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Covid Stories: "When we finally aren't busy, we’re exhausted"

Heather, Cardiff, 17 May 2020

Heather's contribution to the Collecting Covid: Wales 2020 questionnaire project.

My poor 5-year-old daughter misses her school and her friends. Both my husband and I work full time in the house and constantly shush her and tell her "not now we're busy". When we finally aren't busy, we’re exhausted. I think the constant distractions in the house cause more energy and focus to be needed for the same work I was doing without distractions in the office before the lockdown. I commuted to work by bicycle before – something that blasts you with cold air and physical exertion, and clears your head and invigorates you. Without that, I end up like a zombie at the end of the day, and can't find energy enough to engage with my kid fully. I've tried to go for bike rides anyway, but without a purpose to them, I can't find the motivation to go. My kid watches a disgusting amount of television now.

I thought I would end up snacking more throughout the day and eating larger meals now that they all have to be cooked at home, but that hasn't really happened. My constant battle to muster enough unbroken concentration in the work day doesn't really leave room for aimless snacking. But without the bike riding and walking and dancing I used to do regularly, I'm still getting fatter. I've had to cut myself down from my normal food intake just so my trousers will stop being unbearably tight, but I've just ended up filling that hole with alcohol. So, the battle continues.

Social distancing is our one main defence. When we bring groceries or other purchases into the house, my husband washes them with soap and water. I always feel like that's over-the-top, so I just lay it all out and spray it with Dettol. Unless I'm feeling particularly like the world has gone mad and nothing makes sense and how on Earth could a person possibly contract a deadly virus from a packet of biscuits. In which case, I just put the stuff away in the cupboards and wash my hands and pour a drink and call it job-done.

I think my personality is particularly vulnerable to caged-bird-syndrome. I like to flit between places and people on whims. They said at the beginning of this that the Age of Introverts is upon us, but that was silly. How can I possibly find time alone to recharge my introverted energy bank when I'm trapped all day in a tiny house with two other trapped people? I go to bed exhausted and low and wake up the same as if I never actually went to bed. I feel like a zombie, and I feel infinite guilt.

Actually, this questionnaire has been surprisingly therapeutic. Thank you. I don't think I've ever been asked these things or ever had to stop and think what my answers to any of these questions are. I feel strangely lighter – like I just spent a half hour in the confessional and can just leave it all there when I walk out.

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