I saw a meme on Instagram near the start of lockdown that said we’re not all in the same boat but we are all in the same storm. This really resonated with me and I think one of the positive things to come out of what has truly been an awful few months, is that from many there has been a lot more empathy for those experiencing different things at different times during the lockdown. We’ve all experienced highs and lows at different times but on my social media there has largely been a collective lift up when anyone was feeling down.
My concern is now as we start to come out of the storm this can be the scariest time of all. We’ve already seen rules being relaxed, then brought back into force, and you can feel the anxiety rising in all areas. This uncertainty reminds me very much of when I was recovering from my broken ankle. I thought the worse bit would be being stuck in an air cast boot, housebound unless someone took me out, and I saw many parallels to this at start of lockdown. People felt trapped, bored but we all knew what was expected of us. I knew at the start of recovery that my priority was to rest and let the bone heal so I could be back to normal ASAP, and that is largely what we all felt in lockdown, follow the rules and it will get back to normal.
When I came out of the cast was when I started to suffer with a few anxiety attacks. In the cast I knew what I could and couldn’t do and there was a feeling of safety associated with that, I knew what was expected of me. Out of the cast I had been told I could pretty much do what I liked, but don’t go overboard and I’d know my limitations! That was scary – what if I didn’t know? And the times we’re in now feel pretty similar, go out, support local businesses, start getting back to normal, but knowing that at any time we may take a step backwards. It’s all pretty confusing, scary and anxiety inducing – knowing what you can and can’t do, however restrictive, is much simpler.
I have almost written this post a few times during lockdown but thought it might be a bit glib or a bit simplistic. I also struggled to work out what I wanted to say other than the recovery from something traumatic can sometimes be worse and scarier than the trauma itself. With my ankle, in the early recovery days, my fight or flight was in overdrive, I could see danger everywhere, I couldn’t do what I had before so easily but something inside of me knew I had to keep trying. I had to cautiously take those first steps, experience the fear and anxiety but then build on the confidence of each recovery step completed.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that it will be only natural to feel a bit anxious, overwhelmed and at times scared at what lies ahead in this recovery period. These are all perfectly normal emotions to feel in uncertain and new times, but I think it is easy for us to compare and think what we “should” be doing. What helped me was others kindness and patience, understanding and letting me take things at my own pace. My recovery may have been slower or faster than others with the same injury, but it didn’t matter to those that matter. I am trying to approach this whole uncertainty with kindness and understanding in the same way that I received.
Kindness to myself was also important. I would feel silly in the early days for being worried about going out on a rainy day for example, in case I slipped. I thought others would think I was silly, but largely they’d just offer an arm for support. It is important to offer yourself that supportive arm too and know that it is ok to go at your own pace.
Whilst our storm may have downgraded to intermittent downpours we’re all experiencing those at different times still in different boats, some boats in better condition than others after the storm. Let’s hope everyone can share that kindness.