I wrote this on the 10th April roughly five weeks ago, but didn't know when or even if I would share it. Then deciding how to do it but here we go...
It feels weird writing this given what a tough time the world is having right now but for once we are all in it together and should take some comfort in that. Since the outbreak began we have continually seen how people have come together and done amazing things, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Be it supporting neighbours, reconnecting with old friends or simply all of the donations and love given to the NHS, to name a few. It has been genuinely heartwarming to see! For me week one was all about Houseparty, week two was zoom and week three tiktok, but everyone has their own way of dealing with it and there’s no right or wrong I’m just sharing some thoughts from my experience and hopefully giving a positive spin on a tough situation that some may relate to and others may not, which as Ross from Friends would say is ‘FINE’!
It’s fair to say no one saw this coming, well at least not to the degree we’ve experienced but the response has been epic. For once it is nice to read something genuinely optimistic to come from all the sadness and madness, as it only takes reading one paper or spending two minutes on twitter to see everything that is wrong with the world.
Events, jobs and most crucially lives and have been lost and I’m not underplaying the severity of that but there are other things going on here.
Everyone has their things or baggage and one of mine is my whole adult life all I've want is to be 15 again and do it all over again, which may sound odd and like a nightmare to some but each to their own and that feeling right now is stronger than even before, which I need to figure out why and now is the time. It’s unlikely we will ever go through something like this again and that’s worth acknowledging. Never will we be able to really check in with ourselves, have time to reflect, escape everything that the modern world has out there to tempt and distract us. If you embrace that it’s pretty incredible and terrifying.
I’m the last person I’d think of to write something like this and use phrases like ‘check in with ourselves’ but during this time and just before I realised how important that was and I’m so glad I have. By no means can I or will I try speak for everyone because we are all going through different things but I’ll look back on this period with fond memories despite the shitshow going on around us.
My isolation period has been spent in central London with my dad, we’ve had to stay away from my mum who is in the country because of previous health issues she is very much in the high risk category so we couldn’t risk that. Nearly two years ago to the day she contracted a normal bug that due to her immune system turned into double pneumonia and it really was touch and go for a while, so much so I nearly boarded a plane to Australia to join my sister and dad who were by her side. I’m so grateful I didn’t have to but it made me very aware of the severity of this illness. I’m heading home now, to spend time with my mum. It’s been a month apart which has been brutal especially feeling totally hopeless when she is really in need. But we’ve managed thanks to daily updates mainly revolving around how she is going with a new piece of tech she can’t work. We will do two weeks of waving to each other from opposite ends of the garden once I get back to be totally safe and then that will be it and I can’t wait to just give her a hug.
Alongside mum, my dad is my other hero. You can’t have met anyone more generous, dedicated or hard working in your life. Like mum he absolutely cheated death but has come out of it so much stronger. When I was 10, he had an illness that kept him in hospital for 9 months and requiring a snazzy new metal heart. Thankfully he’s got through this period with just the one scare as his immune system is always improving no matter how much he tests it with long lunches and minimal sleep. We have a great relationship but it’s fair to say it revolves around sport. In these last four weeks there has been none of that and we’ve more than managed. Him working in the kitchen and me in the lounge. Me sitting editing and him pacing about trying to rescue portfolios which have inevitably been hit during this period.
My dad is not domesticated, there’s not a bone in his body that knows about household chores. I’ve found tin foil in the fridge, yoghurt on the side and more microwaveable meals than a Tesco express. But we’ve managed. His cooking repertoire only consisted of pork chops, sausages and bacon before this month but we’ve added pasta, soup and even a roast to that list. His washing up skills haven’t improved but the willingness to do it is always there and I even got him to get a wash on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no God in these fields, but compared to him I am. We’ve spent every night together discussing interesting topics, watching thought provoking shows or just doing our own thing but doing it together. I’m incredibly grateful for the time we’ve had and fully aware it may not happen again. We will go back to touring hard all over the globe, which is my favourite thing to do, but it will be different now and have changed for the better.
As those closest to me know I entered this strange period in a bad way that I don’t need or want to go into detail really, talking about emotions isn’t my strong suit but I recognised that and am trying to improve. To say the start of the year, and decade, has been tough would be an understatement. I’ve had to deal with an unresolved illness that’s had me in and out of hospital, a death in the family, another member of the family with severe health issues, being attacked on the tube with death threats leading to plenty of time in the police station, other relationship issues and to top it off we somehow got mites and bedbugs which have bitten my skin like it’s their chew toy. I’m not looking for sympathy whatsoever as I know how very fortunate I am but I was a bit scared going into lockdown. I’d just started to realise mental health is a real issue for me like it is many and no matter how embarrassing I find discussing it that I need to speak to someone, so I did and he’s wonderful. Like with everything I do it’s all or nothing so needs to be in person which isn’t possible right now but knowing the progress made already is more than enough to help me for whatever future challenges come, which I’m sure they will.
