Friday, November 20, 2020

Mental Respite

I took the whole week off from work. 

I had to use PTO and get a doctor's note, but getting a break from having to be around unmasked people has done wonders for my mental state. I get next week off too. Then I'll reevaluate. I've decided I will no longer work around unmasked people, but I don't know what happens next. 

I'm lucky. Fortunate. Privileged. I've never felt unsafe at work before.
But I definitely feel unsafe now.

I travel across the district in my position. I work at multiple campuses, constantly in and out of classrooms and meetings. As of three weeks ago, the district had no way of contact tracing me. (When I realized this, I immediately submitted a lengthy list of my weekly contacts.) Currently, half of the students and staff at one of the elementary schools is quarantined. Overall, ten percent of my caseload has been quarantined at some point this semester. There have been documented positive cases at the preschool, the middle school, the high school, and most of the elementary schools. Did I mention they don't wear masks here? It's not safe.

And yet I got yelled at for requesting a zoom link for a meeting last week?
Insanity. I cannot trust these people. We live in different realities.

I'm mad.
I'm sad. 
I'm scared.
I'm tired.

I succeeded in doing almost nothing this week. On Tuesday I fell asleep at 4:30pm and slept for thirteen hours straight. Let me explicitly state: "That is NOT normal."

I don't know if I'd feel so resolute in my decision to no longer work around unmasked people if it weren't for my experiences with infertility. It sounds so basic and obvious, like, absolutely not--nobody should be forced to work with unmasked people. But... It is so easy to feel intimidated by an employer. It involves money and contracts and control. I remember not speaking up during my recent horrendously toxic experience in graduate school. There was a power differential. I didn't want to fail a class or get kicked out of the program. So I stayed silent.

But now? Well, unlike my younger self, I still try to keep my comments to myself haha, but I definitely no longer live how others expect. I no longer bow down to what others think I should do and how and when. My life is so fundamentally different from everyone around me. If I did what everyone else thought I should do, well, I wouldn't be living MY life at all.

And if I listened to my current employer? Well, I might not even have a life to live...

*****

Please be kind to yourself. 

Give yourself lots of grace and lots of breaks. 

For so many reasons, enduring this pandemic is really, really hard.

4 comments:

  1. Oh no! I'm so glad you are taking care of yourself. I'm sorry you had to take a leave to do it, but you are protecting yourself -- physically and mentally, and that is so important. Sleeping 13 1/2 hours means you're body felt the toll, which means your defenses are down. Do what you need to. I cannot believe these people at your school(s) are so flip about this. Take care, lots of love, and try to enjoy your pause. Eeeesh.

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    1. Thank you. Seriously, thank you very much. <3

      This is an extremely bizarre situation to be in. The neverending self-advocacy to protect myself is completely exhausting. I'm glad I get this week off. Maybe we will go off campus by next week but I'm not hopeful...

      Why do students get a choice about being on campus but staff members don't? That's the question I keep asking in my head.

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  2. I think I finally understood how you feel when I heard someone (who had recently returned to NZ from LA) say that she was so used to seeing other people - ANY people - as a real threat, that her re-entry to NZ was very difficult. I've said it before but I will say it again, I am so glad you are protecting yourself when no-one else (except your boyfriend) will. Take care. Arohanui.

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    1. Yes! Seeing other people as a threat is a total mind warp. It is so tiring, physically and psychologically.

      It's deeply sad and disturbing to see this community be so cavalier about the virus. I will continue to protect myself.

      I looked up "Arohanui." Thank you Mali. <3 <3 <3

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