The ‘New Normal’

Early in 2020 news started to filter through about a new virus in Wuhan, China. I kind of kept one eye on what was happening out of curiosity. Things started to get ‘interesting’ when the entire area was ‘locked down’ around Chinese New Year. Little did we realise then but it was already too late for the rest of the world.

Within the space of a month cases were rapidly being detected, mainly in France and Italy, then in Spain then all over Europe. One by one European countries implemented different variations of a lock-down. Enforcing rules that restricted the movement of people to try and stop the spread of the virus. Lock-down being a phrase never really heard before and now it is all you hear. Speculation of when the UK will be on lockdown. For a brief period there was talk of ‘business as usual’, the Cheltenham Cup was allowed to go ahead, gigs, concerts, cinemas, sporting events all went ahead. The Prime Minister was bragging about still shaking peoples hands, and it was broadcast that unlike THE REST OF THE WORLD, we knew better and we would be attempting heard immunity. The broadcast even stated that we would lose loved ones before their time.

Eventually someone saw sense and we started with social distancing. Slowly over the course of around a week we went from life as we knew it to pretty much everyone working from home or being ‘furloughed’. Some people unemployed and others stuck in a weird in-between.

I’m lucky, I can still work from home (and still have a job), my partner is furloughed, but we don’t live outside our means so we can carry on pretty much as we used to. Initially my anxiety was sky high, eventually it has come back down to ‘normal levels’. My mum has been ill but has recovered. I have been ill and i’m 90% there. I have no sense of smell, haven’t for about 3 weeks and I don’t know if it will ever come back!

I’m now working from home, something I thought I would hate, but it isn’t too bad. We have group video calls with family and friends. Its been mine, my partners and my dad’s birthday since this started. They were weird.

Positives from this experience are,

  • I’m coping, this is a big one for me as I really have struggled in the past with my mental health but I am genuinely coping, its not easy but its going ok.
  • I’m speaking to my family and friends and even neighbours more often than I have before.
  • People are generally being more helpful and polite with each other, shopping now the panic buying has stopped is less stressful, you have to queue to get in but there is less argy bargy when you are inside.
  • I’ve been getting on with crafts and house things that I have put off.

I’ve learnt that a big thing that helps is making this about choices. The rules are, you can only socialise with people from within your own home, you can leave once a day to do a form of exercise near your home and you can leave to shop for essentials. You could choose to ignore this and risk getting caught and a fine (immediate consequence), or you risk that your a infectious but asymptomatic and you could infect people you come into contact with.

I’m choosing to stay in.We start on a morning with ‘What do you fancy doing today’ and I answer with ‘I just fancy staying in, maybe go for a walk later’ this tricks my brain and stops me from thinking I’m missing out. I’m not, everything and hopefully everyone will still be there when this is over. Staying in is part of making sure that the everyone is still there.

Things I am missing;

  • My family, they live so far away anyway and I was due to visit them this weekend. The first thing I want to do is go and see them as soon as I can. Video calls are OK, but they are not the same.
  • Going to the beach or walking through town/by the river. Luckily we have a lot of green space and tracks around us which we are starting to explore but I really miss the water.
  • Just being able to pop out for a wander, see friends, drink coffee. All the little things we have taken for granted.

The most difficult thing about this is feeling helpless, you see daily infection rates, death tolls. These are all people and there is very little we can do to help. Also not knowing if you have had the virus or not. I think I have most likely had a mild version (hopefully), however we can’t get tested, so won’t know.

We don’t know if or even when it will end. There are loads of trials of drugs to treat the symptoms and vaccines however vaccines will take 18-24 months to be approved and available. Its like living in a never ending film.

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