One Year Later

One year ago today, the 23rd March 2020 we entered lockdown in England. Sitting down and watch the Prime Minister was surreal, you knew you were watching a moment in history. I can only imagine it was similar to hearing the word that we were at war with Germany back in the 1930s. Something shifted in that moment, this was a big deal. I got emotional but it wasn’t going to be for long, I only had to get to June, right? It was going to be ok (oh the poor optimistic soul I was). 

I am not the same woman I was a year ago. Things have been harder than I could imagine them being one punch after the other but I am still standing with a strength I didn’t know I possessed. We’ve all been through trauma that will take time to heal from. 

At the start of the pandemic I was a mess. Anxiety took over my brain and body, regular panic attacks, sobbing constantly, being afraid of going outside my front door, comfort eating. I watched as industries completely shut down and the weeks turned into months, including my partners industry. We still had rent to pay and it wasn’t an easy time. 

Across the year alongside the external pain we lost three of our hamsters. While two were expected (old age), one came completely out of the blue. We both contracted Covid, spent Christmas in isolation and had to move in with family when our flat was up for renewal. We moved our wedding date an entire year. My partners whole industry disappeared practically overnight.

The past year I’ve felt like I am just keeping my head above water. There were countless times where I didn’t think I could carry on, when I didn’t want to carry on. I know the majority of us have felt that way. Between being at home constantly or going to jobs when there is a deadly virus, people being furloughed, the fear of catching the virus and, of course, those who have lost those they love we’ve all been just trying to get through the days.

There were a few positives to come out of the time spent at home, I got to spend more time with Ali than I have since we were at university, I made decisions about my life and my health, I started to let go of relationships that were toxic, I realised that I was going to keep fighting to be freelance.

We didn’t expect this to last this long, I remember the thought of still wearing masks at Christmas seeming laughable last summer. It couldn’t carry on that long, could it? Instead we spent Boxing Day back in tight restrictions and went into lockdown for the 3rd time a week later.

All of us are exhausted, mentally and physically drained, of course that doesn’t compare to those on the front line who have been risking their lives, but we’ve got this far – as battered and broken as we may feel.

I can’t help but feel that when we do emerge from this, when restrictions are lifted and we’re back in the sunshine, for a while at least, we will appreciate the little things a bit more. We’ll hug those we love a little longer, try not to sweat the small stuff, well that’s what I plan to do.

Of course I wish this had never happened, that thousands hadn’t had to die and questions will need to be answered later. We’ll all need time to heal and recover from this year, because I don’t think anyone really came out unscathed.

Does this post make the most sense? Nope. Is it mostly me just getting my thoughts down on to a page and trying to make sense of the madness that this has been our lives for the past year? Pretty much. I do have hope though, better days are coming and I’m holding on to that.

Surviving...But Thriving?

Surviving…But Thriving?

It’s the last week of January, but it definitely feels like this month has lasted triple that amount of time. I know for a fact that any optimism I felt about a new year got knocked out of me when lockdown 3 started. Not the easiest time to be bashing out new years resolutions and I for one retreated into the Christmas chocolate I had.

Today I just couldn’t motivate myself. I very much got up and just felt like saying ugh. I tried to use my normal ways of getting myself out of a funk. I had a cuppa and ticked things off of my to do list, I tried going for a walk, I went out in the car and popped out to get things from the supermarket with my music on. Nothing seemed to work. No matter what I did I just felt ‘meh’.

It is more than enough to be just getting through the days right now. To not be building a side hustle, cooking new healthy meals or going for a daily run is perfectly normal. It’s ok if your days consist of taking it hour by hour and seeing how you feel. I for one am on am emotional loop de loop where I can feel great and motivated in the morning and by lunch time feel frustrated, angry or deflated. There’s no one way to get through this.

Here in the UK we’re in our 3rd lockdown and I’ve seen a lot of people say this one hits harder – which I agree with. In the first one it was scary and uncertain but at least it was light and there was decent weather, we could go out for a walk or at least open the windows. The second was promoted to us as a way to ‘save Christmas’ (because that worked so well), because of that I think it had a little hope. This one is harder, January is a long month, the days are dark and it’s cold out – no wonder people are struggling right now!

Personally I’ve started something small for myself, I try and write down 3 things a day that have either made me happy or that I’ve done. It can be as simple as writing got through another day, had a shower, ate dinner. Other days things are happier, I might have had a nice call with someone, played with the hamsters and read a book. All these little things will add up.

