Day 97 – Reflections on Lock-Down

posted in: Stories | 1

Today has been a lazy day!  I was up early for my fortnightly meditation group then spent most of the day, lying on the sofa watching films!  I re-subscribed to Disney+, so been watching Disney films 🙂

Honey and I didn’t ventured any further than the graveyard for 3 walks today!

Has been really nice to have a relaxing day.

Today, I wanted to talk about the impact lock-down has been on student’s.  My friend Jennie, who I nominated to do the ’25 Day Push-Up Challenge’, posted something a few days ago, that really moved me – she graduated from her undergraduate degree this year from St. Andrews University.  Until I read, what she wrote, it had not really hit me, how many students will have been affected by lock-down.

She said I could share what she wrote, it really touched me and made me cry:

 

“I was feeling really down today and almost decided not to upload today’s video and just do two tomorrow because I didn’t feel up to facing social media.  But the whole point of this is to raise awareness for mental health and so I thought it was important to keep going and share this with you.

Yesterday should have been the day of my graduation ceremony.  Under normal circumstances, this whole week would have been filled with celebrations with family, friends, classmates and lecturers – all the people who have made the last 4 years of my life so special.  It would have been a time to celebrate the memories we made, the things we achieved, the friendships formed, and the places we are going next.  This week would have been the week that I closed the door on my life in St Andrews, said goodbye to the town and the people that had become like family to me, and moved on with excitement to the next stage in my life.  Instead, I got a small handful of goodbyes three months premature, received a single email confirming my degree outcome, still don’t fully know what my circumstances will be next year, and spent the day alone in my room.

Needless to say, the contrast between expectation and reality left me feeling pretty blue. Today my mind was focused on what I had lost. I was wallowing; mourning the abrupt, premature end to my time in St Andrews, and the final year experiences and memories that had been taken away from me.  But instead I should have been focusing on all the things that I have gained.

These last 4 years have seen me make some truly amazing friends (people who I genuinely cannot imagine my life without now) and achieve some amazing things.  During my degree, I discovered a passion for a culture (and its music, history, places and people) that I used to just take for granted, and realised more about my sense of identity and what makes me happy than I would have thought possible.  I went on some mad adventures around Scotland and met some lovely and interesting people, as well as a few fabulously wacky mavericks.  I performed at the Scottish parliament (twice) with some wonderfully talented musicians.  I carried out research which culminated in a published abstract with my very own name on it.  I had the pleasure of being part of a society which has come to mean so much to me and got to watch it grow and flourish, seeing it awarded Best Society this year.

And I GRADUATED.  With an upper second class BSc in Biochemistry.

Everything might feel a bit lacklustre just now but we achieved a great deal.  I know many people will be in similar situations, where they have been unable to celebrate their big life events during lockdown with friends and family (be they graduations or weddings or births).  But, while we can’t all celebrate together just yet, there will be the chance to in the future.  We’re on our way out of the woods now and things are getting better!

I’m here if you ever want a chat, virtual hug, drink, rant etc and I’d love to see other 2020 graduates joining me in this 25 day challenge. Solidarity and congratulations! We did it! 🥳🎓”.

 

I think back to my graduation from Dundee University, not only the few weeks leading up to it, but in fact the whole course was leading up to graduation – such a massive loss without.  There must be 1000s and 1000s of students going through this.  Many who are maybe feeling really alone and no one to talk to.

Although, I have read in the news and heard stories of what people have lost from lock-down, it wasn’t until I read Jennie’s words that it really hit me.  Really hit my heart.  It made me cry to think she was alone in her room for her ‘Graduation’.

Realising that lock-down is not just the 97 days we have experienced (so far), but all the many things people have lost along the way – my nephew was unable to take his GSCEs and say good-bye as he left his school (with only 2 days notice); or being with a partner as they gave birth to their first child; or attending a funeral of a family member, friend or loved-one; or shielding for weeks and weeks; or losing your job – just to name a few.  Or having a hug, human touch, a kiss, making love.

The psychological impact of lock-down on people is massive!  We also have been living for weeks and weeks not knowing how long it would go on for and now the fear of the economy collapsing and a second wave.

