Readers on lockdown 3: ‘I refuse to come out of this looking like Peppa Pig’

From Clare to Kildare and Cork to Dublin, readers share personal experiences of lockdown

Philip Kennedy: ‘At this moment in time, I would drink a pint of that vaccine if they put it in front of me if it meant I could get on a plane.’

Philip Kennedy: ‘At this moment in time, I would drink a pint of that vaccine if they put it in front of me if it meant I could get on a plane.’

 

I found it hard to switch off over Christmas
Tara Treacy, Cork
I’m a university college student in UCC and it’s very tough. Exams after Christmas and assignments due before and after Christmas I found it hard to “switch off” over Christmas but I’m living with two of my best friends who are in my course so we are doing lectures and assignments together. We are all living away from home in a small college apartment but we are trying to make it work.

I struggle mentally
Muhammad Nasir
I started my first office job this September and I’ve only known the office life and my co-workers through Microsoft Teams. Most days during work at home I struggle mentally and I don’t see people enough for anyone to know it.

Who could help us if we were to be admitted to hospital? What would happen to our daughter
Kirsty Diaso, Dublin
Lockdown 3 feels very different and uneasy to other lockdowns. The fist lockdown we were told it would be for a few weeks to “flatten the curve”, yet here we are nine months later with no end in sight. I want to trust the professionals but don’t feel like any action they’re taking is helping to stem the spread. Its all very upsetting and hard to stay motivated. With the slow roll out of the vaccine, it makes you wonder if we will ever see the light at the end of this or if this is the new norm.

I work in the travel industry, I managed to survive the cull they made to the work force in March 2020. However, hope is now fading that things will improve in our sector and I live on edge everyday that I will lose my job if things don’t drastically change. I am British and my husband Nigerian, we have a one-year-old daughter and are currently living in rented accommodation.

We absolutely love Ireland and living here. We worry if we lose our home due to arrears, where would we go?! We also worry what would happen if we contracted the virus. Who could help us with basic shopping, if we were to be admitted to hospital? What would happen to our daughter. The thoughts are constantly swirling around my head, like being on a never ending hamster wheel.

Our neighbours don’t realise but they have kept us going through the darkest days. From food parcels left on the doorstep, flowers for us to plant in the garden and keep us busy, the daily brief chats over the driveway walls, buying us baby socks and vests in the next size up for our daughter before the shops closed. They really are the salt of the earth and our heroes throughout this pandemic.

Lockdown 3 is a very lonely place
Susan Kennelly, Ennis, Co Clare
Lockdown 3 is a very lonely place It is an in-between place. Some days lockdown completely immobilises me and I just don’t know what to do. The days are long and even after the daily walk or quick dash to the shop I sometimes feel worse, not better.

There is such a big world out there and I can only see a little bit of it. Ironically, I received the free travel pass during lockdown. I miss conversation so much. We are a seniors couple and are together all day long, every day. I love him dearly and wouldn’t change a thing but from time to time we do need others around us. Our children and their partners are in different counties and we cannot see them.

The joy of seeing them at Christmas for their short visit was amazing and it was the first time I cried. I long for the day when we can meet up again with family and friends.

Staying home all the time and being in one environment is damaging to mental health
Nina Zandukeli, Ennis, Co Clare
We are a couple living in countryside in Clare. My boyfriend is working in construction, so most of the times he was available to work while I was laid off in March 2020. We are both rock climbers and the climbing gym whenever it was open was our only happiness.

My muscles hurt from being home for so long; no matter how many times a day I exercise at home, the majority of my time will be not moving. While rock climbing is an individualistic sport, and there is no way of virus being transmitted, no one had thought to consider to leave those sports be.

Staying home all the time and being in one environment is damaging to mental health. I am lucky to live with my boyfriend – what about others who live alone?

