I have wanted to share my thoughts on everything that’s going on currently for a while now, however, whenever I actually come to write, I feel immediately silly responding to what’s going on as I am just an ordinary person. I don’t work on the frontline as a key worker, I don’t have an NHS standpoint, I’m not saving lives or trying to keep the country moving – I’m just trying to live my life whilst doing what I can.
So after some deeper consideration and a few deleted drafts, I decided to go ahead and write something, as, after all, just like the last 10 years worth of archive on this blog, this post will reflect a point in time to look back on in the future.
In 2020 we existed through a global pandemic named Coronavirus?!?
Like everyone else, I long for the day that this is all a distant memory. But for now, it’s very much our daily lives for the foreseeable and the more voices sharing their thoughts on how they are coping, surely can’t be a negative thing? As someone who is insanely curious about people, I know that I personally get immense comfort from seeing through the window into what other people are doing and what they are thinking.
I know that I don’t have a perspective on this situation that is any more informative than my personal thoughts, but it’s my hope that this post might help anyone reading who is wondering what other people are feeling like. Especially as now, more than ever, mental health is a large issue at play during the Coronavirus lockdown.
Mental health awareness has never mattered more
Mental health awareness is really important to me – It’s the reason why I volunteer for The Girls Network and have started training to become a Childline councillor. When it comes to mental health awareness and support, during the Coronavirus pandemic in-particular, mental health has never been more prevalent.
Self-isolation is a hotbed for stirring up feelings of loneliness, exacerbating depression and aggravating anxiety. Not to mention an absolute nightmare for people with health anxiety who are desperately trying to navigate living normally when an invisible illness is literally lurking anywhere.
As you likely already know, I myself, am a front row rider on the loop-de-loop rollercoaster that is topsy turvy mental health. Living daily with anxiety and in the past, the dark depths of depression – I’ve been there. Sure, I may be living with my boyfriend during the lockdown, but I still feel scared, lonely and helpless. Being holed up with someone who you don’t normally spend so much time with has it’s own ramifications.
But it’s so important to keep talking to each other, check in on your ‘strongest’ friend, strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know on social media, facetime your family, WhatsApp call your bestie, text or ring your Grandparents, write, email… just keep talking.
It’s okay to feel up and down
Since we’ve been in lockdown, I’ve felt a plethora of emotions, some days I feel pretty okay, others I’m really down. I worry about my job, I worry about my health, I worry about my friends and family. I feel gutted to not be able to spend time with my loved ones. However, I’ve also felt some quite selfish emotions too, including disappointment.
I think this is all part of understanding where we’re at and finding our groove in a new reality. I think it’s important to look back at where you were and where you are now to really appreciate and put into perspective what’s happened. I try to think of it as one day at a time.
A shift in expectations
Using the word disappointment seems rather crass when discussing a global crisis that has caused thousands and thousands of people to lose their lives, but it seems to sum up the general feeling when Cornavirus first started to have a life-altering effect on us here in the UK. I really noticed this at the beginning, particularly on social media.
I really don’t think that the severity of what was about to come was hammered home enough by the UK government in those early days. I only started realising that things were getting very serious when one of Adam’s friends who is an NHS doctor started to feedback what was happening within the hospital he worked in and the preparation they were putting in. At my place of work, we shut the office a week earlier than the rest of the country. At the time I thought our MD was being overly cautious by telling us to prepare for at least 6 weeks out of the office. This would all blow over in a month or so right?!? After all, Liverpool FC were still hosting international football games!
How. Bloody. Naive.
On March 7th 2020, I was out for dinner with Adam eating pad-thai, drinking espresso martinis living my life normally and commiserating some bad news. This was exactly one week before my own Mum went down with COVID-19 (Thankfully, now fully recovered!), we were told to stay at home and faced losing our livelihoods.
The bad news that Adam and I were commiserating was that our house buying process had started to go pear shape due to one reason or another. I’d had my heart set on the property and was disappointed that there was, in fact, a few spanners in the works. Then came Coronavirus and shut down the whole thing before I could even say Farrow and Ball ‘Hague Blue’.
I was disappointed, in fact, I was bereft. How could this happen and spoil my plans?! And then… My Mum (who is a key worker) started displaying symptoms – she is probably the healthiest person in my family. It was then that I had the stark realisation of what was really happening. My house purchase falling through really was insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
I then felt really guilty for feeling this way when people were dying and then I started beating myself up for feeling guilty. A never-ending cycle of rumination began. I flip-flopped between anger, sadness, acceptance. Why did this have to happen?
My best friends wedding has been postponed a year, her hen party cancelled, Adam and I’s dream trip to Italy had disappeared in a poof of smoke. I could no longer see my family. I felt disappointed and then I felt GUILTY for feeling disappointed. Of course, it wasn’t just me but the cycle was ridiculous.
How my mindset has changed now
You won’t need me to tell you that things are feeling different now, we’re around 5 weeks on and it has got me thinking about what is truly important. For me, it’s health, love and food on the table – Anything else is a huge bonus. Every day a blessing.
It’s with this time to reflect that I’ve started to think differently about my life as a whole. What is important? What isn’t? What do I have control over really? What is my place?
I also started to think about how I would do my very best to stay mentally (and physically) healthy at home. I scheduled myself time to work, time to read, time to write, time for myself, time with Adam, time calling family, or playing an online quiz with friends, time for podcasts – everything divided into bite-size pieces, one day at a time. One step at a time. I also really looked into what I want to do with my future and what I wanted out of life.
And so, Adam and I decided was there ever a better time to finally get a cat? This has been a life long dream of mine since I was small and I made it happen. Alf is a melanistic Serengeti cat (Mixed between a Bengal and an Oriental) and he has helped my mental health tenfold! I love the sense of purpose he gives me and the routine I have been drastically lacking during lockdown.
All of our routines have been violently shaken up, I am someone who functions better when I have a plan and a routine. That said, one of my 2020 resolutions was to know when to take a break. The universe definitely had other ideas and forced me to live more slowly and mindfully.
I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s okay to feel kind of happy that you get to spend more time at home, it’s okay to feel really angry, it’s okay to feel disappointed at the loss of your plans, it’s okay to feel somewhere in the middle. We’re all just trying to do our best and make sense of things. My DM’s on Instagram and Twitter are ALWAYS open for anyone who wants to talk.
Stay safe – We’ve got this!