Covid-19, the pandemic, lockdowns. We have never seen anything like that before in our lifetime. And yes, COVID is still present and not going away despite how little the media wish to report it. But we are certainly not under the strict restrictions we were placed under back in 2020. Everyone was affected by the pandemic. Whether you believe it is a real disease, or part of a wider conspiracy to control the world’s population, or even both, you were still affected by it. Unless, of course you worked in Downing Street where things pretty much carried on as normal. Reflecting upon that time it’s bizarre to think about what happened and what people went through. So many people lost mothers, brothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, fathers, their own children it’s absolutely harrowing to think of all those poor families and friends of the deceased who’s lives would never be the same again. I have been fortunate so far, no one from my family or friends has passed away. So many people didn’t make it. From my own experience I can only write about the lockdowns and how they affected me, my family, and friends. Over the next weeks I will be looking at the pandemic in more detail from day one up to where we are now.
Those initial first few weeks of not knowing what was happening, what we could and shouldn’t do was very unclear. I mean it never really got any clearer from the government did it. The were a litany of mistakes made time after time which I could easily write two to three blogs on but I will refrain from bashing them, for now.. I remember coming in from work having been sent home with the factory I worked at closing down. There was no plan from them, they took the decision that it could no longer function as a business and dressed it up as sending people home to keep them safe. They didn’t really care about that, I am fairly sure of that. I came home panicking and extremely anxious about the immediate future. There was a deadly virus spreading which looked like it was going to shutdown not only the economy, but the whole world. I thought about what would happen in the short term, was I going to have to isolate on my own? That filled me with deep anxiety. I love Nigel to bits, and he does offer companionship in some ways but not quite on the same level as other humans do. We had no idea how long this situation was going to last. Were we going to be in a lockdown where you could literally not leave this house? We had all seen those videos coming out of Wuhan and it was terrifying to think that we could be put under similar rules and restrictions.
All the uncertainty for everyone was incredibly daunting. I began to think about the economic impact on my life. Would I have to leave my flat and lose everything being unable to work? All these questions I had like everyone else, could not be answered.
In those first few weeks of lockdown, it was a very surreal experience. I was furloughed from work. Yes well done Rishi Sunak, you did something right for a lot of people but of course not everyone was covered by the scheme. P.s that was a labour proposal he introduced, just saying! And from the good Labour, not the car crash of a party that it is today. Told myself that this wasn’t going to get political. For those of you who don’t know me, my politics very much fall on the left side of the spectrum. And just to clarify, the left. Not centre left. Coming back to those first three to four weeks I think for many of us lucky to be furloughed and not either forced to work or essential to it felt like a holiday. I am not going to pretend it was anything other than that. The weather was unbelievably good, and it was probably just as well. Almost like it had been planned to perfection… the Qanon, anti-mask/lockdown crew will love that little twist. After those initial few weeks were over and the enormity of the situation began to unravel on everyone I think this is when the mood of the majority of the nation changed, but not to the same place. The kindness to one another and general feeling of being in it together all went out the window. People went back to being the same as they had been prior to all of this, sadly in my view. Empathy was again lost and the divisions we had seen began to raise their ugly heads again. As with most things now, it became a binary topic. You were either for lockdowns and measures or against them. I don’t think there was much middle ground. I became embroiled in the debate, constantly reading and watching videos online.
Not seeing people had a massive effect on my mental health. I was lucky to spend the initial part of lockdown with Chloe and her parents. Then Chloe and I returned to my flat until the summer. I didn’t see my parents, brothers, and friends for a long time. I played by the rules, and I am not embarrassed to say that. I felt it was the right thing to do, and I still do. Other people will have made other choices different to mine and I respect that now, maybe not having done so at the time. It was a totally unique situation for us all to be involved in.
Chloe was called back into work but working from home (more on working from home in part two next week) which left me in a bit of useless state. Chloe returning to work made me feel very indifferent. We worked for the same company, and I probably felt a little bit of jealousy and resentment that she had been called back and I hadn’t. Colleagues in my department were called back. I wasn’t. I mentioned this in another post about how much of failure this made me feel. I wasn’t in a good routine. I was staying up late, and you guessed it drinking heavily. What else was there for me to do? Or so I thought. I really should have devoted that time to better use. I had near enough eight months of not working. However, I did find something amazing during this period and that organisation is Foodcycle. They are a charity who take surplus ingredients from shops, wholesalers, supermarkets and cook them up into a fantastic community meal. I am going to do a full piece on Foodcycle in the next month as they deserve a full blog just for them. I was volunteering three days a week and it did give me some purpose and structure to my week. This was vital to help my mental health at the time but in reality, like so many I was still struggling. I have read so many articles, tweets, posts about how despondent people became during this time. I felt so guilty for feeling bad, I hadn’t lost anyone. Why do I get to feel sad about everything? I give myself more of a break on this now, it was a dreadful time and feeling that way was actually very understandable.
I began volunteering and began to feel useful again but as time went on and I was still unable to see so many of my friends and family it was really weighing me down. I was lucky to have Chloe with me throughout this time as I don’t think I would have made it through lockdown one without her. I owe her a great deal for looking after me in that time. I know that many people would have been feeling like this during that initial lockdown and for some time after. When we came out of that first stage things did get a little bit better. I was able to play cricket which was deemed a COVID safe environment thankfully. Again, without this I think I would have really struggled to cope. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I was unfortunately made redundant in the September of 2020 which was a very hard time to get through. I still feel a lot of resentment towards that decision not just for myself but for the other people who lost their jobs. With my current job I am still indirectly involved with the old company so maybe that is why I haven’t fully let it go. Getting that final letter through in the post confirming the termination of my employment is still very firmly in my mind. Those feelings of rejection and inadequacy that I had in other experiences in my life were back and at the forefront of my consciousness. I knew it was coming, but I don’t think that made it any easier. The months kept passing and furlough kept getting extended. I felt that I could have been brought back into the business to try and help get things restarted but I wasn’t. I am still processing that despite moving on to a better job with better employers.
Next week, I will be recommencing this story from 2021. Despite this being a more relaxed year for the restrictions in place, it is the year of my mental collapse. I have of course spoken about it in other blogs, but it certainly won’t hurt to dip in again from another angle.
Thanks again for reading. I would love to hear your lockdown stories and how you coped during this time so please drop me a message anytime to chat on it.
Peace and love.