The longer the Covid-19 situation goes on, the more I find myself affected in ways I did not expect. My own contact with the disease is, as best I know, minimal: friends of friends of friends may have been infected, but that’s all. What I’m noticing however is a kind of “plague malaise” affecting me at work.
Some of this malaise is simple change of routine: checking the news far more than I usually would and not going out at lunch hour unless I particularly have to. And there’s probably a degree of lassitude after a scorchingly busy couple of months. But I think what’s also affecting me is the constant sense that things might change at the drop of a hat. Will movement restrictions suddenly come in so that I can’t leave Melbourne for Shepparton? Will the city be placed in lockdown, obliging all of us to work from home whether its practical or not? Will we enter a harsh economic downturn? And – kind of important – will people begin dying in quantity?
The reason I mention this is that I’m wondering if other people in the law are having the same experiences. These are the things I’m especially noticing –
Firstly, I’m struggling to get work done. Every task seems to take twice as long as it would normally. But despite this feeling of my brain being less sharp, I seem more reactive in other ways: today I had to write something involving a police Superintendent; a certain Simpsons reference made me laugh like a drain.
Sometimes I have to make a conscious effort to smile and not to bite the heads off of my co-workers, despite them being people I like and and whose friendship I value.
I find I’m getting more and more “dark”. Usually my thinking music at work is “Rhapsody in Blue”. Currently it’s Saint-Saëns “Danse Macabre”.
Thinking in a sustained way is a challenge. This morning I was trying to read this article on the illegality defence in tort law, and the decision of the High Court in Smith v Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd (1938) 60 CLR 141, both of which are relevant to cases I’m handling. Each is fairly straightforward, although if you watched me knot my forehead up trying to make sense of them you wouldn’t necessarily know that.
Finally, I’m much more indecisive than I usually am. Last night I was looking over a possible claim for a fellow whose claim is out of time. I know the case is a dead duck. Even if on paper it might be possible to finesse a win, I know it’s a pointless exercise. But could I make up my mind to so advise him? Nope. I dictated two-thirds of a rambling, indecisive letter of advice before I gave it up as a bad job.
Now, I don’t think I’m cracking up. I certainly don’t think I’m at the end of my road as a lawyer! But I think the current conditions are taking more of a toll on me than I thought they were. And that has me thinking: has the pandemic had an impact on you, despite not being directly affected by the Covid-19 virus? If it has, how?