Lockdown Blues and a British Summer

Our Bristol Wellbeing College runs informative courses and workshops for learners receiving support from Bristol Mental Health Services, and their carers. This week’s contribution comes to us from Shaun, who has been thinking about the end of summer.

After an eight-week summer lockdown, we stumble back into some sort of ‘normality’, most of us rubbing our eyes and feeling dazed and confused as to where it all went and where it is going next. The sense of uncertainty is intensified with the announcement of further restrictions, and of course, the characteristically changeable weather of a British summer. As if it’s not difficult enough to navigate the currents of a pandemic, we also have had to contend with bucketing rain, the autumnal bite in the air coupled with a heat wave, thrown in with a high wind here and there. While the sun continues to smile warmly on us, the days begin to shorten and nothing is quite the same as it was before.  

A second lockdown?

One of our most longstanding Wellbeing Café regulars Shaun wrote recently that ‘a second lockdown is likely to push increasing numbers towards breakdown. That’s not to state [a second lockdown] is not necessary’. His observation captures the contradictory feelings many of us are experiencing at this time, caught between the necessity for the social and physical freedoms that keep us in better mental health, and the urgency required in responding to and preventing the spread of Covid-19.

However, Shaun says that for him personally, he has developed the skills to help him through going back into another lockdown. Repetition, he reminds, can ‘provide both fatigue and experience.’

In our last ‘Writing with Memory’ session, we looked at the idea of writing memoir, and how memoir is not concerned with facts or order of events like autobiography, but with a feeling or theme that encapsulates a time in our life. Having chosen the theme of their memoir, participants then honed in on a particular moment within that time and wrote about it.  Shaun recalled the previous two weeks, in which he focused, despite everything else, on the unusual end-of-summer heat.

Hotter still today, [so] what to wear?

Nothing is best, but would lead to arrest!

So vest and shorts are best

Oh, those knobbly knees

The important thing to glean from Shaun’s words is that whatever the weather, we have learnt to carry a light jacket or an emergency pair of tights or a scarf for later. Perhaps we optimistically pack the sunglasses in case it ‘brightens up’, but keep the umbrella close to hand. Still, it doesn’t stop us tiring of the inconsistency at times.

What can we do?

Likewise, in a global pandemic, while we may not be able to predict what will happen next and while this is indeed exhausting, we now have the experience of having been through it before and we need to use this to our best advantage. The tools to cope are out there, let’s keep them close to hand and don’t forget: whenever the chance arises, let those knobbly knees enjoy the sunshine too.

To find out more about our writing courses and other courses available from the Bristol Wellbeing College, and eligibility, visit: https://www.second-step.co.uk/wellbeing-college/

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