Lockdown: On for Six Months Metro News


‘Sat on the couch with the distant in my hand, my then-boyfriend tried to persuade me that what we had been watching on TV was a historic second,’ recollects James Hawkridge.

‘However I simply didn’t consider it – and as a substitute informed him to close up and to not be foolish.’

On Monday 23 March at 7pm, James, 26, was among the many 27.5million individuals who witnessed Prime Minister Boris Johnson announce stay on tv that the UK could be positioned into lockdown.

Places of work and non-essential outlets could be shut, individuals might solely go away their properties for one hour of train a day, except they had been a key employee, wanted medical help, or if one member of a family needed to do a meals store.

The message was easy: keep house, save lives.

Six months on – and with the rising risk of a second nationwide lockdown looming – all of us lived our personal distinctive experiences. Some constructive, some devastating, however what all of us have in frequent is that our lives have modified eternally not directly.

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For James, lockdown pressured him to confront his substance abuse points.

He admits that when the prime minister had completed his broadcast, he really felt fairly excited.

He had been ready for one thing ‘huge’ to occur to the individuals of his technology – and this was lastly it.

‘I felt like I ought to buckle up my seat belt and prepare to concentrate’, remembers James.

Up till that time, he’d been going out weekly to raves and recurrently taking medication corresponding to MDMA, G (liquid ecstasy) and Ketamine.

‘Being identified with HIV final October, a breakup and normal private points meant that I had switched off emotionally and had stopped fascinated by myself and my future,’ he admits. ‘I felt alone and my substance utilization quickly spiralled’.

Underneath the brand new lockdown restrictions, James determined to stay at a good friend’s place in Liverpool, away from his house of Birmingham – and his drug-related associates.

‘I did have one relapse in that month,’ he says. ‘However the comedown was so drawn out after being off medication for weeks, that I knew it was time for me to go sober.’

In keeping with the International Drug Survey, 42% of individuals polled mentioned they’d decreased their MDMA utilization slightly or so much since earlier than Covid-19.

‘I solely had one additional relapse,’ admits James. ‘A final hurrah earlier than I moved again to my very own place.’

‘On the time I believed I had a deal with on my earlier substance abuse, however it made me realise that whereas I wasn’t addicted, there was a component of myself that I couldn’t management on them, which I didn’t like.


‘I knew it was time for me to go sober’ (Image: James Hawkridge)

‘The morning after I realised I wasn’t happy with who I used to be once I was excessive.’

James says that the mixture of sobriety and lockdown made him see he had so many issues he wished to do together with his life. He missed having a health routine, having the ability to exit and discover nature and meet up with pals correctly.

‘Earlier than, I had felt caught for thus lengthy,’ he remembers. ‘Now I discovered that the lust for all times that I used to affiliate with getting excessive was current once I was sober. Waking up within the morning, making a espresso and smoothie, and preparing for the day introduced me a lot pleasure.

‘Medication had been a plaster I used to be placing over so many areas of my life. I used to be utilizing them to really feel good as a result of I didn’t have one other strategy to do it.’

Practically 1 / 4 of these polled within the International Drug Survey additionally mentioned that their psychological well being had improved because of limiting their MDMA utilization throughout lockdown, whereas one in 10 revealed they had been feeling extra pleasure and delight.

For James, it supplied a possibility to chop ties with pals who solely wished to see him when he was on medication, and allowed him to search out time to take care of himself.

Whereas James feels conflicted about his lockdown expertise being a fairly good one when so many individuals have had their lives devastated, he’s let go of the guilt figuring out that no less than he did one thing constructive throughout such a darkish time.

‘I’m glad that I’ve turned this example, which was pressured onto all of us, into an actual second for change’.

Nevertheless, for others it has been arduous to discover a silver lining to lockdown.

Wendy, 41, says that even with out the added stress of a pandemic, the previous six months have been tough.

Made homeless in December, after operating into hire arrears and being evicted from her housing affiliation property, she and her 11-year-old daughter had been put right into a hostel, the place they’re nonetheless residing.

‘The council have been making an attempt to push me into discovering my very own place, however I can’t afford it,’ explains Wendy.

She remembers watching the prime minister saying lockdown again in March and instantly feeling unsafe and teary.

‘I used to be at my lowest mentally on the time,’ she recollects.

Wendy in a playground

Wendy has been working all through lockdown (Image: Joshua Fray)

The hostel Wendy and her daughter stay in is made up of 5 bedrooms, with a rest room for every household.

Whereas there’s a kitchen and backyard downstairs, there isn’t a communal house to eat or chill out, which implies everybody is principally confined to their rooms, no matter whether or not there’s a lethal virus circulating.

‘It’s extraordinarily claustrophobic and I really feel caught,’ says Wendy. ‘I do know that it’s safer to maintain my distance from the opposite individuals within the hostel for the time being, although’.