There is a silent fear that this lockdown will not be the last
Anne Browne, Lifford, Co Donegal
Lockdown lives: I think I have become very used to them. I am now used to conditions which just 12 months ago would have been entirely inconceivable; wearing face masks, hand sanitising and maintaining social distance. I have three grown-up children, all of whom are under a great deal of pressure.

They are living in a limbo situation, quite literally unable to progress with their independent adult lives. They are forbidden to socialise with their peers, forbidden to engage in sporting activities, forbidden to attend college. Young people need their peers. To continually deny them this social contact could prove very harmful in the long term And furthermore there is a silent fear that this lockdown will not be the last.

I do my best to reassure and to remain as upbeat as I can. I also feel for my 16-year-old son, who is in Transition Year. He had such big plans for this year. He says he doesn’t mind but when football training was cancelled once again I knew he was really tiring of this inertia.

My youngest son is 11 and he misses his football too and seeing his school friends. He wants to go back to school. School is much more than just a place of learning. My husband and I are both secondary school teachers. We live in a disadvantaged area and not all of our students are capable of accessing remote learning. We both have exam classes and worry about them.

We do not want them to be doubly disadvantaged but I suppose they already are. The uncertainty at present is the most difficult aspect of all this to deal with. We all want to go back and lead normal lives. The question is will this ever be possible?

I’ve no idea how my children children will ever have security in their future
Annette O’Malley, Castlebar, Co Mayo
I have two daughters. One is at national school here in Ireland and the other is at boarding school in England. It’s been so difficult trying to navigate the restrictions of two different countries. Up until October I could fly alternate weekends to the UK. I am waiting to see if the UK flight ban will be lifted, as right now I can’t visit her or I will not be able to come back.

I’ve had to quarantine permanently between visits anyway, missing hospital appointments and unable to see anyone or do anything outside our home with my youngest daughter. I may well relocate to the UK. temporarily. I mean what can Tusla really do if I choose to keep my daughter out of school this year?

She’ll be leaving to join her sister at school in the UK anyway in September so I may just home school until then. It’s a minefield. I have no idea how these children will ever have security in their future knowing that at any moment the entire world could go nuts again.

One of the joys of the lockdown is having more time to do things I loved when I was not so time poor

Meiread Ashe with her dog.
Meiread Ashe with her dog.

Having endured five lockdowns, it feels like my life is in a state of suspension
Meiread Ashe, Clane, Co Kildare
I live in rural Kildare and at this point having endured five lockdowns am a little tired of the restrictions. It feels like my life at times is in a state of suspension. I keep myself busy walking the dog and taking pictures on a daily basis. I realise how lucky I am that I or any of my family have contracted the virus and we all continue with our employment, so the financial impacts have been minimum.

I find that my routine is totally disrupted and I have to make very concerted efforts to eat regularly and to sleep. One of the joys of the lockdown is having more time to do things I loved when I was not so time poor, like photography and birdwatching.

Teaching junior infants online is a very daunting task
Denise Ward
There is nothing more that I want than to get back to doing my job the way I was trained to do it. As a junior infant teacher, every day is usually filled with games, stories, songs, dancing and, of course, play. It is about social interactions with each other in the class, learning language from each other through all of these fun methodologies. Teaching junior infants online in January is a very daunting task. Will they sit and listen to me on a computer screen? I don’t think so. Is sending work home to be completed independently enough? No.

We are threading waters unknown. During the first lockdown we had almost reached Easter – a time when revision begins and we enjoy more time outdoors at school. January, however, is a whole other ball game. There is much left to cover, important foundations to be laid to prepare the children to move on through the school. While I will give this my very best I feel it is impossible to do it online and I therefore feel I am letting my little students down. I have a very vulnerable family member – my father.

It has been our fear since last March that he would contract the virus. If I could wrap him up in cotton wool I would but our only current plan is to keep him safe by keeping distance. In the midst of this pandemic I am also planning a wedding. A wedding that we are so unsure about. The plans go ahead. We want to be married but when the planning began we imagined a day very different to the one we do now.

