Locked down reprise

It’s been a while since I’ve written on here – aside from some geeking out with new routers and smart kit at home the last thing I talked about was struggling with lock down. Well, here we are nearly a year later and whilst restrictions are easing, we are still seriously hobbled with our ability to live our lives.

The period where things are starting to ease might be the worst, because you can almost see and touch the other side, but you’re still feeling desperately impatient for it to arrive. So that’s the general state of mind I’ve been feeling – cautiously optimistic that we’re over the worst of these things, that normality can resume, but also desperately impatient for some kind of normality.

Then along comes March. An underwhelming birthday – I think we’ve all had at least one now, some folk are now having their second lockdown birthdays, so that’s not a “poor me” statement. Days later I had to take my pet cockatiel of 20 years to be put to sleep, a not entirely unexpected thing – she has been poorly – but gut-wrenching nonetheless. Another family pet bereavement followed, then a friend passed away. Then my relationship collapsed on itself, and my whole world fell apart.

So much for cautious optimism, huh?

I won’t lie, the succession of things that individually I’m probably robust enough to cope with, whilst feeling sad of course, nearly broke me. I’m obviously not going to go into details or specifics, because this isn’t an anonymous platform no matter how few people read it. I’m lucky enough to have friends intuitive enough to look through the veil, so to speak, and I’m lucky to have a very cool boss who does the same.

I’m getting help, and probably the most difficult part of that process was admitting that I needed it. We all see the memes and the posts about it being ‘okay to not be okay’, we might even share them comfortable in the knowledge that at that time we are okay. But it’s quite difficult when you’re in that position, years of conditioning – mostly unwitting conditioning – to ‘get on with it’ is tough to break through. There’s always someone else worse off than you, right?

So I suppose if someone reads this in a similar position, look for help. Find some people to talk to without judgement, refer yourself for talking therapy via the NHS or – if you’re lucky like me – via your workplace. I’m trying to take some positive steps myself too – eating healthily, hydrating, finding time to exercise, be creative, making a point of writing something positive about myself down each day and severely restricting my social media use.

I’ve set up scheduled ‘Quiet mode’ on Facebook, which undoubtedly is my social media Achilles heel – now when I open the app on my phone it shows a picture of a cat instead of my news feed except for two half hour chunks of the day. I thought I’d find that really hard, and I probably will – it’s only been a day so far – but yesterday during my second half hour opportunity to binge on Facebook I found myself cooking my dinner rather than focusing on it entirely.

Outside of this I have set up private space to be able to write more openly about things, writing is often my creative outlet that I neglect, that has been helpful. There are a number of us doing the ‘positive steps’ plan, and we’ve got a group set up on, ironically, Facebook. We are technically allowed to use that group outside of our social media quiet time, but I don’t trust myself not to get lured into the rest of it so I’m being quite strict with myself. It’s good to have a support network though, and indeed, be part of that support network to help others with what their issues and goals are.

Yesterday after 9+ hours of no Facebook the time came and there were 20+ notifications, I’ll be honest, most of them were pretty meaningless. The ones from the group were ace, and there was one with an update on the lilies I sent to my Aunty in memory of her dog Digby she had to take for his final trip to the vet. They looked awesome, that aside it was mostly people posting pictures in beer gardens since the pubs have reopened.

I think I have a bit of a journey ahead of me to stabilise myself, but I’m certainly massively further along than I was, I’m cautiously optimistic (there’s that phrase again!) that I’m doing the right things – and as lockdown measures continue to ease it will be easier and easier to spend time with people and combat the crippling loneliness I’ve been enduring for, well, it’s more than a year now, isn’t it?

That was a cheery post wasn’t it? Haha! At least it implies the possibility of a happy ending 🙂

Categories: blog | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Locked down reprise

  1. Mark Shepherd

    That’s great Alan. Brave New World and all that. Keep if up and keep going. Lots of lights at ends of tunnels – even if some are just candles.
    Cheers Mark

    • Thanks Mark! That first step of admitting I wasn’t okay was the hardest, but the outcomes have been pretty much universally positive.

  2. Trevor Fisher

    Things will get better in time Alan, although at the moment that probably seems a long way off. But keep your chin up and stay positive, you have made the first big step.

  3. dave Emsley

    You’re right about the talking therapies that the NHS provides – I found them amazingly useful and productive; even though I was sceptical at first.

  4. Same. Had so many bereavements these last two years I’ve not been coping. Have made new friends in the board game community over the past year – that’s helped a lot. Big hugs and hope to see you in a field sometime this summer.

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