Living Through the COVID-19 Pandemic Week 1 – 18th-20th March

Day One

It’s Wednesday 18th March 2020, and the UK government has implemented the change where people, where appropriate, begin working from home. The decision at my place of work was made yesterday that all office staff would begin to work remotely. I am part of a Civil Engineering company, and for now, all our sites remain open and operational. We are all in the same boat, and we will struggle and thrive as a team.

I have been getting increasingly worried about COVID-19, but most of my worry comes from how ridiculous people are being, not just with hoarding and panic buying, but in the continual labelling that COVID-19 isn’t something to worry about, that is it ‘just like the flu’. People have forgotten, it seems, that while COVID-19 may do nothing to their body, it might well do a lot to somebody close to them, or someone they’ve come into contact with. It is not just the old that are affected by COVID-19, also at risk are those with asthma, those with weaker immune systems, and those with pre-existing conditions.

I live with someone who is at risk, so I am being more precaution and feel myself worrying more because of it. However, I am doing my best to look after my mental health and the mental health of those around me in this troubling time.

I’m an introvert and will happily spend hours locked up in my room, reading, colouring, or on my Xbox. But as soon as you try to control me into doing something, I’m suddenly not interested in anything.

Today, I have moved seats 5 times. I can’t seem to get comfy anywhere. I miss my office chair which was perfect for my back troubles. I miss the banter and the bustle of the office. I tried working at the dining room table, but the chair flared up my coccyx injury and the dog kept trying to sit on my lap. So, I moved to the chaise, to accommodate the dog but the light kept getting on my screen. I had to move back to the dining room table to charge my laptop. I tried sitting in the sitting room, but I kept getting distracted.

In the end, I settled in the relaxed ikea chair we’ve had for years that usually has coats and bags dumped on it. It was so comfy, and I managed to convince the dog that he could be near me by sleeping in his pouch by my feet and not on my lap, half draped over my macbook.

Focus. It’s hard to keep focus when you’re alone. I got some big chunky, noise cancelling-ish headphones to help. They kind of keep me in the moment, keep me grinding along with what I’m supposed to be doing.

We’ve been using Microsoft Teams at work now for a while, but now everyone is on it. It’s proving adequate to keep up my mood and allow me some interaction. I’m taking the approach of ‘why email when I can phone’, as a way of keeping up my social interactions.

I’ve been greenlighted to do a mini-series of posters related to working remotely through COVID-19, and in looking after your mental health, which is super beneficial and something I’m taking great pleasure in doing. I’m a big supporter of mental health and am really doing my part to drive it across all aspects of the business I work for.

It has been very tempting to read a book or watch television today, but I have reminded myself that I’m not off sick. I do still need to work from 9-5 and show that I have been working. Something about working from home is making me more tired than usual. I yawn all through the day and when evening comes, the last thing I want to do is read a book! I’m trying to find ways to manage my down time and to make sure my mood doesn’t slip down.

I am still remembering to look after myself. I have been near an open window all day and even took two tours of the garden! It is important to find a balance between working and self-care. I have been breaking up the time spent working by chatting to others in my home, when that is not an option, I take a moment to meditate and do some breathing exercises. I use the creation of the posters as a therapeutic art moment.

It’s easy to take a page to reset yourself or listen to some uplifting music. I have taken on the role of keeping peoples spirits up, it’s not something I might doing because it keeps me busy and will stop me from having time to think about my spirits dropping.

I am constantly thinking of the people in Italy who have been in lockdown for so long, as well as every country that is struggling with COVID-19. Hopefully we can all get through it together and find a stronger world at the end of it.

Day Two

I got the comfy ikea chair moved into the spare bedroom, so I could work undisturbed if more of the household had to work from home. I moved the dog’s basket besides my chair, and he’s been my constant companion all day. I’ve heard his dreams, his snores, and smelt his disgusting farts, but his company has brought me a lot of joy today.

I had to go to the Pharmacy this morning to pick up my prescription. The Pharmacy had a big notice on the front door ‘only 3 people allowed in at one time. We are employing social distancing. Please be patient’. I had to wait outside in the rain for a little bit before someone left, allowing me to go in. The poor workers in the Pharmacy were running around like headless chickens. Usually, as I complete my repeat prescription online, I can just go in and they have it ready for me. But this time, I had to wait about 15 minutes, which I totally understand.

I did get kind of rudely spoken to by the Pharmacist – not one I’ve met before – who asked me all these weird questions about how I pay for my prescription – I have an NHS Certificate – but I put it down to him being under stress.

I popped over the road to the village shop. Which, surprisingly, was quite well stocked. I got some cereal, crisps, orange juice, and a packet of mini eggs that I have yet to open!

The whole experience took 45 minutes!

It’s been harder to concentrate today, I have just felt bored, going through the motions, getting stuff done but kind of feeling like a blur. It’s been really odd.

One of my colleagues sent an email around from a company that is offering free training courses. I wasn’t encouraged to sign up but was told if I wanted to then that was fine. I’ve signed up for a 14-week Business and Administration Level 2 course. So, once I’ve gone through all the motions and got accepted, that’ll be something to fill my time with.

I realised yesterday, that most of my job resides in the office. At home, half that work has disappeared. I have brought 2 office jobs home with me, I’ve started 1 new job ‘the mini-series’, and now this new course. It should keep me going and keep my workload busy.

