Much ado about nothing

I’ve been feeling melancholy and I can’t really put my finger on why.

This bit between Christmas and New Year is always a funny one. This year it feels weirder than ever.

Over the long weekend I felt like I actually switched off from work for the first time in forever. With the lines having been blurred between work and home for a while now, it’s been hard to relax properly or create proper down time. Especially while stuck at home. It felt really good to forget about everything for a bit.

But now we’ve hit Chrimbo Limbo again and I feel hit by the impending doom of another couple of months in lock down. The news gets gloomier all the time and it seems more likely than not that the new restrictions will be here to stay for the time being. I’m looking ahead to a couple of months of days exactly like today and I’m not excited about the prospect.

I feel re-energised after my switched off weekend and now I want something exciting to look forward to. I want to make New Year’s Resolutions which involve a travel bucket list and saying yes to more stuff, when in reality I probably need to resolve to be grateful for what I have and stay positive and learn to take things as they come. There are resolutions that I actually stand more chance of keeping during a pandemic – get fit, spend less money in bars and restaurants, learn a new language, read all of my books but they’re not resolutions I actually want to make right now.

It’s not just that though, it’s also that I miss my family and I actually kinda feel a little home sick for the old house. Which I can’t deny, no matter how much I love our new home and the cute Christmas tree we put up Christmas Eve and my new book shelves.

I do feel better today already simply because one of my besties shared a voucher with us for free Hello Fresh meals and now I’ve yummy dinners to look forward to all of next week.

Work drew a lot of my focus today and that felt good too. I do enjoy my job and throwing myself into work would probably help. A break is good for the soul, but a return to routine is always good for me too.

All of that said, maybe I just feel blue, because it’s a kinda blue time of year. And maybe I’m totally over-thinking it. And maybe I’m feeling sorry for myself at a time when I should be counting myself lucky to be healthy and employed.

That’s it. I’m done moping. One day at a time from here and I’m going to keep busy, switch my anxious brain off (except when it’s needed for actually important stuff) and focus on the positives. We’ve got free food arriving at the weekend. What could be better than that!?

The New Normal

When this all began, there was so much talk about the strain on all of us. Everyone was talking about how we had to accept that our mental health might take a dip and a dive and that it was okay to feel anxious or down. No-one expected too much and we all filled our lives in any way we could. We took each day as it came.

Some people took to arts and crafts, baking or exercise. Others took up online courses and extra projects. Some just caught up on much needed sleep.

Now, life’s gradually returning to a new kind of normal and if you’re anything like me, you’re suddenly convinced you should somehow feel normal again yourself. Like it’s a switch we can flick on when life gets challenging and off again when things get better.

Here’s the thing – I still feel sad and tired, all the time. I’m missing my life before Covid-19, but I’m struggling to accept how far off a return to that exact way of life really is. I feel like stubborn teenager, sticking my heels in and adamantly waiting until things go precisely my way. I don’t want to settle for half-normal.

I’m looking at pictures of friends filling their diaries up with plans and getting out and about. I’m watching people at work throw themselves into planning for the next few months at home (because this working from home thing seems like it’s here to stay). I’m seeing people embrace the gradual relaxing of the rules and head back to beaches and shops. And I’m doing the most unhealthy thing I could do:

I’m directly comparing how I’m doing to how everyone else seems to be doing. I’m convincing myself that everyone else is fine and that I should be too. I feel like I should be full steam ahead back into work and socialising and my old routine and everything else that comes with it. It’s like I’ve decided Covid-19 isn’t a justifiable reason to feel ‘not quite right’ anymore.

Soon, I’ll probably find I do start making plans and accepting the new normal. I’ll ease into it over the next few weeks and before long, I’m sure I’ll start to feel myself embrace the way things have to be. But there’s no pressure or rush to do so – It’s only me putting that pressure on me. Which is no-doubt just making me more tired than I already am.

So, for anyone else who needs to hear it: It’s okay, to still not be okay. We’re still living through a global pandemic. And if anything, this strange return to a new kind of normal is likely to be the most mentally challenging part of the whole thing. Don’t put any additional pressure on yourself!

Breathe, cut yourself some slack and still feel free to take each day as it comes. You’ve got this.

I just don’t feel right

This will be my third try at a blog post. I’ve been trying and failing to write over the last few weeks: I had this grand idea that I’d start writing daily throughout this global pandemic. I was going to call the chapter ‘A blog a day to keep the blues at bay‘. But every time I put pen to paper (or started typing, but that doesn’t sound anywhere near as romantic does it?) I was unhappy with what came out.

I guess I wanted to try and write truthfully about how this time is making me feel, to get it off my own chest, but also in the hope that it might help someone somewhere to read that this time’s got us all feeling a bit out of sorts. If you’re feeling odd and mentally vulnerable, you’re not alone, I promise.

But whenever I tried writing I found myself trying too hard to cover all bases: To reiterate that I know there are people who this pandemic is affecting in worse ways than I can even imagine and that I know how lucky I am. And I am lucky. I’m so grateful for this beautiful, safe house and garden and the fact I can work from home and that my work is so fulfilling and that I have amazing family and friends…

I just don’t feel quite myself. My shoulders are constantly tense and my jaw too. I find myself sighing all the time and every day just feels like a bit of an uphill struggle. I’m trying so hard to be positive, but I just feel a bit down in the dumps.

I miss myself. All this time indoors is giving me heaps of thinking time and that’s what I’ve realised. I’m missing old me. I keep thinking that a younger, ‘funner’ Bronwen would have done better in this situation.

But I’m always looking back and always wanting to go back to being the person I was and today the penny has finally dropped: Looking backwards isn’t doing me any good…

When I was at university, I missed the care-free girl I left behind in Chelmsford, who loved her high school boyfriend to pieces and spent all her time singing. Nowadays, I miss University me, who wrote fun blogs and could stay up late and was more up for a good time. I bet some day, I’ll miss this me. Whoever this me is. And I’ll kick myself for all the time I spent dwelling on how a previous version of myself would have handled things. 

Yes, I’m more tired nowadays and a bit more careful, but I don’t worry any less that’s for sure. I can try and tell myself that I used to be care-free all I want, but really I’ve always been a worrier.

And so I guess it’s no wonder Covid-19 has got me feeling a bit iffy. If anything, I’d expect to be less calm than I am. I’m still getting up every day, showering, brushing my teeth and getting dressed. I’m still eating plenty and getting out for walks and staying in touch with family and friends.

Let’s cut ourselves some slack during this time. It’s so hard when we’re constantly exposed to perfect images of how everyone else is handing things, but I for one need to remember that I’m doing okay doing what I’m doing. There is no right way to deal with a worldwide pandemic, we’re all figuring this out one day at a time. AND I’m just Bronwen. Not past Bronwen, not present Bronwen, not future Bronwen, just me. Still me… Just a little older and maybe actually a little wiser too?