If you’re like me, you’ll be feeling like you’re living in a movie at the moment. Empty streets; the West End closed; panic buying; isolation; it feels very unnerving and bizarre.
I spent a lot of last week sorting through a variety of feelings and I still can’t quite properly explain and find the words to express that. I think as part of the chronic illness ‘community’ there was an element of – welcome to our world. Now that does sound harsh but bear with me.
There is a HUGE section of society who live their lives behind closed doors. I can’t speak on behalf of everyone here: this is my blog, my thoughts, my opinions. But I do know a lot of people who have ME, cancer, POTS who haven’t been shaken to the core with the news of potential self isolation and social distancing because we’ve been doing it for years.
Seeing droves of people take to social media to ‘grieve’ the loss of holidays, cancelled social events and panicking about what the hell to do inside your house for a prolonged period of time angered me. Now, I’m not a cold hearted cow: I totally get how upsetting it is to have to cancel holidays and miss out on plans but that is because that’s what I’ve been doing for almost five years now. Five years. Not seven days, two weeks or twelve. Five years. And there are many people who have been ill longer than me. So we empathise completely.
Miranda Hart took time on Twitter to silence people and make them think for a second about those of us in society who love with this daily. Once this all calms down and is managed, you will all go back to work, life, re-book cancelled plans, meet at the pub for celebratory drinks. For me, this won’t happen, I will have to continue pacing myself, self isolating and coming up with alternative ways to live my life.
The thing that got to me most though was this. Doctors putting things in place to help people cope with self isolation. Ensuring they have ideas of things to do, telling us to check in on each other, making sure doctors are accessible with information and help. Employers doing whatever they can to support their workforce to work from home. This is not the experience of the majority of us in my situation. I am now not under any medical professional apart from my GP. There is no help, no advice, there are no guidelines. We can’t get jobs that will support us working from home, even though campaigners have been working tirelessly for years to get these rights for us.
And then there are the people who aren’t following the advice to isolate where possible because it doesn’t affect them. They’re fit and healthy, they aren’t at risk. Yes, if they get this, they will feel poorly for a few days and then will more than likely recover and be fine. But, what if you came into contact with someone who lives with or cares for someone who IS at risk? You can be the carrier who spreads it the the vulnerable. And that’s me. That’s my mum. That’s my uncle. That’s my next-door neighbour. That’s my brother’s mother -in -law. They’re the people who I love, care and worry about. So, don’t be selfish, stay at home when you can.
So, I am now drawing on my experience and have put together a list of things that I have done at one point or another over the past years that you can do over the coming days, weeks or months. Take the time to re-set.
- Pick up the phone/skype/facetime friends and family or the elderly in your community.
- Sign up and train to be a telephone befriender for Independent Age or Age UK.
- Every day, get up, have a shower get dressed.
- Cook. Try our a new recipe, play Ready Steady Cook with the random cupboard ingredients you have.
- Have a virtual dinner party with your friends.
- Tidy your cupboards, bookshelves, drawers. Make up charity bag donations or sell bits on e-bay.
- Sort though your photos. Make photobooks.
- Do a puzzle
- Listen to a podcast
- Watch films
- Binge a box set
- Play a game
- Make up a game
- Do a quiz
- Read a book
- Do some colouring in
- Do a suduko
- Watch YouTube tutorials and learn something new
- Do some guided meditation
- Have a pamper session
- Have a bath
- Sort out your make up bag/clean your brushes!
- Give yourself a manicure/pedicure
- Write a diary
- Write a story
- Get crafty, order a home delivery form Hobbycraft
- Make lists of things you want to do this year
- Make a travel bucket list
- Take photos – your house/garden/sky/sunsets – share your experiences
- Start a blog!
- Go online and send cards to your friends, Moonpig etc are still up and running
- Research your family tree
- Limit your screen time/reading the news – that’s not good for your mental health.
- Spread some happiness
We are so lucky to live in a time where there is so much at our fingertips. Believe me when I say, I know how hard and frustrating it is to be stuck inside. I know what it’s like not be able to go out and socialise. I understand the loneliness ands isolation. I am not belittling this situation, it’s scary but we can all help each other and hopefully once this is all over, the world will be a little more sympathetic and empathetic to those of us who will continue down this path.
Be kind. We all need kindness right now.
Let me know any extras we can add to this list!