Things ate kind of strange at the moment for all of us, no matter where in the world we might be. In the UK at least, we’ve been in lockdown for the past three weeks, with a further three week extension announced by the government earlier this week. For most, unless you fall into the category of a key worker, this has meant being confined to the four walls of your home. We’re repeatedly told by the government and the media that we must stay at home, with the only exception being if we need to buy food or collect medication. It’s only been a few weeks but it already feels like the new norm. Being able to just jump in the car whenever you feel like it and pop to the shops or take a trip to the seaside feels like a distant memory.
For me personally, the rapid spread of the Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown has meant some significant changes. First of all, my college courses have been knocked on he head and my exams cancelled. I was due to take my GCSE Maths and English in May, but now I will be awarded a grade based on my predicted results. Many people might be thrilled with that. After all, who actually enjoys sitting exams? But for me, I guess I feel like I’ve cheated a little. Especially as it looks like my results should be pretty decent. I haven’t actually sat the exams, so I haven’t actually earned the resulting grades myself, you know? Does that make sense?
So with College no longer a thing, at least until September when I’m due to start my two-year access course, I’m back to the same situation that I was in a year ago. No routine, stuck at home, every day rolling together into one.
It isn’t quite so bad this time though. My partner is working from home while the situation remains how it is, so at least I’m not stuck on my own all day. Getting to actually spend a lot more time with her than usual is doing wonders for my mental health. I’m feeling a lot more balanced for the most part and my overall mood is reflective of this. I’ve had the odd dip here and there, but these tend to pass fairly quickly as I’m no longer stuck alone with only my overactive mind for company.
My mental health has been affected in another way by the ongoing situation though.
A couple of weeks before the whole Coronavirus pandemic swept across our country, I screened positive for bipolar disorder. My GP referred me to the local mental health partnership and they were due to make initial contact with me within a few weeks to discuss what happens next. I’m guessing it would have been some sort of psychiactic assessment and yet another tinkering of my medication. That’s all been put on hold for now though and I have no idea when it’ll move forward.
One thing that I am grateful for right now is the fact that I live in an actual house and not in a flat. I spent 6 years living in a horrible, overpriced one bedroom top floor flat in Surrey and I can’t imagine how awful the whole lockdown thing would have been if I’d still been stuck there. I think I would have gone stir-crazy. At least now I have a decent amount of room to move about in, not to mention the fact that I’m lucky enough to have a small garden to enjoy as well. So at least I’m able to get some much needed fresh air every day.
I’ve been trying to find new ways to occupy myself during this strange situation. One of the main things that I’ve been doing is writing. I’m actually attempting to write a novel, and I try to write at least a few paragraphs every day, often a whole lot more. I suffer from severe mental fog a lot of the time, so progress is usually made in short bursts rather than big sweeps but I’m enjoying the whole process and find it helps me to relax.
I’ve been baking a lot as well. Cheese scones, Victoria sponges, lemon sponges.. All sorts really. I enjoy spending time out in the kitchen with the radio on, creating something delicious for us to enjoy.
I think the key thing to remember with everything that’s going on at the moment is that, other than following the instructions that the governement have set out, there’s nothing you can really do to change things. Try to limit your daily news intake, don’t spend hours upon hours scrolling through your social media channels and don’t take what you see on Twitter as gospel,.Don’t beat yourself up over something that you have no control over and don’t expect everything to just go back to normal straight away.
Instead, find new and interesting ways to occupy your time. Read, write, bake. Do something creative. Play video games. Watch movies and documentaries. Educate yourself. Explore the world from the comfort of your own home. Be grateful. Be kind.