Feeling Blue

Not feeling at my best today… A bit negative, but still a little bit creative so that’s something I suppose… Here’s hoping for a more positive mood tomorrow! 🙂

April A-Z: C is for Catching Covid

It’s weird. You start to feel a bit unwell, but surely you’re not unwell enough for it to be the dreaded thing you’ve spent the last nine months trying to avoid? Granted you have one possible Covid symptom, but not enough to make you think you actually have it? I mean, you know you’ve been careful, always wearing a mask in grocery stores and santising your hands and keeping your distance and mainly staying at home.

You’ve not been out-and-out arrogant and stupid like so many others you see. It’s January, and it’s winter so you tell yourself you’re probably just coming down with a flu bug or something. But you do as you’re supposed to do and book a Covid test anyway and go out to get it done and come home again and wait anxiously for the result, worrying about wasting people’s time and being a drama queen and a million and one other crazy thoughts.

But the next day your test comes back positive. It’s written there in stark black and white text: ‘Your coronavirus test result is positive’. You read it and then read it again and you suddenly think – shit – is this it? Could I maybe be dead in ten days time? It’s such a scary sobering thought, realising you’ve caught a virus that may potentially kill you as it’s already killed many others. But then you calm yourself down and try to be rational about it.

Because of course those are the only cases you hear about – the bad outcomes – you never hear about the many untold millions who catch it and feel shit for a few days and survive. No, you only hear of the ones who don’t make it through, or perhaps the occasional miraculous saving of a life against all odds. People younger than you, fitter than you, healthier than you, now dead or left disabled for life. What about me, you wonder? Which set of statistics shall I come under? Who can tell?

But no-one can tell. And that’s the biggest source of fear. You ask yourself – what if I get it bad? What if I have to go to hospital? What if I have to be ventilated? What if I don’t come home again? So many unknown ‘what if’s’… So that’s why it’s so shit-scary realising you’ve caught Covid because in that very moment you have absolutely no idea what the future might bring. You can’t go back in time and un-infect yourself. All you can do is prepare yourself, mentally and physically, to ride out the potential storm ahead. And then you just have to wait and see… 😦

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

The Flakiness Factor

Amazingly, considering the complete shit-show that has been 2020, I’m exiting the year in a much better place emotionally than I entered it. I mean obviously it’s been stressful and fearful, with month after month of how-long-is-a-piece-of-string extended rules and restrictions ebbing and flowing and effectively keeping us isolated and apart, especially from those we love. And yet somehow I feel that now I’ve got used to this insecure, narrowed, smaller way of living, I find overall it suits me more than it grates on me.

In many ways, internally, life has continued as normal for me. Granted, the external stuff has altered beyond all recognition but the way I feel about it all has not. I’ve struggled for years with ongoing depression, but to be honest that feels much the same to go through whatever the trigger for each difficult episode. Anxiety always gnaws away at me anyway, with or without Covid raising its ugly protein-spiked head, leaving me feeling flaky and fragile more often than not. A lot of the time I just pretend to be OK until eventually I am OK – basically I fake it until I make it.

But this year I’m finding I don’t have to pretend so much any more. External life has slowed down enough, has shrunk enough to fit my personal skin far more comfortably these days. I’m able to truly belong in life in a way I have never felt before. Expectations of excessive extraversion have evaporated, quiet contemplation close to home is the new order, and all is turned on its head as I find my previous weaknesses have become my new strengths. In this topsy-turvy life of lockdowns and limitations, to my surprise I no longer feel quite so flaky.

Of course I’d love to be able to see my family as I choose, and yes it would be nice to be able to go out for dinner now and again, but in 2020 it seems it’s the quiet home birds rather than the usual go-getter party animals who have at last come into their own during this pandemic year. Rather than me always running to try to catch up with the rest of the world, everyone has necessarily slowed down to my pace, and that feels amazingly liberating. My internal reality now rubs along in perfect tandem to my external reality to the extent that those feelings of flakiness have finally fallen away.

