May 2020

And just like this, we are already in May. Nearly half the year is over with not much to show for it. It’s my birthday this month – but I already decided this year does not count so I will turn older in 2021 –  lockdown is the new normality and life somehow goes on albeit nothing like before. There is a half-term at some point but it doesn’t really matter because the schools are closed so it’s half-term every day anyway. I reduced my hours at work and am only working part time from now on. I don’t want my sons to spend a lot of time without me anymore. And I also need a lot more time for myself. I am managing but still, I am not fine. One of the side effects of Corona is the massive strain on NHS resources, in every single area. So the way things get assessed change. I have waited patiently for a referral for CBT which my GP thought would be incredibly beneficial and good for me. So did the mental health assessment team. Then came Corona.

Because I’m coping reasonably well and can manage my condition without constantly breaking down, my referral has been closed. They just don’t have the resources to support me at the moment. I can ask for a new referral once things are back to normal, whenever that will be. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that. Waiting lists and limited spaces were already an issue before this pandemic, it only got much worse and priority has to be given to those who need it the most. I am not one of them. I still have a support network around me. A couple of my work colleagues know and they have always supported me and continue to do so. I have friends here who I can talk to. My parents are there for me, my friends at home even though we are not able to see each other we can talk, message, video chat. I know I am not alone. I worry for those who slip through the net though. Who live alone or have no one who looks out for them. Corona is taking its toll on everyone but for those with a mental illness it is so much worse not just now but in the months and years to come. Everyone is talking about the economical costs and sacrifices of this crisis right now but the damaging effect on people’s minds should not be underestimated.

I had the last week of May booked off as holidays already anyway because I wanted to go home with the boys and celebrate my birthday with a trip to Bad Wildbad and a picnic at the monastery of Maulbronn but even at the beginning of the month it was obvious that this was not going to happen. I am absolutely gutted about this, I wanted to spend most of our holidays in Germany this year so me and Xander in particular get used to my old stomping ground and refresh the friendships we have there and it has all gone up in smoke.

I cannot tell you how many emails I have now exchanged with Ryanair for refunds of numerous cancelled flights and it is beyond frustrating as they make you jump through hoops if you don’t want to accept the vouchers they give you in the first instance. But honestly what am I meant to do with all of them when I don’t even know yet when I can go anywhere again? Half of Europe has implemented compulsory quarantines, apart from the fact that most flights have been cancelled until at least the end of the month anyway. It is a quite sobering realisation how much freedom we have lost in comparison to last year, when I could visit Copenhagen at a whim or Madrid. Or get on a plane at 6am in the morning to have a snap visit home and be back in my bed in the UK at 11pm that evening. How little did I appreciate all these things back then and rather than seeing them as a privilege took them as my God given right.

Of course not everything is just doom and gloom. There are the little things that – at least for me –  make up for a lot; the baking with my kids for example who love spending more time with me; the walks with my little one who talks like a overflowing tab about everything going through his head and the homework sessions and chats with my oldest which can be surprisingly deep and insightful. I think those have become more important in the last weeks but also a lot more intense and emotional. I don’t know if this is a result of the quarantine or not but it is a development I certainly do not want to see reversed. And although I miss being able to travel dearly, I know it will be possible again in the future. And maybe I appreciate it even more then. For now, I have a never ending list of Instagram saves and screenshots of places I want to visit and things I want to do and I add to it nearly daily.

As I mentioned before, it is my birthday in the last days of May and I still wanted to celebrate it a bit so I asked my friends to come over and join us for some coffee and cake on our driveway. I have to say it worked a treat. I made a million cakes and we put the garden furniture out. The weather was great and in the afternoon a constant trickle of neighbours and friends turned up for a visit. I loved it. The kids played football on the road and it was the first time since March that there was some sort of normality in the air. Just a little bit. There was laughter and gossip and children shouting, and too much cake and endless cups of lea and coffee and some strawberry punch. Like the beginning of summer should be. Let’s hope we get some more of this soon.

Much love marvelous people. Candidly yours, TC.

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