HELLO LOCKDOWN MY OLD FRIEND.
What an entire sh*tshow 2020 has been. There’s no beating around the bush here – it’s been dire. As if a world ravaged by a virus hasn’t been enough of a challenge, we’re all on tenterhooks waiting for election results, James Bond has died and terror attacks are being thrown in for good measure. So I’m sure you can all join me in saying, what the entire f*ck is going on here. I don’t know – to be honest, I haven’t had much of a clue since I returned home/got stuck at home in March. I don’t even want to talk about my backpacking experience right now – it seems boring, not topical and like a dream to me. Whilst I was away, I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing but for some reason that seemed okay? Now that I’m home, I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing (much like the rest of the world) but for some reason, that seems NOT okay to me. Why should it be any different? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because when there’s nothing to do, you overthink EVERYTHING else. Every feeling, every emotion, every thought seems exaggerated.
Now, I’m not going to write about the ‘Top tips to get through lockdown’ or ‘How to cure your Depression during lockdown’ or ‘Do these five things and you’ll be less anxious’ or ‘Eating disorder? WHAT eating disorder?’ like some of the blogs I follow because quite frankly I find that annoying. I don’t think writing about how to ‘cure’ any of these things is actually remotely helpful – in fact, the more blog posts that appear in my inbox suggesting this kind of stuff, the more pissed off I get. They’re all sponsored by companies, ads, and I feel like they’re jumping on the mental health bandwagon in order to get likes. I haven’t read anything yet that makes me think ‘wow – you really get it’. I’ve instead come away feeling like the woman didn’t have a clue what she was saying but I really did like the company she was advertising. I’ll be the first to say – I don’t know how to cure this sh*t, or make it better because there’s not one magical ‘thing’ that makes it all go away – there’s just communication, real-ness and relentless hard work – which social platforms seem to lack much of the time, even when they’re trying their best to be ‘open’. So instead, I’ll just talk about what helped and continues to help me through this weird-ass time, and hopefully, if someone is struggling, it may help them too.
Oh that overused ol’ word. ACCEPTANCE. BLUGH. It should be such a simple thing – it is not a simple thing.
I write a lot about Depression and Anxiety. I don’t write so much about the perils of suffering from I guess you would say an eating disorder – mainly because I’ve never associated with that word. It was whilst watching Freddy Flintoff’s documentary on Bulimia that I obviously felt triggered – because that was a regular habit and continues to be a thought I battle with. I’m not going to lie – it’s hard to not listen to the voices that tell you you’re huge and that you should be sick to feel better. During lockdown, I’ve been eating galore, baking galore and not going crazy on the exercise – which has been both relaxing and also angst-inducing. I used to either exercise too much or purge – now I do neither – but the thoughts can remain, like they have a few days ago. I guess what I’ve learnt now is to accept they’ll be there, not to fight them, but to let them chill out, without acting on them. It’s not to say I don’t look at these skinny photos and wish I didn’t look like this now, but more accepting it wasn’t a happy period and nor was it a mentally healthy period for me either. I’m also trying my hardest to not focus on the physical and more on what’s inside. I’m trying hard to love my shape, to be thankful my body can fight (hopefully) viruses, colds, infections – and whatever else the world wants to throw at me – and to treat myself like I treat other people. Would I ever look at a person and be like “YO THUNDER THIGHS WASSUPP?!” – No. Would I converse with someone and marvel at their infectious personality? Their warmth? Their kindness? Yes. Would I be friends with someone based entirely on what they look like? No. Would I be friends with someone based on themselves as a person? Yes. So in essence? Why treat myself any differently to someone else? If I’m not judging a person on their looks, and instead on their authenticity, why the heckin’ heck am I being such a harsh bi-atch on myself? Also, I’m sorry – but in the future, I would also like someone to love me for my personality and body later – and anyone who judges a woman purely based on their looks can jog the f*ck on. I post these photos as a constant reminder of how good I felt (98% of the time) when I wasn’t overthinking about food and when I DID think too much about food and how unhappy I was.
Talk to someone
I gained a lot of confidence and respect for myself by being honest to people whilst travelling. Whether it was telling someone I felt depressed which was the reason I couldn’t join the latest Thai bar crawl (special thanks to Julie for not making me feel embarrassed about it!), telling someone if I felt an Anxiety attack coming on or speaking about feeling like a whale stranded on a beach because I’d eaten so much food – and thus in turn listened to my friend Phil talk about his experiences with Bulimia too. It made me feel a lot better. So, when I’ve felt urges to do something stupid? I’ve told my best friends. It breaks the pattern of feeling isolated and lonely.
If you don’t feel like you can open up easily to friends or family you know, then SHOUT is a great service – free, confidential and available 24/7 when you text SHOUT to 85258. They’ve helped me a few times just to breathe and get back into a more rational headspace. You can also speak to BEAT if you struggle with disordered eating too. MIND also provides useful documents to read on their website.
Lol. I’m writing this and I’m telling you, currently? I have NO routine. I can’t sleep for one. I’ve spent a few days chatting to my temporary housemates about how much I just cannot switch off. I’ve tried everything. Going to bed earlier? Check. Reading a book? Check. Meditating? Check. Breathing? Check. Thinking about how I’m going to conquer the world? CHECK, CHECK, BLOODY CHECK. Above all? The main thing is when I get to bed early, I get really excited like THIS IS THE MOMENT GUYS AND GALS. THIS IS THE GREAT SLEEP MOMENT WHERE I SHALL BE IN A DEEP SLUMBER FOR A FULL 9 HOURS. And then, no sh*t Sherlock, I toss and turn until 3am. So I’m doing this thing where I’m going to FORCE myself up early – even if I’m a zombie. I’m going to try and go to bed at a similar time every night – and try to incorporate more exercise, and less screen time. Getting out of the house can feel like an effort but it’s good to get some sunlight, before you know, it gets dark at like 1pm. Who knows if that’ll help – but I’m trying. What’s your routine? I would lurrrrve to hear.
Face masks, bubble baths, make yourself an exciting, fresh smoothie (yeah, going all out here), look at cocktail recipes to make (opposite end of the spectrum but mm, espresso martinis), yoga routines, make a new recipe, bake a cake, buy a new book, splurge on a new top, make yourself up one day, have a nice shave – WHATEVER YOU WANT. Do something new. There’s not much else we can do but make the best of a surreal situation.
SEE PEOPLE SOCIALLY DISTANCED WITH A MASK, OUTSIDE, 2M AWAY
I don’t know what other restrictions there are about seeing people. I’m sure there’s more, but I feel like it’s really important to maintain a degree of social interaction in whichever way you can. Meet friends, at a specific time, outside for a walk. Choose new parks, choose new woodlands – grab that environmentally-friendly coffee cup and get a-walking. If THAT doesn’t tickle your fancy, I’ve also found that meeting with your housemates/brothers/sisters/whoever you live with, at a certain time, to watch a film/documentary is something nice to look forward to. I’ve just started Black List with my brother – woohoo – and after my isolation ends in Winchester (long story, I’ll write about it another time) I’m looking forward to continuing our Netflix nights with popcorn and homemade banana bread, because in case you didn’t know from my basic Instagram stories, I am queen of banana bread.
That’s me done. Keep safe out there guys.
Over and out xx