Week Twelve – monsters.

This week was always going to be a tough one for us, with the announcement that lockdown was about to be eased and the general population were going to be able to do things that shielders cannot, but I didn’t expect it to coincide with a mass influx of monsters descending on the village I live in. 

I’ve mentioned my inability to break rules before (as well as my unrealistic expectations that everyone else should be the same) and before lockdown was relaxed even further I was struggling with people I know bending the rules to fit their own needs – my in-laws for example, who meet with my sister-in-law and her family when the rules were, at that point, that you were only allowed to meet one other family member at a time. Not six to go for a walk. It’s taken a while for me to realise that my anger at this was probably jealousy mixed with frustration because our situation means we cannot bend the rules, not even a little bit.

And then this weekend, thousands of young people defied the law and shunned the rules and partied like animals along the riverbanks where I live. There was shameless drug taking, excessive littering (think used tampons, dirty nappies, used BBQs, nos canisters and so much more) using residents’ gardens as toilets as well as verbally abusing them, shagging in broad daylight on a patch of grass children play on, parking without thought for any emergency services that might need to get through, attacking a cyclist and breaking his nose and so, so much more antisocial behaviour. In all honesty I was scared to leave my own house, and even if I had chosen to leave it would’ve been impossible to maintain the safe two metres distance from anyone. At one point I couldn’t even sit in my garden because I could hear them all screaming and swearing and throwing all the hard work and sacrifice I have made back in my face. It made me so angry. The disrespect these people showed was off the scale and I hated every single one of them. I became obsessed, watching the local sailing club’s webcam, my anger growing with every waft of smoke from a BBQ, every splash of a teenager into the river, ever piece of litter left behind. 

It highlighted how different their pandemic experience is to mine. They’re not worried about catching it, and why should they be? It’s not targeting youngsters and we’ve not had a huge enough load of cases here for them to know someone it has hit. It’s not close to home for them. Not only was I angry because they were not giving a thought for anyone but themselves, I was angry because I couldn’t do the same – I couldn’t party without a care in the world. I was envious of their enjoyment and carefree abandonment of any responsibility. They couldn’t be further away from where I am right now and that only served to highlight how hard I am finding all of this. 

Since the pandemic started, and as you’ll know if you’ve been reading these blogs, I’ve been struggling to accept that I know no one else going through this in the same way as us. I know no one else shielding their children. Not even another parent of a child with PCD. Thanks to the rule that children with PCD shouldn’t mingle (as with Cystic Fibrosis) in case they pass on dangerous infections (oh the irony) we’ve never met any other parents of children with PCD. But life was okay when everyone else, shielding or not, was in the same boat as us and having to self-isolate and stay home. But then the rules changed, and we’re in a very different boat now. My book club will happen without me socially distanced in my neighbour’s garden this month. My 11yo’s friends are going back to school without him on Monday. My mum is meeting my brother and his family on a beach. Zoom meetings are dwindling in favour of group face-to-face meetings, of course they are. And all of this is happening when thousands of people are still being diagnosed daily, and hundreds of people are still dying. It doesn’t feel right to me, but I understand how excited people are to see each other and how they are craving these face-to-face meetings and getting so much pleasure from them. 

But it hurts I’m not able to be a part of it. And neither are my children. (Just going add a disclaimer here – I am not for one minute saying my friends and family are insensitive souls who are purposefully leaving me out. Not at all. They are lush and I am blessed and I am not expecting them not to meet up just because I can’t be there, of course I am not, but as I always say there is no point in writing these blog posts to document this time if I am not going to be honest about my experiences.)

And so, my children? Well, they’re feeling it too. It’s the 18yo’s birthday next week and she’s gutted she can’t have five friends round for a socially distant barbecue. All of her university and school friends are beginning to meet up again and it’s no surprise she’s suffering because of her brothers’ vulnerability. It hurts to see her upset by it and anxious about what her return to university will be like, and if she’ll have to go through the tough process of self isolating for two weeks every time she wants to come home. 

