As part of our open call to Share your Story, we received this #SpiritOfLockdown account from Kate*. Lockdown offered a Kate the opportunity to take a step back, reassess her life and reflect on the relationships that really matter to her.

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Setting the Scene: Life pre-Covid

Pre-Covid I was working in an office every day, I was really very active, going to the gym, and starting to connect with colleagues as friends. But I was also feeling quite isolated having moved to a new area.

I felt I was too busy trying to stay on top of everything so I hadn’t had time to make connections with my local community, or at least, hadn’t made it a priority.

I have a long-term health condition and was suffering with depression and fatigue from trying to stay on top of that and live a ‘normal’ life. My family and friends all live at least an hour away, so I was struggling to stay connected with them on top of everything else. Loneliness and local isolation had become severe.

Enter Covid: The early days of lockdown

When Covid hit, I isolated as quickly as I could and started to work from home before it was mandatory. I actually enjoyed the first part of lockdown, because although I wasn’t having physical contact with anyone other than my partner, I felt the pressure had been lifted, and my life could slow down a bit.

Taking out my commute and commitment to gym classes meant I gained hours in my day. Work was still draining, as I was under more pressure than ever as I worked for a key service, supporting vulnerable people in rural communities stay out of hospital. But, I felt less expectation to deliver perfect results because that would be impossible – everyone was suddenly a lot more understanding and kind to each other.

It suddenly felt so much easier to connect with family members, again the pressure was off to try and make time to connect and it just became a natural habit to check-in virtually through Zoom and WhatsApp – I even taught my elderly aunt how to video call so I could show her my garden.

I felt less anxiety around managing my health too. Because we couldn’t go anywhere, there were fewer variables in my day so my control became better, and I felt a lot more confident. My partner was on furlough too, so he was able to support me. My healthcare team too switched to virtual working and telephone appointments so I didn’t have to go to hospital to speak to someone, they felt so much more accessible.

Taking Stock: What I’ve learnt

During lockdown, I realised that a lot of the pressure and fast pace of life I experienced before wasn’t necessary. I found ways to adapt the way I was now living to how I previously had. This included finding a new job that will allow me to work from home permanently.

I took up gardening and adopted a rescue cat so I now appreciate having a safe space at home. My health care appointments are staying mostly remote, but with the option to meet face to face if I want, and although I still struggle, I now feel I can easily reach out to the healthcare professionals in an informal setting.

I have even taken steps to reach out to my community now by getting involved in local Facebook groups, speaking to our local allotment people and looking at volunteer opportunities and classes within walking distance.

My relationship with my family is definitely stronger now too. Although we don’t speak as much as we did during the first lockdown I continue to check in with them throughout the week having short conversations, rather than building up to big get togethers.

I was proud of myself for being able to take a step back and look at my life before lockdown and identify changes I wanted to make. I hadn’t realised how much I was struggling until I was forced to stop, and am proud of myself for making some lasting changes with the support of my partner.

Shaping the Future: What I want to take forward

I want to remember this time as a period when we had an opportunity to reflect on modern life and identify changes that needed to be made. There are so many opportunities that have come out of the work of local communities. In my village, lots of new businesses have appeared despite the economic decline, this is because the local community is pulling together to support each other. I really hope that they continue to thrive. I don’t want to go back to a faster pace of life, I like feeling in control. The difference now is, after a punishing period of my life, I am not totally alone!

It has taken a long time to get here, but I do have more than one person I can depend on in my life now and that makes such a difference to me. I’m still here and I’m still fighting.

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