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!

Welcome To Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Writing about mental health isn’t anything new on this blog. While it may have changed in recent years to being about how I’m doing mentally in regards to chronic health conditions it’s still very important to me.

This years Mental Health Awareness week is very different and it’s likely that more people are aware of their mental health. We’re living through a time that none of us could imagine. As simple affection is limited or, for some, impossible I feel like now more than ever it’s important to discuss how we’re feeling.

This years theme is kindness, something we can all give but could all do with receiving too. While the world might seem like the most anxiety inducing place right now, and it is, there are also signs of hope and generosity.

During the last few weeks I’ve received messages, family members and neighbours have helped when we couldn’t go to the shops, strangers on the internet have sent me things from my amazon wish list and so have friends. I’ve tried to do things for others too in the ways I can.

I know that, for me, it’s felt at times like we’re stuck in a reoccurring nightmare. That it takes more effort than I have when things are hard. It’s normal to have days where it’s all too much, especially now. Taking it day by day, even hour by hour we can get through it together.

I’m going to be posting hopefully every day this week about mental health. Even though it’s a different kind of awareness week. I hope you find the posts helpful.

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Fifty-One – Things I Want To Keep

I know my last few lockdown posts have focused a lot on struggles that I’ve had in particular. I think it’s a pretty accurate representation of where my brain has been for a little while. We’re over 50 days in now and that is a long time to go without being able to hug your family or friends, right?

That said, when people talk about going back to ‘normal’ I think there are a few things I’d like to keep, a few positives that I’ve found and enjoyed. I hope I can carry these forward and I think other people are thinking along the same lines.

Having time to enjoy as a couple

While the entire sound industry shutting down is not ideal in the slightest it has meant that I’ve had Ali home for a long time. Normally I’m used to him working until late in the night or going away on tour.

We’ve had time to curl up and watch films together which is just really nice in itself. He might need to drag me off of my laptop to do it but it is calming. I know that he will go back to work, and I want him to because he loves his job but I think I’d like to make sure we spend the time differently.

Catching up with old friends

I’ve found myself talking to people I haven’t in a while and I’ve realised how much I’ve missed their company. While I can’t see my little introvert self meeting up with people all the time when we’re allowed it’s nice to catch up and see how people are doing. I want to do more of that.

Making weekends less digital

I don’t need to have my laptop or phone on to catch messages and emails about any potential work at the weekend so they’ve actually become a lot less digital. They’re for reading, sleeping and maybe writing some blogs if I feel up to it.

I’ve really enjoyed just using the weekend as quiet time for me and my brain to just log off for a bit, particularly when I wake up and have some quiet.

Going for walks when I can

It’s not always possible for me to go for long walks, depending on my pain levels but it has been quite nice to go out for a little walk to my local parks. Obviously I won’t be going it in the winter when it’s pissing it down but while the weathers nice I quite enjoy it.

Is there anything you’d like to keep after lockdown? Let me know below!

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' La Vida Lockdown Day Thirty-Six: Being A Freelancer Right Now

Livin’ La Vida Lockdown Day Thirty-Six: Being A Freelancer Right Now

In August this year I will be celebrating 2 years of being self-employed, although probably not in the way I thought. 

While some friends of mine are being furloughed knowing that they were going to be receiving 80% pay others found themselves completely and utterly stuck – the self employed. 

Me, my fiancé, my dad and a large chunk of my friends are self employed because of the nature of their jobs. Ali works in live sound along with a load of other friends their whole income has gone in a matter of weeks for who knows how long. My Dad and other people I know are taxi drivers who are still working because bills and food don’t just wait for 3 months before they get any help. 

As for me I’m still managing to get some work, it’s not at my normal level and it is scary. I’m muddling through but still expected to pay full rent (that’s another post altogether). 

When you go freelance you know there’s going to be a risk, you expect it but as with anyone who starts a business you never expect a global pandemic and there isn’t really a way to plan for it. 

Being a freelancer right now, for me, includes varying stages including:

Panic, panic, PANIIIIIIIIIIIIC

Well known to all freelancers as a common based point.

Ok, it’s ok, I can get through this

It’s going to be fine, everything is going to be fine.

Work, work, work, work, woooooooooork

These are the waves where I can get loads done, lists upon lists are created.

What am I doing?

Accompanied by tears, blankets and a lot of snacks…a lot.

Check in on your freelance and self-employed friends right now, they might need it.

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' La Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty-One An Average Weekday In Lockdown

Livin’ La Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty-One An Average Weekday In Lockdown

What is life like for me in lockdown? What do I get up to? I thought I’d write about it because, why not?

I warn you – it’s not the most interesting life…but who’s is right now?

7.30/8.00am

Wake up, no matter what day it is I will wake up at this time. It doesn’t matter if I have any plans, any calls or if I have slept my body just seems to wake up at this time.

