Hello, I’m Julian and I share a house with my parents, so I’m not living alone during the lockdown. I have a mental health condition that has prevented me from full-time work for a number of years, however, these days I'm able to live quite a full schedule; all of which give me personal satisfaction and meaning.
Some of the things I normally do include volunteering for Oxfam, conservation work with a local project, working one day a week supporting the Research and Improvement team with admin tasks, as well as practicing and playing pool regularly with friends. I like activities, they’re important to me. Having a routine and pacing myself was key to balancing volunteering commitments, social engagements and family life.
I’ve found the Covid-19 lockdown experience stifling in one sense. I find I’m twiddling my thumbs quite a bit, and playing a lot of scrabble can become tedious, as can watching too much TV! I’ve found I can easily be more bored than usual and I’ve exercised less, so things can feel perfunctory rather than fulfilling. However, the sense of being stifled has also been liberating in itself, as it makes you be creative about what you can do. I’ve pushed myself to go out once a day for a cycle ride which I’m pleased about, and I think more about how I can contribute to household chores. When I am planning chores (however mundane) I find now that I have more time and space; I give more thought to what I’m doing, even routine tasks, and I think that's a good thing.
An expected family bereavement during lockdown has challenged me as the restrictions have meant I’ve been excluded from the usual way our family manages loss, and most significantly, I’ve not been able to attend the funeral. I’ve felt out of the loop and at times a bit helpless. Not being able to go to the funeral has meant that I've had to support my family differently. Like many families, gathering together in ceremony is what we do - it marks an ending of something, and for me it helps with coming to terms with the new situation. It's been hard not hearing the music of the ceremony, seeing others who also feel terribly sad and hearing their tributes as well as offering my own. To compensate for this though I’m thinking about what I can do. I may have a small ceremony of my own at home; light a candle, write a poem or write about some of my nice memories, all of which I can share later when we are able to gather together again as a family and celebrate my aunts life.
There are things I’ve previously taken for granted that I’m really looking forward to, like patting my mates on the shoulder when I meet them at the pub and especially, the jocular banter and jibes we share. For me, it’s not the same when I’m not there looking at someone’s face.
I’m really appreciating and finding strength knowing that whilst I can’t do my usual work, other people can and are, and that they are working so hard for the rest of us. I might have lost my jobs for now, but it feels really great that others can and still do theirs on a daily basis. Yes, clap, whistle, and shout in appreciation for the carers and key workers!
I hope to see more consistent investment in the NHS and Social Care after this. I appreciate now, more than ever, the importance of forward planning on a big scale and how crucial research is going to be in finding solutions. I’m hopeful there will be more of a coming together as a nation/nations/world for such a crucial cause.
So overall what have I learned? Watch less TV and get out more when it’s possible. Cycling in my home city is usually rather stifling as I choke on traffic fumes. Now as I cycle I notice nature with keener senses. I can especially smell grass, flowers, the sea and the sky seems clearer. What is usually an unpleasant journey is so much more enjoyable. Hopefully nature may benefit more and we may even get to see more butterflies!