The coronavirus lockdown has presented unprecedented challenges for many of us. But, amongst the darkness there have also been plenty of heartwarming stories in the media about people rediscovering old passions, isolating with friends, and finding new and creative ways to connect with loved ones from home.
Ninety-nine-year-old Captain Tom Moore has completed more than 100 laps of his garden to raise money for the NHS – raising more than £12m (and still counting) in the process! Whilst three grandmothers from Greater Manchester moved in together in anticipation of the lockdown to watch Netflix, keep each other company and drink wine.
Last week we asked to hear your self-isolation stories, and we wanted to share a few of them with you below in the hope of providing some sense of solidarity during these difficult times.
Liz Prosser, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire
The day I left work in March to start lockdown filled me with dread. Living by myself, I knew how work and people filled my week, and how weekends often left me feeling empty.
My sons and their families live far away. I knew I could cope over two weekend days by keeping myself busy with things like; the gym, shopping, cafes, group walks, seeing friends and trips to one son and his family in Bath. But the thought of trying to keep connected every day and feeling lonely for a much longer time was frightening.
I thank the heavens that so far I am very fit and well, and can walk and get out. In the hardest times of my life getting outdoors and staying active has been my saving grace.
- doing early morning yoga sessions online
- walking 8 mile round trips to supermarkets with a backpack of shopping
- packing snacks and exploring new walks around the town and countryside
- volunteering for The Cinnamon Trust walking dogs for the elderly
- volunteering to collect shopping and prescriptions for our local COVID-19 group
- working at a standing desk because it feels better than sitting all day
- filling a backpack full of Lenor water softener bottles (as weights) and walking to a nearby open space to walk/jog and lunge up hills. I also do HIIT circuits, which include burpees, squats, sit ups, push ups etc; straddling over fences and step ups on benches. Yes I probably do get strange looks…there goes that crazy woman again!
A counsellor once said to me “Do you know why you are so active?” I replied, “Because it’s in my blood.” She said, “No, it’s because the air and the sunlight are healing.” And so yes making the effort to get out and active has yet again been my God send in lockdown and I would thoroughly recommend it!
Carole Osborne, Merseyside
When my now adult children were young, my partner and I were freelance workers. So money could be tight to say the least. I’ve always been a “What-if-ist” and one day after reading a “Real life story “ in a weekly women’s magazine (quite an improbable real life story, I may add) – I thought, well maybe I should give it a go. I submitted a story that was…kinda, almost, definitely maybe, very nearly true! It was published and I received about £150 which to my little family was a “Yes, thank you baby jebus moment!”
From then on, I regularly submitted, “It happened to me” stories, and to be honest this work really did keep us afloat as a family. But, fast forward a few years and I’m no longer a freelance worker. I work in an environment that requires reports to be collated accurately and precisely with absolutely no room for any creativity.
Then lockdown descends like an unwanted house guest and lets be honest here, there is only a limited amount of gardening, decorating, garage decluttering and pillow plumping that humans can do. So I had an idea of setting up an online writing group/writers collaboration. Sadly, I found that most writers felt that at 60, I was a bit too old for them to collaborate with, and no one my age was interested in my idea.
But not to be deterred, I started writing again. I must say I have found it an absolute lifesaver and I am no longer restless, or bored. I enjoy time to myself to dream, play what-if and write. It’s like meeting up with an old friend. So far I’ve written a short film, short story, and have come up with a book idea. I know I will keep writing, as I will find it a hiatus from the constrictions of my normal day job.
Alison Goldie, Hackney, London
My isolation has been of a particular character because I’ve been suffering with the coronavirus myself (no official test of course, but if that unique set of symptoms wasn’t caused by coronavirus, I’ll eat my hat). I’ve been in my flat for 2 weeks straight, on my own, and I’m now much recovered.