Being a assist employee for susceptible teenegers fighting their psychological well being, it means Wendy is a key employee and has continued as normal all through the lockdown.

‘I’ve been again at work since 7 April, however I nonetheless fear about catching Covid-19’, she frets. ‘I’m out and in of various items, treating a number of individuals’.

She does temperature checks each morning to verify she will not be placing her daughter or the individuals she is working with in danger.

Though she feels lucky that she nonetheless has her job, Wendy admits she will’t assist however assume her household could have secured someplace everlasting by now if she was unemployed.

Actually, whereas greater than 1,000 of London’s tough sleepers had been put into accommodations throughout lockdown – with headlines even suggesting the UK was near ending homelessness – individuals like Wendy are slipping beneath the radar.

‘As a result of I’ve an earnings, there’s the belief that I ought to be capable to transfer into my very own place,’ she says. ‘I really feel like I’m at a useless finish.’

You possibly can hear the desperation in her voice as she tries to ascertain her future. To search out someplace inexpensive, she explains she must transfer away.

The council have repeatedly steered Luton, which is over an hour from the place Wendy has lived for the previous seven years – and would imply shedding her job and never having the ability to afford her hire because of this.

Given that just about 20,000 have been made homeless throughout the pandemic, and that the eviction ban got here to an finish on 20 September, there are numerous extra individuals prone to be in the identical scenario as Wendy and her daughter within the months to return.

Shelter, a charity that campaigns to finish homelessness and dangerous housing, believes that the long run answer is for there to be extra social housing – the place housing associations or native councils present properties the place rents are linked to native incomes and tenants are supplied with extra steady and long-term contracts.

‘With 1,000,000 households ready for their very own social house and the financial devastation of the pandemic beginning to hit, now could be the time to construct the protected, safe, actually inexpensive properties that this nation desperately wants,’ explains Shelter’s CEO, Polly Neate.

In the meantime, Wendy insists the very last thing she needs to be is a nuisance to the system.

‘I’m working and doing issues for myself, and I need to research too, however I would like someplace to stay first,’ she explains.

Nevertheless, cash is tight. She nonetheless has commuting prices, the hostel charges, and pays £94 a month to maintain all her possessions from her final place in storage.

On high of that, residing someplace with a ‘filthy’ shared kitchen, means she’s having to spend extra cash on ready-to-eat meals.

‘I haven’t been in a position to eat , house cooked meal in two months’, she says.

‘I’m making an attempt to not stress’, she provides,’ however there are days the place I’m so low I can’t emotionally deal with chatting with anybody, except it’s with excellent news. I really feel like I’m doing all the things I can and getting nowhere’.

Sophie at a Christmas party

Sophie was extremely lively earlier than catching coronavirus (Image: Sophie Wilson)

38-year-old Sophie Wilson can also be uncertain of what the longer term holds for her.

Previous to lockdown she had been residing in Brighton, main an lively life and dealing in PR and advertising.

Now, she resides in Crosby, Liverpool, together with her mother and father for the primary time in 20 years, unable to make the quick 30 minute journey to her good friend’s home with out utilizing a wheelchair.

When Sophie first skilled excessive fatigue and misplaced her style and scent on 13 April – across the apex of the primary peak, with a reported 4,342 new instances that day – she realised she will need to have picked up the virus.

In step with the recommendation on the time, she began to self-isolate.

‘I wasn’t too anxious, I knew individuals who had it and mentioned it was identical to a nasty flu. I informed my neighbour, “it’s not a giant deal. I’m younger and wholesome, with no underlying circumstances. I’ll get by it”,’ says Sophie, virtually laughing on the irony of the scenario.

After per week of experiencing all of the signs she’d heard about – ‘I had chills, I used to be freezing chilly and achy, it was a horrible sickness’ –  she went downhill in a short time.

‘I used to be hit with horrible fatigue and will barely get off the bed,’ remembers Sophie. ‘Then one evening I woke out of the blue and couldn’t breathe, it felt like my chest was in a vice. I actually thought I used to be going to die – that coronavirus had acquired me.’

Sophie managed to name an ambulance and crawled to the door to open it for them earlier than falling into mattress. Earlier than she did, she caught a glimpse herself within the mirror: she was gray.

When the paramedics arrived they made Sophie stroll 40 steps round her flat, which she might barely do, and checked her coronary heart and oxygen ranges.

The workforce knowledgeable her they thought she had coronavirus however couldn’t check her except they took her into hospital. As she wasn’t in dire want of a ventilator, the choice was in her fingers.

‘It was a bit ridiculous, I used to be on demise’s door and I used to be being requested what I wished to do,’ she remembers.