Surviving is more than enough. Getting through the days and coming out the other side is more than enough. Finding yourself eating more ice cream than normal? Go for it. Having early nights most nights? I’m jealous. Binge watching everything you can? Let me know what’s good! As long as it’s not hurting you or anyone else, do what you need to do.

Be kind to yourselves out there!

Dear 2020, It’s About Time You Leave

Dear 2020,

I don’t know why I’m starting with formality when, quite frankly, you’ve been more than a bit of a bastard. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see the back of a year, nor have I been more relieved not to have to ‘celebrate’ on New Years Eve.

There were a lot of plans I made for you, things I’ve been waiting for for a long time. I think it was the same for a lot of people. When the virus hit China I followed what was being said, it was just like the flu right? Some people got really sick but most people were ok. Oh, what a sweet summer child I was.

Then it spread and it spread some more, things started changing, countries locking down. Then we did too, sat in the living room watching a Prime Minister give a ‘special briefing’ we weren’t to leave the house but only until June. I’d make it until June apart from the fear of even taking my bins out, the regular paralysing panic attacks and the lack of work. Then June came and went, this thing still sticking around but it would be fine by September, I’d still go to Paris and then celebrate my birthday. I picked up my wedding dress in a mask and the count down was on, maybe this year could be saved? Nope – cancelled and cancelled, while we also lost 2 more adored pets.

The hitter came, schools reopened, we’d eaten out to help out and then cases are rising again. There are whispers – should we be cancelling our wedding? Hen dos cancelled, another lockdown in November and messages to those we know and love that the wedding is postponed another year – I’ll be a 2022 bride. Another month of hiding at home, this time packing because we have to leave soon. December you tried to kick again – a positive Covid test, days before Christmas and the unexpected passing of a beloved pet the day before the last of 2020.

In short, I’m tired. And I don’t even feel like I can complain because you’d taken so much from all of us. Loved ones, jobs, security, health, comfort. Take, take, take.

While I don’t want to thank you for ‘making me stronger’ or ‘building resilience’ (let’s be honest would rather not have had to deal with these things), I don’t want to forget knowing that I did get through it. That punch after punch I managed to keep my head above water, even if every now and again I got pulled under. I’m leaving this year battered, bruised and limping to the end but I managed it.

So, you can go – I hope what follows is kinder.

The Longest Week Ever In The Longest Year Ever

Well, it feels like this week was one of the longest weeks of 2020. I don’t know about you guys but I have been exhausted. When it came to the blog I wasn’t sure what to write or when. Did I write when lockdown started again in England? Keep up a commentary of the US election? Or just as an when I felt that I could?

Watching The USA

I’m not sure this is classed as a hugely political blog, but I know I’m opinionated and my friends and family regularly tease me for my liberal views. From a look at any of my social media feeds you’ll know I was not a fan of the current president, his views or his ways. I had everything crossed for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, for a little bit of hope in America again.

Now, I didn’t intend to stay up to watch the results because of how unlikely it was that they would announce. So I went to bed, waking up every 2 hours (not consciously trying), I even had a very realistic dream that Biden won and thought it was real life…and was very sad it wasn’t true.

I streamed CNN on the TV on Saturday in the background waiting for any news…so of course when I dozed off I missed it being announced live but thankfully I was only behind a few minutes.

Knowing the giant orange has been voted out by the people made me breathe a sigh of relief. I felt a little hope again that he had been defeated and history was made.

Heading Back Into Lockdown

On Thursday, as if things weren’t already keeping me awake we went back into lockdown in England (other countries in the UK had already gone in much earlier). Even thought we knew it was coming I couldn’t help but feel sad and anxious.

We’ve just started to have a little bit of normality, being able to see my family pets helps my mental health immesley so going back into lockdown, especially when it’s so dark outside is tough. Do I think it’s going to do much in the grand scheme of things? Not really, but we’re doing what we need to do right now.

And Everything Else

Aside from that I’ve managed to pick up some more work after October was quieter than I would have liked which is a good thing. Other than that I’m spending my lockdown packing up the flat ready to move at the end of our lease.

It’s been a long, long week and now I think it’s time for a gin.

The End of Livin’ La Vida Lockdown – Day 63

We’ve now been in lockdown for 9 weeks, when I started the Livin’ La Vida Lockdown posts, I didn’t expect it to go on this long – not in this way at least. You might have noticed that I haven’t been posting under that title as much and I’ve been considering whether I’ll carry on in this way.

We don’t know how long lockdown is going to last – and part of me wants to return to some form of normality on the blog at least. I’ll still be following the rules, still be social distancing and mainly staying home but do I want all of my content to be about this? No, I don’t think so anymore.

