Coping with lock-down stress is something I am living first hand. Usually I feel so much more in control. I am a normal mother, with a normal life. Two kids at home and a husband in tow.
Put me in a lock-down bubble and I fear its making me lose control. I am motivated by my own success. Be it professionally or personally I live to feel valued, reassured and appreciated. Who doesn’t? I long to contribute to the bigger picture and ‘feeling stuck’ at home during this lock-down period is challenging for me.
Don’t get me wrong I know that this is for the greater good, for the desired outcome and response to combating Covid-19 in our country. I will stay home as long as it takes. I have and will abide by the rules set down by the government during this time. But I don’t find it easy.
I know that I am blessed and safe, I have food on the table, my favourite people around me and a comfortable warm home as winter approaches. But.
During lock-down I have had plenty of time to think. Like the rest of New Zealand I have found myself with an extreme amount of extra thinking time. Some of which is spent on beneficial thoughts and at other times detrimental ones.
I’ve worried about the ‘state of the nation’. I’m worried about my children being my homeschooling experiment. I have worried about my husband and our business and how will it possibly recover or whether we will have to lay off staff in the future. I’ve worried about strangers battling Covid-19, deaths that are occurring, about the essential workers on the front-line, watched the news and worried about our entire changing world. I have worried about tourism and the flow on effects from all the affected industries and job sectors that will undoubtedly change forever.
Then I’ve worried about me. About how selfishly it seems I am not handling this stay at home lock-down business.
I cannot wait to travel again. But even the thought of travelling during this current phase of our lives seems like a distant dream or memory of a time gone by. I have reflected on my past travels a lot over the last three weeks and feel blessed at the countries I have visited and the memories of places I’ve been. But I want to see more, visit more countries and I pray that the world recovers so that one day we can all do so safely once again. I do not believe long-term that Covid-19 will stop kiwis from following their travel dreams overseas. However, I am realistic enough to know that it will not be the same for a very, very long time.
It is important to recognise your own changing mental health in your own bubbles. My favourite people are the same ones that drive me absolutely barmy sometimes. It is ludicrous that you can love someone so much and at other times, just want and need time out from them.
I have developed cooking and baking skills I never knew I had or wanted, just because I have felt bored. I’ve been baking up a storm and therefore eating up the same storm.
I have felt jealous. Irrational jealousy of the essential workers who still have a focus and a job to do during this time. Jealous of hubby’s long list of house renovation chores and the skills he has to complete them. I have asked many a time to help but he’s happy chugging along by himself and feeling in control of something.
I am sick of playing games, finding activities for my children to do, to have them attempt something for five minutes before being bored or uninterested with what I have planned.
I feel guilty at the amount of device time, but also thankful it exists.
I’ve eaten my feelings, cried out my feelings, yelled out my feelings and tried to hide from them by sleeping the hours away. It is a scary thought to wish days of your life away or for them to go faster, knowing that you will never get that time back.
I’m no stranger to mental health, depression and anxiety. But usually I have more control over my triggers and environment and enough stimulus to get me through. I am stifled at home and I don’t like it. I love my home but I want a break from it. I feel so unmotivated to do anything. I thank God that the weather has been kind to us during the lock-down so far. Weather affects me so much and I am thankful for the sunshine.
I long to write about another current news event, one that is untouched from Covid-19. But I find that my interest and motivation to write about anything other than my feelings at the moment is in the too hard basket.
I feel torn that I’m wishing this precious family time to go faster and valuing the special uniqueness of being altogether in such unusual circumstances.
I’m dreading the school term starting back this week. Homeschooling my own kids was never on my to do list. They don’t really listen to me the way my students used to.
I’ve drunk more alcohol than I have in the past year these last three weeks. Not to get drunk or party the night away, but just to have one or two drinks each evening. That’s not like me. And it isn’t working for me.
Everything I want and need is at home and I’m still not feeling happy.
I live in a beautiful home in beautiful surroundings with an amazing view. But I feel anxious and have itchy feet. I’m sick of biking around my neighbourhood.
One positive is that my barista skills have improved so much that if all else fails I might get a job in a coffee shop once the lock-down is over.
