The lockdown diaries – Day 1: The first one

We are on lockdown. Covid-19 has achieved what no developed industrial nation ever thought possible. Nations at standstill, stock markets crashing, people panic-buying toilet paper as if it was the only remedy to cure all of humanity’s problems and wiping supermarkets’ stock, piling cans and packs of food they would, under normal circumstances, never eat (canned potatoes anyone?). Weeks before BJ made his announcement, people all over the world showed their best and worst sides – you decide which one you were on. As a national of a country that moved relatively quickly on limiting social contact and large gatherings of people I had my own opinions on how Brexitland dealt with the issue, but that is not of relevance here. Experts and the WHO are the only ones who should pass public comment on this – I may have an opinion but I am not arrogant enough to spout it. My family and I stuck to the instructions that were given, kept a distance and I even had the nerve to tell off groups of teenagers that walked around, acting as if they had won the jackpot with an extended holiday. Social distancing as such doesn’t bother me: I know there is a (as yet unknown) time limit and one day I will hug and hold those close who I love, I will see my friends and their families again and my children will see theirs. I took the change as it came and evaluated what was possible and what wasn’t. Play dates are off-limits, but fresh air and the lone countryside are not, so we went for a long walk across fields and looked at paw and hoof prints on the muddy tracks, watched red kites soar and stroked the soft buds of Goat Willows, treating every crossing of a small stream like a mini adventure, frequently pretending to be on a bear hunt (we didn’t catch a big one!).
Work had also put in appropriate measures and working from home is going to be my new normal, for however long it has to be. I have already found lots of silver linings and am discovering plenty more every day: getting up early with the sun, going running before anyone else goes outside, eating breakfast with my kids instead of leaving them whilst I rush out the door, helping my daughter with her work or watching her and my son jump around the lounge to Joe Wicks’ PE class, having a cup of tea whenever I want and finishing it, going to the loo whenever I need to, rather than crossing my legs for hours because I do not have a spare second. I enjoy going in the garden and letting the kids blow off some steam, whilst I have yet another cuppa.
Despite making the best of the situation and knowing that it is absolutely the right thing to do, I couldn’t sleep after the announcement on Monday night. The severity of not being able to get to my family in an emergency hit me hard, unanswered questions and unclear messages online made my head spin, arguments and uncivilised posts on social media turned my stomach and mine and everyone’s mortality stared me uncomfortably in the face. As I woke to a new state of being, I was a bundle of nerves. I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want to talk. Shutting down is my coping mechanism. I am not one on giving out universal advice as everyone is different, but here are the things that diluted my anxiety and calmed my jittery nerves: I went running (even earlier, rising with the sun), I turned off the Internet on my phone, I phoned my family and I drank lots of tea (I am so British!). I am sure I will have my ups and downs during this time, as will we all. My message to everyone is this though: Don’t let your frustrations out on others. No one will listen if you use foul language and sink to a level that is reserved for the gutter. Dignity and diplomacy are not always my strengths but I will keep practising now and maybe, so should you. Listen to the experts. There are reasons why we have to stay apart. Be kind. Show love. This is so essential in situations like this. If someone is nasty, kill them with kindness. And finally – don’t lose hope. Have faith that life, although it may change, will carry on. We may have to change in the process, but that may be beneficial in the long run. Look out for the rainbows and silver linings. Phone friends, send letters, emails, messages. Cook, bake, paint, write, read. Be present in the moment. Who knows what you may discover.

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