Episode from the podcastLondon by Lockdown

#10: What About Work?

Released Tuesday, 10th November 2020
Good episode? Give it some love!
We look at how London’s workers, including us, are affected by the pandemic.

**************************
I’m a workaholic.

In 2015 I forgot how to swallow.

Every time I ate, it felt like a bit of food lodged in my throat. It was intermittent at first; then it would happen a couple if times during a meal; then it was every time I swallowed, and no matter how much water I drank or how many times I cleared my throat, it felt like the food would get stuck. It didn’t matter how much I chewed, either. It felt like everything was squeezing shut. I started cooking soft foods, taking tiny mouthfuls, chewing a lot, and drinking water to push it down. I was scared I’d never eat properly again.

At the time I was working at the University of Queensland, and had three freelance gigs. I was also writing a grief memoir (about my mother’s death from cancer in 2013) for a Masterclass Program. I was working (paid & unpaid) seven days. I knew this was unsustainable, but I’d juggled creative and paid work before. And Shona and I devised an exit plan, and so many other writers and artists do this. But the words I was putting down in my memoir were heavy. (I didn’t know how heavy.) I was diagnosed with a hole in my heart and hypertension. In the middle of all this, two people I knew passed away, four days apart. I remember the inflection in ------’s voice on the phone when she told me ------- was gone. We’d been housemates for some years. Now, that’s a lifetime ago.

Surrounded by death, we flew to Melbourne to say goodbye. The sadness and hurt triggered grief, anxiety and guilt about mum. After returning home I continued working myself into the ground. Then it hit me a couple of months later, during a trip to Canberra for the Masterclass. When I ate I thought I was choking. I didn’t know what was happening, so I flew home early. I was exhausted.

I didn’t eat solid food for weeks. I lost 10kg. My short-term memory dissolved, I couldn’t sleep, my digestion stalled, I was edgy, I thought I was going to die from cancer. I took sick leave from UQ, and only just finished my freelance gigs. As for the memoir, I did submit the 10,000 words by the deadline, but I shouldn’t have. At times I’d finish a paragraph and just start sobbing.

To get through, I went to counselling. To stay healthy I run 40km a week. To stay sane I work Monday–Friday, 9-5. Sometimes food feels like it’s not going down properly, but I’m usually tired or stressed. My memory came back, my sleep is ok, but I have to be careful with what I eat. And of course, in lockdown, there’s the temptation to work more and the guilt of not working, so I really have to stick to my 9-5 regime.

Thanks to:
Unregistered Master Builder: master-builder.squarespace.com/#intro
Markus J Beuhler: https://soundcloud.com/user-275864738
Justin Mullins: https://audiodesire.com
BBC: bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk
London Soundsurvey (sound & audio maps): https://www.soundsurvey.org.uk/
Carolyn Pelling - find her brilliant poem: https://www.masksforextraordinarypeople.org/

Mental Health Resources:
How to Access Mental Health Services (NHS site): https://bit.ly/NHSMentalHealthUK
Mental Health Australia: https://mhaustralia.org/need-help
Only Human Radio Show: https://soundcloud.com/onlyhuman4zzz
Pink Therapy: https://pinktherapy.com

Find out more about:
How UK sex workers set up and ran a hardship fund: https://bit.ly/SWARMHardshipFund
The Tate workers strike: https://www.tateunited.com/
London’s bus drivers fight for safer workplaces: https://bit.ly/BusDriverSafety
London’s cleaners big win against outsourcing: https://www.uvwunion.org.uk/st-marys-hospital

The ongoing campaign for justice for Belly Mujinga, including calls for a Public Inquest into the circumstances of her death and a Coronial Inquest.
https://bit.ly/BellyMujingaWomanAndHome
https://bit.ly/BellyMujingaCampaign

We have more links than we could fit here, so for a full list of workers voices and campaigns go to https://bit.ly/LbLWhatAboutWork

Episode Reviews

This episode hasn't been reviewed yet. You can add a review to show others what you thought.

This podcast, its content, and its artwork are not owned by, affiliated with, or endorsed by Podchaser.
Rate Episode

Share This Episode

Recommendation sent

Join Podchaser to...

  • Rate podcasts and episodes
  • Follow podcasts and creators
  • Create podcast and episode lists
  • & much more

Episode Details

Length
18m 22s
Explicit
No

Episode Tags

Do you host or manage this podcast?
Claim and edit this page to your liking.