When Boris Johnson announced the UK Lockdown due to Coronavirus on Monday evening, I literally applauded from my living room. We should have gone into lockdown two weeks prior to that. We were steadily progressing towards the level of chaos Italy faced in the weeks leading up to their own lockdown.
I wrote this 15 days ago and we’ve now had 335 deaths in this country. It WAS us in a fortnight. Does the senior government source have anything to say? pic.twitter.com/mleZ1WSmMN— Adam Kay (@amateuradam) March 23, 2020
But as they say, better late than never.
Shane had been completely self-isolating since the beginning of March when we both got our flu-like symptoms, and I'd gone into work for two days after recovering - (16 and 17 March) - before going into complete self-isolation again. And despite all our time away from the public, we were astonished by the number of people we saw in bars, pubs, restaurants and other public spaces during our 10-minute walk to the grocery store, once a week.
A complete lockdown was a long time coming. It was necessary, and I'd been wanting that announcement for a little over a week before it actually happened.
And yet, I panicked a mere hour after it was announced and barely slept that night.
Bear with me while I try to put to words what that panic felt like.
I heard our Prime Minister make his announcement, I applauded in my living room, I shared this news with my friends and family all over the world, posted some infolets on social media, and went to bed with the reassurance that this changes literally nothing in my new routine.
Imagine that privilege.
An entire country goes into lockdown and I get to get up from my comfortable couch in my warm, cozy living room, and go to bed knowing that my job awaits me the next morning. That this job that I celebrate every day of my life, this thing that gets me excited to wake up in the morning and gives me yet another chance to feel like I'm good at something, is right there for me. Full hours, full pay.
The University of Edinburgh (where I work) went into lockdown almost a week before this announcement. We were given all the gear we needed to do our jobs well (monitors, mice, headsets, you name it) and sent home with an amazing infrastructure that made it look like this plan was in motion for months.
So, by Monday evening when the announcement was made, we were already into Week Two of our new ways of working.
So, when I got up from my couch after applauding and went to bed, I had just another Tuesday to look forward to.
So, with extra reassuring news that the government was taking measures to contain the spread of this nasty virus, I should have slept like a baby that night.
Instead, I could barely remain lying down. Out of nowhere, I was under attack. I had to run. I had to get out of bed and do something. Something needed fixing. Something needed saving. I...needed saving.
With my heart knocking against my chest, I sat up in bed and worried. I worried for my father (a type-A diabetic and heart patient who survived cancer twenty years ago), my mother (his primary carer without whom my world will stop spinning), my friends (all scattered around the world, some asthmatics, some diabetic, some with no family around to care for them), my plans for the future (though trivial in the grand scheme of things, it's hard to let go of dreams), and our lives (is this going to change everything for everyone forever?).
I spiralled. I listened to Shane say "But we're ALIVE, aren't we?", and felt nothing. I texted my parents and my best friend hoping at least one of them would be awake to talk to me. And then I slept. Barely, and in patches.
All this, with a fridge full of supplies to last me a week, grocery stores a mere 10 minute walk away that are consistently re-stocked with all essentials I'll be needing, two full salaries coming in despite a drastic shift in the way we work, no childcare or homeschooling arrangement s to worry about, and no known relative or friend who has been diagnosed so far.
Monday night was crucial for me, and through me, for Shane. My panic opened our eyes up to people around us, people we knew, who were being laid off from their jobs. It made us think about all the small businesses in this favourite city of ours that were struggling with cancellations and low traffic for weeks before being forced to shut down. It made us remember my depression from this time last year and wonder what this pandemic would have done to my mental health, had it come a year early (and in turn, what this must be doing to other mentally vulnerable people right now).
As we sat observing all these changes and asking ourselves "what if...", we made a list of all the things we could control and focused our energies on that.
- Our favourite small businesses were on that list and we went through each of them, placing orders, buying vouchers, making donations, and pre-paying for services without worrying about when they'd come.
- We cooked and ate home-cooked meals for over ten days straight and started taking pride in our improved confidence to try new things.
- We set up our work stations at home to closely resemble those at work because if there was ever a time to work hard, it's right now when the future is a big ol' question mark looming on the horizon.
- We scheduled calls with our favourite people around the world, both to check up on them as well as to simply hear their voices. It'd be a while before we get to squeeze them into tight bear hugs so this would have to do as a means of reminding ourselves how truly cherished they are.
- We hugged and kissed each other more often because we realised how fortunate we were to be in lockdown with each other and not with abusive partners.
If you're struggling right now and need to talk, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.
If you're a small business owner looking to promote your products online, please share them with this loving community.
If you're facing abuse during this time of lockdown, here's a list of organisations to contact ASAP. Or please reach out to me. I will do everything I can to get you help.
Please stay indoors, wash your hands after touching anything from outside, sanitise and disinfect your surroundings regularly, and dispose of packaging and other materials from outside as soon as possible.
Stay safe, everyone!