23 March 2021

Lockdown: One Year Later




I was sat watching a patient rest when I remember the first mention of COVID on BBC News at 8am. I could tell I felt a little more unlike myself that day. Dreary and trying not to fall asleep as I read the subtitles on tele. As the news divulged more grim details I recall fear washing over me. I held tightly onto the remote and thought about changing the channel, however I just couldn't. I was awake now. Occasionally glancing over at the elderly man I had come to enjoy spending hours with, I wondered were we going to be okay? 

Just a couple weeks later the first lockdown was announced. 

Our lives on March 23rd 2020 stood still and the world we knew disappeared. For some only temporarily. Sadly for many, changed forever. 

I remember the weather clearly on March 22nd when I realised the gravity of the situation and couldn't find my usual groceries at the supermarket. I recall noticing a local restaurant was giving away produce and quickly I snapped up a box full of random ingredients I had no idea what to do with. We visited our favourite Chinese supermarket too and places like Superdrug to make sure we had a little of everything. Nothing in excess, but enough to keep just us two going. 

During the first week of lockdown I learnt how to butcher and roast an entire chicken thanks to the restaurant that helped us, tried pineapple flavoured Jaffa Cakes when the usual were out of stock and, played Ready Steady Cook almost every night. It was then I confirmed that this was life now, for the foreseeable. 

Back then I was nervous, but I also didn't comprehend that the pandemic would last longer than Spring. I still went to work as a carer but, now I had to wear uncomfortable amounts of PPE for 12 hours at a time, multiple days in a row and would come home with the worst headaches. I'd ache like never before and feel so hopeless trying to protect residents I cherished so dearly, still often thinking about them today. On days off I told myself I was fine and swiftly took the opportunity of staying indoors to revamp my blog, improve my writing and do what I could to feel useful. Last July when lockdown 1.0 began to ease, I even naively wrote something I now cringe at, knowing now that what I thought I had learnt has entirely changed. I specifically wrote that I felt lucky, and boy do I see now that I was! Almost as quickly as I hit publish, my life became shattered. 

I had it easy last Spring. I had a job I loved, where I felt completely settled and a routine I knew like the back of my hand. I worked with my mum which was wonderful in many ways too and, my partner had a job he's managed to hold tightly onto throughout the pandemic. Life was good. We'd just moved house September 2019 and were looking forward to days spent in the garden, feeling like proper grown ups, with neighbours we'd come to like and so much planned. I felt ambitious about the life I intended to create at home and the path I planned to forge for myself as a writer. So much so that I quit my beloved job, decided to become an agency carer and really test myself, in hopes of finding the confidence to become a freelance copywriter by January 2021. 

When lockdown began to ease last Summer I was cautious still. I wanted to see friends, but I was very picky about who, when and where. I wasn't trusting at all and chose mostly to confine myself within these four walls still. Regardless of my attempts to stay safe, I quickly saw COVID creep closer to home. Squashed in cars with other carers, I started travelling up and down Devon and Cornwall for work and saw things I couldn't handle. Financial worry became a huge burden and my partner watched me suffer for months. I found myself back in debt as I tried to pay the bills and by December I was shattered after picking up COVID in November, the night before my 28th birthday. 

I spent Christmas feeling out of my depth still. My comfort zone in tatters. I was honestly holding on by a thread. I couldn't even get the mash potato right on Christmas day and I was livid about that. On New Years my kitchen ceiling fell down too to top off the worst of months and, I was left picking up any item of kitchenware I could salvage that wasn't smashed and thinking, is this seriously my life now? When will things get better? If I can't even keep a roof over my head, how will things begin to improve? I felt withered and beaten up by life. I thought my 20s were supposed to be fun? 

A year into lockdown and with restrictions about to ease once more, I can share with you that I've found light again. Things do get better. Life doesn't entirely suck any more. We have a new kitchen ceiling now for one and, we're getting new patio doors soon. I'm actually in a position just three months into 2021 where I can plan again and buy garden furniture! Without a doubt I'm cautiously optimistic about everything these days, but I appreciate what I have more than ever, and trust the timing of my life. It's been an utterly crap year, mine still better than some, but I'm just so thankful to wake up and feel sunshine today, whilst ultimately being able to conclude that moments of sadness often arrive in unexpectedly gigantic tidal waves... which we all have to ride out as and when.

I see now that lockdown round one wasn't enough to really deeply teach me anything, but after three desperate attempts from our government to calm COVID down, I can safely say I know who I am now. I've learnt a lot and here's a list...

  1. I can be a source of calm through family crisis
  2. I like to be busy
  3. I will always pick myself back up 
  4. I'm a better cook than I'd ever imagined
  5. I don't want to be self-employed after all 
  6. I miss being social more than I thought I would
  7. Showering with my houseplants to make them grow actually works 
  8. I'm ambitious in new ways 
  9. Spring is my favourite season
  10. I can't bake pretty cakes
  11. I can't always handle my anxiety and that's something I have to accept
  12. I don't need makeup to feel good about myself 
  13. I am capable of learning new skills in my own comfortable environment
  14. I'm not afraid of needles anymore
  15. I want to be taken care of sometimes
  16. I need stronger boundaries in order to maintain certain relationships 
  17. I like to treat myself and won't feel guilty for spending if it's something I really really want e.g. the patio set I've been eyeing up online all week or various Bleach London products.

Three jobs, one pandemic, one COVID jab, heaps of family turmoil and one year later, the list of things I've discovered could go on and on! I digress. 

Who knows, this time next year I might even look back again and laugh at this very blog post. I guess the lesson to learn here is that life is fucking tough. There's no easy way to put it and pandemic or not, we can never predict the events in our life completely. So don't try too hard or feel guilty when your intended goals don't go quite to plan. We're muddling through the best we can and that's always enough. 




7 comments

  1. I could relate to so much of this post! It's been a year, but glad to hear you're starting to feel more positive!

    Katie | katieemmabeauty.com

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  2. I love the list of things you've learned, it's great that you've gotten to know yourself better over the last year. It's been quite the rollercoaster for me too, but hopefully it's up from here!

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

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  3. Can relate with so much here! This pandemic has changed us in so many ways, it's unbelievable! I'm so happy to read you're feeling better and more positive!

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  4. I love the things you've learnt, it sounds like a big year for you. I've had the complete opposite, in many ways things feel quite stagnant in my life right now. I can't wait to get out again and have that sense of being excited to do something, even if it's just a meal or coffee x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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  5. Reading your posts makes me always feel...as if you're speaking about me? I mean, ceiling excluded, the last few months of 2020 have been what I would not wish on my worst enemy. I am so glad you managed to turn all situations around for the better and to a better 2021 (can I still say that?!) for all of us! x

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  6. I love your list! I think that more than anything, the pandemic has forced us all to slow way down; to take a step back from ourselves and made us seriously evaluate what's really important to us.
    xoxo
    Lovely
    www.mynameislovely.com

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  7. Beautiful post, as always lovely! It's incredible how much has changed over the year. I remember last March quite vividly. My boyfriend and I went on a press trip right at the start then the zoo a week before lockdown. Then the week of lockdown I was really ill with the worse sore throat I'd ever had in my life - who knows whether this was covid? My boyfriend said, "I'll only be off work for 2 weeks", then a year later, he's still not back! x

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