My COVID experience

Since my last really personal post, I’ve mostly been living under COVID-19. As many would expect, I’ve been stuck in China since the whole thing started.

How has life been for me? Well, it’s been tough.

The first few months

The first six months (January to June 2020) were really tough. At the time, Australia was mostly on fire, the Prime Minister was largely absent and now I had no idea when I might be able to go home to see my family.

I spent most of February and March working from home. As someone who has traditionally worked in an office or “a place of work,” to work from home was an unpleasant experience for me. Even working from the dining table made me feel like the walls were closing in on me. I had to force my beloved wife to work in a separate room in the apartment so I could focus on my work. On top of that, I’d go out for a walk for at least half an hour to an hour every day with a mask on.

During February and March, I found that I was working far more hours than I usually would, raking up overtime like nobody’s business. Even once I was back in the office, I was still doing a lot of hours. My stress levels were increasing dramatically—I felt that I was barely treading water.

At the end of April, I broke down under the stress. I sought help as soon as possible, and was directed to a psychiatric hospital. There, I found an English-speaking therapist who placed me on anti-anxiety medication as well as sleep medication. While some of you may be surprised by the latter, I had been having trouble getting good sleep for quite some time. The medication helped for a short period of time, but the work kept piling up.

The second half of 2020

This was probably the toughest part. With work continuing to pile up, I had began searching for other jobs. I had done a couple of interviews, but after applying for over one thousand jobs, I was pretty miserable. On the plus side, I was losing weight through no longer drinking alcohol and generally not seeing anyone. My days generally consisted of me getting up, going to work, coming home and going to bed. There was nothing else to it.

During a week long holiday in Dali, I worked throughout that period. Every day, I was assigned tasks. It was impossible to actually enjoy this city without the knowledge that there was work to do each day.

Towards the end of the year there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel. A friend of mine was leaving his job for a better position, and he asked if I was looking to change position. I jumped at the chance, and within two months, I was in a new job. While my departure was not exactly amicable, I would certainly not suggest that all my bridges are burned. From what I understand, the person that has replaced me is still working there, so I hope they are happy there and not overworked like I was.

Once starting a new job, it felt like a new lease of life. I was significantly happier in the new job, and with a workload that offered a better work/life balance, I felt more balanced.

How has 2021 been?

2021 has been pretty good for me. Being in a new job, I was able to adjust my mental and emotional health. My treatment is still continuing, and while it has not been a smooth ride, I’m on less medication than I was when I was at my worst. I’m hoping that I will get to a point where I can take less medication again soon.

One thing that I have found a lot of joy in is taking part in Dungeons and Dragons. In the last few years, I found enjoyment through Critical Role, and sought to take part in my own adventures. This year, I’ve been playing a Haunted One Minotaur Path of the Beast Barbarian called Snowburn Shadowbite. His backstory is extensive, so I may share that with you all later on. In the last few days, I’ve joined an in-person campaign as Coal, a Mercenary Tabaxi Gloomstalker Ranger. While we haven’t livestreamed our campaigns, the opportunity to make silly jokes, roll dice and be creative is fantastic.

I’ve also started writing to people using an app called SLOWLY, which operates as a penpal service of sorts. I’ve talked to many people across the world and gotten to know all sorts of interesting things.

My mental and emotional health

To be honest, I’d struggled with my mental and emotional health from 2019 into 2020. This was a recurrence of many of the issues I have struggled with throughout my life. Those who know me know that I have struggled with anxiety, depression and self-confidence. That stems in part from being bullied through school, university and in various work places, as well as trying to work out where I fit. I’ve often struggled to work out who I am and where I fit in the world.

However, these days I am satisfied… I am content. Some might say that I should focus on being happy, and that would be great. However, I feel that I am being practical and pragmatic by focusing on a more realistic goal. I don’t think I’ve been truly happy for a long time.

I try to get out and about most days to spend some time in the sun – I have found that to be a great boost to my mood. I’ve also been reading more, from actual books! There are big piles of them all over our apartment so I should actually get through them at some point.

Probably the biggest surprise is this…

Yeah, I got a tattoo.

This is something that I have been thinking about for a long time – years, to be honest. Each part of the tattoo represents something different to me. The phoenix represents my ability to come back from my battles with anxiety, depression and self-confidence. The stylized semi-colon shows the new phase in my life. The blue/green swishes of the sky show the better and brighter life that can be found in progress.

It was done in two and a quarter hours, just the one session. The artist worked with me on the design and it has healed up nicely.

Anything else?

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Let me know in the comments!


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