Who knows why I felt the need or desire to write this, sure I’m very active in sharing my life but not this side, not the ‘real’ side in a way. Some people will skip through it and think ‘not again’, others will no doubt think it’s the ‘attention seeking’ side of me coming out and that’s fine too. I got made aware I spend my whole life trying to please people. Be it through stupid content, organising holidays or just being there for a friend and that won’t change, I do those things for me just as much as I do for others because I enjoy it and I love making people happy by trying to spread some joy. Right now I’m doing all those things 10 times over and it’s fulfilling. Without isolation it wouldn’t be happening. I know it’s a testing time with real highs and lows but for anyone who needed to read something positive then hopefully this helps. If you’re struggling then talk, the more we do the more normal it becomes and everyone struggles at one point, it’s normal.
I’m by no means a writer like my wonderful sister who hasn’t got a mention yet but has had to go through all of this drama tens of thousands of miles away in Australia and she’s bloody strong for doing that. We fight a bit but there’s always a shed tonne of love and respect there too. She has the most amazing way with words and will be so angry I didn’t send this to her as it is undoubtedly littered with spelling and grammatical errors but that makes it a bit more real I guess, as ever just expressing myself with little to no filter and that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon.
This piece is way longer than I thought it would be but as we all know I can talk. It will also be all over the shop, which again is on brand, but essentially what I’m trying to say in a very round about way is this period in our lives will be unforgettable but you can make some of those memories that are going to stay with us really positive. We can’t do anything about what is going on out there except for stay in here. So do just that, challenge yourself, take up a new skill, chat to someone you’ve not for ages and embrace it. I have, many others have as well and it actually feels good. If you’ve made it to the bottom then congrats, and I hope it brought some comfort, if it did then great. If it didn’t then that’s fine too, but know either way whoever you are reading this, I’m around for a chat and would love one, I always do. It will be more than enough if just one person feels a little bit better after reading it, that’s the goal.
I would never tell anyone how to live their lives or how to feel. Not just because I’m probably not the best role model but that just isn’t right or fair. All I’m saying is if you are feeling a bit hopeless, scared and lost then take a breathe, have a step back and look for a positive in your life that you may or may not have appreciated before all of this happened. You will find one, it will feel great and there will be more.
THIS LOCKDOWN/ISOLATION PERIOD ISN'T ALL THAT BAD - CONTINUED!
So you're all caught up, if you've made it this far then well done. Just 9264 characters to this point. I'm actually really glad I didn't post that at the time, it felt good to write it after a few weeks of lockdown but we are much further down the line now and things have clearly changed for all.
In my world I was furloughed shortly after writing that until October 31st and I still don't know how I feel about it. When telling people they say sorry and get awkward but I'm not sure why. You get 80% salary to legally not work, given that I work in media and IMG it is fair to say the money isn't huge so I'm not majorly effected by it and given what I said above it came at a great time. The first few weeks were really great, I am good at keeping myself busy, mainly because I hate the alternative. Not only to keep myself busy but also to try put some smiles on others faces who follow me with some lipsync videos and I've had some messages saying just that, which is actually wonderful. In addition I am allowed to do some freelance work on the side whilst this situation tries to resolve itself and it was a good way to get some work out there to potential employers, hence this jazzy new website that will hopefully be completed at some point when the motivation returns.
Those last three words are crucial, the motivation has gone. It was inevitable that it would happen at some point and it just takes a few small things to trigger me and likely others. To be honest I went from regular panic attacks and waking up extremely sad without knowing why every single morning to feeling great for 49 days in a row and that was whilst in lockdown. It'll come back but there are things stopping it right now:
1) WORK: There will be redundancies at work and I have my dream job right now so god forbid that goes, but it is out of my control so what will be, will be and I'm a real believer in things do happen for a reason but you can't always see that at the time. Maybe it'll give me an opportunity to try something new that I always wanted to, such as acting or writing. I hate that in life you can't try everything and pick what you love. Be it with schools, universities, jobs - everything.
2) PEOPLE: I really miss people, it's good to learn to be good alone but I'm shite at it. Parents have been amazing but it isn't always the same and I can't wait to just sit in a park, two metres from a friend and chat total unadulterated rubbish.
3) TV: Until now I hadn't watched any TV really but now deep-diving into some series and one of those shows is Normal People. That should come with a warning, I know it is just a show but it hit home on so many occasions, thanks to the unreal acting. But undoubtedly it can get effect you and bring back memories then next minute on comes the sad but incredible Dermot Kennedy album again. Luckily 'The Last Dance' is a weekly relief and I've got my go-to classics like New Girl and The Office.
4) UNKNOWING: As for everyone when will it come to an end. Like many I live for plans, right now I'm supposed to be in Crete with 26 others for a Strangers holiday so it is tough to be in bed at 2pm on a Wednesday feeling sorry for myself but likely more healthy for my body so that is a positive at least. So lucky that I'm in the process of re-arranging that week as it is without a doubt my favourite every year and that is something to look forward to.
None of this is written to get any sympathy or feel sorry for me, again I probably said it above but I am so fortunate and I know that, plus I also know things will get better. It is more to let others who are feeling some or all of this that it's probably normal and totally okay. Keep your head up and talk to someone be it a friend, family member of professional. Take it from someone who hated the idea of that more than anyone you've met until earlier this year, it'll be worth it.
Right I'm officially done, sorry not sorry for the mini dissertation. Love to you all x