What a strange time we are living in at the moment. Not just here in the UK but worldwide. How is everyone coping with it all?
For me personally there are many mixed emotions, and I veer between being completely okay about things, and quite anxious about everything and anything. It’s weird because up until last week, just before the advice to stay home was made, there wasn’t anything particularly different about my life to what it normally is. With no medical appointments, and not having the best time with my health (it’s only a slight flare, nothing serious I promise!) going out wasn’t really on my agenda anyway.
But a lot can change in a week. And a lot has changed in a week.
My little sister has moved home from university, since it has essentially closed and all the lectures will be done online. My Mum has moved out to stay with my Grandad, as she was going across to care for him daily, it seemed like a sensible decision for her to stay over there as soon as it became clear people were being told to stay at home where possible, and the carers that usually came in to help were beginning to struggle with workload as people took time off to self-isolate in order not to spread the virus to the vulnerable they were working with. And then the official ‘lockdown’ began, and my Dad no longer goes out to work as he is not a key worker.
So now, like everyone else, I’m finding my life has turned upside down. On the one hand I know I should be used to not going out, but seeing everything on social media about ‘what to do when stuck inside’ has brought up some mixed emotions too; there are plenty of things which have been suggested which I can still only dream of being able to do. And suddenly once again, the little I can do doesn’t seem like enough.
I find myself thinking about all the things I could be doing if I was well; I’d be the one putting notes through people’s doors with my number, telling them to let me know if they needed anything. I’d volunteer to help in the community; getting shopping and medication for people etc. But instead I am one of the people who are relying on others for everything.
I haven’t left the house for 15 days, well left the property; I have been in the garden. My contribution to the house is sticking the laundry in the machine, planning our meals (with input from everyone else obviously) so as to make the best use of the food we have got, and making a list of the things we need when my Dad goes shopping, particularly the free from essentials like dairy free ‘milk’ for which I have no other alternative but to have.
And I am still exhausted, more exhausted than I have been when managing the laundry and a few other household tasks in recent months. I’d forgotten how exhausting just having people around more can be. I’d grown accustomed to spending almost half the day alone. And it turns out that peace and quiet allowed me to have the energy to manage the household tasks I was previously managing. Now energy is going on socialising/listening to more conversations in the house, even just coping with the bustle of other people doing things in the house, I’m finding myself more exhausted.
And of course there’s the anxiety. Not helped by the constant barrage of news reports in the newspaper, on TV and social media. For some people delving into all that and gaining knowledge helps. For me, well lets just say I watch the daily briefing around 5 p.m. each day, and occasionally pick up the newspaper to have a read if I feel like it. I’m trying to avoid a lot of the pandemic related posts on social media, unless they are the lighthearted ones or government ones. It all depends on how I’m feeling at that present moment; sometimes I can cope with it, other times it can completely overwhelm me. I do what I need to do in order to protect myself.
There’s also anxiety and uncertainty over my upcoming hospital appointments for tests and treatments; I expect them all to be cancelled, at least for next month if not longer (I can’t remember when my next ones are beyond next month!). But that hasn’t been confirmed by the hospitals yet and I’m unsure what to do; do I try and contact them in some way? Preferably by email as I expect the phones will be busy. Or do I wait until closer to the time? One is only a week away next week, how close do I leave it?
I know it’s for the best. I know all of this is necessary. I also know it is an uncertain time for many, and we are all having to adjust to a new normal. I’m just finding it difficult to cope with my illness flaring up, particularly with flu-like symptoms, at a time when everyone is hyper-vigilant for any “new” symptoms. Whenever my illness flares up there is some debate over whether it is “just the usual” or whether it is indeed a virus of some kind that I’ve managed to pick up despite not going out and no one else having been unwell. And obviously in the current climate that is a bit of a scary place to be.
I know we will come out the other side of this. I hope that as a society we will come out of this more compassionate and understanding of the situations others face everyday of their lives; for some people this ‘self-isolation’ is the norm, low income is the norm, if you are reading this and facing it as a temporary thing in order to save lives, just remember that there are people who have to live like this indefinitely. And there is also those people who have longed to be able to get a job but would only be able to do so if they could work from home remotely, but for years this has been something that has been classed as ‘impossible’, yet now wherever it can be done it is being done. Just like that. If these accommodations can be made available to those with jobs in a crisis like this, surely we can extend them to the disabled and chronically ill people who long to work but require these accommodations to be able to do so?
I hope that when we come out the other side of this pandemic, we will see some positive changes in society. That people will understand that health is a precious thing, never guaranteed, and that when it is threatened in any way at all your life becomes uncertain. But that with the support of others, although it is still hard, it becomes easier to cope with.
For once we are all facing the same enemy, and have the same responsibility to keep each and every one of us as safe as possible. Do what you can to keep yourself and others safe by staying at home as much as possible, that’s all any of us can do.