Experiences of 2020

Saoirse - Communications Officer

When lockdown was announced, I was walking through Finnieston on my own, Boris Johnson’s voice piping through my headphones via the BBC News app. I was terrified, and not for the reasons people expected. I knew from experience what working from home with no strict schedule and no social outlets would do to my mental health, and I also knew I was entirely unequipped to deal with it.

After 4 months of the best mental health I’d ever had, I felt like I’d been dropped back into the deep end from a great height. Within days of lockdown starting, I lost the ability to concentrate, sleep, or even string a sentence together. My jaw was permanently clenched, and my shoulders ached. I spent every conversation worrying about what I was going to say next, and hours after replaying what I had said. Within a week, the panic attacks were back.

On top of this, was the sudden awareness that when a global pandemic hits, life can get really, really, lonely. I’ve been single for a while and it’s something I’ve enjoyed, but the realisation that you don’t have a teammate for the end of the world can feel like a bit of a free fall. I felt irrational towards friends and family with different circumstances, and I’m deeply ashamed to say I felt defensive when others talked about their experiences, like my brain was playing a disgusting game of Top Trumps over who had it worse. If it had been a game of Top Trumps, I would have certainly lost.

I have a safe, secure flat with a lovely flatmate. My job is stable and none of my friends or family have so far been ill. I don’t have caring or childcare responsibilities. I have no personal health issues or immediate money concerns. I haven’t had to shield, and I have a strong support network. God forbid I haven’t had to say goodbye to a loved one over Zoom. Some holidays were cancelled, some non-urgent medical treatment postponed, and I stopped walking at night because the streets were empty: I’ve had an embarrassingly lucky time.

I’m still a bit shell shocked at how ‘badly’ I dealt with lockdown, especially when others have had it so much worse. I like the quote included in the SWC’s recent update: We are in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat”. I always tell friends that ‘other people’s experiences don’t invalidate your own’, but now I think it’s more than that. Being able to acknowledge the experiences of others has helped me put my challenges in context, and helped me feel lucky that many of my worries have already subsided now that I can leave the city, stand in the sea, spend time in the countryside, and meet my friends and family again. All considered, I’ve been in a pretty nice boat for this one, even if I wasn’t sailing it very steadily.