After ten weeks in lockdown, I’d expect that those of you who know me, might have expected me to blog more. And that fact is, I would have if not every man and his dog were doing it – and have been doing it well. It’s been lovely to see that people have been so creative and shared so much with us over the past few weeks. Music, art, writings, lovely debates, live cooking…what weren’t people doing to alleviate cabin fever and help their mental health? Busy lives switched off. Brains have had time to rest and reset. So I took a break from the weekly blog and decided to spend the time perusing my list.
My list was created by the psychologist who helped me at the beginning of the year. My list was filled with things, which I wanted to do but felt disconnected from as the clock ticked and my sight has deteriorated. The list was to take me in a new direction, and intended for me to build my confidence. Which, would require me to use the coping strategies I was being taught at the time.
So, The List: It’s not been easy. At times frustrating and not pretty. However much I look forward and see there’s a long path to go, I can now look back and I can no longer see the beginning – it seems that I’m well away!
You might think that tackling a list of self-indulgent to dos, might make me selfish. After all, using lockdown for self improvement, whilst the world is falling down all around me…shouldn’t I be doing more to help? ‘Well, yes, probably I should!’ Shouts the self-deprecating voice in my head. Whereas, the newer CBT me shouts louder ‘You’ve done more than you think! Working, teaching, supporting friends and family’. And then there’s a little tap on the shoulder, as I trip over the dishwasher (again), reminding me of my limitations and I have to concede that I do plenty.
Living with sight loss through lockdown has been particularly frustrating. Also, as we ease out but are told to adhere to the two metre rule, it will become busier, and even worse for those of us who struggle with little or no vision. However, you don’t need to know about my traumatic shopping trips, or having to explain to people that Him is my carer…my experiences are through a hazy lens. I’m sure you’ve all had your fair share of bad experiences since March. We’ve all been in this together. But things are easing and with or without a disability, we are all going to struggle. Therefore, if I’m to keep my anxiety in check, I’ve got to keep on that list and follow that journey.
But what is this list? You ask! Well, that’s the thing, it’s quite simple.
Firstly, it involves gardening – my garden will soon resemble Eden but I still have a massive ‘to do’ list (it’s all about the hare and the tortoise on this journey). Spending hours in my little patch of England not only boosts my vitamin D (doctors orders) as I’ve not enough, but it also creates a calm within me. From my garden you can hear the sea. You can hear bird song. You can just relax – no clock, no time frame, just nature growing at its own sweet pace around you. So we’ll gloss over the fact that I’ve killed a courgette and that I’m struggling with the difference between weeds and flowers…but the serenity, beauty, fragrant air…
And being outside has ticked more things off the journey list. Accessing art again. A channel I’d shut off as I felt inadequate and untalented – in something I was once applauded for. And I’m not sure what did it, but I began to paint, sketch, design. And something I’d locked away for twenty odd years awakened and I’d forgotten how freeing it was to paint. So what if it’s not perfect? Art is what you see. No one dismissed Monet for the blurry lilies. No one told Picasso his portraits were inaccurate. (Well they might have done but no one remembers them).
Then there’s the book. Ironically, it’s the writing I’ve struggled with the most. I’ve had spurts of inspiration. I’ve finished part one of my book. Only, then I spiralled into a despair of worthlessness and inadequacy. I think that because it’s the thing I feel I’m investing the most emotion in, I’m losing that confidence of my ideas and convictions. Sometimes it’s the things we hold closest too us that hurt the most. I’m not done yet though…
Even though there is more on the list, and as you are only having a coffee reading this, I won’t bore you to death about every item. But, what I did want to highlight was that like my list, we’ve all come a long way over the past ten weeks. We’ve probably learnt more about ourselves and others than ever before. We have all been on this weird trippy journey and we all might have theories but no real understanding of what our futures will look like. Just like I need to find the confidence to continue with my list, my journey, my book…we all need to learn how to live this new life and not go backwards. Like the tortoise said to the hare ‘slow and steady wins the race’.