Experiences of 2020

Megan - Social Care Worker

"Coronavirus has changed my life in a number of ways. Before lockdown I was a social care worker working in a respite facility for adults with additional support needs; I lived at home with my parents and brother; my free time was spent playing team sports, spending time with friends and family or out exploring Shetland's rugged coast; and I had had my last counselling appointment and was managing my mental health really well.

My workplace closed quite early on and we have been redeployed around various areas of adult services. I am now mostly working in care homes supporting the elderly. This is an area of care I had never imagined myself working in. I have never supported people with end of life care, but the fact that there are people going through this without being able to have their families around them is heart-breaking. I have also had shifts in supported living properties. I find out week by week when and where my shifts will be and am just asked to work wherever there is a staff shortage.

My eldest brother has complex disabilities and requires care from my parents. He would usually access day care and the respite facility I work in, but both have been closed. Due to me working on the front line it was too risky for me to stay at home, so I have moved out until it is safe to move home again. It is hard not being able to hug them or be near them, but I have walked the 12km round trip to sit outside on the balcony and eat my lunch with the patio doors open so I can speak to them in person. What once would have been a little thing brought me so much joy!

Not being able to spend time with my teammates, friends or family has been really difficult. I am so thankful for modern technology for being able to video chat and stay in touch with people. I am stuck in Lerwick, Shetland's capital, which to begin with I found really hard as I love driving to more rural areas to walk and explore where there is little chance of meeting others. However, as time has gone on, I have realised how lucky I am to still be able to walk around coastline and not be stuck in a big city which I know would make me feel claustrophobic.

My mental health has been up and down over the course of the last few weeks. To begin with I was pushing myself to stay upbeat and do some form of exercise every day. This was fine until I hit a wall and realised I had to just take each day as it comes and do what I am mentally and physically capable of. Not knowing where and when I am going to be working has caused my anxiety to flare at times. I have quickly realised that I need to let myself feel down and cry if I need to. I have realised I need to do what is best for me each day and not put pressure on myself to achieve more than I can manage.

My message to others would be to try and take each day as it comes, embrace your emotions, allow yourself to cry if you need to and seek support from those who may not physically be around you but are still a phone call or message away. These are difficult times for everyone and as I said before, there is no right or wrong way to deal with our lives changing so drastically. Focus on making it through each day and doing what is right for you!"