Back in April of this year (the suck-fest that is 2020), I wrote a blog-post called: Lockdown…how are YOU doing?

The post went over well, got a lot of hits and a bunch of comments and feedback, both here on the site and privately, too. Well, it’s been over six months since I wrote that, and it’s time to check back in and see how everyone is doing as we sit in the middle of our second lockdown.

These times are hard.

I’m not talking war-time living through the Blitz hard, but hard in ways that are sometimes difficult to put a finger on.

Of course, there are many people out there who are directly and obviously affected by the Covid19 pandemic. I’m thinking of those who have lost jobs, or have a shortage of money due to not working or being furloughed. I know that the self-employed have been hit particularly badly.

Yet, there are also many people who have been impacted in not so obvious ways. Subtle ways that never would occur to someone to be an issue.

In all honesty, for myself, the lockdown hasn’t been a problem. I can work remotely just as well as I did when I commuted to the office. Indeed, it’s better for me in many ways. I avoid the two-plus hours of being stuck on the M42 in my car every day…

Yes… THIS is the M42 (photo from Birmingham Mail)

…it saves wear and tear on my car, saves petrol, allows me to get more sleep, be home for the dog, cook dinner for the wife… I can’t complain.

But then… I’m somewhat of a hermit by nature.

Being on my own for long periods of time SUITS me down to the ground.

I like the quiet. I like doing stuff for myself. I’ve never been a social butterfly in that respect. The only things I miss are the cinema experience, and going out for dinner on occasion with Wifey or friends.

A LOT of people, however, don’t feel like that.

This period of social distancing – while necessary to protect the people we love – has been a painful experience.  

Humans, as animals, are very much a social bunch. We generally like to be around other people. To talk to people. It grounds us and gives us a sense of place. When you take something like that away from everyone, it can have serious repercussions.

Isolation is a horrible thing. Without someone at our side to help us move forward, sometimes it feels like we’re just going in circles. 

It used to be, back in the day, that people were encouraged to check in on old people that they may know live near them, especially those on their own. Just to give them some company. Make sure they don’t FEEL alone in the world, especially as the dark nights close in and winter takes hold of the days in its icy grip.

But shouldn’t we be saying the same about this period of lockdown isolation?

I’ve mentioned it before in other posts, but I’ve been a long time sufferer of depression and anxiety in the past. I’ve also weathered broken marriages, bad relationships and illness. I’ve also seen people take their own lives when they couldn’t handle the stress or anxiety any more.

Because of that, if I get a sense now that someone I’m in some way connected to, is suffering…I reach out and ask if they’re okay.

I know that most of these times the person I’m asking probably does have loved ones and close friends that they are leaning on to support them through these crappy times.

But…what if they don’t?

What if they ARE alone and isolated?

What if no one ever just pops them a message saying those OTHER three little words: “Are you okay?

I started suffering from anxiety and depression a long time ago, probably around 2005-ish. For me, it was money and work related. Most of the money issues were coming off the back of a divorce, which had broken my heart into tiny pieces too, which didn’t help. I’d got myself into a HUGE amount of debt and was anxious about being able to pay it off. I also hated my job, but felt trapped in it, which didn’t help.

I have GOOD friends. I do.

And those friends would have listened to me.

The problem is I wanted to be the lovely, wonderful, happy Jon that they all knew. I didn’t want to be miserable, teary Jon. There was a thread in my mind that if I was sad and depressing to be around, then no one would WANT to be around me. So, like a lot of people, I started to wear a mask in public. The one with the big ole smile on it. The one that says, “Yeah, everything is just fine! Now let’s have fun!”

But it WASN’T fine.

I hid it all. Bottled up my emotions until one day it broke me.

I had a huge breakdown at work with my colleague. It was her that encouraged me to go and see a therapist and to start talking about it. It was FANTASTIC advice. I also saw the doctor and got put onto meds briefly.

It took a long time to turn the corner, but I did.

Look at those three things that triggered me though…

Heartbreak

Money Issues

Job Woes

These are the three things that are probably hit by the current pandemic.

I know people out there who have lost their jobs, or are unable to perform their jobs because of the lockdown restrictions.

  • If you’re a gym instructor and the leisure centres are all closed?
  • What do you do if you’re an events photographer and there are no events?
  • If you’re a model and there are no shoots taking place?
  • If you’re a waiter/waitress and there are no restaurants open?
  • The list is ENDLESS!

As an adult, your job is also where you probably interface with the most people on a day to day basis. Where you have that contact with the rest of humanity. What do you do for daily conversation when the people you talk to aren’t there any more?

The job issue also comes hand in hand with the money issue. Whether you’re out of work altogether, or furloughed on a fraction of your wages, or maybe still working but on vastly cut down hours, money is a problem that’s not going away.

Indeed, while the Government has put plans in place to shore up the economy and keep things ticking over, and while banks are offering payment holidays, etc… what happens AFTER?

What happens if your business doesn’t pick up after the pandemic? Or you can’t find another job? I KNOW the stresses of wondering how you’re going to afford that next mortgage or rent payment.

It sucks.

And then there are our personal relationships.

A lot of people are finding themselves isolated with their significant others. While you CHOSE that person as your partner through thick and thin, spending your time locked up with them 24×7 is a wearing experience. If there is a flaw in the relationship, a chink in the armour, then this lockdown will find it.

Suddenly all those things about your partner that you found endearing, are now as irritating as fuck when you are spending all the hours of the day with them.