And the boys? The 8yo claims he is okay, and to be fair he’s always been happy in his own company and at home so I believe him, thankfully he’s probably not as aware of the situation as the older two are. The 11yo had claimed up until now that he was okay with it all, but the cousin he’s been communicating with and playing with online daily went back to school this week and I think it’s finally hit him that everyone else here will be going back too. The conversations in the Whatsapp groups he’s part of will change to subjects he won’t be ale to contribute to, because he won’t be experiencing them. We briefly mentioned that this might also be true when the new school term starts in September and that he may not be able to start secondary school with his peers. But we’ll deal with that if and when it happens. 

After the events of the weekend I spoke the PCD psychologist again yesterday, who was as wise and wonderful as ever. She taught me that’s it’s okay to voice how I am feeling and that I’m allowed to be upset by the seeming injustice of all of this. And she helped me acknowledge how external factors are making my life even harder at the moment. The virus. The easing of lockdown. The monsters by the river. I was having a difficult day yesterday when I couldn’t see the wood for the trees, where I felt like this pandemic was never going to end and that we were going to be trapped and forgotten at home forever. It’s fair to say I was at my absolute limit for dealing with external stresses. But then she rightly pointed out that I am getting through it, and that I am supporting my children and my family to get through it too. She asked to me to think of somewhere I am desperate to be, and the answer was as it always is … on a beach in Cornwall. A beach I’ve been watching the webcam footage of for weeks now. She asked me what is it about the beach I am craving, what does being at the seaside give me that I’m not getting right now, or that I can attempt to replicate here. She doesn’t mean buying play sand from a supermarket and listening to wave sounds. She means core values and emotions. And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Going to a beach, watching the waves roll in, digging my feet into the sand offers me so much more than fresh air and freedom. I won’t share my thoughts on this with you now because they are not fully formulated, but it’s certainly something I’m going to be focussed on this coming week. A new technique to help me continue to get through this, as I’m sure there are still fresh challenges to come. 

And so all that is left to say is – if you are meeting up with others then have fun for me too. And please, please do it safely.  


Week Eight – how are you?

Whenever I speak to people at the moment, or receive a text or a Whatsapp, the question that is always asked is… ‘How are you?’ and I think I am beginning to lose the ability to know how to answer it. Not in a bad way, just in a, I’m not sure what I’ve got to say, way. I’m fine doesn’t seem to cut it. Nor does, I’m okay. And chances are that when you ask me that question I’m exactly the same as I was the last time you asked me that question. Because nothing is changing. I have no news. 

And I feel like I’m running out of things to say. Well, new things anyway. 

It’s nearly 5.30pm and normally by now my blog post would’ve been written, edited and posted, but today I am only just getting round to even attempting to write it. I’ve baked a cake. Have home -schooled the boys. Sewn some bunting for VE day tomorrow. Eaten. Done Joe Wicks. It’s been a busy day, but I have been putting off writing this in spite of that because I wasn’t sure I had anything new to write about. Let’s see shall we…

What have I learnt this week? Well…

  1. It doesn’t matter. This came up on a work Zoom meeting and I thought, oh my God yes. So much doesn’t matter right now. If we don’t do all the allocated home learning, it doesn’t matter. If my children are on their devices more than usual, it doesn’t matter. If they are up later than they normally would be, it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters because this isn’t forever. We’re all getting through the best we can. There is no right or wrong (pretty sure I’ve said this before, but oh well.) All of the rules by which we used to live don’t matter at the moment. It’s all changed. We are dealing with issues we’ve not had to manage before and so the nitty gritty stuff that used to be important simply, say it with me, doesn’t matter. Soon everything is going to be okay (it will!) and who knows, maybe this strange period of time will turn out to have a positive impact on us all. Our children will learn different skills, as will we. Maybe that’s what matters.
  2. Zoom gives me a headache. I love seeing people’s faces, but boy does looking at them on a screen hurt my eyes. It is so unnatural. I’ve started to wear my glasses again because most of my day is now spent looking at a screen. From messages on my phone, to home learning on the computer, to the tv. Even the book I just read was on my Kindle, another damn screen! I’ve realised that I need to factor in some screen free time, somehow. And whilst we are on the subject of online socialising, I miss the natural way conversations flow that doesn’t work on Zoom or FaceTime – if one person jumps in the sound goes and I can’t hear anyone. I almost want to manage the sessions like I would’ve managed circle time when I was a teacher, where only the person holding the teddy is allowed to speak. It’s just not natural. I like to interrupt and be interrupted. I like to hear everyone laugh, not glitch and go silent. 
  3. Everything is better when the sun shines. Fact.
  4. We are all awesome. We really are. We are drawing on emotional reserves we didn’t think we had. We are home schooling when we’ve never taught. We are living in isolation when all we want is company. We are keyworkers risking our lives to help others. Human beings are bloody brilliant and we are doing it – we are getting through this. We are pulling together. We are helping others. We are amazing! 
  5. Children are also awesome! The way they adapt, accept, live in the here and now and not worry about the future. I have learnt a lot from my two – and I know I’ve mentioned this before – but the way they just accept the situation and stay positive is amazing. Am. In. Awe.

