How are you dealing with lockdown?
I don’t know about you, but when my thoughts are fragmented and sharp, moving in a colourful whirl like a hurricane too fast for me to understand how I’m actually feeling, I sit down and I make a list.
Organising My Thoughts
I list every thought as it comes and I number them, starting from one. The order doesn’t really matter, it’s just a way for me to tidy and organise something intangible. I then work through that list, crossing out each thought as I address it and give it my complete attention.
This can sometimes take weeks. But I would highly suggest you give this a go, if you’re ever feeling a bit lost. To any other Harry Potter nuts, this is where I would reference the Pensieve, and how fucking great it would be to have one. But in our world, a paper & pen will have to do.
It goes without saying, but I’ve made many lists over the past year.
We collectively find ourselves here, in Lockdown, again. We’re three weeks into an open-ended ruling to stay at home, for the third time in less than twelve months.
Key workers must continue to go to work despite the dangers they face every day, so the rest of us can have medical care, food, childcare. For everyone else, if you can work from home, great. If you can’t... well, not so great.
For many like myself, I’m again without the luxury of being able to comfortably express my agreement that we as a nation should be locked down for as many months as is necessary, until it’s completely safe to return to normal life.
That’s a privilege afforded to those who are still able to obtain their usual (or at least a good chunk of their usual) income. Please don’t think me naive - my husband has severe asthma and takes immunosuppressants for a chronic illness. We know the danger: it faces us every day too.
I know the statistic, I know the death rates. It’s horrifying, and I’m scared for my loved ones. But my heart also feels the constant fear as each week ticks by and we enter a new phase of our overdraft. And that overdraft won’t last forever.
I feel guilt. Like, constantly. Guilty that I get to stay safe at home, when so many key workers long for a well-deserved break, and feel safe again. Guilty for worrying about something as trivial as money, when people have lost their lives. Guilty for wanting to work.
There’s also an invisible, crushing pressure on all sides from those in better positions than me to take another path, to get another job. It’s suffocating. So I search for jobs in a non-existent job market. Half-heartedly, because I have a job. One I fought tooth and nail for, and gave up every aspect of comfort I’d ever known to pursue.
Conflict. Constant conflict.
This is what I would call feeling lost in a pandemic. Feeling incredibly lonely in your circumstances, despite a million others being in the same – if not a significantly worse – position.
I know there’ll be lots of people reading this who feel the same, or something similar. I hope this finds you, and you feel less alone.
I go through these thoughts in a cyclical manner every day, confronting each one and trying to figure out a new approach to make it through.
But the thing I’ve come to realise, is there is no new approach. There is no normal, there is no comfort to be had. And that’s okay.
If I could express to you the relief I felt when I figured that one out! Feel your feelings, try and ride the waves of positivity when they come, and stop fighting the sadness when it comes too.
You are normal, because there is no normal. You are allowed to feel every single feeling. Just remember and respect that everyone else is entitled to feel theirs too.
How I'm Dealing
I have a couple of things I’ve learned – like, really learned – during lockdown, that I want to share. I hope these help.
1. Social Media is a minefield.
Some days it’s heaven, some days it’s hell. Learn to identify when social media is making you feel bad about yourself. Remove those accounts, or remove yourself from your phone.
2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone.
It’s been said a thousand times, but I will say it again. Instagram is a highlights reel. Most people don’t post their bad moods or down days. In a similar vein, don‘t feel pressured to be active or producing content for the internet as a business owner if you can’t face it. Some days, I feel motivated to create Reels and images and talk to people. Other days I want to stare at a wall all day and not interact with anyone. And that’s okay.
3. Practice self-care.
Even if self-care to you means sitting on the couch in your PJs all day and not washing your hair. Look after yourself – you are the only constant in this ever-changing situation, so look after you. You’ll need a healthy mindset when the time comes for us to re-enter society. Now is the time to nurture that.
4. Let go of what you can’t control.
I’m guilty of climbing the walls about things I can’t control or change. And I can confirm it has never once helped me. So it’s time to shake that shit off, and focus on what you can control within your own immediate existence.
A client said to me once, ‘We are all weathering the same storm, just in different boats.’ I think that sums up our collective situation perfectly. Now is the time for understanding. You are not alone.
UK Mental Health Crisis Text Line
Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 (open 24/7)
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To speak to a Samaritan, call 116123
This is a free line, and is completely confidential.