Quarantine and Chill

Quarantine and Chill 

 

I know a lot of people have been writing about this COVID-19 pandemic, mainly how selfish others have been in not adhering to social distancing policies and/or panic buying. I don’t want to do something that others are doing just for the sake of doing it.  

 

As you may know, this blog serves mainly myself, not an audience. I have been writing on this blog as a release for my thoughts and feelings… so that’s just what I’ll do yet again. Write about my thoughts and feelings during this “lockdown” and pandemic. There may be some advice thrown in from time to time; however, this will mainly be for myself so that I may be able to see it again when I read back over my entries. (With all that being said, I’m not going to discourage anybody from heeding or criticising my advice, from sharing my entries or from following my story.) 

 

Let’s start with the beginning of the pandemic in the UK. As you may remember, I started working in a pub and club just a few months ago. This has made a huge difference in my overall mental health, as it’s a job that I thoroughly enjoy doing. Well, that’s just sod’s law, ain’t it? To finally find a job that I love, only for a hugely contagious virus to come along and stop me from working. 

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Now, I’m not saying that I would be out working in a pub during this critical time, as I completely understand the seriousness of this pandemic and I’m adhering to social distancing as much as possible. I would not be somebody who is putting others at risk… but that doesn’t mean I can’t miss my job. I miss the pub, my colleagues, the regulars and the overall atmosphere in the place. We’re like a wee family in there and it’s been hard to stay away. I do hope that my colleagues are staying safe and that I’ll see them for a party when this is all over. 

 

Being unable to go to my place of work has been hard, not only for the reasons above but also because I’m not very good at self-isolation.  Before all of this, I would not have been able to stay in for longer than one night. I needed to be out, speaking to and interacting with people. Which is quite funny, considering I used to be a pretty heavy introvert. I suspect this is due, in no small part, to my depression and anxiety. When I’m alone, my anxiety has free reign over my thoughts and feelings and I’m not very good at distracting myself from this. This inability to distract myself usually leads me to the pub, where I know everybody and can be in good company. Out comes COVID-19: “NO CHANCE YOU’LL BE DOING THAT NOW, SUCKER!” Well, shit. 

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I’ve now been in self-isolation for 4 days. That’s 4 times as long as I’m used to being by myself… and guess what? I’m absolutely fine! I have really surprised myself with this, as I genuinely thought I would be climbing the walls, breaking quarantine and begging friends to see me. Could this be because I know that going out is not an option? Is it because I’ve come to terms with the idea of self-isolation for the good of others? Have I realised that it would be utterly selfish for me to even contemplate going out at a time like this? All of these things seem like they would have been a major factor; however, there is another thing that I didn’t consider until very recently. 

 

Working all the time and constantly feeling like I can’t be left alone with my thoughts leaves very little time for me to work on myself and my own wellbeing, both mental and physical. Without realising it, I’ve actually turned my focus towards myself; doing things around my home, taking care of myself, making sure I have proper food (not just quick and easy rubbish) etc, etc. This has calmed me during a time which would otherwise have left me anxiety-ridden. Sure, many would argue that I make excuses for not looking after myself, such as the ones at the beginning of this paragraph; however, those people may not know what it’s like to live with anxiety (they may even be people who have conquered severe anxiety and have forgotten what it’s like).  

 

The amazing thing about all of this is that I was convinced I would feel trapped by this quarantine. I was utterly sure that my anxiety and depression would have started a reign of terror by the second day. This hasn’t been the case. I actually feel free. I feel calm (or “chill”, if you will), collected and determined. This has been a beautiful realisation in my head, showing me that I’m stronger than I believed. Some things that I’ll definitely be taking away from all of this are these: do not underestimate yourself. Do not assume that you will fail. Have faith in your subconscious drive to survive and remember that you are a priority. Take care of yourself and other things will naturally follow.  

 

I’m having a couple of beers to wind down my night, knowing that today has been a productive day. I do hope that you’re all staying safe during this difficult time and hope we all come through this as stronger people. 