This article in The Guardian talks about the increase of mental health problems since lock-down – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/may/16/uk-lockdown-causing-serious-mental-illness-in-first-time-patients

The article describes an increase in psychosis, mania, alcoholism, self-harm and suicide.  Many people who have not experienced mental health problems before.  A quote from the article:

“One woman rang us recently and said her partner was walking around their house like a zombie because he wasn’t working and couldn’t provide for the family and had just snapped”.

Most people I have spoken to about lock-down have said they have struggled.

I fear that just because lock-down is now easing, the psychological impact will continue for many months, it not years to come.

I chose to share this today and Jennie’s words, as I think it’s really important that we help each other at this time of lock-down.  Just because, lock-down is easing, does not mean that we can all return to our “normal lives”.  I hope it will bring you all some empathy on what so many people have/are experiencing.

I certainly, am finding lock-down easing very unsettling at the moment.

Thanks Jennie for allowing me to share your words, it’s a really important issue for us all to be aware of.  We need to break the barriers and stigma of mental health, it’s O.K. if we are not coping and crucial that we are all willing to be open, listen and help others.



Poetry Corner

Another poem by myself, written during my mental health training.

This is a slightly strange poem.  During coffee, in the mid-morning break, a fellow student, Al, described how he has had lots of accidents in his life and near misses with death.

We discussed that perhaps a long distant relative was a Cat ?!?!?  Or maybe HE is actually a cat, just disguised as a human.

Whilst sitting in the next lecture, trying to stay awake, I decided to write this poem.

The Cat

Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow,
My name is Al and I’m a busy cat.
It takes three hours when I get up,
To disguise myself, not like a cat.

Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow,
My name is Al and I’m no ordinary cat.
I’ve learnt to speak the human twang,
So now one knows, that I’m, a cat.

Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow,
My name is Al and I’m a lucky cat.
I’ve been operated, runover, attacked by a dog,
Yet here I am, without, a scratch.

Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow,
My name is Al and I’m a happy cat.
I sleep in the day, meet friends at night,
Please to be alive, as, The Cat.

 



Readers Corner

After reading yesterday’s blog, Susi shared some things I didn’t know about Arthur’s Seat.  I also did a bit of my own research on Arthur’s Seat a couple of days ago, so will put it all together in the next day or so, as a special edition all about Arthur’s Seat!

I was planning on doing the special edition today, but as I haven’t actually been to Arthur’s Seat today, with no photos to share, I have decided not to.

So if you have anything to share about Arthur’s Seat, please do send to me.

 

It Made Me Smile

My sister, Anna sent this just as I was starting my blog, so it made it in.  She said it made her smile 🙂  Thanks for that Anna!

 

Also videoing Day 11 of my Twenty-Five Day Push-Up Challenge made me laugh!  Check it out below 🙂

 

Twenty-Five Day Push-Up Challenge

Day 11 of the Twenty-Five Day Push-Up Challenge!  Honey was keen to be in on the camera too 🙂

It’s not often that I am down at her level and when we do it outside she is sniffing out animals, etc…

This is also made me laugh 🙂

 

 



As I come to the end of today’s blog, I feel touched that Jennie was able to post her words on Facebook and allowed me to share them here.  It’s important that we all remember that there is nothing shameful about finding life hard, neither is it to talk about it.

Today has been cold and cloudy.  This evening, it was really windy.  I am not sure if it was like that all day as I wasn’t outside much.

It’s been a great day of relaxing and doing very little.

I would encourage any of you who notice someone looking a bit down, low in energy or fed-up, to ask them if they are O.K. and that they seem a bit down.  It is often when we are having a hard time, that we find it hard to tell anyone.  Often we have lost connection with ourselves, others and the world – so by simply seeing that someone cares about us can be so powerful and help us so much.

We need break the barriers and stigma of mental health, it’s O.K. if we are not coping, its O.K. to talk about it and crucial that we are all willing to be open, listen and help others.

Thanks for reading.

Jim xx

 

  1. Graham

    Hi Jim
    You seem to have quite a bent for writing poetry. Have you ever thought of collecting your verses together in a book ?
    Graham

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