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  • Monika Holod

Take a moment to reflect on what we achieved during lockdown

As I received the Covid vaccine, something truly unexpected happened to me, and no amount of loose-fitting clothes could have prepared me for it.

The cavernous venue was fitted with makeshift cubicles, filled with people looking both apprehensive and super-excited to be out in public!

My turn came round, I stepped forward — a quick chat with the friendly nurse and boom the Covid vaccine had been painlessly administered and I was to go and sit down for 10 minutes with everyone else, in case of any reaction. And that’s when things changed.

As I sat on my plastic chair, socially distanced, I found myself sobbing and feeling like I was about to absolutely fall to pieces, it came from nowhere and wouldn’t stop.

With curiosity, I became aware of a man, older than me sitting a few rows to my right who was doing exactly the same. I wondered if he’d lost someone. Someone who should have been sitting on the plastic chair next to him today, perhaps holding his hand.

I was thinking of all the people who’d died and all the families in grief. I felt guilty that I was here now, I felt relieved, I felt proud of the medics and scientists who’d created this vaccine, compassion for the people who will choose not to have it, grateful to the frontliners and the volunteers here today. I felt happy, I felt proud and also heartbroken.

Those art classes and exercise programmes we started in the early days when lockdown felt like a potential to kick back for a while on full pay if we were lucky, feel like a long time ago.

Yes, we gave up a lot of that stuff, but what matters is we got to experience ourselves exploring something different. And spending our time differently.

We tried to find a balance between teaching time, working time, and relaxing time. And let’s face it, most of us are still trying to figure out how to not raid the fridge when we’re bored, or how to stop pleasantly aimless thinking turning into another Amazon frenzy.

But balance is the key and if there’s one thing to take forward from this experience it’s surely to value the effort required to continue to live in a way that affords you time and space to do the things that you really want to do.

Also, to applaud ourselves for trying, and to forgive ourselves when balance is lost, because it always will be from time to time.

There’s been insurmountable pain and hardship for many, but for anyone who feels able, let’s take a moment to celebrate anything that we achieved, however small, during the lockdown.

  • We appreciated freedom & human contact like never before

  • We had difficult conversations with people we love

  • We allowed ourselves to be seen as we are—at home, with children, overgrown hair, pets, and laundry

  • We talked openly about loneliness

  • We found pleasure in simple things like a meal

  • We talked to our neighbours

  • We connected more to family

  • We found the unmute button on Zoom

  • We dared to change our plans for the future

  • We became more aware of our mental health

This newfound awareness of our time and our ability to adapt when things change is something many of us will pursue for the rest of our lives. And in this period of closing down, the irony is that many of us found new ways to open up.

As the UK acknowledges and commemorates all those lost during the first lockdown. Let’s remember how far we’ve come. And if you feel you’d like to chat this through, anonymously, there’s always someone to talk to on Wangie.


Wangie Mentor

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