I miss going to work, I miss being a part of a team, I miss the focus of deadlines and being busy.
My sleep is affected. I either sleep too much, or wake up for hours on end thinking about all that is going on in the world.
Social media is an escape. But one that comes with a warning. Too much time spent on it and I feel on edge. I forget what’s real and live in a dream sequence of other peoples’ mashed up lives.
I’ve joined my family up to Tik Tok to make cringe worthy videos of us dancing or acting the fool. Just to have something to do. Just to have something funny to focus on and a challenge of learning new movements.
We combat each others stress in our bubbles, that of our partners and of our children. I can almost feel my own stress in the room around me and surely that is affecting my bubble.
We’ve learned to laugh at ourselves more, I’ve played hour upon hour of music to sing along to and escape with, to still the memories and overworked treadmill of my thoughts going round and round. I miss adult conversations that exist outside of my home-life, outside of my bubble. I miss hugging my mother and father and taking my children to visit their grandparents.
I’ve started a million things yet barely finished one.
I even started a 1000 piece puzzle merely to complete 18 pieces before calling it quits.
I have knitted two entire rows. I’ve painted a picture. I have yelled. I’ve written poetry. I have yelled some more. My kids bounce between feral and wonderful. Between physical games and cuddles and being device zombies. I feel guilty letting them have extended time on their devices but relish in the quiet stillness it provides me.
Some days I feel happy, in control and set goals.
Others I mope around, moaning, yelling, growling, for no other reason than I feel down. I’m taking my feelings and emotions out on my husband and children and I know I’m doing it. I long for me time. Real me time. Escaping from myself and this lock-down existence.
The days are so long. The results are the same. Housework calls my name and I complete groundhog day tasks again and again.
The mess shows we’ve had fun and played games together. But I feel guilty because my mental health likes the OCD cleaniness better.
I have set daily goals just to get me through. Ticking off completed tasks just like you would in a normal situation in the outside world.
I know my triggers that produce more stress and anxiety. In a normal situation they are easier to control. I feel guilty for not feeling content and happy with what I have at home. I see others relishing in this lock-down time and yes I admit there are positives like going slow, more family time and making memories, but I really do struggle with the monotony of it all.
I have excellent support networks, people – family and friends who reach out to me. I am loud and outspoken enough to ask for help and reassurance but that doesn’t make it easier in your own head. The wheels keep turning, the endless thoughts keep looping, the worries stay the same and the motivation is still zero.
I have exercised most days, even when I do not feel like doing so. We have reached out to our neighbours and shared recipes and food without making physical contact. I have completed daily challenges set out by my friendship group, played Lego, drawn pictures and watched Paw Patrol. We have built huts, inside and out, gardened, celebrated Easter, face-timed loved ones and some days just got dressed.
When will we meet our new normal? I’m so stressed about homeschooling that I feel sick in my tummy. And I’m a teacher who is dreading it? Imagine how others are feeling.
When will all of this return to normal? What is the next step? How do we regain control over something we have no control over in the first place?
I feel at times like I must be a completely selfish person. I love my husband and children more than absolutely anything in the world but it isn’t enough for me. I crave my independence, my freedom, my creativity that usually flows and my choice to live contributing to our collective lives.
I miss my friends from all aspects; dancing, work, school mum’s, family, best friends and more. I am an extrovert who needs introvert time. But time that is free from mum-life and being stuck in a bubble.
I find myself torn at the hate I feel for feeling this way and just wanting five minutes completely alone by myself.
I think though, that maybe, it is okay to feel all that I am. It is okay to feel a conflicting range of emotions during this experiment that really, none of us signed up for. Identifying and being kind to ourselves as well as others, is something I need to remember and apply.
So keep getting up. Continue to get dressed. Move your body. Sleep, rest and be kind to yourself and your bubble. Put lippy on if it helps you feel good. Phone a friend or read a book. Whatever YOU need to do to get through.
My home bubble is only as happy as I can help make it. Week three in lock-down has definitely been the hardest and longest week yet. Let’s hope that it is only up from here.