My motivation in writing this blog is to provide a platform to share my experience of the UK Covid 19 Lockdown, and to encourage you to share yours. I recognise that what I write will not resonate with everyone who reads it. However, I want to connect with others in this experience, and in that connection, I believe healing takes place.
I am a relational psychotherapist. I believe in the power of relationship to heal from past and present hurts. We are living through a collective trauma and much of this will not be felt until after the emergency is over. Whilst we live through the emergency, we tend to focus on the here and now, to deal with day to day necessities. We can miss our previous life, and some of us can ruminate on how the aftermath will be, but largely we manage through a trauma response – fight, flight or freeze. Small and large practical tasks, each day, ticked off, to provide distraction, safety and meaning.
I want to share the themes that have emerged through my experience and those shared with me: by the wonderful clients I work with, the supervisees, colleagues, family and friends.
Week 1 – This was a period of excitement / anxiety / adrenaline rush, getting things organised, getting food in and preparing to work from home…communication everywhere – talking to old friends, using new technology – setting up Zoom and Teams and Skype. Working out what formats people needed. The start of the funny videos, jokes and memes. Definitely not feeling and not processing. Some good people setting up fantastic voluntary efforts. A feeling of coming together online.
Week 2 – Practical matters – Our heads in thinking, getting used to all the practicalities of the new reality. Who works where? How do we home school? What do I make the structure of my day? Doing classes on line, planning our exercising. Definitely not feeling and not processing, seeing the positives in all of this. Taking up new hobbies. Not having as much contact with people – it’s exhausting working on a screen all the time. Voluntary organisations up and running.
Week 3 – Reality starting to sink in but only a little. Most people reporting feeling ‘up and down’. It’s a phrase I hear over and over again, and use myself. It’s starting to be a grind, it’s not new and shiny anymore. Little moments of feeling, mostly’ fine’, but occasional peering into the abyss. Aware of the horror, the reality of so much suffering. Trying to avoid the news.
Week 4 – similar to last week… funny videos quietened down, not having so much contact with people. Speaking to people who’ve lost loved ones or know people who have. People busy as ever, overcommitted in an effort to keep going as normal. The strangeness and trauma of going to the supermarket – the scariest point of the week for most of us, is becoming more normal. At least I leave with what I wanted to buy, rather than exiting with random products because it was too stressful to stay in there trying to avoid contact with people.
All through this social distancing is an issue – most people doing great, some not and that causes huge anxiety.
And now at the end of week 6, coming to terms with the ups and downs more. Putting less pressure on ourselves to be ‘productive’.
For myself right now – so grateful to be with my loving family, so distraught to be away from others I love, so missing friends, and trips out and shopping and so glad to be well. I have had news of two bereavements this week of parents of friends, and feel so much sadness for them; for the unnecessary deaths and for the trauma of not being able to be with loved ones as they are dying, or get comfort from being with family and friends.
There has been so much talk of the ‘new normal’. We have had little chance to process what we have been and are going through, let alone contemplating how life might change in the future. It’s true that we may start to live differently, more simply, more eco-aware, more considerate of our communities and respectful of what each person contributes. Equally, we have our individual griefs, losses and traumas to allow, and to feel and to process, as well as dealing with the state of the economy and how that might impact ourselves and our communities.
We can only manage each day, to try to be kind to ourselves and others, and to accept that whatever we feel is ‘normal’. Up and down, in and out of feeling and thinking, and sometimes desensitising from it all, because that’s the best thing to do at that point. We can’t get it wrong, we’re learning, most of us haven’t been here before.
Thanks for reading. I would love to hear about your experiences and if this resonates with you…