I’ve not written for many a month, for many different reasons. However something about this being Men’s Mental Health Week and my experience of living through Coronavirus lockdown has prompted me to get started and put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard on this case!
Being someone who has a tendency to over analyse everything and think automatically the worst in any scenario, life in lockdown has presented some interesting challenges for me.
Early on in this I was somewhat taken aback to receive a letter via my GP instructing me to shield for the next 12 weeks as I was classed as highly vulnerable (or clinically vulnerable as we are now known). Not a great start to lockdown life.
At the same time my wife and youngest son were still in London helping to finalise family arrangements following my dad’s recent bereavement. Right bang in the middle of this Boris announced lockdown – so with me now shielding and lockdown imposed we decided it was best that they stay in London until things became a little easier. This left me at home with our teenage daughter and the challenge of home schooling whilst working from home and being the only person in our house at that time who knew what the rubbish bin was used for and how to put dishes in the sink.
I had to adapt pretty quickly to this new way of life and I’ll be honest – it was difficult, I struggled. I felt particularly for my daughter with limited access to her social group of school friends and living with a dad whose serious culinary ability was limited to beans on toast.
I’ll be honest and say that I’ve struggled in so many ways these past 12/13 weeks or so. Not least with problems getting a decent night’s sleep, my anxiety levels reaching higher than I’ve ever experienced before and having to be there to support my daughter whilst cooking and keeping the house presentable, oh and showing up for work every day.
Looking back I don’t know how I survived this but I have and I have become a better person as a result.
After the first week or so of complete and outright anxiety and fear of what may be the worst case scenario with Coronavirus I set myself some lockdown goals and targets to help keep my mind focused and inject some element of being able to control what I can. So I learnt to experiment with cooking new recipes. I started to work on getting the garden into shape. I’ve even bought myself a set of bongos and have started learning how to play them (work in progress)!!
I use humour a lot to help control my natural anxiety and I’ve found myself watching more comedy online during lockdown as a way of taking my mind off things.
Self-care and ‘me’ time has become much more important to me and some of the benefits of lockdown have come from starting to exercise again, eating more healthily and getting back into one of my favourite hobbies, reading. I’m averaging one book a week at the moment.
Following death of my dad earlier in the year I went into lockdown in a really dark place but in a somewhat perverse way it’s enabled me to have the time and space to re-discover myself. I’m (hopefully) coming out of lockdown in a much better place – wife and son are returning home at the end of this month – I just need to very quickly transform the house from a bachelor looking pad back to the home my wife will recognise – that’s my current focus!!
I feel like I’m really ready to return to the world again now, with many lessons learned about myself.