It seems hard to believe, as I sit here tapping away on my iPad, that it is a year ago since we were told to begin working from home if we could and to limit our contact with others . . . And only a few days following we were in a national lockdown in England.
Optimistically, or perhaps a little naively, many of us did not expect this to still be happening a year on, or to be in a third national lockdown.
Regardless of if we’ve continued going to work, been working from home or on furlough some aspects of life have changed for almost everyone. We can no longer pop round to our friends for a cuppa or to the pub for a pint. We aren’t able to just nip out of the shops for a browse or to go for lunch with friends, or to the cinema, or out for dinner, nights out . . . . How does that make you feel reading that? Is there a strange feeling inside you that you can’t quite put your finger on?
That feeling, it is very likely, is a feeling of loss. A sense of grief. These feelings are often associated with a person or animal dying, yet we experience them for a lot of reasons and Covid-19 has given us many of them.
As a sociable person who enjoys seeing friends and family, catching up with neighbours, it has been a huge change in how my time away from work is spent. As someone who also works in the travel industry it has meant a lot more time at home than I am used to and that took some time to adjust to, for me as well as the person I live with!
Lockdown 1 was at a time when the sun was shining, it felt as though it would be for a few months, things would be ok again soon . . . It was time spent in the garden, growing more veg than normal, tackling the diy that had been halted halfway through and sitting in back gardens talking over fences, at the end of each other’s driveway to share a drink . . . Things had changed, but it felt ok as there was time that wasn’t there normally.
Then we swerved along and ended up in lockdown 2 . . . It became a little more difficult. This was going on longer than we thought. The lack of work was starting to take it’s toll, people were starting to feel as though they couldn’t cope, relationships were becoming strained . . . But Christmas was on the way and we were told we would be allowed to be together with our families for a few days. Then we were told we wouldn’t.
Now, as we approach the easing out of lockdown 3 in England, things feel very different. Those working at the start continue to work, having to manage with FaceTime, zoom and telephone calls to have any kind of normal outside of work. Those on furlough have been picking up other jobs, discovering new skills to keep them going but also to stop themselves from going crazy staying at home every day, to get some level of interaction with others as well as managing financially. Those working from home are now having to face changing this routine to ease back into the office, maybe navigate this around children returning to school.
And all through this, there is that feeling in the pit of your stomach. The crying for you’re not quite sure what. The empty feeling you can’t quite work out what to fill with. The arguing about small, insignificant things that you don’t know why you’re arguing about. Sleepless nights. Mornings oversleeping. Endless amounts of caffeine to get through the day. Evenings spent eating your body weight in snacks and then feeling guilty about it. Drinking more alcohol than you used to. Feeling scared about getting back into going into the workplace. Looking at yourself in the mirror wondering who that person looking back at you is. The list goes on . . . . These are all normal, natural, typical responses to loss and grief. To huge changes occurring in your life that you’re not quite sure what to do with, how to react to.
As we continue past the one year mark that brought huge changes to our lives, try not to be too hard on yourself. Concentrate on what you can change and have control over. Pick up that colouring book and lose yourself for half an hour (it works wonders for me, though half an hour easily turns into an hour or 2 because it calms me so much!). Get out into the garden. Watch your favourite film. Create a daily bedtime routine.
Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. We are all going through this and we will get through.