How do I survive Lockdown?” This question has probably been asked numerous times by numerous people.
Well, in my own experience it has been a case of sometimes “going with the flow” and then other times experiencing highs and lows.

I think the best thing for me has been trying to keep busy even though there have been days when I could have easily stayed in bed.

I have been shielding since the 14th March 2020 and staying positive all of the time has sometimes been quite difficult. What I have tried to do is keep busy whether it be clearing out kitchen cupboards and wardrobes to carrying out my usual hobbies such as completing jigsaws, family tree research and glass painting. I’ve even started learning a new language online and also have been baking for friends and their colleagues who work at both the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the R.V.I. The baking I have found to be very relaxing and I also feel that I am doing something worthwhile at the same time.

I volunteer at Gateshead Carers and I have really been missing the interaction with the staff there however Claire Parker, the Volunteer Co-ordinator has been keeping in regular contact with all of the volunteers whether this be through email or telephone calls.

Claire has even set up a Whatsapp Group for the volunteers which has been brilliant as it has been a great way of keeping in touch and most importantly having a laugh together. We’ve even started having Zoom Meetings which is a first for me as I always thought Zoom was a song by Fat Larry’s Band!

Those of us who are Volunteer Befrienders have been able to carry on with this via telephone calls. Claire also recently got together a group of volunteers to judge the photographs which were submitted during Carers Week for next year’s Gateshead Carers Calendar. The submissions were all fantastic and we did have quite a time deliberating on who would be the finalists.

As well as volunteering at Gateshead Carers I am also an unpaid carer providing a lot of emotional support and some practical support to 3 family members, however due to me shielding this has become very difficult especially as I do not live with these relatives.

I must admit at the beginning of Lockdown I did feel some relief at not being at everyone’s beck and call and being able to have some breathing space. Of course feelings of guilt quickly set in and I then started phoning everyone a minimum of 2/3 times per day which was crazy to say the least. I have now managed to cut this down to once a day as I know that if they need to talk to me they can easily get in touch. Actually what I have discovered is that other family members have come to the rescue due to my absence which has been quite a revelation as normally they would just let me get on with things even though I am not in good health. I am determined that once things get back to normal (whenever that will be!) that I stick to my guns and concentrate more on my own health and make sure that these “Knights in Shining Armour” do not ride out into the sunset! Of course I can always jump onto my scooter and chase after them although driving at a maximum of 4 miles per hour I may have quite a job on my hands!

For those Carers who are really struggling at the moment I would suggest that you definitely take some time out for yourselves even if it is just having a relaxing bath or a walk around the block to clear your head. It takes a bit of practice but for the sake of your own mental health you must do it!

Talking about walking around the block, 4 weeks into Lockdown I began suffering with severe circulatory problems which was not good especially as one of my medical conditions affects my heart. Anyway I made the decision to rebel and opened my front door and “escaped”. Actually all I did was walk around my cul-de-sac but the feeling of euphoria was better than anything I have ever experienced and that includes the births of my two children and seeing Shakin’ Stevens in concert in 1981! I also saw Howard Keel that year, I was 17 years old and he was 62 but that man still gave me goosebumps especially when he sang Bless Yore Beautiful Hide. Nowadays I get a buzz from listening to either Take That, Michael Buble, Showaddywaddy or the Clash, sorry folks I should have warned you I am one messed up woman!

Anyway, getting back to my walking, I now walk around my street every day and often have “catch ups” with neighbours social distancing being noted of course. I have lived on this street for 10 years and have lived on this estate for 26 years however I have met more people during Lockdown than in the whole of that time. The community spirit has been amazing, I just hope that it continues once Lockdown is lifted completely.

Well folks I must dash as I have another phone call to make and a street full of neighbours to catch-up with. Hopefully I will be able to provide you with an update of my shenanigans another time.

Take care of yourselves, stay safe and most importantly make some time for yourselves however small that may be!