This is an anonymous submission from a friend of Molke. We believe in the power of talking. If you are struggling and need to talk to someone you can call Samaritans for free, anytime, on 116 123.
I have always had a bit of a fear of pandemics, a fear that my family and friends have often regarded as slightly irrational. Before the call came to stay at home I was anxiously refreshing live news coverage every five minutes as I had been for the last couple of weeks. I. Did. Not. Like. It. But I knew I wasn’t alone in my anxiety and I knew I definitely wasn’t the only one with vulnerable family. So why should I be so unhappy? ‘We are all in the same boat’ I told myself. ‘Just follow the rules and you’ll be ok’.
And I was, kind of, ok… Lockdown started and we just got on with it for a bit. We were very lucky to be staying in a family home with a garden and not our tiny flat, so the novelty kept me entertained. I was fine! ‘See! You were just being dramatic!’ I had grand plans for knitting projects I could do to distract myself from everything. I had all the time in the world.
Except I didn’t DO anything. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I couldn’t. The outside world that I was trying to ignore kept creeping in and it wasn’t long before I felt stuck and lost and really, quite empty. I wasn’t sleeping. Watching the news and endlessly scrolling social media seeing everyone baking bread and being creative. They were doing all the things I couldn’t bring myself to do and it made me feel so useless.
Everything on social media said the same thing - “THESE ARE UNPRECEDENTED TIMES”. Then bank adverts started saying it. Then the fast food chains. To me time wasn’t unprecedented, it felt like it didn’t exist.
It increasingly began to feel like I wasn’t sure who I was or what I ever did before. I was anxious about returning to work as I felt I’d forgotten how to do any of it. Yet every time I felt like this I remembered I was lucky to still have a job and so many people were struggling worse than I. Then I felt so guilty that such thoughts had crossed my mind.
And the cycle would continue.
I’m back to work now and things are different but manageable. As my version of lockdown began to change and we moved back home things started to click back into place and I’m getting on a lot better. I still have my bad days and my creativity hasn’t come flying back like I hoped, but I refuse to punish myself for that anymore. I take each day as it comes but I will feel the effects of lockdown for a long time to come.
I know my story isn’t an example of the worst suffering at the hands of the pandemic and it’s definitely not unique, but hopefully by talking about it we will realise that we are not alone. The full effect that this has had on our mental health as a population may not be quantifiable for some time. It’s widespread and it will have hurt us deeply. We need to find a way to share without guilt and look forward with hope.
Hope that as a country we have learned to appreciate and support the people that do so much for us. Hope that we now have new tools to navigate our stressful lives. Hope that we are more connected and more understanding.
We will finish that knitting project when we feel able to and that’s ok.
If you are struggling and need to talk, you can call Samaritans for free on 116 123.