Another Week Begins

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

When did this lockdown begin for you? Some people have been staying home for longer than others – the official order to stay home coming 7 days ago, after a week of gradually tightening measures. People with underlying health conditions or over 70 are self isolating, others social distancing, allowed out only for exercise, to get to work if they can’t work from home, or for essential trips for groceries or medicine.

Some are struggling with this. Some bristling against the removal of liberties. Some having to face their own demons without the ability to drown them in drink. Some falling down conspiracy theory rabbit holes – determined not to take this at face value. Others are struggling when they see these others resisting the lockdown. Even when people are doing things technically allowed – going for a walk, going to the shops. People are jumping to conclusions and quick to condemn. It’s quite unnerving.

I haven’t been out much for a few weeks. A couple of walks. Two shopping trips. I wish we could drive / had a car. It would make it possible to stay in longer. I have worried about the last time we were out and vaguely social – making some attempt to be further apart from people than usual, but it hadn’t really sunk in. That was 10 days ago now. Hopefully we were lucky.

Or not lucky – maybe the odds were in our favour anyway. There aren’t that many confirmed cases around here – so whatever unconfirmed, unsymptomatic carriers there are will be less than in other areas. But without testing how can we know?

It would be helpful to manage our anxiety. To know the true relative risk. But then would it make us more complacent. I worry about the idea of immunity – are people truly immune once they have had the illness and survived? Is it too early to tell?

My mental state has been all over the place. Some days high anxiety – more obsessive handwashing and cleaning despite not having been anywhere. Some days blind panic, bleak fear for the future. Catastrophising. Coming up with a million negative outcomes, my brain can be much more creative than just a horrible death. I am finding it hard to concentrate on much some days – whether trying to do work, or read for leisure, or give myself permission to do something else – paint, make something, sew.

My husband is working from home. That throws me at the best of times. I find it hard to just “do my thing” when others are around, so I drift. Wash the pots. Put the washing in. Clean. Cook. Make the bed. Stare at twitter.

Some days are better. Today is better. I was awake at 2am. Two hours earlier than I needed to be for my slot on Radio 5 Live’s Wake up to money. Anxiety dreams. Worrying about my cat, who true to form picks the most awkward times to potentially need a vet. The programme went fine, my hands stopped shaking. I didn’t waffle too much. I didn’t get to say everything I might have liked to but it was interesting nonetheless. That was a good start, and I got some nice feedback.

The invite to speak came at a notable time. I have been trying to egg myself on to do more audio / visual stuff. To get used to online delivery – which is going to have to be part of the future. But I have huge internal resistance to this for some reason, and I had a big whinge-fest to my husband talking about how difficult I found it. I struggle with initiating conversation – even face to face – so the idea of assuming anyone would be interested enough to tune in to look at me speaking on a video or listen to a podcast, just seems presumptuous and rude and ridiculous. But only if it’s me – I love when others do it. So to wake up the next day to someone actually asking me to share some of my thoughts was a nice “Shut up and stop being ridiculous and get over yourself”. As I heard Shamash Alidina say the other day – Where we hurt, we care. The things that cause me distress are a sign there is work to be done there. I have discomfort because I know I want to do it right. Because I know I need to believe in myself enough to know I have useful things to say.

What do we want to get out of this time? To survive, and get back to where we were? A minimum – we don’t want to be worse off. But can we leave our houses better in some way? Learn something which will make the life we build in future more fulfilling and satisfying for us? Maybe even just use the opportunity to rest.

Those of us who can rest, of course. I am also mindful of the many people who are not at home – who are fighting for people’s lives in the NHS, who are exposing themselves to higher levels of risk to carry out the jobs that need to go on – care work, emergency services, lorry drivers, bus and train and tube staff, postal workers, delivery drivers, manufacturing and supply chain, food retail, farming – anyone in the supply chain. The anxiety of placing yourself in the line of fire – out of duty, or just the need to stay in work. And of course the added frustration of those whose employers are not being supportive, whose work is not essential but who are not being permitted to stay at home as advised. Some workers are used to having to put themselves in danger of course – firefighters, police, military – but even they suffer the consequences. It is not a natural thing to do.

All I can say is thank you, and beg your employers to provide you with the protective equipment, the sanitiser and washing facilites you need, and promise to do anything I can to ensure you are properly protected and rewarded and recognised.

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