We are getting closer and closer in time to coming up to a year since the first lockdown was announced. A year since the schools closed for the first time and a year since I would probably say, was one of the worst times of my entire life. I often think back to it and wonder why I coped so badly. I also ruminated about writing this post; wondering if it would bring back some horrible memories. Would it help? Did others feel the same? I’m not sure but I’ll write it and decide later on if I’ll publish. Sometimes getting my thoughts down in a post is as good as therapy anyway.
I’m not sure if this should come with a trigger warning, as was a very dark few days in my life. I still look back and feel a bit silly; even embarrassed about it all. The joys of mental health eh? There is so much more awareness and acceptance now but I still look and looked around me, seeing people cope so well at the time and cope with things now and feel I should do too. But I guess if we could control how we felt and reacted, mental health issues may not even exist!
I never believed we would go into lockdown. I never believed Covid-19 was really a big deal early in 2020. I think this was the mindset of many people too. I used to mull it over with the chap I trained with in the gym; the chap I now haven’t seen or trained with in nearly a year. He never came back to the gym and I’m not sure if ever will. Both of us never really thought the course of events that would hit in March 2020 would happen and this is why I think when it did, my reaction was so severe. I’ve since had and recovered from Covid and we managed the 10 day isolation. Looking back I never thought I’d pick it up.
Before Lockdown was Announced
I remember the fear and anxiety of lockdown started around 5 days or so before it was announced. The panic buying was in full force. You couldn’t buy pasta, loo roll or Calpol. I remember realising my husband was already a stockpiler (see below photo) and we never had to worry but that weekend before the announcement was full of fear and worry. I hadn’t seen my Mum the week before, as she was staying at my Nan’s. Little did I know it would be a good 3 months until I did (and of course I now know this is a drop in the ocean compared to others).
My eldest went to school on Monday as normal but already the signs were there. Many kids were being pulled out. The roads were quieter. That silent fear was everywhere. I was really starting to feel anxious; the nausea and panic were building. I knew something was going to happen but it was almost like I still didn’t believe it. I’d watched the news. I’d seen what had happened in Italy, Spain and France but it was like I was in complete denial. It seriously wasn’t going to be that bad, was it? Yes it was. Worse even.
I had a day to myself on the Tuesday to work. The little man went to his childminder; he had only just settled in. My middley went to nursery. Every time I saw someone we would speculate. What would happen? Would things close? No one knew. Everyone was anxious and every conversation brought new ideas and more guessing. No one knew and we weren’t going to for a couple more days.
I remember having a blog post to write that day and it took me hours. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t eat and I wasn’t sleeping. I was petrified. All these thoughts started going through my mind; crazy thoughts!! It was almost like I was grieving for the life I knew we were going to lose. I knew now lockdown was inevitable and the schools were going to close but I needed someone to just tell me, so I could plan and take back some control. In my mind, since going over this it was like someone had died or I was told I was going to. It was like the entire grief process in a few days, instead of the lengthy process it can be.
By Wednesday, one day before the lockdown was announced, I was in complete turmoil. I could barely function. I felt so sick. I’ve never felt so out of control in my whole life and I simply couldn’t cope. My mouth was dry, my chest was tight, I was shaking. I remember taking middley to her last swimming lesson before the lockdown and saw a friend, who messaged me afterwards as she was concerned about the state I was in. I could barely speak to her; focusing on every breath and not having to run off to the toilet to throw up.
The darkest thoughts I had, (and even writing this is making my chest tighten) was when I went to get my little girl changed. I remember drying her little body, breathing heavily through the awful nausea and thinking I want someone to take this away. I can’t cope feeling like this for one more second. It is the most awful, darkest thought I have ever had in my whole life. I remember wanting my Dad who had died 7 years before and this was such a strong feeling. I came home and probably shocked my hubby and my Mum by telling them. I wasn’t sure what to do but I remember sitting at the table crying with my husband begging me to eat, as I wasn’t.
I had to have a little pause writing this, as just the above paragraph made me have a little cry. I’ve never felt like that since but it was harrowing and just re-living it is quite hard. I think we often box up our bad memories and never fully deal with them. I know I’m guilty of that sometimes.
Lockdown was Announced
I actually can’t remember the exact date. I’m sure on Thursday 19th March 2020, they told us schools would close and from Monday 23rd the lockdown officially began.
I kept my eldest in school until the end. I remember picking her up on that last day. She was carrying all her things; her PE kit and a notebook for her to do some of her home-schooling. I remember staring at her in disbelief. I had no idea how long she would be home for. I walked her round, watching teachers cry, really struggling not to cry myself. I remember really trying to hold it together for her and thinking how the hell was I going to survive this?
Weirdly though, this was the start of me feeling better. I knew it was going to be hard work (and of course it was for everyone) but I knew what I was dealing with. I could prepare and sort things out; some form of routine and happy life for the kids. I now know it was a control thing but at the time I couldn’t see through the blinding fear and anxiety.
My husband and I recently talked about this, as he didn’t cope well with me at all and he admits it. He couldn’t understand my reaction and fear, as he coped well with the unknown and the impending lockdown. He struggled to support me and took on the “fix it” role which I know we all do. I have to stop myself now, with patients at work and friends, and try and hold back and just listen. I think it’s built in us humans; we want to fix people and make it better. I’ve since realised the best thing is to sometimes let people wallow and be miserable and get through it. Just be there but my husband couldn’t see that. I probably just needed some time alone and I would have come through it and I did.
I was very lucky through that week, as had incredible support from family and friends. Some called daily, some messaged daily but at my lowest point, I will remember every single one of them. One made me promise to go to the doctors if I felt no better after the lockdown was announced. I’d shut down and come off social media. I couldn’t speak or chat on my Instagram, as I usually do.
But I was ok in the end. I coped. The dark cloud passed.
I got though the lockdown.
We all did and have since done more. Weirdly I have been fine ever since March 2020. I’ve gone nuts with the kids and needed my space but nothing like before. I saw many people have their breakdowns after lockdown was announced, when I was coping quite well. It’s strange how different we all are. I even said to my husband recently, of course I’m dying for the restrictions to end. I can’t wait to see family and friends and go back to the gym! But I’m happy right now and coping. We always adapt and move on.
I’m glad I wrote this post now. It was a hard write and a long read but quite cathartic for me to write.
If you’ve got to the end with me, thank you.
I remember this feeling only too well, I was fine for ages just plodding on at work (nhs) but then bang in the middle of it all for no reason I got really scared and my colleagues were too, none of us could say why but I think we were just plain exhausted with it all and the anxiety was horrific. It has passed now thank god but you’re most definitely not alone. You’re an amazing human being xx
Thanks Jules…this is so nice. Sorry you all had a rough time but you have done amazing.Don’t know how more front line NHS staff cope!