Is it wrong? Do we feel we have to change that? Somehow we are caught in this dichotomy of Being, suspended between “I have to” and “I don’t want to!” Our worlds shrink. We have now read enough articles on Covid-19. There is a cupboard to sort out, and gardening to do. Nah. Not in the mood.

COVID-19 is our teacher now, we the reluctant learners. We bicker and moan and protest – against what? Against introspection and contemplation. Against being slowed down, being grounded. How many of us have dreamed of having more “time”? And suddenly, we are given all the time in the world, yet we cannot mobilise ourselves to fill the time constructively.

I think the underlying reason for our apathy is a rebellion against the fact that we were told to lock down. Stay put. Our autonomy has been taken away in one fell swoop. Boom! Gone! And it leaves us – lost! Imagine the feeling of being “put” in a Care Home. As much as you might have prepared for it, even planned for it, a major part of your autonomy will disappear the minute you move in. Decisions are made for you, rules to keep order, timetables to organise events.

We know all this, we see it. I hope COVID-19 will make us reconsider, now that we feel what it feels like to have little autonomy. I hope we will get to the point where we are so bored that we will truly grasp the detrimental effect that it has on the psyche. I hope COVID-19 teaches us what it feels like when we have very little choice when others decide on our behalf. When we are not free to go as and where we please.

Maybe our eyes will open to see how important a sense of autonomy is for our well-being.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *