I’ve always known that in this proud land I grew up strong, but that strength has certainly been tested over the years and particularly over the last few months; as I’m sure it has for many people.
Yes my strength has been tested by my ME buddy and yes my trip to hell with all my emotional twists and turns as well as life changes pushed me to my limits. But just as I was making my return trip back, the world throws a pandemic in the mix to test my strength even further.
I know that I’m not the only one to have been tested in recent months. I know that I’m extremely lucky to not know anyone personally who has fully succumbed to the virus and my heart goes out to anyone who has lost someone. I know that I’ve not had to juggle kids and work or caring responsibilities for anyone. I know that I’m fortunate that I’ve not been furloughed or been made redundant. I know I’m extremely lucky that I can keep the roof over my head and food in my belly (as well as my cat’s). So you’re probably wondering how my strength has been tested.
I live alone. I’ve still got ME in my life. I still have a dodgy immune system that no-one knows the affect COVID-19 could have on it. I still need medical guidance. With the lockdown came not just more time on my own but all the time on my own, dealing with my ME whilst trying to stay safe and get the supplies I needed. Just as the lockdown hit I was due to get some more tests to make sure there was nothing else going on as well as physiotherapy to help my muscle stamina. Obviously, and quite rightly, these tests and physio were postponed.
Like everyone else in the world, I had a choice to make. The way I saw it, I could either sit and stress and wallow about the situation or I could make the best of it. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ve probably already guessed the choice I made.
I’ve worked too hard over the last 4 years to make a U-turn and make my way back to hell. I’m on the road home and I’m keeping on it. So I decided to make the best of this lockdown time – as best I could anyway. I took comfort in the fact that everyone else was now stuck at home; like I had been for months. I took comfort in the fact that I didn’t have to feel guilty about not making it in to the office as, well, no-one was in the office now. I took humility in what I was going through everyday compared with what the world was now suffering from a far more cruel virus than the one I caught back in 2016.
As everyone has been forced to do, I’ve had to adapt and adapt quickly. Fortunately, my ME buddy has taught me how to do this. Some of the tricks I’ve been using for years or have used, came in to their own. Knowing how my body works now, I knew that I would struggle going to the supermarket as I would be feeling the pain and fatigue of standing in the queue even before I got to the front doors. This would mean getting food in would be an epic event for me. So I reverted to getting my food delivered. If any of you tried to book a slot, you’ll know this wasn’t easy but I stayed up past midnight and clicked just at the right time. After my first delivery, I twigged that if I went and collected my shopping, then I’d have more chance of getting a suitable time. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Doing a big shop online, then driving round to the supermarket to collect it. It’s been so easy and has stopped me spending money on impulse buys too! I think I’ll be carrying on with this going forward as its so much easier for me and it fits in better with my pacing.
I also knew that I need some sort of social stimuli. Normally, friends would pop over for a cuppa at the weekends or we’d go out for lunch or somehow catch up in person. Not being able to see my friends in the flesh, suddenly made the weeks feel longer so I was so glad when catch ups were arranged over Zoom (other virtual meeting platforms are available!). Socialising this way has been fantastic. I’ve been able to join in and not worry about leaving the house! I’ve even figured out that I just need to dress party on the top half and slouchy on the bottom! I for one am really hoping that Zoom catch ups continue especially with my friends who live far away.
As well as having group chats, I’ve also been having virtual cuppas with friends too. This has been great to get some one on one time, get a good catch up and with one friend, see round her house that I’ve not visited yet. I’ve also been speaking to my parents a lot. Its been good for them to check on how I’m doing as well as me keep an eye on their antics!
Being physically on my own, made me think of others a lot too. It’s natural for me to think of others and hope that they’re doing ok. I’ve made sure to keep in touch with friends but I’ve also reached out to people who I’ve not really been in touch with for a while. An old uni pal of mine is now a police officer, so I checked on him. Another friend of mine who I haven’t seen for a while has been on his own too, so we’ve reconnected which has been great as we both get how each other is feeling.
As I say for me its natural to check on others and I know its not for everyone. Some people in my life have surprised me with their lack of contact. I’ve tried to make an effort but just feel like I hit barrier after barrier or it just feels awkward. I get that everyone has been struggling through this and that these people are probably just stressed out by everything so I’m not taking it personally, I just a little disappointed. I’m not sure why though as these are the same people who have judged and lectured me over the last few years!
Now we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and are moving through the phases back to freedom. During the hot days that we’ve had, I’ve been speaking with my neighbours (its been nice to get to know them) and I’ve seen some friends in person. I wondered if I’d be ok seeing people again or if I’d be awkward and just offer them some Dreamies and a tummy tickle as that’s what I seem to have said an awful lot since March (just a reminder, I have a cat!). It was great though and I’m looking forward even more now to seeing friends when we’re all allowed out to play again with each other properly.
I’ve managed to keep progressing with myself too. I’ve launched a wee business selling my photos on cards, notebooks and as prints which is great (mainly because its something I feel really positive about) and I’ve started getting myself back in to work. Its great timing for me as I am working from home and have no commute (well apart from making my way upstairs with a cup of tea avoiding the cat toys along the way!). I won’t lie, its not been easy getting my brain to work again but, as I keep saying to everyone, for me its a marathon and I need to build up my stamina. Even though the world is upside down, I feel like I’ve managed to keep going, keep positive and keep the exciting feeling about the future.
None of us really know what to expect once all the lockdown restrictions have been lifted. None of us know how we’ll have been changed by this experience. But what we do know, is that we didn’t give up and even if the world is different, there’s still a place where we belong.