I’ve worked my way through musical albums today. I’m getting a headache I think it might be because I’ve been cooped up in a room all day. I’ll have to make sure to take a break soon and go for a walk outside.

If I get any reading done tonight, I’m currently reading:

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton – I’m on chapter 7. It’s very dramatic.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley – I’m on page 24, reading from the bride’s perspective. It’s quite absorbing so far.

I’m also reading – Her Final Breath by Robert Dugoni on Kindle.

I might just fall asleep when 5pm comes knocking!!

How’s everyone else in the UK faring?

Or if you’re from outside the UK, how are you doing?

Day Three

Today has been better. I woke up to sunshine and a clear blue sky. (Although, while I write this, the blue sky has been replaced by gloomy clouds!) It’s FRIYAY! I’m always a little happier on Fridays. I’ve been more proactive today and have been able to hold my focus more.

I had a telephone training call this morning to help with one of the projects I’m leading, which was informative and gave me a place to start. I had a rather irritating phone call with a delivery company who failed to deliver a package for me. I’ve tried to solve it, but I think it might be a problem that will rollover to Monday!

I got to visit the office for a short while as I needed to assess the returned packages, pick some stuff up, and sort out something with the servers. I chatted a bit with the few workers who need to be in the office to carry out their work, it was nice to have face-to-face conversations.

I’ve been a busy bee since I got home. I’ve made three posters pertaining to working at home. 2 about home exercise and 1 about making a good workspace for yourself, so I’m feeling rather productive. They were good fun to made and I had fun playing around creatively.

I went to the supermarket last night and got a rather odd selection of food. It was so surreal walking into the store, I felt like I was experiencing a post-apocalyptic film first-hand. In the fresh fruit and veg section, the only things left were apples, bananas, and mushrooms. There was no meat (not that I eat it), or fish. All the cheddar had gone. The only thing in the frozen section was ice cream. No canned goods. No pasta. No beer.

It was almost amusing to walk around the shop but also frustrating. I understand the panic and hysteria that has caused people to be greedy and selfish but at the same time, I’m wondering how I’m going to survive. We’ve joked in the family, that I’ll be the one who is going to starve first! I can’t eat meat. I am iron deficient, so a lot of the fresh veg that was missing is a staple in my diet to keep me from having attacks.

Luckily, my Mum recently visited our local farm shop and managed to get a lot of the necessary fresh fruit and veg from them. I mean, I can live off cereal for breakfast, and lunch, but my body will faint if it believes it doesn’t have enough iron.

Another irritating aspect is the lack of paracetamols. I usually take paracetamols daily to help cope with various pain, but my usual supply is running thin and you can’t get them anywhere at the moment. I’ve had to get creative with ways to manage the pain and am trying to hold out as long as possible before taking a painkiller, just to make them last longer.

When people panic buy, they’re only thinking of themselves. They aren’t thinking of the bigger picture and the wider consequence of their actions. Every day I see a new act of kindness in this situation, but I can’t help but think that the actions of the selfish are outweighing the actions of the selfless.

I’ve changed my outlook on the room I’m working in. I’ve added candles – which are lit – I have a colouring book on standby. I’ve piled good books up, to give me something fun to look at. I’ve added a blanket. I had to turn the mirror on the chest of drawers opposite me around, as it was getting creepy to keep looking at myself!

I did not do any reading last night. I played the Sims because I felt like I needed to be in control of something! It was quite therapeutic. I did also get stuck in a youtube spiral and ended up not going to bed till past 11pm!

I might try to get some reading done tonight.

Anyone got any weekend plans? Or are we all going to be hermits and read?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. An interesting read. Good to know from a real person…not news media.. what’s happening in your part of the world. Here in New Zealand we’re also moving toward working from home, social distancing and voluntary isolation for the over 70’s and anyone with compromised immune system. Nothing much has changed in regard to my daily routine. I changed my lifestyle 4 years ago and spend my days looking after the house, growing and processing fruit, veg and nuts in the garden to halve our food bill, doing a little writing, a lot of reading, some photography and also prepping for disaster….since 2012 i have been planning our disaster preparation, food, water, medsical supplies, shelter, fuel/heat and protection. People used to look at me like i was a crazy person when i advised them to put supplies aside just in case. Maybe not so crazy now it seems. Im certainly not gloating though. I feel sorry for the people panic buying and sorrier still for the front line medical staff dealing with what will get much worse before it gets better. I hope we can learm from this and come out the other side better human beings. Kinder and more accepting of one another.


    1. hshattock29 says:

      It’s nice to get another perspective 😊 Hopefully your life won’t change too dramatically, but in these times, one can’t tell. That is good preparation, it’s good that you’ll be able to survive with what you already have. I don’t feel any sympathy for those panic buying because they’re taking away supplies needed by those who are elderly, those who have allergies, and those who need certain items to manage pain or a medical condition. I went to my supermarket last night and could only get: mushrooms, rice, cheese, a couple of savoury biscuits, and if I wanted, all the chocolate in the isle. I’m iron deficient, so all the iron rich food I need to not have an attack was unavailable to me. I now have to be creative, and monitor myself more severely. Supermarket brands near me have started dedicating morning hours to the elderly and NHS (medical) staff, which is good.

      I too hope we can learn from this, I hope that people remember that we’re all human and all in the same boat. People need to remember their kindness.


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