It’s hard to think about lockdown without acknowledging the roller-coaster of emotions that many of us seem to have experienced. When I was browsing the collection, the closest thing that represents the metaphor is a child’s spinning top. Close, but a friend of mine gave me another word: the ‘coronacoaster’. Just perfect for my unfathomable mood shifts, best summed up on the opening page of my lockdown journal:
Every day I have intended to sit down and write this diary… and yet the days have passed. Seven of them. I think it’s a symptom of being discombobulated. The tension in most things. Of wanting a rhythm, a routine, but not finding one. Wanting to make ‘the best of it’, but feeling paralysed by it. All these tragedies hidden in daily statistics. Feeling half shut down. I’m flailing around like a boat with a broken rudder.
I eventually got into a groove of writing and I am keeping pace with the days of lockdown. On the day that I’m writing this blog, it is Day86. When I look back at my journal, my coronacoaster seems to shift by day, and not within days. I spent the early days furtively looking through every news update and obsessing on the daily statistics, feeling like I was in a dystopian movie. These days I am more selective about what I seek out, although I feel a moral responsibility to acknowledge the numbers of Covid-19 cases, including deaths. So, sometimes it is okay, sometimes it’s really not, but the constant seems to have been the up and down. Perhaps you also have had a bumpy ride? At the beginning of lockdown, the FT reported that 46.9% of those surveyed had experienced an increase in anxiety. Their graph shows that nearly 50% were unable to make plans. Their report also correlates an ability to cope to affluence, with the furlough scheme providing a sense of stability for many. Although here in Cornwall, some 61,000 people (23% of the workforce) are self-employed and therefore not part of this scheme.
The latest survey by the ONS suggests that people’s wellbeing has increased over the duration of the pandemic, with happiness increasing and anxiety decreasing. It is difficult to speculate, but there are some suggestions that after the initial ‘shock’, people have adjusted well to a simpler pattern of life, have noticed and appreciated the smaller things, and enjoyed a greater sense of community and community spirit. Anecdotally, I know many friends have enjoyed less traffic noise and more birdsong… and as for lockdown weather. Well. The weather gods were smiling on us here in Cornwall.
In May 2019 the museum ran a hugely successful programme, ‘I was, I am, I will be…’, in support of Mental Health Awareness month. Unfortunately the programme for this year had to be cancelled at a time when we all probably could have benefited from it. One of the things that emerged from the programme last year was how resilient we are as human beings, and I think that is worth holding onto. The good news is that the coronacoaster will eventually stop and we will slowly be released from all the constraints of lockdown. In our recovery I think it’s important to acknowledge the ride, enjoy the freedoms, and also keep up with some of the things that might have surprised and sustained us – but more of those in another blog.
Citizen Curator Volunteer.