So, after this post I’ll primarily go back to writing about more general topics – will there be updates and some posts related to lockdown and what’s going on? Of course! But I’m planning on a little bit of normality here again and more variety.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Forty-Eight - It's Ok To Feel Frustrated

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Forty-Eight – It’s Ok To Feel Frustrated

It’s been a little while since my last Livin’ La Vida Lockdown post, mostly because I needed some space after feeling like giving up. Also, I wanted to mix it up little bit because I have other things I want to talk about too!

The longer this goes on, the more often I find myself prone to bouts of frustration, anger and upset – particularly after last night’s speech by the Prime Minister. I think we’ve gotten to the point where it doesn’t matter who you support politically, we just want some clarity. Most importantly we want to feel safe and protected, which I don’t right now.

While I want to keep the blog positive, I also want to be realistic. I am frustrated and worried. I can’t help but think, when will I next be able to see my family and friends? When Ali will be able to get back to some kind of sound work? Are the people I love safe? Will my wedding go ahead?

If there was a lockdown for 3 more months just to keep people safe of course I’d follow it. Asking those questions and feelings of frustration don’t take away from that, but we’re still allowed to miss and want things. We’re human.

While we might be used to a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ spirit, you’re still allowed to feel what you feel and miss smaller things that might be silly to others.

It’s also ok to question those in charge and what they’re doing. We are allowed to disagree with decisions that are being made and have been made in the past. Do I think they should be considering sending the little ones who don’t understand social distancing back to school? Absolutely not. Do I think this has been handled well? Not really when looking at the approaches other countries took.

Let yourself feel what you need to feel to get through and remember you’re not alone.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Eight - The Week I Wanted To Give Up

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Eight – The Week I Wanted To Give Up

Well, what a bloody week. It’s definitely one that deserves a large gin…or three. I think this has been the toughest week for me, mentally. Literally as soon as I woke up on Monday this cloud of sadness was above my head. I couldn’t think and all I could feel was my foggy brain and a tidal wave of emotions. I have been SUPER fun to live with (sorry Ali).

This was the first time where I just felt like giving up. I couldn’t focus on anything, I didn’t have that much work to do and everything just felt pointless. I’m pretty sure the weather didn’t help as I noticed a LOT of people mentioning a dip in their mood.

I’ve always had a thing about wanting to to be doing something productive most of the time. I’ve mentioned before that I find it hard to relax and switch off which I’m working on but when I’m not in a great mental state it goes out of the window. To feel useful I have to be doing something, right? I know I’m not alone in this.

That was until Wednesday afternoon, all my calls were done and Ali decided we were going to start our Marvel marathon whether I liked it or not. He got pillows, the duvet and put on Disney Plus. We ended up spending the next 6 hours watching Captain Marvel, Captain America and Iron Man before eating burgers together. Thursday was pretty similar.

Today was much better and I knew it as soon as I woke up. I just felt more capable getting out of bed. There wasn’t a struggle to get dressed and showered. I grabbed my laptop and made a to do list. I think I’m getting through.

Whether you’re someone who’s had dealings with depression before or these are new feelings it’s hard and it can feel so completely overwhelming. Everything and nothing feels too much.

Needless to say I’m not giving up but I wanted to write this to be honest. Because there will be people who are also struggling and feel bad because of it. There will be people who can’t be open and honest with people at home about how they’re feeling for whatever reason. I wanted to say it’s ok. It is ok. Next week is another week. We’ll get through this.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Five - Alternative Ways To Cope

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Five – Alternative Ways To Cope

I saw an Instagram story recently about ways to cope in lockdown, it simply mentioned crying and that yoga didn’t work for them. Which made me think, why do people recommend yoga for bloody everything? Now, if you enjoy it good for you. But if it doesnt?

So I came up with alternative ways to deal with lockdown* – you’re welcome.

Take screaming breaks

Feeling overwhelmed? People getting on your nerves. Grab that pillow and scream your heart out.

God knows I’ve been wanting to do it recently, particularly when a certain internet provider goes down and the internet is one of the few ways you can contact the people you love. 🙃

Create your own drinking game

Number of times you internet goes down in a day? Number of lies Trump tells in a day? Number of days you’re in lockdown? The possibilities are endless.

Mine is called drink Gin at the end of each day to take the edge off.

See how long you can stay in bed over a weekend

Snacks, way of entertaining yourself, phone. You’re all set for this kind of marathon. The only thing that may let you down is how many time you need the loo…

Learn 90s and 00s dance routines

Now is the time to perfect your routines. YouTube is your friend, but you *might* want to think before you put them on TikTok.

