Day Nine: ‘It’s hard to admit you’ve had a bad day…’

Contributor: Sandie:

‘It’s hard to admit you’ve had a bad day…’ A Poem:

I’m incredibly lucky. Still working full-time
safely at home with a garden that’s mine.
Vitamin D breaks beside feline workmates
and deadlines to occupy quarantine dates.
I’m categorically not entitled to say 
I found it pretty tough going today.

Doctors and nurses deployed to the frontline
in a battle to save us, in a fight against time.
Five hundred thousand civilians say yes,
enlisting to bolster our ravaged NHS.
I have no command to fire negative shots
about isolation and losing the plot.

Elderly parents doing everything possible
to get through this “without causing trouble.”
Frightened. Frantically learning new rules,
firmly gripping a life no one wants to lose.
I drop off the stuff they can’t do without, 
go home feeling sick and just want to shout.

Essential workers help our nation survive
as food and deliveries continue to arrive, 
hoping latex gloves and tape on the floor
can keep them safe as we order yet more.
I only have thank yous and gratitude, 
to feel sorry for self just seems f***ing rude.

Day Five: ‘Social media groups can preserve and strengthen our communities – take the chance and feel the love’

Nothing up with WhatsApp right now…

Contributor: Sandie:

“Don’t tell them – they’ll probably want to sell up – but I actually LOVE my next-door neighbours. And next-door-but-one. Also next-door-but-two. The same for the other side and don’t get me started on those across the road. I love them all. 

My emotions appear to be running high. Last night me and the neighbours met fleetingly on the street, like lots did across the UK, to applaud our beloved NHS workers. We clapped and whistled – at doors, on garden paths and in opened windows – for those carrying out brave, selfless and crucial work on the frontline of this crisis. Also to each other, we waved and shouted “hello” and I felt, for a little while afterwards, that frosty isolation had been wrapped snugly in the warm embrace of community. 

At some point during this, I confess, a small salty tear MAY have slid silently down my cheek. Whether it’s down to an irrational, media-hyped fear of the virus taking us all out or simply the desperate lack of human contact, I sense that my emotions have the potential to properly embarrass me in the weeks ahead. 

We should all be prepared to have the odd isolation-induced emotional meltdown but, to get through such a thing with sanity intact, we mustn’t suffer it alone. That’s where ‘knowing the neighbs’ is going to help. I’m really lucky that there’s already a couple of WhatsApp groups on my road: a general one and another with more immediate neighbours – a brilliant way to ask about anyone not seen or heard from for a while and also the source of much funny stuff that keeps us smiling through the worst of the news. 

And when I admitted recently that something posted had actually scared the hell out of me and I felt pretty daft, neighbours jumped in to reassure that I wasn’t alone in this. If I hadn’t shared my fears and had them put into perspective by others, I’d probably be worrying about those fears still (only by now of course, left to do their own thing, they’d have magnified in my mind to gargantuan proportions). 

Social media groups like these are one way we can preserve and strengthen our communities and ourselves through the quarantine. If you get the chance to chat/laugh/share with neighbours, whether you knew them well previously or hardly at all, take the chance and feel the love”. 

Day Two: ‘Turns out Ocado is the dinner date that keeps you waiting for hours and then just punches you in the hungry face’

Contributor Sandie:

“So after last night’s ‘kinda lockdown but not quite’ instructions, I find myself flirting with the idea of online grocery shopping. Just to cut down the number of people at large in supermarkets – it seems the right thing to do.

I’ve always picked up groceries every few days on my lunch break in the city centre so never bothered to get involved online before. But the time has come for me to make this commitment and I’ve been attempting to set up online dates all week. The experience is doing nothing for my confidence…

Morrisons have totally played me. They toyed with my emotions, allowed me to peruse their goodies for over an hour and fill my cart with £127.50 worth of hope but then ghosted my request for a date. Every single option on the calendar was greyed out. I took it personally.

Sainsbury’s also knocked me back. They were harsh but, I guess, fairer. Told me they weren’t interested straight away. I took that on the chin – am guessing they’ve got a lot of interest already.

So with not much self respect left to lose, I start to make eyes at the home delivery big boys, Ocado. They teasingly tell me I’m number 2096 in a queue of 24,705 which, in my isolation-addled mind, sounds like pretty good odds. Yeah, I’m in with Ocado. I can almost taste their Waitrose Essentials artichoke hearts on my tongue. So I wait in that queue like a lovesick sap for FOUR HOURS – desperate for a wee, frantic for a chance to wash my hands so I could scratch the insane itch on my face, convinced I’d miss my chance if I dared to look elsewhere even for a few seconds…

Finally, thank you, I’m at the front of the queue. I’m gazing up at the screen with come-to-bed eyes (literally, coz it’s now almost 1am), my expectations are RAGING and Ocado says to me, “Unfortunately, new customer bookings will not be processed.” B@st@rd. Turns out Ocado is the dinner date that keeps you waiting for hours and then just punches you in the hungry face. Boris, I’m going to need to go out to Tesco.

Day One: ‘If you’d told me at Christmas that we’d all be scavenging through empty supermarkets now, I’d assumed you’d been on the gin’

Contributor: Sandie:

Empty supermarkets have been commonplace

“I feel like I’m over the crippling panic phase. The bit where anxiety was gnawing at and twisting my insides, eyes were constantly blurry with tears and I had to keep regulating my breathing. Perhaps I’m calmer because this is actually Isolation Day 15 for me and I’m slowly adapting…

As a creative agency, we’ve been geared up to work from home for a while so planned to isolate early. We all had elderly relatives we were worried about and felt well placed to help stop spread the virus. 

So already being 15 days in, and having parents who’d been self-isolating too, might also explain why I’ve felt a bit frustrated (ok, bloody grumpy) with so many people still on the streets. I need to remember this is new to many. It’s also a situation that none of us could ever have imagined (we’ve been very fortunate in the UK for the last 70 years). If you’d told me at Christmas that in three months time we’d all be scavenging through empty supermarkets for abandoned cans of soup and forbidden to have contact with other humans, I’d have just patted your arm and assumed you’d been on the gin. And the seeming insanity of our government’s initial strategy, the painfully-slow in-the-wrong-gear u-turn they are making on that strategy and the vague advice being given, surely isn’t helping.

I’ve stopped watching or reading news for a bit – am skimming headlines once a day in order to keep up. Not my usual MO – it’s important to stay informed – but with my monstrously big imagination and no one to bounce wild fears off every ten minutes, this currently feels like the only solution to getting through in as decent a mental state as I can. I’m not going to be much help to anyone else if I don’t.

However, while I feel relatively calm in my head, my body seems to have other ideas. Something new/weird/frankly a tad scary keeps happening. My throat tightens up and then closes. Like, completely closes so I can’t breathe. And then of course I start to panic. Am feeling completely well so I realise it’s just anxiety-related but, despite this understanding, it’s hard to stop it. Anyone else experiencing this? Tips on breathing/staying alive are welcomed!”