When a pandemic hits…

I don’t really know where to begin with this post….for some time I haven’t really felt like writing/blogging whatever you want to call it. I always found it a release from everyday life which can be stressful to say the least. The last couple of years has changed that for obvious reasons. I found work was becoming my life and I didn’t realise how much that affected everyone else, not just myself. I am a self confessed recluse at times and love my own company….what can I say I’m fabulous. I began to lose a lot of myself due to this which I didn’t realise.  Life has changed a lot for everyone over the past couple of years with being in and out of lockdown, isolation periods, wearing masks, distancing…the list is endless, however this really let me feel that being a recluse was okay…..which for me it isn’t.

Lets be honest living through a healthcare pandemic is hard but working as a nurse through it has been horrendous. I don’t think I actually realised how difficult it has been until this year. When your day to day job changed to looking after patients with covid, living in constant fear you might get it or give it to a loved one, constantly struggling to go into work but knowing you needed to…..every day became a constant fight. As a manager I found it even more difficult because I had to go in and be a reassuring ear for my staff, constantly making sure they were all okay even when you knew they weren’t but there was very little you could actually do to help. It was awful. This is still something I struggle with.

Our daily schedule changed to going to work and coming home. We all worked 13 hour shifts and did constant overtime to help. We wore PPE for the entire day. Everyone had to have their breaks apart to maintain social distancing and prevent the risk of infection. Our hands became more raw from hand sanitiser. People had their skin damaged due to constant FFP3 masks being wore. We didn’t see loved ones at all because we didn’t want to risk giving them a virus we didn’t even know if we had. Swabbing patients nearly every other day has became routine. This is still our ‘normal’ for everyone which shouldn’t be normal.

Because our daily life changed instantly our mindset changed. Coming home after a 13hour shift and sitting on the sofa having that glass of wine and watching tv devloped into our new routine. I found I didn’t want to talk when I got home because no one understood what work was like except your colleagues. As a profession we have always relied so much on each other but the pandemic amplified that requirement 10-fold. After a while it felt automatic, doing the same thing day in day out. When I was off I found I didn’t even want to go for a walk, my head wasn’t functioning the way it normally did…well normal for me. I became so introverted that when everything began to seep out…..booooom.

Looking back on the past year and a half I started to become so irritable, angry with the world if you will. I was processing information differently, my rational side was non existent at times. I took this and directed it at loved ones, colleagues, friends…myself. At the time though you don’t see it. I didn’t realise how I was at times, how emotional I had become, how unmotivated and sluggish I was, how I had became so sedentary…….and when I did, it was hard. It is so hard to admit to yourself that you have changed and need to look at everything. It is so hard to admit to yourself that you aren’t okay, it is even harder to tell someone you care about that you aren’t okay. I can honestly say it was the best thing I done.

Talking about everything is never easy, I’ve been there several times and I seem to fall into the same old patterns however this time feels different. This time was me choosing to do something about it rather than being ‘forced’ or ‘encouraged’ to do it. Because I have done everything to make myself feel better of my own accord and I can say I feel the best I have in a long long time. As much as the pandemic has been an absolute ‘shit show’, it has really allowed me to reflect on what is important in life and what actually matters. As much as I love being a nurse, the friendship from colleagues is the best part for me. Family will always be there and support you no matter what. My husband is my absolute rock and takes me as I am…the good and the bad. Reminding myself that work is work and you can also have a life has been the best thing.

I woke up today feeling so movativated and empowered. This week has been great for me. I still worked but I also went out with my husband, seen my best friend, did something else because I wanted to and didn’t feel like I had to. Have I sat on the sofa, of course, but I know I can get up when I want to. I have started to read again and take time for myself but in a constructive way. I feel like I have so much zest for life again and feel so inspired to get going.

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