Sunday, 8 November 2020

Coping in Lockdown #2: BRiC's Collective Voice


The topic put forward by Naz for last Sunday night's discussion was: How are we feeling about the new lockdown?

Our responses and feelings varied for a number of reasons, not least of which was related to where we are based in the UK. Some of us who live in Tier 3 areas, and those of us living in areas where very tight restrictions have been in place for several months now, felt that not much was going to change. Some of us felt safer at the prospect of another lockdown, whilst acknowledging and showing compassion for those people, many of our own families included, who’ll experience financial struggles and job losses because of it.

There was a shared sense of sadness and frustration for all kinds of different personal circumstances. Striking a balance between acceptance, that this is happening again, and our understanding of why it’s happening feels hard for many of us. Feelings of apprehension, fear and loneliness are very real as some of us look ahead to the next four weeks with a feeling of gloom, not helped by the time of the year. A shorter and darker day with colder weather is quite different from the lockdown climate that we experienced the first time around.

Overwhelm and struggle was expressed by many of us, as was the need for a period of grieving and adjustment in this second round of lockdown as those living with secondary breast cancer consider the prospect of this virus being around for the whole of the remaining time that we have left. The sense of loss associated with COVID-19 eating into our time and cutting short the time of those whose lives have been taken by the virus was very much felt. Within our group, in the last few months, we’ve experienced tragic personal loss due to family members and loved ones dying from the virus and other conditions. We have barely had the chance to grieve for those who have died during the first lockdown and now we face the challenge of another.

The detrimental impact on our mental health and of our loved ones is hugely concerning which has caused lots of tears to be shed but amongst the tears, the care and support for one another in BRiC is palpable. Encouragement, care, love and support is an important part of our group. There are many of us who feel very anxious and vulnerable and who are trying to appear strong for our families. A key message within the discussion was a reminder about kindness and self-compassion. Trying to remember to be gentle towards our feelings is an important part of coping during the next month. Part of that is acknowledging how selfish behaviour from others causes us to feel angry and upset. Worries and grave concerns for family members who are experiencing serious deterioration and decline in the coming weeks sits heavily upon us too, as the prospect of being unable to spend time with them is a reality that feels so devastating.

Trying to find a balance between the loss that COVID has created and gratitude for what we still have is challenging. Finding space in our minds to let these “conflicting emotions co-exist” is hard. The Diwali festival in a couple of weeks' time, a 50th milestone birthday at the end of the month and other family birthdays are just some of the special celebrations that will have a very different feel and tone to them because of this lockdown.

Whatever challenges we face in the next few weeks, our shared support for one another will help to ease our feelings of loss, burden and sadness. Ideas for self-care strategies, tips for supporting our wellbeing and things to help bolster our mental resilience helped to make the mood of our discussion a little lighter. Whilst ongoing uncertainty lies ahead we will continue to shine a light for us all in this special space.


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