I apologise if this gets a bit heavy. Hopefully it’s a positive message.
So the lockdown has been extended for at least another 3 weeks. I’m not sure why so many people are surprised by that. The government have set the rule that it has to be reviewed every 3 weeks so it was always going to be a 3 week extension. Surely no one thought the lockdown rules would be lifted, even partially?
Is it a coincidence that on the day the lockdown is extended when I took the dogs out last night around 11 pm I saw more people than I usually do. In the last month I have perhaps seen 5 or 6 people in total if I don’t include the Tesco nightstaff having a fag break outside a firedoor. I have seen the same couple twice walking their dog and passed a jogger a couple of times. I think it was the same guy who had his dog with him one time. Last night there was a group of teenagers near Tesco. There was a group of 3 lads who I recognise as visitors to one of the house party properties a couple of weeks ago. I passed them on the next street to ours. There was also a group of 5 people who at first looked like teenagers. I couldn’t much more than shapes in the dark. They were walking down the main road in a close group. They moved onto the wide grass verge as we approached them on the narrow path and one of them told the 2 youngest not to walk in the road. They appeared to be a family. They may have been exercising but it seems strange to take fairly young kids out to exercise after 11 pm. I could see why some people WOULD exercise at that time as to me it is the safest time to be out. Surely I would have seen them a few times if that was the case.
Sue is finding this situation very difficult. When she is at work she is focused on looking after her patients. They are having to deal with really terrible situations. The toughest time for her is when she has time to think about the situation. She has had covid19 positive patients cough in her face. When she told them to cover their mouths they instantly realise what they have done but its took late by that time. Hopefully the PPE is doing its job. They are obviously having to deal with significantly more deaths than normal and she thinks that their ward will soon become an end of life ward. Losing patients has obviously always been the worst part of the job for her. She worked in care homes for years and would get close to the residents. When they died she grieved as though they were her own family. That was one of the main reasons that she moved to the NHS. She has always been on badly run wards although has had 2 or 3 opportunities to get onto wards that are better run and never had deaths. One time she went for an interview for another ward and was pipped at the post for the position. The guy in charge was so impressed with her that he actually created another vacancy and offered her the job. Her manager at the time refused to release her. I went nuts but she didn’t complain. She has shown misplaced loyalty to some crap managers over the years.
She gets more irritable and tearful as her next shift gets nearer. I hope I am helping her. It’s tough to know what to say sometimes. I try to keep her grounded as when she gets down her emotions are a bit like a tidal wave. She can go from being fairly positive to thinking we’re all going to die in 10 seconds. I have to keep my own worries buried. They don’t seem important compared to what she is going through. Maybe that’s why I am writing these posts. I would obviously rather people see me as a strong person who can help them sort their problems than see me as weak and of no use in a crisis but even the strong need an outlet sometimes.
I am very protective of my own mental health. I have always been tough mentally. Well, almost always. Most work appraisals would comment on how much I could get done under huge pressure. I thrived on being the person who could be relied on. The one who wouldn’t panic or flap and who always found a solution. Seventeen years ago I found myself in a situation or rather multiple situations that almost proved to be too much even for me. I’m not going to go into many details. It’s not relevant to anyone else and to be honest I don’t want to go there. For about a year it was crisis after crisis. There is a list of what are supposed to be the most stressful events in our lives. I faced most of the things from that list and a couple that aren’t on it. The worst one put my family in danger. In my mind it was my job to protect them. That is exactly what I did but at it’s height I was sleeping with a huge knife under my pillow. We weren’t living in a great neighbourhood. I had moved my family out to keep them safe but couldn’t leave the property empty. So I slept for no more than 2 hours at a time and waited for them to come. That was my life for 2 months. In the end the anticipation was worse than the reality. There were some confrontations but I stood my ground. I got us out of there but it took its toll. I didn’t realise that I had been depressed until afterwards. I just thought I was having a shit life. I was actually referred to a counsellor but after the first meeting she told me I didn’t need counselling. I was counselling myself. I’d say I bounced back pretty quickly really although it took a few months.
I became a much stronger person. In the past I have almost made excuses for people who were rude or treated me badly. If they didn’t do what I needed them to do or what they had agreed to do I would just find a way to get the results without them. The new me doesn’t do that. The new me doesn’t take shit from anyone. At first I was a little too reactive. If it even felt like someone was taking the piss or was even thinking about taking the piss I would be in their face. I can be extremely tactful when it’s needed but if something needs saying it’s usually me who says it.
I have always been stubborn but now i don’t apologise for being stubborn. There is now a much higher level of self confidence. I know that I can deal with pretty much anything that happens. I don’t always get it right but if anyone doesn’t like what I do then that’s their problem. It certainly isn’t mine.
I quite like the new me. I wish I had been this person when I was 20 but that’s not how it works. Experiences make us the person we are today. We are all going through a very tough time that will potentially affect or lives for many years to come. We will all be stronger for it. Day to day it’s affecting some people a lot more than others. I would consider myself pretty lucky. I wish Sue didn’t have to go through what she is going through. I wish I had some magic phrase to take at least some of her worries away but, again, life isn’t like that. All I can do is to be there. To be positive and supportive.
Look at those who you are in lockdown with. Some of them will be coping better than others. If we can all put our own needs below the needs of someone else then we’ll all be in a better place.