My crazy coronavirus lockdown rollercoaster of emotions
Some days I’ve positively loved being in lockdown, and no I’ve not gone mad… Sitting in my garden, listening to the birds, flicking through an interior magazine has been bliss, I’ve sat in my hanging garden chair feeling incredibly lucky. Grateful to have my own outside space and grateful to have my family safe and well. Then it would hit me, like a slap in the face. My heart would leap, my gut wince and there it was guilt. Guilt for feeling happy when all I was reading in the news was pain, heartache and misery.
This nagging guilt was to become my theme as the lovely sunny weather continued. I’d have moments of great contentment, then I would feel guilty that I wasn’t working, guilty for sitting doing not a lot.
Of course, I reflected on this inner conflict, I rationalised that we were all in lockdown, that I was unable and right now still am unable to work face to face with clients, so it was perfectly reasonable to just potter and enjoy the slower pace of life.
Then came the restlessness, the constant waves of anxiety. I felt like I needed to do something, everything… and yet nothing all at the same time. I struggled to focus on one thing, I struggled to relax without feeling guilty. Sleep was another annoying commodity. I could feel exhausted and yet lie there for an eternity trying to go through all the things I have learnt as a counsellor; mindfulness, breathing techniques, all sorts of relaxation techniques. Nothing, not a jot… I was still wide awake.
The stripped-back way of life has been quite liberating. We have connected more, talked more and enjoyed the more simplistic way of life.
Fear has played a huge part in my lack of sleep. Fear for either myself - I have a heart condition - or fear for someone I love becoming infected by the virus. My mind would wander off to the worst-case scenario, and there it was, I’d be wide awake again.
Seeking comfort in each other
As a family, we talk a lot. We have talked endlessly about whether one of us or all of us have actually had the virus - I have been really ill twice now since Christmas, lots of similar symptoms etc. I’m sure I am not alone with this thought.
I’ve felt angry and frustrated at times, we, as a family, have followed the rules. I’ve missed my parents way more than I ever thought possible. Yes, we talk on the phone every day, but it’s not the same. I’ve dropped off shopping and sat in the front garden more than two metres apart, it all felt odd, unnatural, but then again, everything about this situation feels unnatural.
I have cried many times watching news stories, retelling the harrowing struggles of our front line workers, or tears of joy when reading articles of the countless acts of kindness during this stressful time. My tear barometer has been at an all-time high these last few months. Sometimes tears fall down and I couldn’t really explain why.
I have hugged my husband and two girls so much more these last few months, grateful to have that human tactile comfort. But also fear that something bad might happen to one of them. I’ve had to really work on irrational negative thoughts. My dog has also had the life hugged out of him. He has been cried on many times, his now out-of-control knotted fur has been soaked with tears. I’m sure even he will enjoy this trip to the groomers!
Cooking has become a bit of a hobby, who knew you could do so much with pasta! With Vodka a la Pasta being a firm family favourite, oh and a good old family roast, there has been no such thing as a Sunday roast... every day has felt like a Sunday.
Art too has been a family ‘thing’. Thank goodness my girls inherited my 'arty' gene. We have all been painting pebbles, stones and anything that looked like it could use a coat of paint in the garden. It’s been a really calming, yet fun distraction. Walking has also been a great distraction. We have walked locally, and as lockdown was eased, getting out into the countryside was great.
I think we are all more appreciative and respectful of one another. We are mindful that sometimes just sitting, being quiet is OK. Just doing nothing is OK.
What I’ve come to realise is that everything we have done has cost very little, if no money at all. The stripped-back way of life has been quite liberating. We have connected more, talked more and enjoyed the more simplistic way of life.
I think we are all more appreciative and respectful of one another. We are mindful that sometimes just sitting, being quiet is OK. Just doing nothing is OK. Not getting dressed until after lunch is OK. After all, where would we go? There was no rush.
The new normal
I met my friend in the park last week for the first time. It felt uncomfortable. I wanted to give her a big hug as we always did. Instead, I got out of my car and said hi. We walked with a two-metre gap, that felt odd too. We normally link arms. When I said bye I felt a lump in my throat. No hug, just a wave, our new normal.
My husband goes back to work in one weeks time, while school and college are both still out for my daughters. I am working a little more online and making adjustments within my practice so that hopefully I can reopen in the not too distant future.
As some shops start to reopen and the lockdown rules ease there is a small glimmer of the old normal. But for now, I guess I’m OK with the new normal, safety for all is what matters the most. After all, no amount of money will buy our health, and it’s no longer a basic commodity I will take for granted.