Lock-down day 56……………….
I am sitting at my desk space which 8 weeks ago did not exist. It was a forgotten corner of our kitchen/dining room; now it is my office, and I love it.
My dog and cat are lying by my feet and I can stare out of the window into my garden and watch nature spring back to life. It is close to the fridge and I can turn up to work in bed socks and no makeup.
I also hate it.
It is a looming presence in my home, reminding me of work, all the time. When I am listening to Jazz FM with a glass of wine and cooking or sitting eating Sunday lunch with my family it is there judging me for all the tasks I have not completed.
I feel like the boundaries of my life have disappeared. Pre lock-down I could skip out of my door and leave my housework behind and not have to think about it, vice versa at the end of the working day I could turn my computer off and go home and forget about it until the next day.
Now it is all jumbled up together – if I leave the breakfast bowls in the sink, they will be visible on a conference call (the horror). If I do not finish something, I needed to get done for work it mutters darkly from my desk at the end of the kitchen! There is no escape.
Don’t get me wrong I am thankful every day for what I do have, lock-down has definitely taught me to be appreciative of the small things – to take the time to recognise all the good in my life. A portal call with my parents, or my son and his girlfriend are a highlight of my day. Taking my dog for a walk and having the time to admire the view and feel the sun on my face is a simple pleasure.
56 days into this crazy, unprecedented time I can say that it has not all been bad; I am surviving, but it has taken a lot of effort and self-introspection as I have had to find the strength within myself.
The first few weeks were an assault on my emotions, I was tearful when I went to the supermarket and saw how we are all having to distance ourselves, it felt frightening and unreal. I clung to the news briefing from the government at 5.00pm every evening and then spent hours brooding over what was said, or not said.
My mental health was shaken at its foundations, everything I thought was safe, normal, constant was removed, violently.
We have come a long way in understanding and accepting mental health in this country in recent years, but sadly there is still so much more needed, and provision of help is woefully lacking.
The arrival of coronavirus, and the subsequent restrictions it has put on our lives tests our mental health every day. Even those who haven’t experienced mental health issues are being pushed to their limits.
It is mental health awareness week, and this year more than any before we must all take notice and bring the subject of mental health to the forefront. We need to talk about it, be open and honest and make sure there is no taboo is saying ‘I need help’.
The overwhelming positive emotion to come from this strange time is kindness, there are hashtags and groups telling us to be kind.
We all need more kindness in our lives, we all need to give and receive kindness. Whether that is showing up at 8.00pm and clapping for the NHS and keyworkers, offering to do your neighbour’s shopping, or phoning someone you know is alone.
Kindness isn’t only about helping others; it is as much about being kind to yourself.
The dishes are in the sink and there is about to be a conference call, don’t beat yourself up – move the laptop somewhere else where they won’t be in view.
You have spent 45 minutes arguing with your child about doing the homeschooling, take 20 minutes and go outside for a game of hide and seek.
Give yourself a break and just be grateful for the things you are managing to achieve every day, under really difficult circumstances.
As the rainbow that has become the image of these recent times tells us – there is hope and light after dark times.
Hope and light are out there we just need to keep believing, keep being kind and keep talking about our mental health.
If you need support during this time, please contact Mind.org.uk