The paramedics informed Sophie that if she didn’t have Covid now, she would undoubtedly choose it up in the event that they took her in. So, on the recommendation of a clinician, she made the choice to remain at house and have a good friend ring her each hour to verify she was nonetheless respiratory.

From then on Sophie has suffered numerous illnesses. Three weeks after paramedics had been first known as she skilled cardiac points and horrific palpitations. ‘One evening I woke with a begin with my coronary heart going insane,’ she remembers.

After calling 999 she was positioned on a Covid ward – as docs assumed she had it – and was given blood assessments to verify whether or not she’d had a coronary heart assault.

The subsequent morning docs informed Sophie she hadn’t had one and that her palpitations had been anxiety-related.

‘They primarily informed me, within the kindest approach doable, to go house and get on with my life,’ she remembers. ‘I attempted to comply with their recommendation, however a digital yoga class and sooner or later of labor wiped me out for 5 days’.

Speaking about what life was like pre-lockdown, Sophie says, ‘I swam within the sea each morning, walked 20,000 steps every day. I used to canoe! I used to be determined to get again to how I used to be however I simply couldn’t. Even altering the sheets or taking the bins out would depart me exhausted.’

Since then Sophie has had a number of extra late evening episodes together with her coronary heart, however has resisted dialing 999 – not simply because she’s afraid of re-infection, but in addition as a result of she’s anxious she’d be informed it was all in her head.

‘I’ve by no means needed to work a lot on my psychological well being; to confront the concern that I might die in the course of the evening,’ she admits.

In late Might, Sophie made the choice to place her flat on the rental market and finally moved again in together with her mother and father in Liverpool.

Sophie, lying down

Sophie is now residing again together with her mother and father (Image: Sophie Wilson)

It meant leaving the house she cherished, in addition to nonetheless being so sick that she would sleep for days and even sit on a tenting chair whereas she showered as her vitality ranges had been so low.

Sophie now describes her relapses – of which she’s had three – as a ‘complete bloody bouquet of s**t’, as a result of they bring about on diarrhoea, blinding complications, mild sensitivity, a sore throat, conjunctivitis, muscle aches, tremors, tingling and tinnitus. She’s misplaced a few of her hair, too.

‘Then there’s insomnia and fatigue’, she goes on. ‘It’s essentially the most horrific concoction that makes you’re feeling such as you’re caught in flight or battle mode.’

Sophie has had an antibody check, which got here again damaging. Nevertheless her GP added it was probably that any antibodies she could have had can have disappeared by then, however as a consequence of her signs, was assured she will need to have had coronavirus in some unspecified time in the future.

The COVID-19 Symptom Examine app, in collaboration with King’s Faculty London researchers, has discovered that one in 10 individuals should still have signs after three weeks, and that many are struggling months later.

It additionally found that folks with gentle instances of the virus usually tend to have quite a lot of signs that come and go over an extended interval. This consists of coronary heart issues and gastrointestinal points.

Many of the ‘lengthy haulers’ Sophie has spoken to in Fb teams additionally come again as damaging for antibodies – or weren’t examined within the first place – and like them, she feels minimize off and denied from assist and analysis into the lasting unwanted effects of the virus.

Being informed it’s post-viral syndrome or simply nervousness, makes her really feel like she is being gaslit.

Nonetheless, Sophie has discovered a invaluable assist community within the on-line ‘lengthy Covid’ neighborhood.

‘Thank God for the teams is all I can say,’ she says. ‘It’s arduous for family and friends to grasp, and you may’t actually empathise till you’ve develop into an extended hauler’.

After connecting with individuals who’ve had related experiences, Sophie now swaps tales with them and so they talk about completely different treatments they’ve tried.

Because of this, Sophie feels she has adopted a ‘enjoyable free’ way of life to handle her personal signs – a weight loss plan with out wheat, gluten, dairy, caffeine, alcohol and processed meals, in addition to taking 24 dietary supplements thrice per day and following a plan that helps tempo herself and preserve her vitality.

However, she provides, regardless that these teams are a blessing, they may also be triggering.

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‘You possibly can go down a rabbit gap at 3am, particularly on these days the place you may’t muster the vitality to do something however take a look at your cellphone,’ she explains. ‘It leaves you considering, “is that this eternally now?”.

‘I hope that I’ll make a full restoration, however what’s scary is that I don’t know a single individual from my teams who has but.’

Sophie has solely simply began a phased return to work, of some hours a day with resting in between. Though it’s arduous, she says she wanted to do it for her sanity – and since she wanted to start out incomes once more as she wasn’t eligible for sick pay.

‘I’m so grateful to have my mother and father round,’ she says. ‘They’re of their 70s and in higher well being than I’m. They only need a peaceable retirement however now they’ve their little one transferring again in and it’s arduous for them.

‘However I’ve come to just accept the place I’m,’ she provides. ‘Not less than I’m alive.’

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