Here we are, another blog about the lockdown. I’ll try and avoid as many clichés as possible although I imagine it will be difficult!
How are you all doing? How are you adjusting? My partner and I have been social distancing for three weeks or so, although I was ill for about four weeks before that (not coronavirus, as far as I know) so it feels like we’ve been stuck inside longer. Already my world has shrunk to these few rooms, to the point that going outside feels dangerous and anxiety-inducing. I’ve only left the house in order to go to the shops for about two weeks – the last time I tried to just ‘go for a walk’ I started panicking and turned back. We are very lucky that our jobs are unaffected, so far at least, and our families are all healthy.
I’m working from home the same hours I would at work, and we’ve put in place a bunch of options to help people stay connected remotely – there are daily workout sessions over Zoom, weekly yoga, we play a game of ‘Through the Keyhole’ each day, guessing people’s homes from a few pictures, and we have daily meditation sessions. The meditation in particular has been good – I’ve always wanted to try and get better at it, and I’m slowly getting better at it. Top tip: sit in a comfy chair. I stayed on my desk chair the first few times and couldn’t relax at all because it’s so darned uncomfortable.
I’ve spent a lot more money than I was expecting. Somehow our food bill has skyrocketed, and I’ve spent a fair amount on getting a workspace set up that isn’t absolutely destructive to my back – I bought a fairly cheap chair, and then had to buy a back cushion for it. No footrest yet but it’s only a matter of time. I’ve bought various bits for the house to try and spruce it up a bit, the most expensive being some new sheets. All that on top of my continuing weekly therapy costs mean I’m spending more now than I would be if I could go outside and see people!
Having never experienced issues buying something from the shops before, I’ve been going through rounds of irritability based on whatever I can’t get that week – pasta, chopped tomatoes, flour. Now that I have those things I probably won’t use them for a good while. I’m finding myself reverting to a toddler state – wanting what I can’t have.
Like you, and like everyone, I’ve been struggling to figure out how to cope. I’ve been feeling guilty about not doing enough, about worrying too much, about feeling sad when other people have it much worse. I’ve been annoyed about the things I can’t go out and do and then saying to myself, why are you upset about it? You haven’t done it for the last six months, what makes you think you’d do it now?
I said to my therapist a couple of weeks ago that I didn’t think I was doing well with the whole situation. She said, with a little edge to her voice, ‘what would it look like, managing this unprecedented situation WELL?’ I had to laugh. She’d got me there.
I’ve read what feels like hundreds of articles about how to cope with the pandemic – be kind to yourself, be productive, do nothing, do more, help others, help yourself. Trying to follow all the advice is becoming stressful in itself. I read one piece that talked about Mind Apples – like 5 a day, but for your brain. You make a list of 5 things you’re going to do each day to help yourself feel good. This person’s had ’30 minutes of exercise every day’ which I don’t think I do even when I’m not in a lockdown. The only thing I’m making sure I do every single day, is write in my journal before bed. I used to journal intermittently but now I’m making it a habit, because if I don’t write stuff down before I sleep, I wake up loads. I might still wake up, but it isn’t as bad. The journaling doesn’t help with the dreams though, sadly – I’ve been having very long and vivid dreams for weeks, and it’s becoming annoying.
One other thing I’m doing, which I wouldn’t put in a list because writing to do lists has not gone well for me the last couple of weeks (I do none of them and feel bad, or try and do all of them and get very anxious), is work on feeling no guilt for eating and drinking whatever I want. I don’t want to hear one more joke or comment about putting on weight during the lockdown. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. If you’re recovering from an eating disorder and this is churning up a lot of emotions for you, then that’s fair. But otherwise, stop it. Who the fuck cares. I’m drinking more, and eating more of all sorts of foods, because that’s what I want to do, and it really doesn’t feel like the time to worry about any of it.
The pressure to be obviously doing something with this lockdown is really wearing and tiresome. On paper I thought I’d be reading more, and get back into learning French after I stopped when I was ill, and cook more interesting food, and connect with people – but actually things have been more or less as usual. I’m tired after I finish work, so I watch TV. I give myself too much to do on the weekends and split the time between cleaning and sitting about, I’m cooking the same stuff as usual, and I haven’t mustered the energy to open the Duolingo app. This is an unprecedented situation but I’m still the same person, in the same place, with more or less the same habits. The only real difference is I’m exhausted from reading about the virus, thinking about the virus, and wondering if I’m doing enough about the virus – and I’m buying even more daffodils than I would be normally at this time of year, because I’m always at home and they bring me joy.
How ever you’re coping with all this shite, I hope you’re not being too hard on yourself about it. I hope you’re well, and safe, and the people you love are well and safe too. Look after yourself.