Hermit Life

Every few months I realise I haven’t written here for a while and it annoys me. Still, there’s no point in making promises to write every few days because life just doesn’t happen like that. Unless you are a professional blogger that is. Then the priortity is to write often.

Here I find myself completely and utterly done with lockdown. It’s easing here in Scotland, little by little. The hope being that the vaccine has worked and we won’t go into a third wave.

The other day I was looking out the window at the sky, blue and beautiful. Spring is around, the bees are buzzing. And we are a year into something that was meant to last a few weeks.

A thought crossed my mind, I just want to sit in a pub with a glass of wine and watch the football on the big screen. That or sit in a beer garden bathed in sunshine. Also with a glass of wine.

It’s not that I need to have the alcohol, it would just be a nice thing to do. The idea. I then realised that for the last year I have only twice been outwith what I would consider the four walls of our community. I realised that I am sick to the back teeth of the same walks, the same views.

It’s a toll on the mental health, I’ve realised that. It becomes boring and then I don’t want to do it. So the circle gets smaller. Why go to the big supermarket when the local one can basically give you what you need?

I was out on an errand the other day and bumped into a friend. We started talking about it. She asked me where I was going and I said the chemist and we both started off in some type of comedy duo-like back and forth about how this was a big day out. I pointed out I need to go and buy milk as well and off we went again. Two shops in the one morning. Big day out.

Then we started talking about what we’re not doing. Months ago I made the decision to wear my make up and perfumes as usual and get dressed every day like I was going to be going out. It was a good decision because it meant spending time on myself. And we should always spend time on ourselves, that is very important. The closure of hairdressers and other beauty places may seem like a small thing for many people but when your mental health depends on small boosts, it means a lot.

It might seem crazy to get all made up and spray yourself with your expensive perfume just to go to Sainsburys for a meal deal but when you’re in lockdown when do you get dressed up if you don’t do it for that? I’ve never been one for slogging about in joggers and I wasn’t about to start for the sake of lockdown. The mascara went though. Until I found myself looking in the mirror at someone who was not me. People will say that I don’t need mascara. I do. I need it. Because it helps me feel better about how I look.

Both of us are great readers and by this time last year I had read about ninety books already. I was working my way through the local libraries full collection of Muriel Sparks books and I still have half of the books in my house waiting to be returned to a service that I don’t think will ever be returned to us.

This year I have read some books but probably only about ten, if that.

My friend is that same. We share books, often buying a large amount at once and then sending them between each other to read and pass on to other avid readers. Now both of us have piles of books that threaten to topple at any moment not one having been read.

It’s now that I realise that lockdown as massively affected my mental health and of those around me. This time last year powering my way through books was a given, everyone knew how much I preferred them to the television. This year I can hardly concentrate on a magazine and even a film is challenging. A couple of nights ago I watched a film that was just 90 minutes long and it took me about three hours to watch thanks to having to rewind it constantly to reaffirm what was going on.

I’m also very done with not being at the football. I didn’t realise how much it meant to me to be sitting in Easter Road in the midst of winter, freezing cold and moaning about the chips not being ready. And this is coming from someone who remembers the season of no chips.

As we slowly open up again it is hard to imagine just being free to do as we please. It seems like we are, I go to the park with el doggo and sometimes a bit further afield. I haven’t been to the beach in a year and it’s part of this great city in more location that one.

I know a lot of people walk there and I could too, with only one issue that comes to me through my anxiety – where do I pee?

Going there isn’t an option when there is nowhere to reassure yourself that you aren’t going to lose your stomach. Anxiety sufferers will know what I mean.

I haven’t been offered the vaccine yet, the parents have both had their first doses, and I grow less sceptical about it as each day goes by. Yet I still don’t take the flu jab as I don’t believe I need it and I dont’t think I need this COVID jab either, but everyone else seems to think it’s the way out so maybe I’ll just take it anyway and be a good girl.

What I am ultimately saying is that recovery from this pandemic is going to be incredibly hard on mental health. I haven’t read the suicide figures for these last few weeks. I know they will be higher than normal for this time of year. Imagine there being a normal figure in the first place.

This last weekend I hit rock bottom and I have to say, yet again, the Samaratins are one of the most wonderful organisations on this earth. Talk to them. If you think you have no one to talk to, talk to them, then you’ll find out that you always have someone to talk to.

This last year has been horrific. I didn’t think so until I let myself think about it. You should let yourself think about it. Not because I want people to feel bad, far from it. It’s time to come out of the hermit state we’ve become and explore again.