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Love and Peace. 

Hello, Old Friend

Well, this is the first blog that I’ve written in a very long time. To tell the truth, I don’t know why I haven’t written in so long. I found such solace in putting my thoughts and feelings into words, that it seems crazy for me to have stopped; yet, here we are. 

 

There is so much that I could write about so if I manage to keep this up, I hope to try and get through it all. In the meantime, let’s just start with how I’m doing right now. I’m lost. Very lost. Although, not so lost that I worry about never being found. I know that I’ll find myself again and I’ll find my path. With that in mind, let’s get searching. 

 

I’m finally in a job where I can be happy about what I do, even though it’s still a means to an end. I’m working in a pub and club in my home town. The pub is actually somewhere I really enjoyed spending time before I even considered working there. It’s somewhere that I have a lot of faith in and respect very much. Live music every weekend, pub quizzes, karaokes, team events. There’s not a single day in the week that doesn’t have something going on and I feel privileged to be able to work at any one of these events. To serve the customers who come in, whether they’re regulars or new faces. That is really saying something, considering that 6 months ago I would have said that I loathe working in the service industry. I feel content with my working life… well, in terms of the work itself. 

 

You see, I’m not getting enough hours in my job to stay afloat financially. This has caused a lot of money worries, which has led to stress, which has led to anxiety and depression… and that is where I regret stopping my writing the most. If I had kept writing, maybe these last few months would have been so much easier to handle. Maybe I would have been able to keep things in perspective. Except, I couldn’t keep perspective and that’s why I feel lost. 

 

Shortly after I stopped writing, I decided I would do something with my life academically. Educate myself in an area where I would be happy, not just earning money but making a difference in the world. I decided that area would be science; specifically, astrophysics. I took a step back to figure out what fascinated me and filled me with wonder. I felt like such an idiot that I hadn’t thought of it before, as it was staring me in the face: I’ve always been fascinated by space, planets, galaxies, the universe and how all of it works. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to discover other worlds, discover how this universe works and discover why things we have observed in space are there.  

 

When I realised what direction I wanted to take, I set about signing up for a course through the Open University. I felt so driven to succeed. I would study at every opportunity that I could find. Well, somewhere along the way, I lost that drive. I fell away from it and into another one of my pits of despair, purely because of my financial situation. I found that I couldn’t afford internet, which was a major drawback in my studies. This eventually turned into a vicious cycle, as the more I fell away from my studies, the more guilty I felt and the more depressed I became. The further into my comfortably numb pit I fell. 

 

No more. I’ve taken stock of what’s been happening in my life and I’ve rediscovered my priorities. One of which is to write more and maintain my perspective. Of course, another priority is to make sure I stay the hell away from that pit as often as I can. It’s far too comfortable a place for one that is so dark and scary. It’s a dangerous place, that could very well destroy my ambitions. 

 

Well, you know what’s been going on recently in my life. I’d very much like to know how you all are doing. My dear blogging buddies. The ones who believed in me and helped me through some of my darkest times. Pop up and say hi again. Although, I will understand if you’d rather let this pass you by, given that I just disappeared. 

 

As always, Love and Peace. 

 

Duncan 

Blindsided: My Depression Snuck Up On Me

The past few months have been very strange for me. I have had ups and downs, the way I normally do; however, I haven’t noticed the ups and downs as easily as I usually can. As I write this, it has only just dawned on me that I have basically been so depressed these past few months that I have been blind, even to the very thing that was blinding me: my mental health.

 

Broken

Being blind to my mental health, while it may at first glance seem to be liberating or even preferable over obsessing about mental health, is actually quite a terrifying notion. Coming to realise how blind I have been has awoken a terror in me that I haven’t felt before. I suddenly realise that I have been drifting through life with no real aim. I can now see that I have been neglecting self-care and I have just been on autopilot for so long. I can barely remember what I’ve done over the past few months. How did I get here? It’s almost as if I’ve skipped a portion of my life. There has been action and consequence and my life has changed in many insignificant ways but I don’t know or understand why it has changed because I can’t remember any of the actions or consequences that have taken place. I think that is the most terrifying part, as change is already a scary notion at the best of times; however, not understanding the change makes it all the more scary. This blindness and inability to remember or understand has made me feel broken, in the sense that I am not functioning the way that I should be. I want to fix myself but the task seems so monumental that I don’t know where to begin.

