As I sat down on Monday night, as I am sure many of you did too, to watch Boris' latest "address to the nation" on Covid-19 I was reminded of something he had said in a previous statement just a couple of days before, that "we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel but the tunnel is getting shorter". Feeling pretty certain that a third national lockdown was about to be announced, Boris' statement had left me feeling angry. Angry that his statement felt hopeless with little positivity being offered. A shorter tunnel perhaps meaning we were getting closer to the end but surely a shorter tunnel means the light can be seen more easily?
Being in lockdown does not bring up an image for me of a shorter tunnel, the complete opposite in fact. This is my third experience of lockdown and I know the next couple of months are going to be a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences which I am sure a lot of you reading this will be able to relate to also. There will be days when I will feel stronger and more positive than others and however I am feeling, I know this is okay. Reflecting back on Boris' statement, for me the tunnel isn't necessarily shorter as I don't know this yet but I do know, depsite how long it may be (and I am truly hoping it's not too long) there is always light at the end. I might not be able to see it straight away but I know it is there and knowing this is a reminder that there is hope. All of us will get through this storm we are living and navigating in our own unique and personal way. Boris - you are wrong. There is light at the end of the tunnel, there has to be.
After saying all of this, I am not oblivious to the trauma and challenges that have been faced by many (and continue to be) over the last 10 months. The reality of a third national lockdown does very much feel like "we are back to square one", in the same place that we were in March 2020 when this all began. In terms of the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, it could perhaps be argued that we are in a worse situation than ever before. I am grief stricken when I think about the trauma that is being experienced on a daily basis by those unwell with Covid and their families, the medical professionals and emergency services that are having to deal with so much on a daily basis and have been continuing to do so since the start of this pandemic. In my role as a school counsellor, I have seen firsthand the extra work that is being carried out by teachers to ensure the safety of themselves and their students whilst also trying to educate our young people. I too have seen the work that is being carried out by home carers for the elderly and in care homes, who are working diligently, compassionately and tirelessly every day. It has been a difficult and challenging journey and one that continues for the foreseeable future. I feel grateful that I am able to continue working as I can only imagine the weight of the worry being carried on a daily basis by those who no longer have a job, who do not qualify for support and for small businesses that are not able to be open. I see you all.
So, I know my journey through the tunnel has the potential of being a treacherous one so I am going to take some time to reflect on the learning I have taken from having been in lockdown so far. Oh boy, there is so much I have learnt and being able to draw on my personal and unique experience will be a powerful tool for me as I strive to move forward. I know that I am resilient (there will be days that I will need reminding of this). I know that, despite staying at home to protect those I love and care about, I will find a way to stay connected with them also. I know too, there are going to be days that are harder than others and for those I need to have self-care in place to support and nurture my wellbeing. I know I have the resources and experience to continue supporting my clients and I am truly grateful for that. Being able to focus on what I know, will support me in managing the unknown.
To all of you reading this, I know you might not be feeling strong right now and that's okay. But hang in there. Just take one step at a time and celebrate all that you achieve, even those small things that we might usually take for granted. It is usually the small things that soon add up to become the bigger things. Know that you are important and valued and reach out if you need support. Focus on what you do know. I will be here to remind you, that we will get through this and there is light at the end of the tunnel.