And that’s it. I did have something to say after all. Who knows what next week will bring, Sunday’s press conference is going to be an interesting one that’s for sure. 

But I imagine that for us – working hard and shielding the boys – nothing much will change. And I can honestly say that right now, that doesn’t matter. 

Stay safe x

Week Seven – urgh.

How, how, how, HOW is it Thursday again already? I mean, when I look back over the past seven days, last Thursday seems like an age ago (ahh the sunshine!) but then it also feels as though I’ve blinked and here I am again writing another blog post during this fucking pandemic. 

This week hasn’t been the best. My youngest son has had a tooth infection and the stress of getting him some antibiotics for it has been quite high, for me, not least because I am the one who is mum, nurse, doctor and physio 99% of the time. When the dentist tells you he won’t treat the infection until it becomes life threatening then you freak out somewhat. Anyway, thanks to Eddie having a compromised immune system on top of having PCD the dentist did give us some antibiotics and they appear to be working, thank feck. (sorry, I might swear a lot today, go with it) Getting the antibiotics was also a source of stress as I’ve not left the house for weeks and so the whole thought of driving to the dental surgery and then actually getting out of the car and interacting with someone who wasn’t a close family member was not a pleasant one. And when I did go, it was so weird to get out of the car and walk on the pavement – on ground that wasn’t in my house or my garden – wearing actual shoes. The lady at the surgery was brilliant and not at all phased by me standing back and reaching out for the medication. As soon as I got in the car I wiped it down with an antibac wipe and slathered antibacterial gel all over my hands. Then I came home, showered and threw my clothes in the wash. I’m aware this was properly over the top bearing in mind I’d touched nothing other than the medication and had seen the lady at the surgery for about two minutes. And then this behaviour got me thinking, will I always feel the need to shower after being out and about? Will I always have to make my children shower after going to school, if they ever return? Will I always wash everyone’s clothes after a trip outside, even when they’re not dirty? Or become agoraphobic and never go anywhere because that’s easier? If you’re starting to hear alarm bells about the state of my mental health then don’t worry, I have already been referred to a psychologist through the boys’ PCD team to support our family with all of this, and she is wonderful. Once again the NHS is bloody brilliant. 

Anyway, what have I learnt this week… seven weeks into this weird, shitty, frustrating, anxiety-inducing, fucking horrible time? This…