 

Writing

There was a period of time when writing was something about which I was passionate. One of the consequences of being so blind to my mental wellbeing has been neglecting writing. This is something else that scares me. If my brain can cut something that I enjoy so much out of my life without me even realising it, what else is it capable of doing to me? I love writing more than I ever thought I would so why did I dismiss it so willingly? I can’t imagine a version of myself that would do something like that. It isn’t me so who am I? I must be honest, I am tearing up as I write these questions because I can’t fathom the answers and it’s terrifying me. Hopefully writing this post will help me sort the muddle of thoughts in my brain and I’ll be able to understand what is going on.

 

Music

Music is a huge part of my life and it always has been. I have memories of music going as far back as when I was a baby, not even 1 year old. The thing is, though: I haven’t enjoyed music much, if at all during this period of being broken. This is another thing that I love so dearly which has been crushed and almost obliterated by my depression. I read other people’s stories of depression and quite often I can’t relate because of one thing: music. People say that music saved them from their depression because they would lose themselves in their favourite songs or albums or with their favourite bands or artists. I have never been able to lose myself in music when I am depressed because my depression takes music away from me. I really wish that it was different and music helped me when I’m feeling low but it just doesn’t. Even playing my guitar doesn’t interest me when I’m depressed and that is something which I have been doing since I was 8 years old. I need music in my life so why am I so readily giving it up? I don’t think I will ever know the answer to that question.

 

What to Do Now?

Well, what am I to do now? I feel like my life has passed me by in such an extraordinary way. I failed to recognise that I have been in a depression for months. This has scared me and I don’t know right now what I can do. I guess writing this is the first step. I will figure it out eventually but right at this moment, I feel lost; more lost than I’ve ever been in my life. At least, that’s how it feels to me right now.

With all of this being said, my head does now feel a little clearer. I can remember why I started blogging in the first place and I hope I have it in me to continue. The most important thing to me is my mental health and the mental health of others. Breaking the stigma is still very much my goal, I just seemed to forget that recently. Now, that thought has broken my heart. I hope I never forget it again.

An Open Letter: To Everybody Who Has Reached Out to Me

To those who have helped me,

 

I have been using Twitter regularly ever since I started writing. Sometimes this was just to vent about something which was bothering me at any given moment; sometimes it was to promote blog posts that I thought people may enjoy or appreciate. In any case, I have made so many new friends since I started Tweeting and blogging.

 

Of the friends that I have made, I appreciate most of all of the people who have reached out to me when I was in a bad place. Whether I had been silent and you sent a message to check on me or if you have picked up on any of my cries for help and reached out, I want you to know that I appreciate this to no end. The fact that you have reached out to a stranger online shows me that you have a good heart and your intentions are pure. To me, that is a wonderful thing and it restores some of the faith I once had in humanity.

 

I am still struggling with my mental health and I know that I still have a tendency to retreat when things get rough; however, I do eventually remember that you all are there for me. I hope that you don’t take it personally when I don’t reach out, as you have all reminded me time and time again that you are only a message away. It is difficult to talk when I am in my darkness and I can’t always reach out.

 

After all that you have done for me in these last 7 months, I hope that I will be able to repay the favour. I hope that I can do something for each of you to show my gratitude. From the bottom of my heart, I feel like anything that I do won’t be good enough but I want to try. If there is something that you need help with or if you are struggling at all, please drop me a message and I will do anything that I can.

 

Thank you all again so much for your kindness, for being so pure and for making me feel like I matter during a time when I felt worthless. You have a special place in my heart.

 

Duncan

 

Love and Peace