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The Lockdown Diaries – Acknowledging Anxiety in Isolation (guest blog)

Words and images by @chameleoninhighheels

When the government (quite rightly) extended the lockdown a couple of weeks ago, I wondered whether this was the perfect ending to a day I’d rather forget. To be brutally honest, it was a shite day. On the surface it was lovely: sunshine, a walk, a socially distant conversation with a friend we met in the park, time in the garden, meals together, family time. Bliss. Only it wasn’t. In my head, it was hell. Doubts about myself and others, returning to normal life, staying locked up, it was all a big, scary, chaotic and scrambled mess.

The familiar lump in my chest and stomach resurfaces, it spreads its claws uncomfortably around my organs and renders me unable to think straight or to see sense. I try to work out if this is related to lockdown, or if there are other demons at work. I think it is both. The fears and doubts have been there a long time, but now are magnified by a world that projects fear and cannot be a safe place for us right now. I try and rationalise my thoughts and talk myself through what I can and can’t influence. I listen to the conversations in my head and weigh them up. I counsel myself and know that the shrink in me is right and wants to kick me off the imagined couch, but I am not ready to leave, not prepared to say: Yeah, I am fine now, thanks for the session.

My thoughts are as stubborn as the monster inside my body. Normally I would schedule a meet up with one of my closest and most trusted friends. Such things have to be talked about in person. But I can’t do that. I would probably also start doing lots of things to distract myself. But today I can’t do that either.

All the dinner is cooked, there is no more food to cook because the fridge is empty, I had my daily exercise and colouring pictures with my daughter gives me more time to think than I can handle. I tentatively tell one of my friends via text and it helps, she is understanding and downright fabulous. She doesn’t try to fix things for me. She is just there. I can breathe more easily. And then I just do something I read the other day by Glennon Doyle: Sit with it. Sit through it. Experience it. And let it pass over.

It’s a bit of a challenge to sit in peace when you have two kids crawling and climbing over you and a puppy chewing on your clothes. But I sit, and I allow myself to feel crap and I endure those feelings of inadequacy, loneliness and anxiousness. And I survive. I still don’t feel great and am far from being a bundle of positivity, but those inner restraints have loosened a little. I am aware that lots of people will be feeling up and down during this time, and many are feeling like this all the time. I also know that everyone’s experience is unique and personal and definitely valid. My feelings may seem ridiculous to some but they are real for me and I have the right to those experiences.

That doesn’t make me weak, stupid or unloved. I am strong – I will get through this day and others; I am knowledgeable – I am aware of my mind and I know that not all feelings are real but they can seem so; and, most importantly, I am loved – not by everyone and that is ok, but I am no less worthy than the next person.

This has been a deeply personal account of what is going on inside me, and I know that I have made myself more vulnerable with this than ever before. I am never dishonest in my blog posts, but there are many things I do not share as freely as others. Whilst I am always scared of repercussions, I am not afraid anymore of revealing a bit more. We are locked up, but we are not silenced. And I have been silent for too long. 

We all have good and bad days, and from now on I will be more willing to openly share the good and the bad, without holding back, in the hope it will speak to other so they know they are not alone.

Read more from Chameleon in high heels here- CIHH instagram

Life of a Mum

My advice for coping with ‘lockdown’

As you’ll already know I’m ‘shielding’ at home for at least 12 weeks due to the COVID pandemic. This is because of my immunodeficiency due to treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Government shielding info

It’s challenging being at home with a toddler and limited outside access- so here’s my advice to cope with this. Sending love to all.

  1. Try and maintain a routine. Getting up showered and dressed each morning really helps. Don’t stay up late watching movies as you’ll just sleep through the next morning. I like to get up by 8- have a coffee- shower and dress and get on with some work or housework.
  2. Eat well – we try to eat healthy balanced meals as a family. Dorothea loves our ‘feasts’ and often comments it feels like holiday. Good is the main topic of communication with us; we are enjoying baking, online shopping for home cooked meals, and we are even making our own sour dough bread.
  3. Plan and list some days I struggled to be productive; so I try and give myself a few daily and weekly goals. What work needs to be done (I’m doing some of my usual role from home), what needs cleaning, writing some blogs, creating some content and sorting play activities for Dorothea.
  4. Self care I’m trying to spend sometime looking after myself; the first few weeks of shielding I was a mess, rarely put make up on or did my hair. So now trying to do weekly face masks- apply some makeup and wash and style my hair (fringe needs a trim though). I’m loving my young living essential oils more than ever- and diffuse them when working and relaxing. I’m loving Albany Aesthetics facial treatments in a bag. Albany Aesthetics insta
  5. Support others checking on friends, sending cards or small gifts gives me a boost (and a nice walk to the post box). It’s good to let others know you’re thinking of them; and as always tough times really show you who your friends are. I’d also include shopping local in this- as supporting your small local businesses is really important at this time; I’m finding so many wonderful doorstep delivery options too. Viva vino wines delivered (Leicestershire) Enchanted Pantry- cakes/bakes delivered (Leicestershire)
  6. Zoom!!! I’m loving so many zoom options- they seem to be my only outside communication. From online workshops and fitness classes, to online chats with friends and family- and even work meetings! Seeing and hearing people really helps to maintain a little bit of ‘normal’. Apples and apps online fitness
  7. Keep active so obvious- but staying in means you’re naturally much more of a couch potato! I’m really making an effort to get out for a little walk (not strictly allowed when shielding- so we ensure zero contact with others) I’m also starting to enjoy some online fitness classes and plan to do more in the coming weeks. Online Barre classes
  8. Find beauty sounds a bit wishy washy- but I’m loving finding beauty in everything-doing some gardening, having fresh flowers every week and taking pretty pictures.
  9. A tipple I wouldn’t be me without mentioning my love of a gin or red wine. Obviously in moderation- I limit myself to 3 drinks and try to have 2 booze free days a week. I’m loving making pretty cocktails, or a fresh a fruity jug of sangria, my fave gins are from Warner’s – use ‘ivfninja15’ for discount (valid in May) Shop at Warner’s  
  10. Having fun thank goodness for Dorothea- having a toddler in the house means plenty of opportunities for silliness and fun. We love planning and playing with play trays, water beads, play doh and doing science experiments. We love the future image shop for play resources- use ‘ivfninja’ for discount- Future image shop

Drop me comments on how you’re coping and any tips.