Pandemic Burnout In Women: One and half year down, I thought I would get used to living through a pandemic. We all knew this wasn’t going away quickly, right? And yet, the minute I wake up every day, the stress is already weighing down on my mind. The year 2021 feels like a glorious bonfire that refuses to die down. And women’s hands get singed by its heat every single day- there is simply no escape, even momentary, from our pandemic woes.
The ordeal that began last year, with the scare of an unpredictable deadly disease, the shift of work and schooling to our drawing rooms and employment of maids being a luxury, or a risky choice (due to health concerns) somehow got worse this year. I write this as I sit almost bed-ridden due to a leg injury, watching my mother scuttle around working non-stop. She is a teacher, who had to learn online teaching techniques in her 50s. My father had knee replacement surgery during this period, so he is of little help around the house.
I see myself in my mom- when she sits down to catch her breath every now and then, already planning what work needs to be sorted out over the next few hours.
At the peak of the second wave, I was the sole caregiver to two COVID-19 patients and my child. Long after we conquered COVID-19, I had to worry over the health of my loved ones, take immense precautions with diet, sanitation of the household, all the while cooking, cleaning, tutoring, organising and holding on to a full-time job. Every day I used to go to sleep and wake up to just one thought- what sh*t will I have to deal with next?
Things eventually got better, we moved back home with our parents where I had support with childcare. I guess 2021 is done tormenting us, I thought to myself. But now, as I read about the impending third wave, which could possibly affect young children more, the dengue and mystery fever crisis, all this while schools reopen, across the nation, my mind has no respite from the stress that has been accumulating for the past one and a half year. The load of household work is negligible, but with my regular hospital visits, I now worry about bringing home the dreaded disease. When will this end? Will our kids ever know what “normal” means? Or is the new normal?
Millions of women have it worse than I had. They have partners who can’t or won’t help out with household chores or the schooling of children. They are caring for elderly people as well. Chores round the clock also mean that women tend to put their health on the backburner. Periods are getting delayed, sugar and blood pressure is slipping out of control, but these are not the priority right now.
The burnout they experience, the mental exhaustion that I feel from having to deal with crisis after crisis amidst the COVID-19 chaos, it will take years to get over, if we ever get back to our pre-COVID lives.
Just yesterday, my eight-year-old told me, “We are inside people now, that’s our life!” It was funny and heartbreaking at the same time. Above all it was true. That’s our life for now, constant worries, endless chores, complications no one ever trained us to tackle and a sense of helplessness.
What could indeed help, is speaking up about this burnout. If women open up more, it will help other women know that they are not alone to feel overwhelmed by the pandemic stress. Perhaps talking about it, is our only release from our ordeal right now, so why not clutch this opportunity and help women are around us do the same?
Views expressed are the author’s own.
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