A lot has changed.
When I first started this diary of my family in self-isolation, we were a novelty. And it was only supposed to last seven days. Then everybody joined in the lockdown. Now, as we enter our fourth week and with no end in sight, it’s starting to take its toll.
My dad has been with us for a while. He is really quite poorly, even though he insists he is as fit as a butcher’s dog. He threatens to set off on the three-hour drive up to his home in Yorkshire every few hours, as he believes that not being in Yorkshire is the root of most problems.
Suffice to say, we have hidden his car keys and the house keys too in case he makes a dash for it when one of us drops our guard.
His cough has got worse; he’s drowsy all the time; he’s struggling to eat; his temperature is at 38-plus degrees, then drops to around 35 degrees; and he’s talking more bollocks than normal – but then, aren’t we all? I’ve never seen him as poorly as this and if it were any other circumstances I would have insisted on medical intervention. The people at 111 have been wonderful and talked us through any new and worrying symptom, but understandably he’s not a priority yet, and if by chance his poor health isn’t the virus and they take him into hospital for treatment, there’s a good chance that he would catch it there.
The mental struggle
I’m beginning to struggle too. I’m reasonably robust of body, but I can feel my mental health starting to slide. My antidepressants, which usually help keep me on an even keel, aren’t really doing the trick at the moment. I find a simple bit of work that should take me 10 minutes dragging out for an hour or two, I am absolutely knackered and I keep finding myself having a surprise weep. The tears just rise up and flood, like an overflowing toilet.
I thought that by now I would have learned to knit, or written a play, or at least given my house a vigorous spring clean. I don’t feel a scrap of resentment for people who are doing those things; if you’re throwing a pot with one hand while writing historical fiction with the other – go for it, babes!
But the can’t-be-arsed-ness has overshadowed all other motivation and I just want to sleep.
I know we have it better than most. We have enough room in our house to have some space to ourselves. We have food in the cupboards. We are not skint, yet. My husband, my son and I are a really strong team, strong enough to manage whatever spanners are thrown in the works – and there have been many, many spanners.
I also know the things that would help me feel a bit more resilient – a robust routine, an orderly house, a bit of exercise – but I haven’t got the capacity to crack on and do those things at the moment. I’m hoping that motivation will present itself as my dad gets better.
I’m not on my own. I believe that loads of us are wrestling with our marble retention during this shitstorm and I think that’s probably an appropriate reaction to the current global nightmare.
My plan is to search for the wins and let the losses go:
My dad has had half a slice of toast and a cup of tea today: win.
I am up and about, still in my jim-jams at 2.30pm, but I am present: win.
I have answered the emails in my "needs urgent action" mailbox: win.
I have written this column: win.
Sarah Simons works in colleges and adult community education in the East Midlands and is the director of UKFEchat. She tweets @MrsSarahSimons