It’s been exactly 11 months since the UK went into lockdown; it’s okay to admit if you’re struggling.
Two days ago I met up with a friend. My first social interaction in over a week, therefore I spent about an hour getting ready. We went for a walk in the cold rain and bought a takeout coffee. I went to drink mine, and spilled it all over my mask, because I forgot it was on my face.
1 year ago, would I be getting dressed up to the nines, to go for long walks in the pissing rain and splashing expensive coffee all over a fabric mask? Absolutely not.
But going for a take-out coffees and meeting friends for long walks is the type of stuff we are encouraged to do in order to get by. Sadly, it’s one of the ONLY things we can do to get by, and there’s a limit to the amount of lattes and pavement pounding that one can do before getting bored.
Realistically, we’ve spent almost an entire year conditioning ourselves to distance from others, struggling to see a positive in the future and feeling as though our lives are out of our control.
The initial novelty of Zoom quizzes and WFH set ups is now as exciting as bathing a paper cut in lemon juice. This year, I’ve seen Yoga With Adrienne’s face on my laptop screen more days than I’ve seen my actual family in person. I’ve run enough kilometers around Nottingham that I basically recognise every swan on the river.
I’ve fully embraced and taken part in all the *feel good* lockdown activities, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that I am just emotionally exhausted and really struggling to stay positive recently. I’m not replying to messages because I just feel like there’s nothing to talk about anymore. I’m struggling to be excited for the future – because what even is the future? When is there going to be a future beyond Bo-Jo briefings and running back to your house because you forgot your mask?
I’m not writing this to be a pessimist, I’m writing this to express that it’s okay to stop pretending to be okay (watch out Jessie J). It’s okay if you’re generally just sick of everything. It’s not necessarily good that you’re feeling this way, but it just seems like there’s nothing more we can do right now.
I’ve seen a few angry old men on Facebook compare our “snowflake” generation to that of the Heroes of WW2; expressing that young people these days “don’t know what a hard life is really like!!1!” – I’m not going to try and pretend that the war was easy, because thankfully I was born in the 90’s and not the 30’s. But I do know there is one definitive difference between lockdown and WW2 – at least during the war people could spend time with one another. Speaking to relatives, having human contact, meet new people, share experiences.
At the moment, we have only our household and/or designated bubble – of which we have probably absolutely exhausted with conversations and interactions. Sure, there’s the ability to pick up the phone and hop on a zoom call – but nobody can say a 45 minute phone call beats an in person interaction.
I think the social aspect is the greatest strain. At the best of times, I’m not the most social butterfly and I can cancel plans quicker than Direct Debits – but I thrive around others. Small, meaningful social interactions are sometimes the very thing that can get me out of a Bad Mental Place and into a Good Mental Place. Of course, these types of social interactions can still happen to an extent in lockdown – but not the way that us humans are used to.
I do know the future will be better, eventually – things will be okay. But for now, I’m admitting that it’s crap.