  1. Just because you accept something does not mean you have to always be happy about it. Last week I was in a place of acceptance, or was it apathy? Did I simply have no energy to be concerned or upset about it anymore? There have been times in the past seven days when I’ve been genuinely happy and genuinely okay with staying home and not going out at all. But more recently I’ve been pissed off. I understand that we have to stay in and shield as a family, blah blah blah, but it really fucks me off at the moment. I feel trapped. Maybe that’s because the freedom carrot is being dangled for others – mumblings of a possible return to school on 1stJune (at the earliest) or suggestions of being able to have a bubble of ten people that they can see at the weekend. We won’t be able to have a fucking bubble. We can’t ask five other people to completely shield themselves just so we can see them, and so we’ll miss out on social interaction and my children will not be able to see their friends and it fucking sucks (sorry, mum, I probably am swearing a bit too much today, I’ll reign it in.) Some days I remember to take it one day at a time, and I can and I do and it’s ok. But on other days I wake up with a sense of dread and can’t help but wonder how the hell this is going to pan out for us. So do I still accept our situation and understand it? Yes. But am I happy about it? This week that’s a hard, no. 
  2. The more you are starved of something, the more you crave it. I heard someone say this on the television this week and it really resonated with me. It reminds me of when I was pregnant and wasn’t allowed runny eggs or blue cheese or various other foods I love. What I was being denied was all I could think about and my first meal after giving birth was always soft boiled eggs and toast soldiers. And it was delicious. But now I am starved of more than simple food, although flour is still proving tricky to get hold of, and I hate not being able to pop to the shops and get something I fancy at that moment in time, just because I want it. Right now I am being starved of so much more than cravings and whims. I am being starved of my family, my friends, the sea, freedom, feelings of safety and calm, reassurance that this will ever end, things to look forward to, things that make me who I am and keep me. The list goes on. And on. I am craving cuddles with EVERYONE, coffee dates, browsing in shops, long walks in the countryside or on a beach, laughter in a big group of people, someone else fricking cooking for me (I am sooooo over cooking twice a day every bloody day) time on my own. I miss my life. I’ve just read a novel about someone in prison and I identified with a lot of it. There was a line about not even being able to simply pop to the corner shop to get chewing gum. Urgh. Sometimes I feel like I’ve had enough crap in my life already and want to stamp my feet like a petulant toddler and scream that this isn’t fair. I haven’t broken the law. I shouldn’t be locked up. Yes, of course I am still grateful I have a nice house and a lovely garden, but sadly at times those things don’t always help or counteract having sick children. I imagine that even a palace can seem like a prison in time. 
  3. Expectations. Following on from the above I have learnt (well, it’s an ongoing process) to lower my expectations in many ways. I used to look forward to holidays or weekends away. The BIG things. Now I look forward to a meal I’ve planned. Last week it was a full on Wagamama meal that I cooked from scratch, this week we’re having a fake Nandos. I can’t look forward to the big things, like Disneyland Paris in the summer or a week away with my mum, my brother and his family in France and I have no idea when I will be able to look forward to these things again, if ever without the constant threat of evil viruses. So I have lowered my expectations of what brings me joy and what I look forward to. And I really am trying to find pleasure in the little things. Like looking forward to the weather improving at the weekend (where the hell has the sun gone?) or reveling in having just half an hour to myself. I’ve stopped putting stuff in the ‘what we want to do when this is over’ box because I keep reading articles (I know, I know, I shouldn’t read them) about how this is never going to be over and it just seems like I’m putting stuff in a box to be buried along with any hope of ever doing those things. So the little things are all I have to get excited about. Maybe there’s a life lesson there somewhere.  Maybe I should always learn to appreciate the little things. 

Right, I’m sorry I’m being more negative this week, but as always these posts are about being honest. There is no point in recording this time and being part of a research project if I’m not going to tell it like it is. And the novelty of this has definitely worn off this week. Everyone is a little bit more tired, a little more short tempered. Home learning is still going okay, but only from Mon – Weds. By Thursday everyone’s had enough and gives up, including me. The boys are saying they are bored more and more. The 18yo rarely comes out of her bedroom – she feels safe in there with her laptop and her online friends – and I get it. The husband is working harder than ever and by the time he comes down in the evening he is so tired he doesn’t really want to talk. Zoom meetings with friends are still happening, but I’m getting fed up of the slightly artificial way in which you have to communicate via them. And I am still unable to do any creative writing, which is making me feel like I’m wasting some of this lockdown time. But my brain simply cannot create at the moment, and maybe I just need to accept that, instead of battling with it and trying to force something that doesn’t actually need to happen at the moment… 

Lots of people have been saying we’re all in this together, and we are. But as a lot of people are also saying, and as time goes on I’m understanding more and more, we might be in the same storm, but we are very much all in different boats.

Stay safe everyone x 

Week six – acceptance

Thursday has somewhat snuck up on me this week. I have no idea where the time is going or how it is going by so fast, and yet it is. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Does that mean I’m having fun? Finally enjoying this time? Partly, yes I think I am. Or at least I’ve accepted that this is the situation for us right now and so I ought to make the most of it. 

