health

"I feel like I’m lying to everyone". What it actually feels like working from home right now.

Working from home at the moment feels like an exercise in deceit. 

Work is, of course, always a little bit about pretending. 

We use words we don't entirely understand. We close Facebook when our boss walks past. We nod that we've done something when really s**t I forgot but I'll do it right now. 

But at the moment, I feel like a child impersonating an adult at a computer I don't quite know how to work.

On video calls, I watch my brow furrow in concentration, performing the part of someone engaged in a very important meeting. When the call ends, I type intently on my work keyboard, performing eager employee - as though I might be able to convince myself that this is any more than an act. 

Watch: Things you never say in 2021. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

I look around at the people I work alongside, at friends who are doing the same but with children thrown in the mix, and I just think: How are you doing this? How are we all - particularly in Sydney and Victoria right now - getting out of bed, day after day, and doing this? 

If a crisis of this magnitude happened to us specifically at any other moment in our lives, we'd take some f**king time off. We'd recalibrate. Loved ones would send us flowers and cards about how unfair life can be. But because this particular major life event happens to be a global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the grief we're feeling is not unique to us. In fact, we spend most of our time trying to convince ourselves we're not even entitled to feel it.  

We must begin, as always, with an acknowledgement of the ways in which we are lucky. And though I sound cynical - this is of course important. 

I am lucky - so lucky - to be working right now. 

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I am lucky to live in a country where our government prioritises keeping us safe. Lockdown means the people I love most in the world will likely not get sick.

I am lucky to be locked down with a partner who (at this moment at least) I enjoy the company of.

I can pay my rent. I am safe. Our hospitals are not overflowing. 

But my mental health is - like millions of Australians - suffering. And work has never been harder. 

Where does momentum live? Can you create energy out of no energy? How does one focus when everything we're doing right now seems futile?

For our own sanity and livelihood, we must work as though a pandemic is not unfolding. As though case numbers are not increasing, and as though normal life doesn't look like a mirage moving further and further away.

We must log on and pretend that our minds are fixed on a computer screen, which for a lot of us, is located just metres from the bed in which we slept. 

Listen to today's episode of Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below. 

We join meetings, and joke about how bleak things look, before addressing the pressing agenda items. 

We scramble through to-do lists, taking longer than usual to do basic tasks, watching as the clock edges towards 5:30pm - a random assortment of numbers that no longer really means anything. 

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Our jobs were never meant to look like this. These are not the positions we applied for or the conditions best suited for optimal performance. 

We're anxious and fatigued and burnt out by a pandemic that has taken so much from us. It has taken even more from others. 

So often we write about mental health in retrospect, once we've had time to process it. We move through periods of darkness, gain some perspective and maybe some wisdom, and then share our stories once we're feeling better. 

But some of us aren't there yet. We need someone to reflect back to us the muck of it all. The days where we think if I sit at my desk for one more moment I think I might go mad. 

The alternative, which is to not being working at all, is unquestionably worse. And falling ill with a deadly virus, worse still. 

But allow those of us working from home a moment to let out a collective groan. 

We might look like we're functioning and adapting seamlessly, yet again, to working from home.

I'll put my hand up though - and say I'm not. It's different this time. And if you feel like you're doing a terrible job, unable to focus and deliver like you once could, same.  

I feel exactly the same. 

Share your thoughts on how you're feeling right now in the comments below. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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