I’m seeing broken relationships becoming a theme lately.

All these things take a toll on a person’s mental health, and while there are some people out there who will openly seek out a friend to talk to, there are equally MANY people who won’t.

So, with all that said,

To those who are suffering…

Guys and gals, if you are out there and you are feeling like shit and you feel like you NEED to talk, but don’t want to…please just bite the bullet and reach out to someone. If that person is a good friend then they’ll listen to you. They WON’T make you feel like a burden, they won’t want or expect anything in return, and you might just find that it makes you feel better. I promise.

And to those who are okay, but might know someone who is giving signs they might be suffering…

Reach out. Just say ‘Hi’ and ask them how they really are. Even if they won’t talk straight away, try and engage them in conversation. Be that person who seeks to help someone. Sometimes even a few words to show someone that they are thought about and cared about can make all the difference in the world.

Be good to each other in these tough times.

Love & Books

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19 Comments

  1. LeoZ

    Reply

    Bravo for this post. Who would believe that we are still dealing with this pandemic? Our area is shutting down again! I’ve been pretty lucky in that I’m still working- “essential”. There are times when I wish I wasn’t so essential. Thanks for reminding us to reach out!

  2. Mitch

    Reply

    Broken relationships is what I’ve seen too. 2 of my close coworkers confided in me that they were thinking of divorce! Being on lockdown is really causing issues for some people. Thankfully my wife and I are growing closer.
    Thanks for checking in!

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      That’s good to hear, Mitch! 😀
      2020 has sucked in general for so many people so it’s great to hear that you’re doing well! 😀
      I can check you off my list! 😛 lol

  3. victuals

    Reply

    One’s heart, money, and livelihood. When one of these weaken, so does self-confidence. So much of our identity is tied into all of them being in decent shape, and Covid has rendered them vulnerable or shattered.

    Excellent post, Jon.

    • Wabi_Sabi

      Reply

      My work hours have really shrunk since my county’s first lockdown (I’m in the US). You’re right that you can’t help attaching your worth to your work. Please take care.

  4. Flashyf

    Reply

    I have read this just after hearing on the news that Rishi Sunak predicts the worst economic downturn in the UK for 300 years! And one million more jobs lost.
    Your post makes me realize that this means at least another one million people who might struggle mentally, not to mention those that depend on them. So you are right, Jon, those of us that are doing OK should be ready to help out.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Yeah, the economic recovery is going to be a steep one. This is the main reason why another lockdown is unlikely. The country couldn’t survive another prolonged one.
      As much maligned as the new Tier system is, I’m not sure I see a better alternative. To not lock down is going to lead to a higher death toll, to lock down will lead to economic disaster.
      I’m very glad I’m not in power right now.

  5. RaeY

    Reply

    Great timing for this post! We have an uptick in cases again here in the States. People are fighting with each other over the election. It’s a great time to check in on your friends and family. I hope 2021 is a lot better than 2020.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Yeah, it’s a tough old time all over. I forget that you guys over in the States also have the added issue of the Election fall out to deal with! Stay positive folks!! 😀

  6. Flashyf

    Reply

    There really is two sides to this dilemma. Most of the UK is now in tier 2 or tier 3, which will impact a lot of people, in regards to their livelihoods.
    On the other hand, the government believes it is a necessary measure to curb the rise in the virus.
    What is interesting is that some measures are being made law using “Emergency Powers.” Which makes you think hard about the reality of democracy. This could be food for thought for any politically minded writers out there.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      My friend Chell started to write a book regarding a pandemic before this whole Covid mess started. We talked a while back about whether she should carry on bearing in mind the current state of affairs, and I told her to forge ahead with it. There’s many stories already out there about virus outbreaks, and there will be many more.
      What makes it interesting now, is that writers for this kind of fiction have now LIVED through a pandemic, and know exactly what the world would do. I agree, I think it would make for some fascinating aspects to these kind of stories.

  7. Flashyf

    Reply

    Your friend should definitely finish the book she is writing. Unless she had the plot mapped out beforehand, I dare say that it might be influenced by the continuing crisis.
    Readers may find it hard to believe that she pre-empted the crises, which is unfortunate for her. It’s a pity the book wasn’t finished sooner!

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      I’m trying VERY hard to push her along with writing it! I think it’ll be awesome! 😀

    • LeoZ

      Reply

      I agree Flashy. It’s a pity the book was finished before this pandemic hit. Honestly I would never pick up a book right now about a pandemic and read it. Reading for me takes me away from the worries of the world. It would be like reliving the nightmare of this crazy pandemic.

      • victuals

        Reply

        I think I would get into reading about a pandemic, even now. Reading others’ present, past or future perspectives would help me process our situation.

  8. Demelza

    Reply

    I believe that psychologists recognize the fact that writers and artists are more likely to develop symptoms of depression than others. There are plenty of examples. Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, J.K. Rowling etc.
    This subject is covered in a book by Kay Redfield Jamison, called “Touched With Fire.”

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Well, I’m dreadfully uneducated on the subject, but I wonder if it has something to do with us being more in touch with emotional states than most people.
      My wife would say I’ve got a heart of stone, but I’ve brought myself to tears with my own writing. I’ve laughed at my own writing. Felt heartbroken about my own writing.
      I write from my characters point of view, and I get totally into the mindset when I write. I think that opens me up to the emotion of it all.
      At that point I think it would be VERY easy to fall into depression or anxiety.

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