What a different world we are in even compared to the world of 3 or 4 weeks ago! It seems there is even more uncertainty to cope with now as the different countries in the UK take different approaches and other countries across the world are at different stages. We have so much information available to us and trying to sort through it and make sense of it is incredibly challenging. All most of us want is to stay safe, know that our loved ones are safe and feel we have some hope of returning to normal life at some point soon.
Time has become an odd and perplexing feature of life. Long days but weeks flying by. Each day being much the same means that the normal rhythm of the weeks has gone. Creating some structure can be really helpful. A structure for each day is sometimes provided for us by virtue of caring responsibilities but if that is not the case creating your own structure is worthwhile. What will the morning consist of, what would I like to do in the afternoon, what does the evening hold? And a structure for each week too – finding a way to make the days different so that they don’t all merge into one. For some people phoning a particular friend on the same day each week provides a shape to the week, for others it is a constraining routine. Find something that works for you to create some kind of structure.
The welcome easing of restrictions might be bringing a strange and unwelcome visitor to your thoughts and emotions. The feeling of safety which has been an unexpected benefit of lockdown is under threat. For many, life might have been feeling relatively safe – inside your home, able to control your environment with protection from the outside world. But that feeling of safety may have come at a cost to your own health and wellbeing. No rest or breaks and no easy way of sharing your emotions with others who might support yet you don’t want to worry.
For some sadly there has been much less feeling of security when loved ones are in a care home, in hospital or far way. The separation from loved ones, perhaps in a facility which is difficult to travel to, with a journey which feels unsafe, maybe on public transport is so tough. If you do make the journey, connection might only be through a window or at a distance. Perhaps you cannot manage to visit and you are using technology with all its limitations and no touch or even closeness. Missing the touch and presence of your loved ones, still feeling totally responsible for your own and another’s welfare without the occasional respite which can help to sustain you can be a huge emotional load to carry.
So, the prospect of easing of restrictions might bring very mixed emotions along with uncertainty about how things will work in practice.
During what we might call “normal” times, I have heard so many carers say that the safety of their loved ones is paramount. Many also realise that taking care of themselves is crucial if they are to be able to keep loved ones safe. How much more difficult that is and will probably continue to be in these “abnormal” times. We face what is being called a new normal and for carers that will continue to bring additional challenge to their lives.
Now more than ever the saying “you can’t change the wind but you can change your sails” is so important. The stress of seeking clarity when there is none, the need to know how long something is going to go on for, the seemingly incompatible wishes to keep yourself and your loved one safe while having some sort of break to recharge your batteries, the need to have some sense of the future – there is so much creating pressure. And so much of it feels unfair!
Take care and stay safe.