Life after lockdown terrified me. I remember just a few months into lockdown taking the decision to stop watching the news on a regular basis because I couldn’t take the uncertainty of the government at any point of their choosing saying “Right it’s all over, you can return to school and work now!”
Don’t get me wrong, I HATED home schooling with a passion but I felt I’d been given this incredible gift of time to spend with my son at a time when I’m most conscious that his independence is growing. After my latest struggles with my mental health and recovery from a spinal operation just months before lockdown, I had an intense feeling that my time was running out. As soon as the world stood still for COVID the immense pressure to conform to a ‘normal’ way of life stopped too. For the first time I was living a life just like everyone else, or rather they had succumbed to the life of isolation that I was used to. Minus the homeschooling, I was in my element. I absolutely love spending time with my son. Given it’s just been me and him since he was born, with no outside influence, we are like two peas in a pod. We could happily spend our days eating chocolate and playing video games if thats what was required of us. Days, weeks, months flew past and any mention of schools returning sent our anxiety levels soaring.
Of course when it was suggested that he returned with a small group of kids to settle in before the summer, I reassured him and never let on that I was just relieved it would only be for a few days. After all the worrying, it was absolutely fine and he had a great time. I of course spent most of the time cleaning and keeping super busy. It was a total relief to us both to know we could actually still exist when not breathing the same air!
The 6 weeks summer holiday was just a final warning. I felt like it was the last chance to make memories, so I wrote a list of places I’d always wanted to go to in the UK and we just packed up and went! We had so much fun exploring. I always say that travelling is one of the best bits of parenting alone. To be able to have adventures just the two of you is honestly so special. Although you’ve got to be ok with chucking out the rule book for bedtimes and sugar intake.
Having the assurance that unless something dramatic happened, schools would be starting again in September for the new school year, meant I could plan and prepare for how to support my son. I could also think about how to manage it myself.
I know myself well enough to predict that without something to keep me immediately and constantly busy, my mind would inevitably veer off course, spiralling back to where I’d been at the start of the year. I couldn’t let that happen again. I had way to many unfinished goals and plans in mind that needed to be actioned. I had no more time to waste!
During the summer I’d luckily come across a council email that I read instead of deleting. In it, they’d advertised a business PopUp course they’d endorsed so that everyone in the borough could attend it for free. I signed up partly because the dates coincided with the start of school, partly because it was virtual (so felt less intimidating) and partly because it was free (so I had nothing to lose by trying it out). Thankfully I did because it was the fire I needed to reignite my fuse. Something clicked the first day of the course and within 24hrs I had requested to be in the room with the lecturers and I was actioning goals I’d parked up months and years before I’d lost the confidence to pursue them.
I didn’t leave a gap, not even a day for myself to ponder what next…?
I knew that the only way for me to survive this lockdown was to emerge from it better than I’d entered it.
With winter approaching, I had also learnt that the season without fail, becomes a breeding ground for all my usual triggers to multiple in strength and numbers. Keeping busy, motivated and realistic was the only way I knew how to combat the emergence from lockdown.
The strategy for keeping busy may not be for everyone and it’s undeniably the hardest option to take. I can not stress how difficult it is to get out of bed in the morning when you have any mental health difficulties. For me, my chronic fatigue syndrome makes me feel like I’m attempting to move a giant that weighs a tonne and hasn’t slept for a year. It honestly feels impossible every morning. I promise myself if I just get my son to school on time I will rest, yet I know that once I’ve made it that far there’s no stopping me and I won’t sit down or stop until the bells of midnight ring again. Luckily or unluckily depending on how you see it, I have other conditions that refuse to let me rest. My brain is wired to be on a constant loop with no stop button. Ideas, actions and more work is all that is churned out of my bipolar mind. That’s because I’ve allowed it to take that route as oppose to the alternative route that is determined to derail. A constant sabotage mindset telling me that there is no way I can do what I’m attempting to do because I’m just me and that history alone shows me I’m deemed not good enough.
Yet if the crazy year of 2020 can teach us anything, it’s that we are all much more capable than we gave ourselves credit for. We can all overcome situations that we were totally unprepared for and are kids are actually ok. We haven’t screwed anything up that badly that we can’t learn from it or apologise for it. So our kids may have had too much screen time and we didn’t all bake vegan cookies while using recycled loo rolls to create dream catchers. Our kids are still wonderful human beings that are evidently more in touch with reality than we ever were as kids. We all tried our very best and that’s all any of us can hope to teach our kids as an example of how to get through life, one unpredictable day at a time.
So if you want to break free from a loop of despair and the frustration at not achieving your full potential, only you can grab that control.
Find something that excites you… anything. It can be something you’ve put off, something you never felt confident enough to try or even something you just like the idea of as a hobby.
Whatever it is, just do it, what’s the worst that can happen!
Let me know if you had any strategies for emerging from lockdown?
Are you still stuck?