hi loves! I’m ✨finally✨ making a weekly commitment to blog posts. my blog posts will now be posted every Monday between 5-6pm! I’m so so excited; that’s 52 posts that you’ll get from me this year, at least. So what do you want to see more of? Comment below and let me know!
This weeks post addresses the pandemic, once again. I don’t want every post to be about the virus, or about lockdown, but I feel like it’s become especially important in the past few weeks. We’ve entered lockdown once again, and times are tougher than ever. I want to share the things that have got me through all of the lockdowns and restrictions we’ve faced as well as use my platform to address what it’s been like as a key worker.
This week’s post addresses isolation (the theoretical, not the physical) and the sadness that this past year has brought. It’s about the dark clouds that we don’t necessarily talk too much about, for the fear that we will be judged, ridiculed or the attitude that “others have it worse”. I cannot explain how many people have said that phrase to be during this year. It’s a phrase that now infuriates me. Nobody has it worse. We all have different limits. And nobody is stronger or weaker depending on what that limit is. We are all surviving this storm in completely different boats.
So here’s a little bit of positivity in amongst that storm. This past week, I’ve turned a corner. Or, I’m currently in the middle of turning it. I can’t quite decide. But, compared to where my head was at this time last week, I am feeling somewhat lighter that I did. My heart, and my brain, are less heavy. I’m not sure I’ll ever begin to feel the happiness I had in my heart before COVID, so I’m currently learning to live in a new state of finding the happiness in amongst the dark. Navigating this kind of water takes me back to the survival mode I was living in trying to recover from my mental health crisis in 2018. It was sometime I never thought I’d see again, or so soon. It wasn’t an extremely dark place, but it was a struggle and everyday was filled with an uncertainty; of how I’d wake up feeling and going through the motions. Luckily, it’s something I’ve experienced before, but at the same time, it seems so unfamiliar.
When I returned to London after Christmas (I was already there when the new restrictions were announced), I was really struggling to cope. I have a lot of trauma around the fact that I left my hometown last February after a brief visit, and couldn’t get back for nearly six months. and I was the kinda gal who took home for granted before that ♥️ and I know that I won’t be the only person to be going through this; I moved hundreds of miles away from my family for university and never left the city because I fell in love with in in a million different ways. Many left their families in September to go to universities all across the country with no warning that they may not be able to return for months. It’s only recently it’s come to light to me how many university students are struggling right now, after reading Kiera’s twitter post last week. With remote learning, minimal support/feedback from lecturers and the university themselves, as well as unmarked work and no mental health support, our university students are having a rough time right now. Many people a similar age to me no longer live at home, or anywhere near their hometown right now; dreams and hard work have taken them afar from where they started. It’s been the confusion of the bliss that I once felt of escaping my small hometown slowly disappearing, and the new fears of losing the safety of my hometown fields and mum’s arms that has been the most unnerving.
For me, even though I’m relatively close to home, the thought of coming back to London and being alone in yet another lockdown was far too much. I cried pretty much each day that came closer to leaving. I’ve cried pretty much everyday since then. And when the news of lockdown was announced, I very dramatically found myself sobbing on the kitchen floor; my dinner burning in the oven and the pasta boiling over. I locked myself away for 4 days straight last weekend. And as much as I tried to tell myself, and everybody else that it was for the safety of not catching COVID, it was admittedly more to do with isolating myself; or more predominantly, my feelings. However each of those days of shutting myself away from the world was hard, each day I was able to process the emotions of what was about to come. And each day, each thing that my brain tried to tell me was a huge obstacle that I wouldn’t be able to overcome, became smaller and smaller. Each big thing became a little thing. and then i felt… okay. I’m still absolutely terrified of being outside and around people, but this week my anxieties have felt somewhat✨lighter✨. As I’ve got through the week, I’ve realised that I’m stronger than what my brain tells me and it’s just a fog of worry and sadness that clouds my ability to cope 💕 and with the right attitude and a lot of work and courage, those clouds can burst into rain and i can choose whether it rains shattered glass or confetti.
Last lockdown, i was productive to a degree of relative burnout. I’d go to work everyday, and fill the void of missing family and my social life with hopelessly putting make up on everyday, walking and running religiously, baking banana bread and following every tiktok trend possible all the whilst working as an ICU nurse in the midst of a global pandemic. The pressure I felt on myself was immense. It wasn’t all bad, and I’ll forever be grateful for a lot; including learning to cross stitch (which I’d wanted to do for years), setting up my new blog and saving lots of money when I wasn’t spending it on theatre tickets and meals out. But my mind was a mess with painting the picture of coping relatively well to show the world. Whatever I posted about runs and smiles, was far from the truth. I was drinking way too much, eating way too much (or not at all) and slipping into many of the behaviours I had done during my mental health crisis. Luckily, I saw the warning signs, got help and got myself back on my meds quickly and got myself feeling better by structuring my days and meals, stopped drinking for a while and started talking.
But it’s so important to realise that this year has taken the biggest toll and it’s completely fine if that burst of productivity you had in the first wave, has very diligently disappeared this time. You want to sit in bed and eat snacks and watch friends all day? Do it! You don’t want to run that 5k your friend just nominated you for? Don’t do it! You don’t want to learn something new? You want to be around familiar and comforting things? Absolutely. whatever you can do to get yourself through this lockdown, do it but also don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Cliche as it sounds, do whatever you need to do to make yourself happy.
The one thing that I’m doing differently this lockdown? I’m not going to isolate myself and all of my feelings. I am going to keep in touch with my friends and family, religiously. It’s something that I was relatively bad at before the pandemic, but I’ve realised how important human connection is, even if it is through a screen. The overnight transition from seeing friends and family in physical form, with no limitations to not seeing anybody else apart from those within my household has been interesting to say the least. Nobody knows when it will not feel forbidden to step outside of the front door again. The existence of modern technology means that although separated by distance, we can still see and communicate. And as much as we love to hate on the digital world, what a wonderful thing. I couldn’t imagine not seeing my mum’s face light up on a small screen every evening, seeing her smile, laughing with her, the dog coming up to lick the screen. It’s not the same, but it’s definitely better than nothing. Although zoom calls can be exhausting to some, the act of having to have a conversation haunting someone’s day; the actual act triggers activity in the brain regions that are linked with social cognition. Hearing the voice of a loved one reduced stress levels, and releases oxytocin. Even a text from a friend that triggers a laugh, triggers endorphins. So just as important as exercise can be, human connection is all the same. And that’s what I did this past weekend. I had a 3 hour takeaway date with Chantelle followed by a 3 hour birthday celebration for my Grandad’s 87th birthday on Saturday evening. And I just can’t even explain it; I feel so much freer, lighter, happier since. Just to see their faces, tell a light hearted joke, have a moan and a cry with. We don’t realise how much we rely on human interaction to be able to express our emotions, and when that is taken away and we’re left with all of this pent up sadness, anger or happiness, we have no idea what to do with it. It’s then we switch to unhealthy coping mechanisms, boredom, endlessly staring at the walls in tears.
What are you going to be differently in this lockdown compared to previous? Feel free to share below!