I’ve been thinking about what to write in this blogpost over the last few days and wondering what on earth to say – worried because I’m not sure I’ve learnt anything new this week, although I’m sure I must’ve. Usually by Thursday I’ve got a whole list of notes on my phone of things I want to write about. Small things I’ve noticed, or thoughts and musings I want to voice. But this week that hasn’t happened. There are a couple of things on my list, but nothing really new. I’m wondering if it’s because this is the norm now and I have finally let go of trying to control the situation. I understand that this is how we have to live and so I’m not thinking about how it’s all affecting me as much as I was. Like I said above, I’ve accepted it. And maybe if acceptance is the only thing I’ve learnt this week then that’s not a bad thing at all.

I have learnt (and am in awe of) how well most of us can adapt, although I know this isn’t true for everyone. Luckily my children seem to have adapted unbelievably well to lockdown and I am so grateful. Maybe the three weeks in isolation that my middle one spent in a hospital room aged five have helped him to be able to handle this period of time so well. If you asked them how they were then of course they’d say that they are bored, but in reality they’re always active and always find something to do. I was lucky they wanted to go back to ‘school’ aka Pikachu Primary, and start learning again on Monday. And I’m also lucky that they get on so well. They play brilliantly together and rarely argue. Maybe that’s one plus side of sharing your life with someone who has the same rare disease as you, you become a little team. It’s lovely to watch them interact with each other and bounce off each other’s ideas. Not an ounce of competitiveness or sibling rivalry – an actual godsend at the moment. I’m also lucky that they are also very accepting of this situation. They don’t question it. Everything is very black and white for them. There’s a virus that might kill them out there so they have to stay at home. It’s that simple. 

Work is still a challenge though, for both my husband and myself. He’s the breadwinner and so is the one who is locked in his bedroom/office from 8am until he emerges late afternoon, often without having had time for lunch. He’s taken a huge pay cut. He’s stressed. And so the childcare falls to me. But not just the childcare. The cooking. The cleaning. The home learning. Physio. Meds. Everything. And so my job, which I love, has taken a bit of a backburner. I was fortunate that I was able to take two weeks off over what would’ve been the Easter holidays, but now I’m meant to be back and I can’t seem to make it all fit. I only work ten hours a week, but even that is proving tricky. A routine is slowly emerging of home learning in the morning then free time in the afternoon where I can take phone calls, but I’m terrified one of the boys is going to break a bone in the garden with me watching from my office window, and so can’t focus like I should. And on top of that I find that the boundaries between work and home life are being blurred, which I usually work really hard to not let happen. I’m lucky I have awesome colleagues who are very understanding of my situation, but there is only so much they can do. We shall have to see how this one goes methinks…

On a positive I have noticed that I’ve been less anxious this week, and I think that’s mainly due to work and home-learning starting up again and me being busier generally. I’m exhausted by the end of the day, but I’m sleeping better. It’s hard because there is little time for arts and crafts and self care at the moment – the dishwasher is on at least four times a day at present (I am terrified it’s going to break down!) – and someone is always hungry or demanding something. One day I am going to count how many questions I am asked and let you know. I expect most of them will be from my husband. ‘Is there any milk?’ he asks. Why he can’t just go and look in the fridge like the rest of us I don’t know. Anyway…

Yes, I am aware I’m waffling a bit this week, but I haven’t edited this post too heavily as the waffle is a good representation of how I have been feeling. Drifting from one thing to another without much thought. Almost in a dreamlike state at times. Detached from reality. I’m forgetful, easily distracted, not really making much sense at times.

But I’m alright.

I have only cried once in the last seven days and I’ve managed to have several alcohol free evenings. The sunshine is, as always, very welcome as is the fact we have a garden we can get out into in lieu of being able to leave the house for exercise. I can lie in a lounger and imagine I’m on holiday for a bit before I remember why I’m at home for the sixth week in a row. I almost look forward to Joe Wicks in the morning and am actually able to complete a whole session now, unlike that first week when I gave up after one or two exercises. There’s a sense of calm washing over me that I’ve not felt in a long time. A release of control. A knowledge that I am doing my best. 