Cry – just bloody cry

Let it rip. I tried not to for a week, kept it down and well, you can imagine how well that worked.

We’re living through such weird and unpredictable times right now, if you need to cry do it. Plus points if your cry face is like Kim Kardashian’s because THAT is a real cry face.**

Get lost in a fantasy world and pretend you live there now

Preferably not one where a virus is taking over the planet, those aren’t great right now BUT fall into some great fantasy books.

Yes, yes you can go and climb into the familiar world of Harry Potter, that is more than a little bit allowed.

Do what you need to do

Ok the final one and the one I want to scream. There is no one way to get through this. Some people (the lucky bastards) are really incline to get fit and healthy, do a lot of exercise and get those endorphins going. My brain doesn’t work that way and wants stacks of chocolate.

Who am I to tell you what you should be doing, I don’t know you or your life and nor does anyone else writing lists about becoming our best self. You do you.

Any more you’d like to add? Let me know below.

*yes this is a joke and it’s satire, don’t @ me. I want to make people laugh.

**I love KUWTK and, by extension, Kim.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Three - Does Anyone Have A Normal Sleep Pattern Anymore?

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Three – Does Anyone Have A Normal Sleep Pattern Anymore?

This post is going out later than I planned. Is it because I had a burst of inspiration and I just had to get it out into the world? No, I wish it was. It’s because I had an unplanned danger nap at 4.30 in the late afternoon…for 3-4 hours. *sigh*

Time is a weird thing right now. It feels like lockdown is going so slowly but also the days are going too fast. It’s May this week, May. It almost feels as if April didn’t happen. Also, I’ve found myself frequently having to check what day and month it actually is. I know a lot of you have felt the same.

When it comes to sleep, I have a strange relationship anyway thanks to regular fatigue with the occasional bout of insomnia to make things interesting. That said I’ve been trying to stay in some kind of routine, as you can tell from the start of the blog it’s not going well.

While I’m normally up and about for my alarm in the morning, weekends (as always) are a completely different situation. I am finding though I’m going to bed later and if I stay asleep I’m having some trippy dreams, if not I’m waking up at strange times throughout the night.

At the weekend I’m sleeping on and off for a few hours on both Saturday and Sunday because despite the fact I’m in my flat for 90% of the day every day I am exhausted. Fibro or just the mental exhaustion of the situation? I wish I could tell you.

I read that this is pretty common in situations like these, that our brains have to get the weird out somewhere and so it’s coming out in dreams. I’m not going to go into detail about mine because it features people I know but damn I can never say I don’t have ideas for a book in there.

Are you guys finding it harder to have a normal sleep pattern or are you having strange dreams too? Let me know so I feel less strange.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-One - Getting Through Tough Days

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-One – Getting Through Tough Days

I’m going to be honest with you all, I was dreading today. I’d been dreading it for a few weeks and until recently my plan was to spend the day hiding in my bed – I was in a much worse place mentally than I am right now.

Today marks 5 years since my life completely changed after a horse riding accident. If you’ve read my blogs for a while you’ll probably know quite a lot if not I started horse riding at university and loved it, 6 months into learning to ride I fell and broke part of my spine. It was a long recovery and I later developed Fibromyalgia.

Normally, I’d make sure I treated myself on the day. If I could help it I wouldn’t plan anything but I’d maybe go to my local shopping center and let myself buy a few things, go to a coffee shop and maybe see a friend or my family and get through the day. Obviously I couldn’t do that today.

I woke up and checked my social media and BAM Facebook memories, thank you very much for the picture of me riding. Thank you indeed. So I got up, got my cup of tea and let myself have some time to sit and think – feel how I needed to feel. I did get teary and emotional thinking about all the changes, everything that happened.

I’m working through the event, what happened after and my Fibromyalgia diagnosis in therapy. I do think that had helped this year. I let myself feel and then got up, got showered and dressed. I worked all morning and went out for a walk to feel the sun on my skin.

While I was walking I thought about how far I’ve come. Some days I can’t do that, other days (in non lockdown times) I can go to the gym. Each day is different but I think I’m doing well. Would I have got through today a few years ago? I don’t know.

It’s a bit of a rambly post, but I expected that. I’m proud of myself for where I am. Does that mean I don’t struggle? No. I struggle mentally and physically with the fact my life has changed forever and I’ve had to change the future I thought I would have.

That said I’m trying. I’m taking it day by day and I’m proud of myself for getting through today in a totally weird and stressful situation.

Peace out.