When we first went into lockdown in the UK, about five or six weeks ago now, I was ever so smug about the fact I’m a natural hermit and thought I’d smash this isolation thing with no issues. Fast forward a month and things weren’t looking quite as rosy.
For the first couple of weeks, I was golden (it should go without saying that I was worried and scared about the fact we’re dealing with a very serious pandemic but generally, I was dealing with the new routine side of things pretty well). Then I slipped a bit. Spending 24 hours a day inside the same four walls soon left me feeling claustrophobic and a pang of guilt would kick in for even feeling like that as I know full well that I’m in a very privileged position.
I’m still working while so many others have lost jobs or been furloughed. I’m in a happy, safe household and our loved ones are healthy, even the ones who’ve overcome the virus. However, I’m naturally pessimistic and found myself being drawn to the bad news stories, the negative social media posts and the virtue signalling narrative.
After a while, I found myself losing the motivation to do anything for myself in the evenings, struggling to muster up the energy to blog or sew or bake or read, instead opting for crawling into bed at 8pm and not getting back out again until I absolutely had to the next morning. I felt like I was giving everything I had to give and went to sleep at night feeling empty and drained, like I was on a treadmill that’s going a bit too fast.
I’ve been in that dark place before so I know the warning signs and started making a mammoth effort to pull myself back from the edge. I know what I should be doing to help myself but don’t always make the best choices when my head is foggy, so I started to treat my personal life I do my workings days.
I jotted down a manageable daily to-do list and incorporated one small period of exercise and contact with friends and family into it, which was non-negotiable. I also made sure I wasn’t skipping meals and filling up on sugary foods, cut right back on the coffee and deleted Facebook and news apps from my phone.
Sometimes, I like to stand at the door and look at the stars but always feel like a bit of a dickhead to be honest. I forced myself to get some fresh air in the garden the other night and was greeted by the most beautiful pink and purple marbled skies. It served as a timely reminder that I needed to start actively looking for those little silver linings and finding a tiny glimmer of joy however I could; even more so on the days when I feel like the world is going to shit.
I’ve booked a week of annual leave to take in a few weeks time and am going to spend it doing the things that make my soul happy. I’ve used the money that I’d usually spend on commuting to order myself the most decadent, luxurious and absolutely unnecessary bouquet of flowers for my birthday, one I’ve been fawning over for years but would never dare ask someone else to buy for me. Last night, I spent more than an hour in the bath reading and ignored the usual niggle of ‘you have far too much to do right now, time to get out’, allowing myself to just be.
I’m trying to flip my viewpoint on things too; instead of (selfishly) worrying about Megan working at the hospice during the outbreak, I’m allowing the overwhelming pride take centre stage in the emotional arena instead. Instead of getting pissed off at other people hosting parties in lockdown, I’m grateful that my loved ones are abiding by the rules and staying safe.
I’ve started making a list of the things I want to do once it’s safe again, such as booking a weekend away with my girls, spending a day in Hebden Bridge mooching around the cafes and charity shops, singing my heart out at a gig with thousands of strangers, having a picnic in Heaton Park, getting day drunk over lunch with my friends, wandering around museums, getting my hair done and chatting nonsense with the hairdresser, chilling with my niece and watching Disney films together and all of the other things that I’d absolutely taken for granted before.
This solitude has also highlighted the things that I’m not in a rush to get back to and given me some time to really think about what I want in my life, in the future and right now. And when things get really bad, I remind myself that this uncertainly and fear will inevitably end at some point; it’s only a ‘for now’ and not forever.