Day 13: COVID-19 Isolation Mode Activated

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*This content is intended to be satirical and no lives are actually at stake, despite the few references to violence in this write-up. If you are living with family, you will probably understand that this is written from that place teetering between “actually joking” and “laugh-crying because maybe you’re not joking”*

Day 13 of social distancing/isolation

Today’s soundtrack: copious amounts of the ultimate heroine Nina Simone.

Our food stock is yet to reach depletion thanks to decades of mum’s hoarding. The pantry is loaded and ready for indefinite quarantine, the deep freezer is ready to unearth all the long-lost meat joints/meals that have been buried away for god knows how long. We always joked about how we’d be ready for a crisis and now that one is here, well, it’s just not all that funny anymore. One day, the T&A will be reporting of a gruesome homicide and at the heart of the case will be two sisters who fought over the last-remaining Bombay Bad Boy pot noodle with tooth and nail.

It’s a miracle, really. As of yet, nobody has been throttled in our household. Dad hasn’t had to dare us to brawl each other for his own entertainment, as he has a stream for Bad Boys 3 (as he keeps telling us) and is spending his hours being my mum’s man-slave. My sisters have embarked on adventures such as destroying and then systematically cleaning up bedrooms, watching TikToks for hours on end and spending up to 3 hours in the bathroom (doing what, we will never know). Then there’s the matter of my mum- the chili whisperer. They’re all over the damned house, under heat lamps and specialist equipment ordered from some dark corner of the internet.

The sensitivities are at an all-time high and moods shift like the seasons under climate-change. Even the smallest things are like flint for a big fire. One minute you’re feeling pumped to use this isolation period for a series of productive activities that have been repeatedly put on the backburner, the other minute you’re sobbing into your sixth glass of gin because you miss your family and friends, and Houseparty just isn’t enough. Then ten minutes later, you’re passed out on your bedroom floor and having a trippy dream about crashing a car.

Basically, what I’m realising is that everyone needs their own space to do with it what they will, be it sleeping, staring goggle-eyed at BBC News for a few hours, yoga or just reading in some obscure corner of the house with a torch. Space is so important, especially with the spectrum of emotions everyone’s going through. You can rub someone up the wrong way by looking at them. You can also rub someone up the wrong way by hiding the precious, last-remaining cargo of spicy Cheetos and eating them secretly in your room. I would say, “keep your secrets” but it’s obviously pointless when you’re faced with a younger sister presenting the unmistakable red tongue and fiery fingers. I could have been violent, when faced with her betrayal, but I took a deep breath and exited that situation swiftly.

Life is a volatile ride at the moment and that is both incredibly scary and incredibly exciting.

Apart from the increasing odds of full-blown alcoholism, I think we’re faring well. We are generally respectful of our differences, and perhaps that’s something which comes with age as this definitely wasn’t the case in my younger years… This has to be some sort of record for us, considering all five of us are under the same roof and basically in each other’s faces for a substantial portion of each day. No significant screaming match so far and nobody has had their hair shaved off in the middle of the night, so it’s an unprecedented victory that I won’t take for granted because I really didn’t think we’d last even a week without things getting rowdy.

As time goes on, all I can do is fill the hours of the day with the things that spare me boredom and anxiety. After all, it is a very precarious time for those with underlying physical health issues AND those who suffer with mental illness, as the usual solace found in interacting with others or burying oneself in distractions is very difficult during a pandemic…

I’ve taken to resurrecting my journal and to also honouring the routine of listening to my hypnotherapy tapes at night, as I haven’t done this for quite a while. I am persisting with The Stand by Stephen King and racing through Fargo on Netflix like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve even had the chance to squeeze in some lush walks, yoga and fun times with my MIDI keyboard/the guitar kindly bequeathed to me by a solid Scottish pal. Generally, I have been focusing on the positives wherever possible and resisting the occasional urges to launch my 6kg kettle bell at people’s heads. I feel it is far too early in this isolation period to be going all Jack Torrance on everyone, but stay tuned for updates over the coming weeks, as that may change.

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