New Year, Same Virus

Beach setting, with a block calendar showing January and a disposable mask underneath it

So we are now in January 2021 – happy new year!

We are getting towards the end of the first week back to work after Christmas (for myself and many others), and what a week it’s been! I feel like so much has happened already, and I’m ready for another break.

As it’s a brand new month, I wanted to take part in the latest link up with a Chronic Voice. I try to take part every month, as the writing prompts help me to organise my thoughts. It’s also a good way to connect with other chronic illness and health bloggers.

January’s writing prompts are – Beginning, Symbolising, Enduring, Revealing and Gracing.


Beginning

January often feels like a new beginning. A new year, clean slate and fresh start. A time for reflection and goal setting. This year, things did not feel the same. The day before New Years Eve, most of the UK (including where I live) were put into Tier 4. This is the strictest tier and one away from a national lockdown. I didn’t really mind this as in a way it took the pressure away of feeling like you have to do something on New Years Eve (which, lets face it is usually a let down anyway).

Being in tier 4 though with the threat of another national lockdown meant that I just couldn’t be bothered with setting big goals and planning too much for the year ahead. After one day back at work this week (and one day after the kids had already gone back to school) we entered another national lockdown. After being in tiers 3 and 4 for most of this year, it hasn’t really changed my day to day life that much. The main difference is that the schools have been closed again and homeschooling has returned for many.

The extreme measures are mostly due to a new strain of the coronavirus in the UK, that spreads even faster than the first strain. It’s tough. People are fed up now as it’s almost been dragging on for a year. A year with everything on hold. So it’s hard to see January 2021 as a new beginning and to feel overly hopeful. The only hope I have is that we now have a vaccine and it’s positive to see vaccination centres popping up.

January though is a depressing month as it is. It’s dark, cold and icy meaning it’s not as easy to get outside for a walk, jog or just some fresh air. That being said, I am going to try and use this lockdown positively. I’d like to continue to work on my blog and develop my photoshop skills. In the first lockdown, I took a photoshop course and I’m proud of how much I’ve learnt. I’ve been wanting to learn it for a long time but never had the time.

I’m also excited to have lots of plans for my blog and have just launched a range of scoliosis products on Teespring. So I am looking forward to refining and developing this further in 2021. 🙂


Enduring

We have all had to endure huge changes and disruptions to our way of life in 2020 and this continues into 2021. What with living through a pandemic, working from home, limited social interaction and endless lockdowns. It’s been tough and everyone has had slightly different battles to endure.

For myself, on top of the pandemic I have had an ongoing injury to the muscles/tendon in my right leg and the pain associated with this. This has affected my ability to exercise, walk and run which has been tough in lockdown, as usually this is something that keeps me going.

I have also been enduring ongoing numbness issues in my legs and other parts of my body for years. Pre-pandemic I had every test you can imagine but nothing was found and I’ve been told to just “live with it.” I would imagine it’s linked to my scoliosis and the surgery I’ve had. But I don’t know for sure. I still worry about it daily and I would like to get a second opinion but the pandemic makes things more difficult. In addition, I feel like the Drs think I’m making it all up and sometimes it just feels exhausting going over it again and again.

Then in December, I had to have a skin biopsy on a “concerning” looking mole. These health issues have worn me out recently and caused my anxiety to get out of hand. So, in 2021 I have decided to put my health first. My chronic condition cannot be cured, but I can find ways to manage things better. I’m going to make it my mission to find a good physio (post lockdown) and get a second opinion on everything. I also want to find better ways to manage my anxiety as I can’t carry on as I have been. Exercise helps me immensely, so staying as active as I can will continue to be a priority. This will include continuing with my strength exercises to help my leg injury.

I’m a strong person, so will just keep going and moving forwards. Things always get better eventually and we are always stronger as a result of what we endure.


Symbolising

January often symbolises a fresh start and at this time of year I enjoy self reflection and setting myself some goals and focuses for the year. This year, I didn’t want to plan goals purely around events (like I did last year) that would be cancelled or not happen, as this left me feeling lost and deflated in 2020. Additionally, I didn’t want to focus all my goals around running, as I don’t know if and when I will be able to return to it. After last year, I have learnt not to build all my goals around one thing because when it goes or you can’t do it anymore, it can be difficult.

Instead, I want to focus more on things I can control and on things that will benefit my physical and mental health.

My favourite symbol is an arrow, which symbolises to keep moving forwards. I actually have an arrow tattooed on the back of my neck, above my scoliosis scar, to remind myself to keep going in tough times.

Therefore, my main overriding goal for 2021 is to keep going, to look after myself more and not to be so hard on myself when I don’t (or can’t) achieve certain things.


Revealing

Who knows what 2021 will reveal? I am trying to remain positive. In terms of Covid-19, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel with the fact that we now have a vaccine. Vaccination centres are popping up locally. My 86 year old nan even had her vaccine last week!

I don’t think “normal” pre-pandemic life will resume for a good while though. It will take time for everyone to get vaccinated and then there is this new strain that spreads quickly. I’m just grateful that I can work from home and that I have a supportive bubble (my boyfriend) that I can stay with. It’s been nice not to be rushing around and to spend some quality time with him.

I also think that this whole thing has revealed a few things about the “old life” many people (including myself) used to live. Whilst I miss some elements, I do not want to return to that “full on” exhausting way of life. Looking back, I was so full on with my exercise, running, social life etc to distract myself from feeling/thinking certain things. I certainly neglected myself and dedicated no time to self care, learning and personal development. Working from home (although endless video meetings can be taxing) provides a better work/life balance. This, (coupled with a break from running), has given me more time to blog and focus on other things.

2020 also revealed what (and who) is really important in my life. Throughout this experience, it’s the people and social interaction I have missed, rather than specific activities/events (minus parkrun!) I hope I remember to keep appreciating the small things and the people in my life, as this is what is most important.


Gracing

As we have just entered another lockdown it’s understandable that people are fed up and upset. Many may not agree with some of the rules or how things overall have been handled by the government. But all we can do now is take one day at a time, follow the rules and try to get through it together with good grace. The sooner we do this, the sooner we will be able to get back to some kind of normality.


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Stay Safe!

Louise X

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