As I am sure you are all aware it has officially been a year of lockdown. I can’t quite believe it. It doesn’t feel like a year not in terms of times because it has dragged. But because all my usual activities, markers, celebrations and events of the year have not happened. It’s as if I have been living the same week on a loop. All concepts of time have been lost. I genuinely worry about how I will adapt back to having stricter timetables again because I have been running on my own schedule for so long.
As a quick heads up this blog post is a little more rambling than my normal post. But I felt it was important that this reflected how I really feel rather than an edited version of it. Because a lot has been going on and I am not sure how I feel about it, my emotions are not structured. But I hope some of you can relate to my thoughts and this post makes you feel a little less alone.
Recently the lockdown lethargy has been real. I feel a bit like I am wading through treacle. Each day a vague repetition of the last. I have things I should be doing but I can’t get motivated. I’ll get as far as setting things up and that’s it. It’s a strange situation where you are both fed up and bored but also struggling to engage. To anyone else feeling the same you aren’t alone. You are not lazy or a failure because you are finding things hard. This whole experience has been so overwhelming for so long it is no wonder we are all emotionally exhausted. Especially as we are having to deal with it all without our normal support networks or access to coping strategies.
I know I am really missing my friends. I am missing going out for dinner. I am missing trips to the theatre. I am missing travel. I am missing normality. I have days where I have panic attacks that I am letting months slide by and not making the most of them but then at other times I’ll have panic attacks about going back to normality again and if I’ll be able to cope.
What is normality? Everyone says they miss it but it’s been gone for so long a lot of us have forgotten what exactly it might feel like. Even if we are confident with what normal was like no-one is quite clear what normal might be looking forwards. Will things ever be the same? Will people keep working from home? Will people keep wearing masks? Will we spend more time outside? Who knows? When you consider both the nerves at how we will adapt back to normal and the uncertainty of what that will look like, is it any surprise we are all anxious? So let’s not beat ourselves about it. Your worries and feelings are valid. I have spent a lot of time stressing about things and then beating myself up for stressing about things so I end up with double the emotion which definitely doesn’t help me.
Personally part of the reason the thought of lockdown ending is so scary for me is that for the first 75 days of 2020 I was an inpatient in hospital and was discharged pretty much straight into lockdown. So my last ‘normality’ was December 2019. I don’t have happy memories of the first three months of 2020.
I didn’t have that last weekend and that makes me sad. I get jealous that others had the first three months of 2020 to experience life. I am frustrated that all the things I was so looking forward to doing when I was discharged from hospital I haven’t been able to do. I was so looking forward to having all the little freedoms back like going out for a coffee whenever I wanted to or browsing bookshops. Managing chronic illness and mental health on top of lockdown was just too much.
Things just didn’t feel fair. I am pretty sure a lot of you will have thought that: it just isn’t fair. Then felt bad because others have it worse. But your struggles aren’t lessened because other people also have problems. You won’t improve their situation by pretending you are fine. Plus everyone reacts to situations differently.
One of the ways I am coping is to not put too much pressure on myself for when lockdown ends. I don’t need to jump straight back into everything straight away. I don’t need to be happy and excited all the time. I can space out reuniting with my friends. It took us all a long time to adapt to lockdown and will take us equally as long to adjust back to normal.
The word unprecedented has been thrown around all over the place but these really have been unprecedented times and I am so proud of us all for making it this far. Even if all you did in the year was survive that is enough. You have got through a year or a freaking global pandemic. Can I have a ‘Hell yeah!” From learning all sorts of new vocabulary to social distancing to travel restrictions to Zoom meetings to daily Covid briefings and constant uncertainty, we have gone through a lot.
So before I wrap up this reflective post, I want to share a short poem I wrote. I am not a poet so bare with me but I think it expresses the best how I am feeling about everything.
A year ago I thought it was time to be me.
I was discharged from hospital and free.
75 days in a hospital ward
A day that definitely struck a cord.
So much excitement about having choice.
I wanted to raise my voice.
To shout to the world I am back!
Finally going forwards on my life track.
I could go to the cinema, theatre and cafes.
I was ready to set the world ablaze.
To not have to ask to go out.
That’s what freedom is all about.
But the world was on the cusp of change.
Things were to become very strange.
Covid 19 and lockdown had began.
Things were not going to be fun.
Suddenly my months of dreaming
Left we quietly seething.
It wasn’t fair.
My upset was almost too much to bare.
I didn’t get a last weekend of normal.
Rules for movement were made formal.
It won’t last long
Well I was wrong.
A year on we are still here.
People are still living in fear.
But despite it all we made it.
We have made new hobbies fit.
That’s what everyone one of you are.
So whether you live near or far
I am proud of you
And I am working on being proud of me.
So there we are guys. One year of lockdown in review. I hope this thought stream and honest explanation of my emotions will make you feel a little less alone. Remember to take things one day at a time, I believe in you all.