I know things won’t stay the same into the future, that as a society we do need to return to some kind of capitalist normality in order to continue to survive as before, but nevertheless there are some things I won’t forget about this year – what is known cannot be unknown, and that experiential knowledge gives me a personal power and a deep-rooted belief in myself that for me willl hopefully over-ride the flakiness factor forever…

Traditions that Bind us Together

I’m not usually the most Christmassy of people, and although current Covid Christmas restrictions could potentially have given me the perfect excuse for simply not bothering much with any of it this year, I nevertheless found myself taking the box of decorations down from the loft earlier than usual and not only have I put up the Christmas tree but have also added a few festive ornaments and a string of sparkly lights to the mantelpiece.

With all of us here in the UK necessarily having an extremely pared-down minimally-numbered Christmas this year I felt a surprising longing, a need to create some kind of fun festive feeling around our home, as if we were still expecting a flurry of visitors at any time. We may all be physically apart this year, but we can all still share the emotion and experience of the same old family traditions that recognisably bind us together, but simply enjoy them separately, each in our own home.

We can still put up our usual decorations, over-indulge in the same kind of food we always eat, enjoy the myriad repeat TV programmes we usually watch every festive season, and remind ourselves that if nothing else Christmas 2020 has truly taught us to appreciate the value of presence over presents at this time of year. Being able to choose to be with those we love at Christmas is the best gift we could have, whether family, friends, fur-babies, or any other favourite loves.

To have that choice taken away from so many of us this year hurts, but hopefully it is a wound that for most of us will heal in time. We need to remind ourselves that losing someone to Covid lasts forever and so is a risk too far for many of us to take, especially with the promise of vaccines becoming available to all in the months to come. We are where we are in this current coronavirus crisis, but this too shall pass.

So for this week’s Weekly Smile here is a gallery of some of my favourite tree decorations bringing some much-needed Christmas cheer to my home and to my blog – hopefully the idea if not the actual baubles and trinkets themselves help bring a smile to your faces too. For me the ritual of trimming the tree feels wonderfully familiar, becomes a heart-warming task brimming with mementos and memories and magic, helping me feel close to those I hold most dear, however near or far, in this time of national sacrifice.

So here I am wishing a very Happy Christmas 2020 to all my blog friends, from my home to yours, and hoping for a better year for all of us in 2021 ❤

Wishful Thinking…

Wishful Thinking…
 I can always do more than I think
 If I push myself right to the brink
 Face my fears day by day
 Trust I’ll find my own way
 Hold my head up and hope I don’t sink...

Hanging by a Thread

I’ve been feeling sadly out of sorts this week, both emotionally and physically. Ironically I’d actually been given this week off work (annual leave accrued over lockdown to be used up), and had so much planned to get done at home, as well as visiting family members socially.

But I’ve clearly picked up an annoying summer cold from somewhere – sneezing, headache, ear-ache, sore throat, tiredness – and as ever it’s gone into my chest so I’m currently waiting with tight wheezy breath to be coughing up gunk in my usual fashion once it all loosens off and starts to pass, probably in another day or two. As an added precaution (in the current circumstances) I’ve been checking my temperature religiously, but thankfully it remains decidedly normal.

Also no irritating dry cough in major long-lasting coughing fits, and no obvious loss of smell – everything tastes a little bit metallic just now but there’s nothing odd in that for me, having a crappy cold as I do. None of the notable specific symptoms of Covid, so as I’ve not recently been travelling anywhere that requires quarantine on my return, according to the NHS website there is no test required. But even so I’m not visiting anyone anytime soon – I’m staying home alone.

I hadn’t actually considered until this coronavirus pandemic hit this year just how unwell I’ve felt a lot of the time over my whole lifetime – not properly ill as such, just always under the weather, not quite firing on all cylinders. Niggly things, nothing huge, causing inefficiency rather than inertia. Just over five and a haf decades of ongoing health-related baggage I carry around with me all the time, weighing me down a bit more than normal when the life-going gets tough.

