In my opinion- Lockdown and I
By Carmen Anderson
Lockdown seems to have lost its novelty. Last March, when those of us who were not key workers were confined to our homes for most of the day, lockdown was something we had never experienced before.
From the safety of our living rooms, we watched scenes of devastation in European hospitals. There were people being treated on gurneys in hospital corridors, we watched exhausted medical teams as they worked and, rather morbidly, we watched huge machines tearing up the ground for the digging of mass graves. These were scenes on our television screens that we had never before contemplated seeing, accustomed as we were to relative peace and stability in 21st century Europe.
In Gibraltar, we took to our homes and we prepared for the worst: the Nightingale hospital was built, hundreds of volunteers flocked to the assistance of the elderly and vulnerable, companies and individuals donated treats to our hard pressed GHA workers and we showed our gratitude by clapping every evening. I was riveted to news reports in a way that I had rarely been before and observed people become embroiled in arguments about a virus that the world’s top scientists were still researching.
The biggest impact the first lockdown had on my life came from school suddenly being closed. It felt bizarre to wake on a Monday morning with deadlines on coursework to meet and not have to get up and get ready for school. Contrary to what a lot of people might think, most students found this quite unnerving, especially if like me, they were preparing to take important external exams. I found myself getting up anyway as a matter of routine and then knuckling down to some studying just in case school opened up again sooner than we thought.
There was a sense of solidarity during those early weeks of the first lockdown, not just for students and our teachers with whom we were in such close contact, but also within our community. There was even a sense of solidarity with communities around the world; with people singing to each other from their balconies in Italy; with museums and galleries across the world inviting us to take virtual tours and with theatres screening their pre-lockdown performances. It seemed we all wanted to help humanity get through this.
Suddenly, because we were locked down, I had more time on my hands than I had been accustomed to for a long time and I searched for ways to fill it. In anticipation of taking up a drama degree I took advantage of online theatre and online courses. I started up a blog, attempted to learn a new language – that one didn’t last long – and became a bit of a Zoom aficionado, keeping in contact with friends and family. In many ways, although we were living through a frightening situation, this new experience of lockdown and sharing that experience with people around the world made it bearable.
This time around, the situation seems completely different. That feeling of reasonable safety that we experienced during the summer and early part of the autumn turned out to be a false sense of security. During this lockdown, I have found myself tired. I feel myself wanting to return soon to something more akin to normality. I am lucky to be able to work from home and stay indoors as much as I can and for this, I feel a sense of relief, because I don’t have to expose myself very often to the risk of catching the virus. Things are scarier now. There are more people sick, some people have sadly passed away. Life from lockdown looks much more serious this time and it is hard to plan ahead.
When lockdown was announced at the start of January, I decided to focus more on self-care and on finding ways to relax. I’ve joined an online book club, started online yoga, and have even started growing house plants, something I had never envisaged myself doing! I conjecture as to whether this lockdown is the ‘new’ normal and that spark of creativity that I experienced in the first lockdown, whilst not totally extinguished, is a little bit more muted now. I am using the downtime that lockdown offers to reflect on life’s priorities, to think about friends and family and about what is truly important, and to look ahead to the glimmer of hope that is the vaccination programme.
In hindsight, I lived through the first lockdown experiencing a degree of incredulity; we were staying at home, expecting the worst. This time around, the worst really is happening, yet daily life appears less unusual. Lockdown has taken on a touch of the mundane and it is oddly tiring. The novelty really has worn off.