A Strange New Normal | Life In Lockdown

22 Apr 2020

I should say now – I don’t work on the frontline (a huge bloody thank you, virtual hug and mountains of chocolate if you do). I’m not ill and the small amount of people in my life who have been ill have thankfully made full recoveries. I write this in the comfort of my own home, currently safe and well. Whilst my job no longer has a comfortable feeling of certainty around it, as it stands, I am still on full pay and with – albeit a somewhat reduced amount of – work to do. 

However, I think it’s important to remember we are not playing tragedy top trumps and I 100% believe that we can admit we are finding this hard and weird and wtf is going on. Feelings are not invalid because someone else has it worse off. Don’t go adding guilt into the shit show of emotions you are feeling right now. 

So, really, how are you? I hope that wherever you read this, you’re safe and well and haven’t yet thrown something at whoever you’re locked down with. 

As I write this, I think I’m on 36 days of social isolation. The last time I properly left the house (to travel into London for a meeting in the office) was mid-March. At this stage, we had been loosely told to social distance and work from home if we could, but the office was still open and someone needed to be physically there to set up a virtual meeting for 20+ people. I spent 6 hours sat opposite someone who later got ill with Covid (luckily it didn’t come my way), nervously laughed about how surreal it all felt and then caught the train home. And that would be the last time I would go further than the half-a-mile radius around my house. 

You know what happened next. Less than a week later, lockdown was announced and we have watched in horrified fascination as our lives have transformed and the country has become the scene of a real-life pandemic movie. 

Gary and I are at home together; trying to work, trying to tick off DIY jobs, trying not to brood, trying not to snap at each other (my bad). Luckily, we are both pretty self-sufficient people with plenty of projects to keep us entertained and with a familiarity of quiet weekends around the house. Gary’s on a health kick, I’m wondering how many reduced Easter eggs I can buy in one go – we all deal with things differently I suppose. 

Some days, it’s almost easy to kid myself that everything is normal. We’re just having a normal quiet Sunday, same as always. There’s no pressure to be anywhere or do anything; it’s almost calm and peaceful. Some days, I’m barely keeping my mental health out of the danger zone and it’s bloody exhausting. One day I’m the gal throwing about her to-do list in an annoying fashion and the next I’m the person aggressively liking ‘you don’t have to be productive, just showering is enough’ style posts on Instagram because how the hell am I supposed to motivate myself when I’ve been looking at the same still-need-to-paint walls for days on end? And no, I haven’t showered either. 

Right now, I’m struggling with the feeling of being cheated. Cheated of this year. A year where our aims were to have fun, to travel, to relax. Weekend breaks, a summer full of weddings, the blissful feeling of very little responsibility… gone. Sure, we don’t know what’s going to happen and come August, we may well be stretched out in a pub garden with friends… but I’m not holding my breath. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that this is not something that will go away after a couple of months. And that then leads to worry over the Big Things. Everything beyond the front door feels chaotic – what on earth will the world look like when this is over? My job feels like a question mark, the planner in me is utterly confused at not even being able to plan to next week and the future looks strangely blurred and uncertain. 

And whilst I know we just have to take each day as it comes and that I will eventually make peace with the lost time, the lost adventures and plans and joyous occasions; it’s a struggle to make peace with not being able to see my people. Every week, as I exit out of yet another diary reminder of a social engagement that will not be going ahead, I mutter under my breath something about it being unfair that we don’t live within walking distance of any family or friends. I’m rather jealous of those that can stand at the end of a driveway and wave to each other. Video calls are great and all, but it’s never the same as physically seeing someone in person, no matter from how far a distance. 

I try to embrace this new normal as best as possible; appreciating the time to spend an afternoon baking, the glorious explosion of blossom around the neighbourhood, the pile of books ready to dive into, but there’s no denying this lockdown business is a rollercoaster of emotions.