But right now I seem to be almost paranoid about it – every cough or hot flush or ache or pain freaks me out in a way it never has before. And I’m not sleeping well just now either, so that magnifies everything by about 100%, giving me even more time to lie there in the dark and fret about everything. I felt so isolated during the height of lockdown, but since going back to work I feel far more vulnerable and exposed than when I was stuck safely at home.

It still scares me so much to think of catching a virus I might not survive – or worse pass on to those I love and potentially kill them. How could I live with myself if that hapened? In my area there have been three new cases this week adding to the five from the week before – the latest a member of staff in a business not more than 100 yards from the building where I work. Yes, the numbers here might be small, but without caution they can easily grow out of control and before you know it a local lockdown is necessary.

Maintaining constant vigilance of face covering, social distancing and hand sanitising is stressful and so emotionally tiring, but is oh so necessary now more than ever – especially at work. Right now I just wish I could start to feel a bit better both in body and soul, so that everything stops feeling like life is hanging precariously by a single thread, just waiting to fall into oblivion with only the slightest infectious touch.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Survive

Hope not Fear

I’ve been stuck in a self-pity moan

Like the grumpiest grumpy old crone

Now I’m making a choice

To add hope to my voice

And adopt a more positive tone

This pandemic is causing such grief

Stealing life as we know it, this thief

Takes our freedom to roam

Keeps us all close to home

Tethered tight with no sign of relief

Though we’re facing a future unclear

Things may not stay as dark as appear

Look for life’s guiding star

Let our minds travel far

Never give up or give in to fear

I hit a real crisis of confidence the other day, so thank you to everyone who commented on my rather embarrassing pity-post I’d probably have been better not to post at all – you’ve all helped me see things so much more clearly, and such caring interaction is always much appreciated.

I’ve been catching up on my blog reading this morning and saw Geoff Le Pard’s limerick prompted by Esther Chilton’s Prompt word of ‘moan’, so I decided to try to counteract my errant whininess by taking a more creative approach to voicing how crap things can feel just now – hence my triple limerick above 🙂

A Toss Up

I found out the other day that I’ll be going back to work very soon, and I feel very much in two minds about it all. On one hand I’m delighted to be beginning the process of creating a new normal to get back to, but on the other hand… the reality of risk is rearing its ugly head along with the fear of the unknown.

Intellectually, I know that the country – the world – cannot go on forever effectively hiding from Covid 19, holed up in hope of a miracle vaccine that can make us feel safe again. At some point in time we all have to face our fears, adapting and making the necessary changes to society that allow us all to live with Covid 19 in the community rather than potentially die from it.

But emotionally I feel decidedly anxious and wary, because however much I’ve found it frustrating at times I’ve got used to feeling snug and safe in my own home and it seems crazily counter-intuitive after months of a very successful ‘Stay at Home, Stay Safe’ campaign to now be told it’s OK, it’s safe out there too even though the virus hasn’t gone yet – basically it has to be OK because the economy is collapsing.

It’s all about finding a precarious balance, isn’t it? We balance the risk of going out into the scary world where a deadly invisible virus awaits by wearing some kind of protection from infection, and because full Hazmat suits are not practical daywear for most of us in our daily lives, we compromise and stick to wearing a simple face mask and using hand sanitiser and keeping our distance from others to keep us safe.

We have to balance the risk of catching a virus that might kill us against the risk of having no future income to live on, which in a very different way also might kill us in the end. So somewhere along the line we have to meet in the middle. It has to be done, and I know it’s almost time for me to get back out there and get on with it. And in a weird way I’m quite looking forward to it, except for when I’m not.

