Well these are strange fucking times aren’t they?!
Everyone will be having their own experience of this depending on their circumstances. Some have lost their jobs or loved ones, some will be struggling with their mental wellbeing and others will be coping just fine. There’s no right and wrong here and whatever you are feeling is perfectly normal.
The below then is purely my experience, my observations and my way of dealing with this. As always I’d love to get your views and perspective, and now more than ever, if anyone reading this is struggling in any way please pick up the phone and talk to me or even the Samaritans on 116 123 who are there 24/7 to listen and support you.
I worry a lot. I worry mostly about the health of my family, friends and work colleagues. I pray they are all ok and following the Government advise re social distancing. I hope they are all coping mentally with this big change. I hope financially they are all ok. I miss being able to pop round to my parents for a chat or having a beer with the lads. I know I will be able to do it soon, but I still miss it nonetheless.
I know Ella is missing seeing, cuddling and playing with her Grandparents and she doesn’t really understand what’s going on. We’ve told her everyone has a bug, which is working for now. She really misses the other kids at the childminders, and the childminder herself. I wish she understood a little more what was going on.
Myself and Chelle are both lucky enough to be able to continue working from home at present, although it’s been incredibly hard adjusting to a new routine of both working and both looking after Ella. Worklife balance is all important and the new routine was a real struggle at first. I felt guilt at not being able to work uninterrupted all day and guilt of not being able to play with Ella all the time. We are in a better place with it now and the key really is organisation, routine and communication between Chelle and I.
The other thing that really hit home for me is accepting it’s ok that I cannot control all of the moving parts here, accepting it’s ok to have a shit day here and there and when it happens to not dwell on it, go to sleep and start fresh tomorrow.
From a mental health perspective, again it’s taken time to adjust. I am a bad sleeper at the best of times as when my head hits the pillow tends to be when my brain decides to process everything that is on my mind, whether I want to or not…so sure, I’ve had a few of those in the last month. My approach is to accept where we are, accept there will be good and bad days, highs and lows, but to not beat myself up over it. I also try not to look or think too far ahead. A colleague of mine gave a talk at work years ago about mental resilience. He once ran the Marathon De Sables, which is a 156 mile endurance event over 6 days across the Sahara. He shared with us that at times when he physically and mentally felt like he couldn’t take another step, that rather than think of how far he had left to go or whether the pain or damage felt in his body would last the distance, he would set himself a small goal, run/limp/walk to the next checkpoint, don’t think about anything else, and he would break up large sections of the event in this way. That insight wasn’t something I related to at that point, but now it really resonates with me. So I am trying not to think about all the negatives, the daily death toll, when I can see my loved ones again, I am thinking about the present moment; the next email, Ella’s bath time, my exercise for the day…and most of all I am trying to enjoy those moments and be my best self in them.
Physical health…ahem…well look, all I will say is the great thing about working from home is I can wear all my baggy clothes. Also, I’ve been mentally preparing to go for a run possibly at some point maybe in the coming days/weeks/months. My running clothes were made ready in a pile last week, but Chelle put them away again as they were collecting dust. I have made sure to get out the house once every day for a walk though, get some fresh air, listen to some music or catch up on a podcast. We’ve had some cracking weather too of late.
One thing I am really enjoying is the extra time with Ella. Ok, sometimes its hard mentally to switch from that really important work email to getting into character for the same Zoe Zebra and Peppa Pig role play that’s about to be performed for the tenth time that week, but actually I really cherish being able to do this and ironically it’s something I will hugely miss when we do return to normal. Kids pick up when you are down, stressed, tired or moody, but myself and Chelle I think have done a good job of keeping that away from Ella as much as possible and she has clearly enjoyed all of this extra time with Mummy and Daddy.
I see lots of people on social media talking about learning new skills, taking up new hobbies, etc, which is great. I certainly haven’t got enough time or energy for that at the moment, although I seem to be buying more random things online (loving my new juicer!) that will likely not be used much.
So in summary, whilst it has at times been a struggle, I also feel very fortunate to have my job, my health and the health of my family. I’ve found it important to find a routine, accept that this is a change and that although I am not embracing it I am accepting it. I am ticking the days off one by one, not looking too far down the track. I am communicating more with Chelle, enjoying every moment we get with Ella (even if occasionally we want to throttle her) and I’ve not beat myself up over a bad day or two.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading this, a massive shout out to all of the key workers from NHS staff through to Supermarket cashiers, out there risking their own lives so that the rest of us are safe and can continue living with a degree of normality.
Stay safe, keep your heads up, communicate more, and don’t fucking drink Bleach!