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Mental Health Awareness Week: Eleanor’s Lockdown Blog

As it is Mental Health Awareness Week I would like to share how I have been feeling since going into lockdown, and things I have done to improve my state of mind. Hopefully some of how I have been feeling resonates with you, and even if just reading the blog makes one person feel a little bit better then it’s done it’s job.

Going into lockdown was a very surreal experience. I’d just announced I was pregnant to family and friends, and was then sent into hiding because I was now considered ‘vulnerable’

Shortly after this a state of lockdown was declared. It was struggle at first to get into a healthy working routine. I was set up to work from the dining room table, which meant I was living and working in the same space and this became quite claustrophobic. It became difficult to switch off from work. I think because there was no physical distance between work and home, there was no cut off, and I would start work early and finish late.

I also initially struggled as a manager trying to manage my own workload and being there to support the team. It took some getting used to managing remotely. When you are all sat in an office together you have regular chats, and generally you can see how people are. Remotely you don’t get that visual, so you are constantly worrying how the team are coping. I set up a daily teams catchup to give us the opportunity to chat about any work issues or general stuff. We also set each other fun challenges which was a really good way to keep in contact with each other, and have a laugh along the way.

After a couple of weeks I kicked my husband out of the office in the attic and he set up a temporary office in the spare room. Having a separate working space has made such a difference as well as being stricter on my working hours. I now make sure I start the time I would normally if I were in the office, and finish the same time too.

When working in the office one thing I was always guilty of was eating lunch at my desk, and not taking a proper break away from work. Since being home I have taken advantage of the nice weather, and I’ve been spending my lunch hour in the garden. This has had a real positive effect too, and I intend to make sure I carry on taking proper breaks once I return to the office.

To be completely honest, since that initial bedding in of working from home, work for me has been the easy part of lockdown. I enjoy the normality and structure work brings, and knowing for five days a week I am going to be busy. It is the weekends and evenings that I have struggled with more. Not seeing family and friends has been really tough. I have good days and bad days, and I always try and put things into perspective and think about how lucky I am to be safe and still able to work from home.

Some days though I find it difficult to shake myself out of it. Being pregnant and not having my mum physically around to share the experience with me has been hard. I envisaged my first pregnancy to be a really lovely experience where my mum and I would excitedly go shopping for baby things, I would meet up with family and friends who would comment on how big I was getting and so on. Sometimes I feel sad that this can’t happen.

It was also particularly tough when the midwife said my husband couldn’t come to any future scans or appointments with me. I was anxious that I would be on my own if they had to inform me of any complications raised on the scan, and I was particularly gutted that we wouldn’t be able to find out together whether we were having a little boy or girl.

Despite my occasional down days I have found solutions to most things. My mum and I have become great online shopping buddies. We find things we like and send them to each other for approval before buying. I facetime my mum when the packages arrive so she can join in the excitement of seeing what they look like.

Also after my 20 week scan I decided to surprise my husband with his own little gender reveal party. I put up balloons, bought a bandanna for the dog (one for each gender) and a party popper that shot out blue confetti to reveal we were having a little boy. This felt really special and we now have this moment on film to look back on forever. If anything I think the way I revealed the sex to him was far more special than the sonographer telling me at the scan ‘see that thing between the legs? I’d say it was a boy’

 On the whole I have found facetime the best thing ever, and I can’t remember the last time I had a normal phone call with someone. For me facetime calls almost tricks me into thinking I have seen people. You get peace of mind by being able to see loved ones are physically well, and it takes away a little bit of the pain of not seeing them physically. Unfortunately I have seen the inside of my nana’s ear on more than one occasion as she still gets to grips with facetime, but fair play to her for trying, this was a woman who wouldn’t let my Gramp get a colour TV or microwave for years because she considered them stupidly modern and pointless.

 Like others I too initially struggled with the pressure of hearing people’s inspiring stories during lockdown, and feeling like I wasn’t doing enough with my time. Hearing people talk about how they had completed chores around the house that they had been meaning to do for years. Seeing social media posts about people learning new hobbies, exercising, baking and blinking TikTok videos galore! Initially I felt a pressure to join in. I even added oven cleaner to the shopping list.

Now though I am quite content to sit on my sofa, eating Haribo and watching the joggers and cyclists running up and down my street. My oven cleaner is safely stored away under the sink unused, and my new hobby is to do absolutely nothing. I have had a realisation that for the first time ever the pressure to do anything is gone. There is nowhere I need to be, I don’t have to worry about cleaning the house because nobody is coming to visit, and I can actually just sit and sloth in front of the TV or spend the day reading in the garden completely guilt free.

 I still get my down days, and I think we all do but that’s ok. We are in a very hard situation at the moment, and we are just finding our way through the best way we can. The one positive thing that has come from this is feeling closer to people. When I ask how someone is now or vice versa, it’s not just a passing pleasantry made like saying hello. People now are genuinely wanting to know and waiting for your answer.

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