Admirably, many people are using the semi-lockdown as an opportunity to clean their houses as they have never done before. Some are learning new skills and others are reading extensively, like they would normally do on holiday. Pathetically, I am doing none of these things. My main achievement has been to remain relatively sane.
COVID-19 has inevitably affected those with existing mental health conditions. I came into the semi-lockdown in a reasonably good place. I was writing a lot, work was okay, I was seeing a fair bit of the family and spring was underway. I had been fretting ever so slightly during February when the virus was marching across Europe but stupidly believed the reassuring words from the government that the risks were ‘low’ of COVID-19 affecting us greatly and even more stupidly believing Boris Johnson when he cheerily announced that Britain was ‘well-prepared’ for any rogue virus. We would be okay and the family holiday to Croatia would go ahead as expected. Then, people started getting ill and dying.
I accepted an early furlough from my employer and prepared for a couple of weeks at home before things returned to normal. Then, they didn’t return to the normal I remembered. Instead, I spend every single day at home, punctuating the day only by buying my newspaper – the main thing that got me out of bed, possibly the only thing – purchasing some bits and bobs from my local supermarket and going for a low-energy walk when I had the energy and enthusiasm, which was not every day.
Every day blends seamlessly into the next day and I can only determine whether it’s a weekday or a weekend by what’s on the radio and how my newspaper looks. As someone who craves consistency and hates surprises, the semi-lockdown should be perfect for me. It isn’t.
I have tried creating a routine. You know, write a blog first thing, exercise at 2.00pm, write a thousand words for my eagerly awaited (by me) memoir of my dull life in Brislington, followed by watching a movie in the evening. But I can’t even keep to that. If I miss one set time, the whole thing completely unravels and I completely give up for that day. Always tomorrow.
Two big changes this week. though. One is that a finally managed to find a mobile bicycle repair man who magically restored my wobbler to roadworthiness in little more than an hour. The idea is that I shall take to riding somewhere not far away every day, avoiding any possible contact with motorists and indeed the cycle terrorists who tear past, inches away from unsuspecting pedestrians. Given my current lack of fitness levels, which are unquestionably at an all time low, I won’t be tearing past anyone anytime soon, but it’s a start. The other change is golf.
In middle age, I finally got round to taking up golf and while I have never got any good at it, I can at least strike a ball somewhere vaguely near where I want it to go. I became utterly obsessed with it until my mental health dipped a couple of years ago. Then I all but stopped playing. Now the government has said we can play golf again, I am desperate to play, in the near certain knowledge that I will be even worse than I was before semi-lockdown. Still, it gives me the opportunity meet up with one of my very favourite people on this earth for a few hours and remind myself how unfit I have become.
It’s hope, I suppose, and starting from a base of hopeless, it’s definitely progress. I hope that anyone who is experiencing their first period of mental illness during this ghastly time in our lives sees from this blog that all is not quite lost. Sometimes, the light at the end of the tunnel is merely an oncoming express so I’m not betting the house on some magical improvement in my depression but tomorrow might be a bit better than today, or merely just less bad. I’ll settle for either at the moment.