Pandemic Lockdown Day 21: 15 April 2020

From last night, I remember one of my dreams very vividly.

I was in some sort of complex, and there was a large window-like opening in the floor. Around it were tiles like found on the wall of a swimming pool from the 50s. Almost like subway tiles. They were duck-egg blue in color. The window in the floor was open. Below, there was a large swimming pool with a very deep end (13 feet I seem to remember) and shallower areas.

There were a few attractive men there. One of them was trying to get me to jump in. He showed me how easy it was. See? Just take the plunge like this.

In the water below, he kindly urged me to jump.

I hesitated.

I always hesitate.

An Asian lady, wet and in a one-piece swim suit, showed up. She’d already jumped in. Did I have anything to be afraid of? No, she told me honestly. It’s fine. I’ll jump with you if you want?

I wasn’t wearing a swim suit. For some reason, I didn’t have a swim suit on even though it felt like all I had on was a swim suit.

Everyone I walked past to get to the changing room was fat. I have always had body image issues, whether I’ve been thin or fat. But now, I was super self-conscious even though I was amongst other people who were fat.

I couldn’t even get into the main changing room. In the toilet / hand-washing / hand-drying area, I found some quite corner and found my Speedo. It was tangled, and partially inside-out, and when I tried to put it on, it bunched around my thighs and felt like it was too small. I was getting upset. People were looking at me. And here was my Speedo, getting tighter around my thighs and I was completely naked other than that in a rather public part of the changing room / toilet / shower complex.

It woke me up.

I wanted to sleep in but the sun was pushing through the gaps in the curtains, and I decided it’d just be best to get up.

There is one more major Government return to do this month, so I steeled myself up to do it after I had my (replacement) breakfast cereal which wasn’t as good as my normal Sultana Bran (Raisin Bran for my American friends). Disappointing.

At my computer, I remembered I had ordered my prescription from the doctor, so I thought I’d email the pharmacy to see if they could courier the pills to me. Of course they could! And honestly, I told them that I hoped they were staying safe and sound, and I thanked them for their service to the community during this time. I think it struck a good chord because they wrote a lovely response back. And, yes, the pills arrived this afternoon. Great service, Healthworks team. I love that pharmacy.

I went to do the Government return and… it doesn’t open until tomorrow. At least I am keen, right?

So I did my American taxes instead. I thought it would be difficult but I was done within a short period of time. Okay. Hm.

I did a little bit more work, took a shower, watched the grocery delivery guy deliver our groceries — easy enough service and awesome since we both have health issues that could be dangerous if we get COVID-19 — and then put everything in their places. Only disappointing thing is the grocery store advertised they had little Lego sets at their store, so I bought 3 to kinda treat myself, but they were out of them. Not major, but a little bit of a bummer.

Egg McMuffins. I made myself egg mcmuffins for lunch. Yum. They turned out excellent.

I played Final Fantasy XV for about an hour and a half. This time? This time, I really have been enjoying it. It’s great to play a game and long to play more. I don’t even feel pressured to go down the main storyline at the moment. I’m enjoying exploring and opening up new areas of the map. Good fun.

My biweekly counselling session was today. I started by talking to my counselor about a conversation my brother Brian and I had about who we are and growing up. Brian and I have similar mental health issues. We care too much. We get anxious easily. All sorts of things.

And this conversation blossomed with my counselor into something different. I have a hard time confronting authority sometimes. I have these critics in my head which are remnants of, or avatars from, the most negative things from people I know or a collage of those parts of many people. And the discussion steered to me being quite honest in saying I didn’t want these critics holding me back from my full potential and I didn’t want to stay safe, be painted into a corner, be confined in some limited existence inside my head.

The dream of being afraid to jump in the pool. There was a man who obviously cared for me a lot in the pool, urging me to have fun, to trust him, and to fucking jump in the dream. He was just an amalgamation of people in my life urging me to let go. And here I was, putting myself inside a jail.

The conversation between my counselor and I went back and forth. And I explained I was feeling anxious, and then even became nauseous at the idea of being violent towards one of the people who had caused one of these voices in my head. We backed it up a bit, and then I realized something (and this was my counselor who made me realize it). I didn’t want to physically hurt the person. I never would want to do that because I am a kind, peaceful man. I wanted to kill the worst parts that person had instilled in me. That was a profound difference.

Suddenly, I felt angry. I felt strong. I understood.

I said to him that this jailor in my head? I wanted to put him into a cell in the prison, fill it with hay, lock him in, and burn it down.

It was very much a cartoon in my head, but it was poignant just the same.

My counselor likened it to the French revolution in my head. Overthrow the worst parts of people who have instilled bad things inside my head and let myself be free. To be honest, I saw Les Mis and “Do You Hear the People Sing?” and guillotines firing time and time again in my head (plus the obligatory “Let them eat cake!” phrase), but this power rose within me.

I explained, that as a child, I bit my fingernails a lot. As a young adult, I managed to stop the habit. It took a while, and a lot of failed attempts, and a lot of, “Stop that! Cut your nails like a normal human being!”, but I got there in the end. It’s been a long time since I have bitten my nails. So I can teach myself to change how I deal with things.

My thoughts became focussed, my mind became clear, this strength flowed through my muscles. I can do this. I can beat these damned voices in my head.

So I left counselling very much stronger and focussed than I had started it. And that lasted for a while.

I spoke to my husband about it. I don’t talk to my husband about it a lot because it feels very personal and also I get embarrassed about it. And, to be honest, sometimes in the process of stepping through this all, he tries to help me by providing similar events in his life, but it upsets me because I’m talking about me at that moment.

I played Final Fantasy XV a bit more, and it was fun, but we turned over to the news and had a few drinks before dinner.

20 new cases of COVID-19 today in New Zealand, although the vast majority of them are “probable”, not “confirmed”. I think if we went by confirmed alone, there were maybe 6 cases? And the recovered cases were around 100 from memory. The curve is working. I am optimistic about some semblance of a normal life returning to Aotearoa New Zealand sooner rather than later. But! I do feel that there may be a few more weeks of isolation tacked on to the 4 weeks we were initially allocated. I can live with that. There will be more work to put onto our online system, but we can handle that.

With the lockdown being at 4 weeks, the highest estimate of unemployed in New Zealand is 13.5% from memory. Stretching it out, that highest end of the estimate blows out to 27.5%. The “go hard, go early” stance New Zealand took, though, is far more important at the moment.

I am feeling a little better today, especially after counselling. I am hoping we can nip this in the bud, and I sincerely hope solutions come to light so we can all start getting back to life.

One of the most difficult things for me to deal with is the inability to see my friends and family in the States whenever I want. Before, if I felt I needed to visit, I could simply hop on a plane and go. That isn’t really an option any more, or if it is, there are severe restrictions on it, and there is a very real threat to my health.

And this is why I pray for a vaccine or dying out of the virus so we can get back to normal again soon. I miss my family and friends back home.