This time last year, if you’d said to me we’d STILL be in lockdown in over a year’s time, I wouldn’t have believed you. I, like many others, was a Covid-sceptic when it started popping up on the news way back when in 2019. That’s not to say I didn’t believe in it – I’m not one of those people – I just didn’t think it would cause quite as much disruption as it did. And now, here we are, in 2021, in lockdown number 3, and I’m not sure I can remember what the outside world used to be like.
So many of us have faced anxiety, panic and depression throughout this period of lockdown. As we’ve lost control of our lives and been isolated from our loved ones, it’s only natural that mental health has taken a hit during the past year. I discussed it last time I wrote on here, but for me, the biggest challenge has been depression and a complete lack of feeling or motivation. It’s horrible and it’s not my nature and having no control has sent me spiralling. But, after a rocky first month of lockdown, anxiety and panic attacks haven’t really been too much of an issue.
That is, until now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so excited to see things open up again. I want to see my friends and explore new places and generally get my life back. But I’m also terrified. It’s not so much that I’m scared for my health. I’m lucky enough to have had my first vaccination already, and I was never too worried about catching Covid (though I was still careful, of course!). For me, the anxiety is about leaving the hermit bubble I have become accustomed to. I’m scared of being in big crowds – something I’ve always struggled with anyway; I’m scared of going back to the daily rat run and getting stuck in commuting hell; I’m scared of interacting with people mostly because I feel like I’ve forgotten how to; and I’m scared because it all feels new, like I’m a kid going out into the world for the very first time.
They say it only takes 66 days to form a habit . We’ve been in lockdown, in some form or another, for 365 days, give or take a few. In other words, I have well and truly developed a habit of staying inside and hiding from people. We all have. In a lot of ways, we’re all going to have to learn new habits and relearn pre-lockdown behaviours, and that all sounds very overwhelming. On top of that, we have no control over it all; countries will open up whether we’re ready for them to or not, and each and every one of us will have to roll with the punches.
For me, I think the thing I’m struggling the most with right now is my conflicting feelings about it all – and if I can’t even control how I feel on an individual level, what hope is there for me to control anything else? The introvert in me is quite happy to stay inside, watch some Gilmore Girls and avoid doing anything productive or sociable. But the extrovert in me – who I’ve newly discovered during this time – misses people. I want to see all my favourite people and do the things I enjoy again. I’ve realised how important it is for me to be around people, to be stimulated by new and different environments. But whilst I know these things about myself now, I’m in the lockdown blues hole, and talking myself out of it is the struggle right now. As we all prepare to go outside again, I’m tackling both anxiety and apathy by reminding myself how much happier I’ll be in just a few months time…