When I’ve been hit with flu-like bugs in the past, I’ve always been good at turning off and devoting myself to recovery. This time was no exception – although the fear over whether or not I’d die, added a certain piquancy. Luckily, I had food in the cupboard and there was enough money in the bank to tide me over. I’m also used to being solitary and enjoying my own company a lot in ‘normal’ life. Unluckily, I have no garden or pets for comfort, and whilst I was unwell, I was still having to supervise getting food to my aged Mum without cracking and telling her about my condition, which I knew would worry her enormously.
I spent the majority of my time in bed while I recovered. My resources during this time were:
- A selection of good friends who I chatted to when feeling lively enough.
- Social media i.e. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on which everyone upped their game, posting exceptionally fascinating and amusing stuff.
- My favourite online newspaper, which could be relied upon for current information on the crisis, which I needed in order to feel connected to the world at large but which I rationed if I felt too low.
- Interesting food combinations – low on prep-time but high on wacky inventiveness, if I say so myself (mashed potatoes with frozen cauliflower and a fried egg on top anyone?)
- Netflix and iPlayer – I gobbled down a great drama series, and I’m now addicted to a sweet, hilarious American sitcom of which there are 5 series and which is now my go-to comfort watching
- My young downstairs neighbours whom I rarely see but who left me their last half jar of peanut butter and a melon when I texted them I was ill – these humble offerings were transformed into riches of the greatest magnitude in my situation.
A view from my sick bed
First bit of self-care, when I started to recover
Now I’ve emerged from the fug, I want to do some writing and some art. I also want to see if I can do anything with one strand of my work – life coaching – which I can conduct online. But I understand that this may not be a priority for people when they are focusing purely on survival.
If I can get tested to confirm that I’ve had the virus – or after a period which seems safe – I want to do some volunteering. I have a bike, a shopping trolley and a will to help. Those of us who have been the early-adopters of this gruesome sickness and survived are the lucky ones, and we can use what we’ve learnt to console and inform – and to have confidence in the world that others won’t have. In that icky, overused but suddenly meaningful phrase, I’m feeling blessed.
Jennifer Kendrick, Dursley, Gloucester
My friend and I are both 83 and we normally live apart, but I was here on holiday when the barriers came down, so I became accidentally stranded in her house! We have since evolved a daily routine that is working well for us both.
She is an early riser so is up and about as the sun rises! She has her breakfast and reads the paper before bringing me a welcome cup of tea at 8.30am. Then she takes her dog for a walk – not far but slow and steady, taking in the weather, noticing any changes in the neighbourhood and “seeing” people from a distance. During this time, I will shower/wash and dress to keep up appearances! When my friend comes back home for a coffee, I then go for a walk with my four wheeled companion – complete with notebook, camera and pastels for quick notes!
We have lunch together and then quiet time separately. I listen to Classic FM in my room until tea at 4pm, when we watch TV quiz programmes and catch-up on the day’s news. Together, we prepare the evening meal and eat leisurely about 6pm, followed by tidy up and more TV! We have books to read, and there is a jig-saw on the dining table which has to be carefully negotiated at meal times, as space is limited!
As the result of a plea I sent out locally for odd balls of wool, a bag landed on the doorstep and I am crocheting a blanket for fundraising when all this is over! I thought my old fingers were beyond it, so I’m happy to still be creative. We have our moments but choose our battles carefully, and agree to differ at times which is healthy. We are fortunate to be able to reflect and be thankful!
I was a nurse and only retired 24 years ago due to the ravages of bowel cancer, which I’m now rid of after major surgery and years of follow-up. Thanks to the NHS I am here still, healthy and happy! Coronavirus may be all around us and we may be in lockdown and facing uncertainty, but at 83 years old, I am up for a fight!
Have you got a story to tell? We’d love to hear your stories from isolation...
If you enjoyed these stories and have one of your own that you’d like to share, you can fill out our form, here or leave a comment below. We appreciate that we’re facing a strange and uncertain time, but one of the ways we will all get through this is by staying connected in the small ways in which we can. Sharing, and hearing stories from others can make us feel less lonely and may even put a smile on our faces.
Stay safe and we hope to hear from you soon!