Week Four – cabin fever sets in.

Week four – cabin fever sets in. 

Four weeks of shielding. Four whole weeks. That’s a long time to not leave your house when you’re used to being busy. Cabin fever set in this week. I didn’t know that was an actual thing, I thought it was a flippant phrase people used. But no. It’s a thing. And it properly makes you go a bit crazy. If you look at the Wikipedia page about it you’ll see that cabin fever can make people do risky things. Like leave their homes in a pandemic. I did it myself last Thursday. I. Had. To. Leave. The. House. So I got in my car and drove down to the car park near the local river. And before you start tutting at me it’s less than ¼ mile away and I can see it from my house, but obviously due to shieling I couldn’t walk there like I normally would. Anyway, I wanted freedom. A change of scenery. Some time alone. Time out. Whatever. I had succumbed to cabin fever. But leaving the house was horrible. The short drive down was filled with anxiety. I freaked out that I might break down or maybe crash. Then I sat in my car down by the river with the windows firmly closed and I held my breath every time someone walked or ran past. (And a lot of people walked or ran past.) It wasn’t relaxing or comforting and all I wanted to do was go home. The some hideous human stood in front of my car and blew his nose onto the road in front of me. Well that was it. I was sure I was contaminated with the dreaded virus and I HATED myself for having left the house and putting everyone in danger because I selfishly wanted some time alone. Some release from the mundane groundhog-ness of every day life. 

Never again. This week I toyed with the idea of sitting in my car on the drive with a flask of tea and a good book instead. I haven’t done it yet, but I might. 

And what did this experience of fleeing the safety of my own home teach me and make me think about? It reminded me that I am privileged. That I get to stay at home and be safe. It taught me once again to be so bloody grateful for those who don’t have the choice of whether to stay safe at home or not and I want to thank each and every person who is on the front line or is a key worker for putting themselves in danger and their families too. I am in awe of their bravery and resilience. Their selflessness at a time when no one would forgive them for hiding away with their loved ones is to be hugely applauded and I will be stood at my window clapping like hell for them all again later. 

It also made me think of people whose lives are like this all the time, pandemic or not. Miranda Hart has been doing some chatty rambles (aka chambles) on her Instagram account and she talks about this and hidden disabilities and illnesses far better than I could. Go check them out. 

It also made me think about all the fuckers who are ignoring this whole thing and getting in their cars unnecessarily and driving a lot further than ¼ mile down the road to their second homes or holiday lets. If this is you and I find out, consider our friendship done. 

So, what has this fourth week brought aside from cabin fever? (And apologies if I am repeating myself in these blog posts. I’ve decided not to read back over the previous ones to check what I’ve written as I’m worried that may affect what I write today or skew my memory of this week’s thoughts/feelings/experiences somehow. And now my blog is part of a research project at Swansea University – I know! – looking into how people react to a pandemic/social isolation, I want it to be as authentic as possible.)

