Pubs opened today at 6 am so as far as the UK is concerned, that’s the end of the lockdown. I was appalled to see earlier when reading the morning papers via Facebook, that people actually went to the pub at 6 am. It’s not even a hot day, it’s so gloomy outside, I even had the heating on this morning. But that’s just me, I start getting comfortable at 30 degrees when English people are practically melting.
Anyway, I made it through the lockdown without relapsing, which was my greatest fear. I didn’t have a single depressive episode in 104 days. (I last had a depressive episode in April last year and the episodes stopped completely once I broke up with my then-boyfriend, who was gaslighting me).
I had a few mild anxiety episodes, but nothing serious, they didn’t even keep me up at night. I felt down and sad several times and, for the first time in my life, I actively chose not to dismiss my feelings and emotions, to brush them away and fake happiness instead, pretending that everything was normal and I was blessed and lucky because I had it better than other people.
I had a better lockdown than other people, and I am grateful for it: I live in a big flat, I have my own garden, I don’t have flatmates, I didn’t have to work (which was both good and bad), I didn’t have children to homeschool, I had plenty of food, I even had self-raising flour, which was the nation’s wet dream for 104 days.
But, one thing depression taught me, is that it doesn’t matter what you have. If you are in the hole, you will contemplate suicide both from a luxury seaside villa or from a box room in a house you share with seven other people.
So I didn’t dismiss my feelings as silly or selfish just because I had it better than other people. And I chose to be kind and not lie to myself that everything was fine because absolutely nothing was fine. I suffered a sudden change in lifestyle. Not a dramatic one, as I was spending plenty of time on my own before anyway, but before it was by choice, on my own terms. I had to process and mourn this and it took weeks. I went through all the stages of grief. It was confusing at the beginning because I didn’t understand what was happening to me, but once I understood I was grieving, half of the work was done. I allowed my emotions to take over, I named each and every single one of them and I waited patiently.
I didn’t push myself to do anything. I had two goals set for myself: don’t relapse and don’t do anything stupid. I consider stupid something that I would do on the spur of the moment for instant gratification, without considering the consequences, like online shopping, drinking every day, daily comfort eating, sleeping with an ex just because it feels apocalyptic outside and you’re out of options. Both goals were ticked off my list.
Bottom line, I didn’t learn all the Spanish on Duolingo (and the owl is after me in notifications and emails), I didn’t learn a new skill, I didn’t even learn how to make bread (such a disgrace), I didn’t tone my body, I didn’t write a best seller, I didn’t read all the books in the world.
But: I processed a couple of things that I kind of pushed at the back of my mind last year, I managed to get a well-deserved closure on something that developed and ended in the most confusing way for me, I didn’t watch all the Netflix and I didn’t buy all the Amazon, I didn’t get into debt, I didn’t put on weight, I went to bed early and I woke up early every day, I worked out more often than not, but nothing strenuous, I spent the whole month of May in my garden, wearing my best dresses and makeup, befriending squirrels and birds. I wrote half a novel that would probably never be published, and I was definitely more careful than Cummings whenever I broke the lockdown (five times). I started hanging out with my friends in our respective gardens towards the end of May and that was all I needed to start feeling I was living a normal again.
I know change is scary, but, as someone that went through very dramatic changes throughout my life, I know that the initial anxiety dissipates quite quickly once I settle into our new lives. I can now say that I don’t hate some of the changes brought by Coronavirus. Strangers not breathing down my neck? A few steps between people on an escalator? Distance between tables in a restaurant? Bring it on! It’s like dreams coming true for me.
I am slowly getting back to work. There’s not much available, courts are still not at full capacity but at least my days start to look different. I will not go inside a pub or a restaurant until the number of infections will drop significantly. At the moment the numbers are higher than when the lockdown started. I am happy to go to a rooftop or a beer garden, though. I will not go inside a shop unless I really have to, but so far I managed to order everything I needed online, including groceries.
That being said, I can conclude that I’ve successfully made it through lockdown and the only thing that I have accomplished is that my hair doesn’t look as bad as I expected. In preparation for the second lockdown, I will have a keratin treatment on Friday, because this is how I stockpile.