The start of lockdown for me was definitely a rough start. I was already on lockdown two weeks before the official announcement due to my work closing beforehand as I work in a cinema. Before lockdown was even announced I had already lost my job of which I had been a member of staff for only a month, due to the company not having enough money. However, once the country went into the first official 3 weeks I was rehired as it was government guidelines to close everything.
At first I thought, well this will be a breeze, I’ve got games to play, comics to read, shows to watch it will be fine… fast forward to 9 weeks later and still here I am in the same four walls I was in in the middle of March. As the weeks went on my mental health grew thinner and thinner. Events I had planned, mainly comic cons, were all slowly starting to get cancelled. A concert, Billie Eilish, I had been excited for a whole year for had been postponed. Plans I had with friends to attend festivals and events for cancelled. Everything I had planned for the year was gone within 9 weeks. And to add on top of the downfall I also received an email from work letting me know I would not be getting any furlough pay during the pandemic. Everything I had been working hard for since the end of last year was gone in a flash.
This difficult time has not been easy for anyone, some days you wake up and remind yourself it won’t be like this forever and just take each day as it comes. Then other days you just don’t want to leave your bed because what’s the point? It’s just going to be the same boring day again.
How to keep yourself occupied in a crisis
Trying to keep yourself busy when you’re unable to go anywhere except to the shops and back has been a challenge in itself. But thankfully I managed to find a few things that would keep me occupied.
I am currently a report for Starry Constellation Magazine, writing show recaps and conduction interviews with TV stars and upcoming musicians. Even though it is a none paid reporting job, having something to work on for an hour or two out of my day really helped keep me grounded.
A huge chunk of my lockdown has however been spent playing Nintendo’s Animal Crossing New Horizons, a game I have been waiting for 5 years for. The game is evolved around creating your own island with animal villagers while fishing and collection fossils and bugs. There is also no set timeline or rules in the game allowing players to explore and completely zone out of the real world. To some this would sound totally boring and wouldn’t understand how I’ve managed to spend over 300 hours on it in 9 weeks. But the truth is, this game has kept me, and many others around the world, from spiralling into a dark hole. The game would help provide me with daily tasks and something to work towards each day while not hearing the words ‘Coronavirus’ or ‘Lockdown’ for a couple of hours.
Dr. Regine Galanti, author of Anxiety Relief for Teens, spoke in an article to Newsweekly said finding something you enjoy doing is really important to have during this time. He also pointed out that staying away from news or limiting news consumption is an important thing to do, so turning on a game like Animal Crossing is a great way to help reduced anxiety surrounding Covid-19. So even though it looks like I do nothing but play a virtual reality game with two dogs and a cat as villagers, it really is an escape from the world and allowing
to be ‘normal’ for a couple of hours. link to article – https://www.newsweek.com/animal-crossing-new-horizons-great-your-mental-health-through-covid-19-professionals-say-1494525
My lockdown has been spent with my mum, dad, sister of 18, my brothers of 17 and 8 who are also both autistic. Taking away from me I think it is important that we reflect on those with special needs during these tough times. Their daily routines and life as they know it has been stripped away from them with no warning and no explanation as to when this will all finally be over. Brooklyn, as any other normal teenager, has spent him time playing games and ignoring the global outbreak of this disease. However, Jack, the youngest, has struggled profoundly. Not understand why he can’t go to football training as he usually would on a weekend to see his friends and really missing school. Keeping him occupied and reducing his anxiety has been my goal really of this entire lockdown.
Which leads me onto something else that I have been playing to keep me going; Pokemon Go. As an avid Pokemon lover I decided to reinstall the game and make daily exercise walks of an hour more entertaining by completing in game challenges and catching as many Pokemon has humanly possible within an hour. The game developers Niantic also understood the struggles of not being allowed out of the house much and tweaked the game by allowing players to play from the comfort of their own homes without having to leave. Jack in particular gained from this game as it helped reduce his anxiety and merely forget about world walking around in ‘scary masks’ as he once described it and for a second feeling like the world was as he knew it once more.
The impact of being secluded from socialisation
As someone who strives from social events, being restricted to my home and only being surrounded by my household has been extremely difficult for me. In a normal year I attend around 3 to 6 comic cons a year in London and around the country, as well as attending numerous amounts of concerts. Luckily in January I was able to go to London for the day to attend Winter Wonderland but unfortunately, I’ve not attending a single comic con, and as I have been attending them for over 8 years now, it was a huge shock to my mental health. Not having any count downs in my phone to seeing stars I admire from TV or the friends I have made from all across the world has been extremely difficult for me. But I also try to find a positive.
Here’s to the future
Most nights I have been messaging friends or daydreaming about everything I want to do once this pandemic is over, and I think that’s the best thing anyone can do when you’re in this situation. Reminding yourself that this situation, in relation to your whole life, is only a small chunk of time and soon it will all be over, and we can go back to life as we knew it. If this pandemic has taught me anything it’s to not take anything for granted again and to always say yes. Sometimes my friends or family would ask me to go out for lunch or go on a night out with them and I’d always use the excuse of ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘I can’t be bothered’. But I won’t be using that anymore. Say yes to new adventures, even if you’re too tired, because life is too short to take for granted. Make memories with the ones you have around you and enjoy life to the fullest.