  1. Control. It is no surprise to people who know me that I like to be in control. I like to know what, when, why, how and if I don’t know these things and I can’t find them out then I hate it. I like making things better, solving problems, finding solutions, fixing things. But I can’t fix this. And I can’t control it or how it affects us and that’s been hard to let go of. So instead and as a way of coping I decided to control the feck out of what I can – and that, for this week at least, has been food based. Sourcing online delivery slots, even when you have someone in the house registered as extremely vulnerable, is a challenge, but one I have nailed this week. Coming up with new recipes from the bizarre mishmash of foods we have has been a challenge and one I have relished. In the kitchen I am in control. So if like me you’ve struggled with lack of control recently then find something at home that you can control the hell out of. For me, right now, being in charge of food, both its sourcing and cooking, makes me feel in control. And gives me a purpose, which brings me nicely on to…
  2. Having a purpose. Much as I like to be busy and in control I also like to have a purpose. I need to achieve and sitting on my arse doing bugger all is not something I am comfortable with. Not that I don’t do it, but I want to be able to choose to do it, not be forced if that makes sense. I hate to think I’m wasting a single minute of the day and put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve something daily. Well, obviously in the middle of a pandemic I have struggled with this. I haven’t achieved anything, or so I think. I’ve had a go, but my brain hasn’t wanted to create, so novel number three is very much on hold, even though I keep thinking now more than ever I should have the time to be cracking on and writing it. I ought to make extra effort to sit at my desk and work. I must at least try. And I’ve struggled with my job and so have lost the purpose of supporting others, for now. It’s hard for me to achieve nothing. I feel like I’m not moving forward. I’m not making a difference. I’m wasting precious time alive. This may sounds daft, but I have always been brought up to do, do, do. Plus that’s how my brain works, I like to do, do, do. But during an epic meltdown yesterday I was reminded by a very good friend that I don’t need to achieve at the moment. And in fact, surviving everyday IS an achievement. End of.  I need to lower my expectations of myself and notice what I am in fact achieving. No shoulds, oughts or musts, which ironically is what I tell pretty much every woman I support through my job. Those words are now banned! And if all I achieve in a day is feeding my family (control!) or making sure they feed themselves then that’s something!
  3. Sleep. I was quite surprised that so far in this pandemic my sleep hadn’t been affected, but that changed this week. I can’t drop off easily anymore and I wake more often during the night. On top of that, although undoubtedly inked, I’m sleepier during the day too. I’m told this is normal and often think to the Big Brother house where after several weeks living in there all the contestants started sleeping a lot more than usual. I’m sure there’s something scientific to back up my theory that this is all perfectly normal, and napping during the day may in fact be a healthy way to help cope with it all, but to be honest I banned myself from Googling anything even vaguely health related a while back so am not going to start reading up on how sleep, lack of it or too much of it might impact my health now. What I will say is that I think going with the flow and listening to your body on this front it probably best. Don’t panic if insomnia strikes (easier said than done, I know) and if you need to nap then go for it. I certainly am. 
  4. Time. I think I wrote last week that there still weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. This week there are too many. The afternoons in particular are dragging. Maybe because that’s when I hit peak  ‘I should’ve achieved something today’  time, and then realise that I can’t and there’s nothing to do. Or I haven’t got the energy or motivation to do it anyway. God I sound miserable. But it’s hard because the time I do have is making me think more, which is not always a good thing with an over active imagination like mine. I find myself worrying about all of the people who are unwell at the moment and all those out helping them. Worried about women and men in violent relationships or children in unsafe homes. I think about all of the smear tests that are being missed as well as bowel screenings and the knock on impact of how some people’s illnesses won’t be picked up early enough. I worry about people’s mental health and resilience, about how many of us will become agoraphobic and too scared to leave the house every again. I worry I’ve forgotten how my friends smell. (Yes I know this one is weird, but it felt huge yesterday.) Time = too many thoughts for me, many of them I recognise as unhelpful. Like my best friend said to me yesterday – we could be in a world where there were no worries and I’d be like, ‘hold my beer.’ I’m trying to learn to enjoy this time (and I do enjoy of a lot of it, I promise even though it might not seem like it in this post today!) and to appreciate the long, hot days in the garden with my children instead of wishing we were at the beach in Cornwall like we were meant to be right now. Time is a gift. My children will hopefully remember this as the time when we were altogether at home for weeks on end having fun together. The beach will still be there when this is all over. 
  5. Information. I’ve learnt to go with the flow on this one and I’m pretty sure I’m repeating myself here. Whilst I still stand by reducing your exposure to the media and the news I’ve come to the realisation that some days I want to know nothing, whereas on other days I need ALL THE INFORMATION. And I’m learning that on the days when I devour every news article going and watch the daily briefing and look at the statistics and scour twitter for information I’m going to feel a little more shite about the whole thing. 
  6. Music. Ending on a positive. Music is really amazing and can change how I feel in an instant. My latest obsession is the new album by Dua Lipa as every single song is upbeat and makes me want to dance around my kitchen, whilst cooking and convincing myself I’ve not lost all control. Or hope. 

Stay safe people. And stay at home. 

Oh, and as my best friend very wisely says… it’s okay if now is simply a time to survive, not thrive.