A lot of people have been asking how I’m coping with lockdown living by myself given my background with mental illness and it’s something I’ve wanted to write about for a few weeks now so here it is.
This isn’t going to be 800 words of me talking about the books I’m reading, the films I’m watching, the zoom quizzes I’m doing well in or that my home cooking has now reached Michelin star level.
It’s going to be an honest approach to what i’ve found easy and what I’ve struggled with during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The thing I find weirdest about this situation is that it’s global. Nothing is global like this, not at the same time. Weather is global but it’s different everywhere.
The thing we are all going through right now is on the news all the time, that’s what I find weird about it.
The part of this whole situation with COVID-19 I struggled with the most was the month or so before we entered lockdown when no one really knew what was the right thing to do.
I was going in an out of London everyday not knowing who I was putting at risk in doing so and after I stopped using the tube for the final two weeks as I saw it as a massive hotspot all of a sudden my daily commute became 90 minutes longer which was having a big effect on me mentally.
But when Boris Johnson said we’re in lockdown it was a huge relief lifted for me personally.
I thought ‘Okay, this is it, we’re all in the same boat let’s crack on with our minuscule role in this while we postpone normal life for however long.’
Although I’m a sociable person who has had one holiday postponed and another cancelled because of the pandemic I was never going to start complaining about having to stay within the four walls of my two bedroom flat, not while NHS staff are working 14 hour shifts on the front line.
I haven’t seen my dad since March, two weeks ago was the first time I saw my mum since lockdown came into action and I’ve only met my niece once since she was born on February 28th which are all incredibly tough things for anyone to deal with, but you won’t hear me complaining.
However, I haven’t found the last 12 weeks an easy experience by all means, and at times it’s been really mentally challenging.
For those of you who don’t know me personally I live by myself. I moved into my flat 12 months ago. A friend of mine lived with me for a little while but for the duration of lockdown I’ve been alone.
Which is how I wanted it to be to be honest. I’m way more productive with work when I’m by myself and although I’m a very sociable person (when my mental health allows me to be) I do enjoy my alone time equally as much.
But 12 weeks by myself has been draining. It dawned on me two weeks ago that I had gone more than 24 hours without saying any words out loud.
One of the things thats always has a positive impact on my mental wellbeing is a routine. Getting up at the same time every day, 10 minutes meditation in the morning, having my meals around the same time, not looking at a screen for 30 minutes before I go to bed and things like that, the benefits have been huge.
So when we were put into lockdown the first thing I did was create a new routine to fit into the new normal.
For the first few weeks it worked wonders and it still keeps me going to this day, luckily I’m one of the fortune ones to still be have lots of work and studying to do so I have plenty to keep me busy during the day.
However, things started to dip when I watched the second series of After Life on Netflix in mid-April.
I’m a huge fan of everything Ricky Gervais does with The Office being one of my favourite shows of all time but nothing has had an effect on me quite like After Life.
The series tells the story of a man who turns suicidal and suffers depression following the loss of his wife to cancer. Although that is a level of grief I have never experienced there are certain aspects of the story and characters that I resonate with.
The series has the power to have you laughing one minute and crying the next, and it was episode four of the second series in particular that really got to me.
There were two scenes in this episode, involving two different characters, that had me thinking and evaluating a lot of things in my life.
One sees a character act on her feelings only to get a metaphorical slap around the face while the other shows the central character outpour his sadness and fear at what his life has become to another which was all so real to me that it stayed on the front of my mind for a few days.
I went for a really long walk that day just to clear my mind and think about things.
What dawned on me during this time was that being in lockdown by myself and going days without speaking to people I wasn’t releasing my emotions how I would do in normal life.
During life before lockdown I was speaking to and surrounded by people every day and if someone was to ask how I was feeling I’d be honest if everything wasn’t going well and I was struggling. Being by myself during lockdown I don’t have that.
As a result I started journaling again.
Journaling is something I have done a few times throughout my mental health journey, I rarely read them back unless I think there would be a benefit to it, the main purpose is that it’s a release.
I’ve been doing that every day since mid-April. Sometimes I write it first thing in the morning and others in the evening, it all depends on where I have the free time to do it and how I’m feeling.
It’s a really simple way to express my feelings during times like these, suffice to say the content is for my eyes only but if there is a recurring theme that comes up I get on the phone to my therapist because it’s clear there is something I need to talk about with a professional.
So that’s about it really. There’s loads I could write about for my solo lockdown experience so far but as always with these posts I try to keep it relevant to what a reader may benefit from instead of a long list of books I’m reading, films i’m watching or that I can see my reflection in the bathroom tiles due to the number of times I’ve gone over them with a mop.