Seasonal Affective Disorder hits different during a winter lockdown, it turns out
So, it’s November. It’s freezing. It’s raining. It’s starting to get dark by around 3:30pm, Max is showing all the signs of being ready to drop his afternoon nap for good, and we’ve just heard that, as of Friday, our part of Scotland will be returning to full lockdown until December 11th … at least.
Here is actual footage of me watching the First Minister’s briefing in which this was announced:
On the one hand, I have to acknowledge here that this return to lockdown, unwelcome though it is, won’t really change our family’s lives all that much. Well, I mean, you have to actually HAVE a life in order for it to be changed, and we’ve been under at least some form of restrictions for such a long time now that “having a life” is not something we could reasonably be accused of right now. (Or, in my case, EVER, really, because, LOL, look at me trying to pretend it’s just Covid making my life boring AF, and, without it I’d be out living my best life, and, I dunno, jumping out of airplanes or whatever people who have interesting lives do, I wouldn’t know.)
All the same, though, while we haven’t actually been doing many of the things this latest lockdown will render illegal (We haven’t been inside a restaurant since February, for instance, and I can’t even remember the last time I was in a pub. Again, that’s nothing to do with Covid, it’s because I have no friends. Wait, did I say that out loud?), the fact that we COULD do them if we really wanted to was at least some comfort to us, you know?
As for the things we COULD do, meanwhile, well, I’m not saying they’ve been fun, exactly, because they’ve mostly had to be done outdoors (Most indoor activities having been banned already..), and, trust me, NOTHING is fun outdoors in November here, but they have at least helped pass the time, and that’s been a huge thing for us this year, because there’s just been SO MUCH TIME and SO LITTLE to actually fill it that one time we drove all the way to Edinburgh JUST to go to Waitrose, JUST to buy a treacle tart that Terry said was only available in that one supermarket, and nowhere else in the country.
(Just to emphasize how freaking BORED I’ve been, when Terry suggested we undertake this Quest for the Treacle Tart That Only Waitrose Sells I was pretty damn excited by it, purely because I knew it would kill some time, and the subject of How to Kill the Time has been all-consuming….)
Here, for instance, is a photo of Max and I climbing a small mound of earth in what felt to me like sub-zero temperatures, but which apparently felt to Max like “I Will Repeatedly Take My Hat Off, Just Because I Can” temperatures:
We went here for a walk, because that’s all we’re really allowed to do right now. And I know going for a walk sounds like a nice, wholesome kind of activity – like, the kind of thing a better person than me would describe as “quality time with the family” – but I spent most of that walk begging Max to put his hat back on, and HE spent most of it shouting, “I HATE THIS BORING PLACE, I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE, I WANT TO GO TO A PLAYPARK.” Then he stepped in dog poop, and we went home, the end. These violent delights have violent ends, indeed.
Even this feeble attempt at “fun”, however, will soon be forbidden to us, because while we WILL still be allowed to go outside for “exercise” once Lockdown: The Sequel starts on Friday (Which, by the way, don’t even get me started. Like, what’s the point of telling people we’ll be locking down, but not until the weekend, so feel free to do whatever you like until then? My Facebook feed is currently full of people desperately trying to book last-minute hair appointments and see their families before Friday, which will NO WAY cause a spike in Covid transmission, will it?), it’s going to be illegal to leave our district (“What if there isn’t a Waitrose in your district, though?!” I wailed at the TV when I heard this…), and this particular walk is about 2 miles outside the boundaries of ours, so you can totally see how reckless we’d have to be to go back there after Friday. Yes.
Anyway. This winter lockdown is obviously not unexpected – in fact, I’ve been worrying about it all year, really – but it IS, nonetheless disheartening and depressing. As I said in this post, a winter lockdown is a very different prospect from a summer one, and I know I’m far from the only one to be feeling very low as a result of it. I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder even on a good year – which this year patently is NOT – and no amount of light therapy or fresh air is going to make up for the fact that we’re now stuck at home for most of the “festive” season, without even the prospect of a change of scenery to cheer us up. (And, of course, Christmas as we know it now hangs dangerously in the balance. I can’t even.)
I know we’re not allowed to complain, because people like to pretend that anyone who dares to admit they’re not loving lockdown is basically saying they’d rather catch Covid and DIE instead, but, honestly. HONESTLY. It’s been a long year, people, I think we’re allowed to complain just a LITTLE bit, no? (OR, OK, for roughly 1000 words, maybe more depending on how much longer I can string this out for…)
It could be worse, obviously, but it’s just… I’m just bored, you know? Like, I have literally NEVER been so bored in my entire life, and I once worked in local government PR, so trust me when I tell you, I know boredom. I didn’t even know it was POSSIBLE to be So. Damn. Bored. I mean, yesterday I Kon-Mari’d Terry’s underwear drawer and arranged all his boxers by colour, and if that doesn’t scream OHMYGODSOBORED to you then I don’t know what will.
And meanwhile, of course, the Internet is just bursting at the seams with people who are having a better lockdown than me. There they are, all cosied-up in their blankets, talking about how much they’re appreciating the opportunity to “slow down” and “appreciate the little things” again, and here I am, getting up in the pitch dark every morning in order to watch hamsters navigate obstacle courses on You Tube with my toddler, in a desperate bid to buy myself a few minutes to drink the necessary amount of coffee to get me through the rest of the day.
For us, as for most people with small children, lockdown basically signals the end of any opportunities for “self-care”, and a return to the days of juggling childcare and work, while endlessly sniping at each other, because I did 2 hours 20 minutes of childcare on MY shift, and YOU only did 2 hours and four minutes on YOURS, so now you owe me 16 minutes worth of childcare, which I’m going to use to lock myself in the bathroom and count how many times I have to read the words “cosy” and “snuggle” in other people’s Instagram captions.
It’s not fun. It’s not relaxing. It’s not a welcome break from our hectic lives, or an opportunity for extra family time: hell, it’s not even a good excuse to binge-watch The Crown on Netflix, because who’s got time for THAT during lockdown-with-a-toddler? Other than everyone I follow on Instagram, I mean? And, OK, us on Sunday night, but that doesn’t count because we have to have at least ONE night off a week, right?
And I think that brings us up to date. To recap:
01. Back in lockdown: yay!
02. Christmas possibly cancelled: FFS!
03. If you’re enjoying this, I’m jealous of you and want your life.
04. Something about Waitrose treacle tarts.
05. I don’t even like treacle tarts, though?
06. Some people set up obstacle courses for hamsters, then film them for You Tube, so that’s an image that’s in your head now: you’re welcome.
07. Yes, I know some people have it worse right now, spare me.
08. In one piece of good news, the Scottish government have decided NOT to reinstate shielding, as they did during the last lockdown, which means that people like Terry, who are considered extremely vulnerable to Covid-19, are under the same restrictions as the rest of the population, and are not being asked to lock themselves in a single room of their house this time around. Instead, they’ve just to “be vigilant” – which is what we were planning to do anyway, even if shielding WAS re-instated. That was actually the main thing I was planning to write about in this post, but, hey, looks like I got sidetracked by the treacle tarts, then that whole “hamster” thing, so please just pretend I said something interesting and insightful about it: thanks in advance.