interview with a teacher in lockdown
a time of hope and self-discovery
Tell us a bit about yourself...
I'm a 34 year old single teacher, I live in the countryside and I own one horse called Tilly. I work full time and I have family nearby.
How did you and your family feel when you heard that the country would go into lockdown at the end of March?
Initially the announcement left me feeling quite anxious. I am an organised person who likes to know what is going in. I would say my life is fairly structured so the thought of my routine changing and not knowing what the change would look like at the time left me feeling worried and questions such as 'Can I still get to my horse?', 'Can I go to the gym?', 'Can I see my family?'.
My mum works in a school so I was worried about the impact it would have on her, and my dad has recently had a shoulder operation. I have a 2 year old niece who lives locally and we all spend a lot of time together - the thought of not seeing them was a sad time. I soon started to appreciate what routine actually meant to me and what aspects of my life that were changing that I was really going to miss and possibly feel the most isolated I have ever have done before while living alone.
How did you feel about the epidemic and the government's response to it?
It felt rapid. I think I went into protective mode - what advice can I share with friends and family that were finding the time anxious? I used both professional and personal platforms to share information with them all and this was reciprocated. I think the government has been incredible in protecting our country in a time where no one has the answers.
What were your initial reactions and responses?
I was quite calm about the situation and just rang my family first. Just being connected with my Mum gave me an instant sense of feeling protected. I felt safe at work and supported by the people I was surrounded by. As my role and responsibilities eased up I began to appreciate ‘time’ and working at a slower pace. I was still as productive, but the role felt different. My closest group of friends presented as a real ‘mix bag’ which impacted my ‘calmness’ at times - leading to feeling a little in control of what was going on in my life, to then feeling overwhelmed and then elements of hope. I also held on the fact that my Grandma falls into the vulnerable category and although fit and healthy would be unable to get shopping etc herself.
The hardest thought was not being able to see my family.
What was the main impact on your daily life/ routine?
My routine had small changes. I was still able to work from home and feel a sense of ‘normality’ and see to my horse twice a day, and I could continue to communicate with my family through whatsapp which is our usual format due to having a deaf brother. This felt good.
My biggest anxiety came when I was unable to take part in physical exercise. I usually attend the gym five days a week; it kicks starts my day at 6:30am, it makes me feel ready to take life on. My thoughts turned to what and how would I feel without this outlet? The social interaction with these people, but also having time set aside to challenge my body and state of mind.
I was also grateful to the information shared with my employer about the security of my job.
How did you feel at that time?
Mixed- anxious, worried, overwhelmed, fear
How was the first week with social distancing, have you or anyone you know contracted Corona Virus?
I was still working during this time, it felt a different variation of busy, with less of the team around I felt overwhelmed at times, wanting to ensure I was still doing a good job and remaining positive. But, as more and more information was released by the government, it became quite tough at times, no popping to my parents for a cuppa, seeing friends for a quick bite to eat, just time to myself to ‘overthink’ the situation. I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions, but hope was something that never went away. It felt surreal at times, bit of a sick joke.
Shopping felt strange and seeing people in masks while going about their day to day business started to hit home. I have a friend who works in A& E in Bedford hospital who gave me a little insight to the ‘community feel’ between the nurses and doctors and how they are managing longer shifts than ever, but again the sense of hope still came back every time. I definitely missed human contact, my neighbours have been great and so have many friends and family on ‘checking in’ on me.
What has been the response of others around you?
Heart warming. Overwhelmingly positive. There is so much support from friends, family and work colleagues. The community spirit has really touched me and I hope this is something we don’t lose! The gym has been amazing- 3 live classes a day which you can save and do at another time if you cannot make it live, continue sharing info, creating challenges for mental and physical health, recipes, live tutorials for facials, Friday quiz and live music on a Saturday night, inspiring and motivating members daily. I have felt a huge sense of community from the gym and they have definitely been my motivation to start my day even if it is from my lounge! There is a counselor too who has shared tips.
How has the lockdown affected your relationships with family and friends?
It has made me value them more and the time I spend with them. I spent the first few weeks sending postcards and gestures to friends anonymously, I was quickly found out, but I wanted to support them as much as I felt supported by them. Unfortunately my Mum had Covid-19 and had to self isolate for 14 days. This was incredibly tough, not being to see her for myself and see how she was. My dad who isn’t a worrier, appeared worried which escalated the fear more. I found myself reaching into other avenues that I hadn’t before, I tried meditating for the first time and tuned into what some of the local church was doing. I wanted someone to tell me it was going to be ‘okay’ and to hang on in there.
My Gran had been poorly leading up to the outbreak, but she did recover quickly, still a worry for a 87 year old living alone who you are unable to have contact with. I have family in Italy who initially were not affected by the virus, but as time unravelled two of my uncles were admitted to hospital and one was on a ventilator for three days. Miraculously, they have made a recovery and are due to come home soon. I find myself to feel very grateful.
How closely are you following the advice from the government?
Very closely. I am following guidance responsibly.
Has you screen time increased and if so what are you spending your time online doing?
Not really, it has remained the same. I have enjoyed reading, baking, DIY much more and having the time to appreciate it.
Can you describe how have your emotions changed since lockdown began and in particular what has influenced these changes?
A continual change, I worry constantly about those around me but less so for myself. A lot of the changes we are experiencing and now feeling a little more normal, I feel strongly about how I can keep supporting friends and family, especially those that have been affected by CV. My best friend lost her uncle to CV a week ago, as it has got closer to home it has raised fear. I definitely have days of feeling worry and days of positivity, sometimes for no real reason. It is an uncertain time for everyone. I have been so grateful for my horse, music and reading. Time dedicated to myself has been lovely. Some fear about job security.
Can you see any positives coming out of this period?
Yes- a reminder of what is important and who is important to me. How fortunate I am! I will always feel fortunate for the people and Tilly who have been there everyday so far during this time..
Do you think that after CV you will make any changes in your life going forward?