8am – 9am

After Ali has kicks me out of bed, my first port of call is to feed the Hams who act as if they have been starved for weeks, despite the fact they will have food in their cages.

Pour the first big cup of tea of the day – there is no time for

9am – 10am

Shower, get ready in whatever form that’s going to be for the day. Check my emails and LinkedIn to see if anything has come in overnight, make my list for the day. If I have work to do I’ll try and start in this window, if not I’ll take a scroll through YouTube to entertain myself or carry on with whatever I’m reading.

10am – 12pm

This definitely depends on what I’ve got on. I’m still getting some work, although less that normal so this will be the block where I work on it, have any calls or catch ups etc.

That said there are more days than not where I don’t have much to do and will alternate between cleaning (still boring), watching something or reading.

12pm -1pm

Pop out to sit on the grass for a bit, talk to my neighbour from a distance – if I’m feeling up to it I might even try and go for a walk but this obviously depends on how I’m feeling.

1pm-2pm

Remember I haven’t eaten lunch yet and I should probably do that… Also look at what I have for the afternoon. Prioritise my tasks and check LinkedIn again. If there isn’t anything I’ll try and find something to read/watch for a bit.

2pm-3pm

If I’m not working this is optimal nap time if I feel I need it. Now, this isn’t because of the pandemic. I have a condition that causes fatigue – when I was working full time in an office I’d have to try and have naps on both days of the weekend and early nights most week days.

When I work from home I can have my ‘lunch break’ as a nap if I’m feeling particularly rough. That said you don’t need a chronic illness to enjoy having a nap – especially now. Probably less so when you get back to work unless you have a REALLY good hiding place. 😉

3pm-5pm

More searching for something to do, aimlessly looking out of the window and reminding Ali that our next place needs to have a garden – this is coming from someone who is not an outdoor person and never has been.

Also, if my family is dropping food off for me it’s normally around this time.

5pm – 6pm

This will be around the time I log off for the day if I’ve been working on anything, although that’s not every day! I’m slowly trying to accept doing nothing and just trying to enjoy that. I might go for a walk if I haven’t already.

6pm – 7pm – Dinner, Brooklyn 99 and more importantly, GIN. Yes, I’ve definitely drank more Gin in the last few weeks with an evening meal than I have in my life with meals.

7pm -10pm –

This can vary, sometimes I’ll be on my laptop chatting to friends, I might be on the phone to family or just hang out with Ali. There have been evenings where we have caught up with some kind of streaming. Sometimes I even do exercise.

Also blogging, obviously.

10pm – 10.30pm –

Start getting ready for bed, play with the hams for a bit.

10.30 – 11pm – Try and sleep…sometimes it even works

What’s happening with your daily routine right now? Let me know below!

Beneath The Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Seventeen – Easter Readathon

Two bookish posts in one day!? I know, I’m spoiling you all. So, after seeing over on Kate’s Twitter that she is hosting an Easter Readathon I thought why not join? I’ve never seriously done a Readathon before and I think now is a great time to try…because I have no other obligations what so ever -yippie!

So how does it work? The Readathon runs from 12.01am on Friday 10th and finishes at 11.59pm on Monday 13th April. You can find more info and Kate’s post here, make sure to give her a follow too!

As with most Readathons there are prompts, for this one they are:

[Image description: Post reads Easter Readathon 2020 Prompts 1. Read a book that gives you Spring Vibes. 2. Read a book about new beginnings. 3. Read a book that’s under 250 pages. 4. Read a book with yellow or green cover. 5. Read a book involving family/friends.]

I’ve had a look and I’m going to try and complete the challenges – but if I get a load of reading done that’s absolutely fine with me!

Read a book about new beginnings

The Eve Illusion – Tom and Giovanna Fletcher

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this today and while I can’t say too much as it’s a sequel there’s definitely some new beginnings in it.

Read a book that’s under 250 pages

Beneath The Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

Beneath The Sugar Sky – Seanan McGuire

Ok so *technically* I started this before the Readathon started and it’s an audiobook BUT I’m desperate to finish it!

Also reading about a candy land over the Easter weekend? That seems too good to pass up.

Read a book with a yellow or green cover

Watch Us Rise – Rene Watson

It’s on my April TBR and I really enjoyed the last two Rene Watson books that I read and they were quick reads so I’m hoping this will be a fast read.

Read a book involving family/friends

Crescent City – Sarah J. Maas

Ok it is a STRETCH but this is, another one I’ve already started but I’m really into. Also, do I think I’ll finish this over the next few days? No, no I don’t. That said, it’s started to get interesting.

Read a book that gives you Spring vibes

This is one I need a few recommendations for – please leave them below!

Are you joining in? Also leave your suggestions down below!