The department store I work in seems to have created a well-managed environment for both staff and customers to move around in, with plenty of safety measures in place to protect everyone as much as possible. So I can’t help but wonder how I’ll be feeling on my first day back, smiley and safe or frowny and fearful? Right now it feels like it could be either, and it’s going to be a toss up as to which actually wins out on the the day… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Toss

Five Things I Miss During Lockdown

Dr Tanya at Salted Caramel asks us to list five things we missed during lockdown.

As here in Scotland we are technically still in lockdown, with only a minimal easing of restrictions to date, I’m writing my list in the present tense 🙂

Hugs – Of course I can (and do!) still hug my husband several times a day, but I really miss hugging my kids and grandkids and my parents, and also my friends and work colleagues and all other huggable people in my life. I’m usually a really huggy person, so I’m finding this lack of everyday human touch really difficult to deal with.

Pub lunches – I miss being able to say ‘Stuff cooking today, let’s go to the pub for lunch’ and actually doing it – sigh!

Going out for the day – It doesn’t matter where, just the freedom to decide to go out somewhere – anywhere – and be around other people and not have to worry about personal proximity or face coverings or potentially catching a virus that might kill us.

Work – Yes I know, strange as it seems I miss physically going to work. There’s a familiarity to the daily routine of going out to work to earn a living that furlough just doesn’t recreate, even though I’m still receiving 80% of my usual salary just to stay at home.

Time off – Crazy though it sounds, I really miss that feeling of having ‘time off’, even though you could argue that technically I have infinite time off at the moment. But I think for me that’s the point – in order to really appreciate and enjoy the finite quality of ‘time off’, it feels to me that I have to have something to have time off from 🙂

Ten of my Favourite Feelings

Fandango has offered us the chance to post a list of ten of our favourite feelings. The more I think about which favourites I might choose, the more I realise there are tons to choose from across my lifetime, some big, some small – so here goes with the first ten that spring to mind!

1 The amazement of realising I was pregnant for the first time – I was 18, and the knowledge of what was happening inside my body felt exciting and scary in equal measure. But I knew in that moment that one way or another my life would change forever, which of course it did.

2 The ocean of maternal love for each newborn baby I felt flooding my system immediately after childbirth – however knackered and sore I felt physically, for me that remains one of the most powerful feelings in the world. It may well have something to do with a chemical rush of hormones created due to the unavoidable internal imbalance as a newly-made part of your body you’ve been carefully growing and nurturing for nine months is violently expelled in one fell swoop to create a brand new person, but it’s an intensity of feeling I’ve certainly never forgotten ❤

3 The strangely unstoppable feeling of pressure release as warm milk flows unbidden from your body whenever your baby cries, or even when you’re lying soaking in a bath, and obviously as your baby suckles so rhythmically. Regrettably for me long-term breast-feeding was not a success with any of my three children, but I try to comfort myself with the knowledge that at least I tried with each one before I failed.

4 The additional layer of maternal love I felt for each precious grandchild when they were born – seriously, two people who once grew inside of me have grown their own babies from nascent egg-sacs initially created inside of them as they grew inside of me – mind blown!

5 The feeling of achievement I felt on gaining my First Class Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree at the ripe old age of 40 – I’d got married young, pretty much straight out of school, so only returned to my studies in later life once my children had grown up.

6 The thrill of looking out onto a spectacular rumbling thunderstorm with its torrential rain, the electric awe of watching lightning crack and flash across the sky while staying safe and dry and warm indoors.

7 The soothing hypnotic feeling of watching and hearing the soft swoosh of waves wash onto the shore in nature’s own tidal rhyming scheme, accompanied by the salty smell of the bracing sea air filling my lungs.

8 The sated satisfaction of enjoying good food, then feeling replete and relaxed afterwards.

9 The natural intimacy of sharing human touch in all its everyday forms, from handshakes through hugs to sex as appropriate.

10 The fundamental feeling of comfort and well-being found in snuggling down safe and warm in your own bed at night, especially with freshly-laundered sheets… sheer bliss! 🙂