The dream of having a great family get together has changed to a hope of being able to have all of our immediate family at least. A dream one might have since they were a child snatched away by Covid 19 – if that is all it takes from us we will count ourselves lucky.

I fear that I will become addicted to painkillers
Sabrina Devine, Newbridge, Co Kildare
I’m living with fibromyalgia and a physical disability. Swimming has been my only form of exercise that I can do without being in pain for days. I fear that I will become addicted to painkillers as swimming is part of my pain-management routine.

The Government’s handle on the situation is terrible.

Also they promised that pools would stay open during all levels of lockdown and they lied. I cannot go for long walks or jogging or running. In short this Government is full of lies and making a mess out things. This is not the Government I voted for.

Aundrea O’Connor.
Aundrea O’Connor.

For better or worse this pandemic has brought (if not pushed) us closer together
Aundrea O’Connor, Moate, Athlone, Westmeath
I live with my parents and my 13-year-old daughter. I’ve never been too comfortable complaining about these lockdowns because I am more than aware I could be laying in a hospital bed hooked up to a ventilator. I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge and live in comfortable surroundings. How these lockdowns have affected the people around me is a different story.

My daughter began secondary school in September – she had been out of school for six months and it was a tough transition. Faced with the possibility the schools may close again, I have noticed an anxiety about her, the lack of social interaction she experienced during the first lockdown made a huge dent in her confidence. I very much believe that facing the possibility of another is weighing on her in a way it didn’t first time around, this time she knows what’s in front of her.

Kids are incredibly resilient and my hope is under the guidance of her teachers and those around her, we will be able to navigate this lockdown with a little more ease. I also see what these lockdowns have done to small business’. My father, who has never missed a day of work in his entire life, has once again found himself trying to fill his day with all manner of distractions, odd jobs around the house, re-decorating bedrooms, gardening. He has spent his entire life in his family’s (now his) clothing store, which has been opening its doors for almost 77 years.

We closed those doors for the first time back in March, to my surprise he handled that lockdown beautifully but you can always see the worry . . . when will we be able to open again . . . what if we never open again . . . will we still have customers . . . should I buy in seasonal stock. My Father has put his life, his time and nothing but sheer devotion into that beautiful shop every day since his childhood. I could not be more proud of him.

Every house in the country has experienced the cracks of poor moods, depression, boredom, tantrums . . . but I believe for better or worse this pandemic has brought (if not pushed) us closer together.

At this stage, motivation is at an all time low
Bríd Sheridan
I am a single mother of one teenage son, a civil servant and have been working remotely since March. I would estimate that I have spent 80 to 90 per cent of my time alone since March. I feel that people in my situation (and in my line of work) are completely forgotten at every turn. At this stage, motivation is at an all time low.

The thoughts of each morning sitting alone, no one to speak to and little or no support from employer is becoming overwhelming. I, along with my son, are currently isolating as he is a close contact of a positive case and to be honest, it’s no different to how the last 10 months have been. Not sure of how much more negative news, isolation and misery any person can endure.

We still have at least another two, maybe three lockdowns to go, and that’s me being optimistic
Tom Lynch, Dublin
I feel lost going into lockdown number three. Facing lockdown one I was worried about the potential pit falls of working from home and boredom. I, therefore, put a strategy in place with a running program I quickly felt the benefits to my mood and sleep. I used a similar strategy for lockdown two investing in a small home gym (dumbells, a bench and resistance bands) which I use nearly everyday.

I am feeling much stronger, fitter and confident. I recently read that we are now best placed as individuals to deal with lockdowns due to our familiarity with them.

I don’t believe this to be true – my resilience is waning because we have lost the hope that existed in lockdown one (e.g. flattening the curve) and two (e g. Potential Christmas celebrations). The earliest we can expect to see the vaccine making a realistic difference will be in the latter part of this year. It seems to me that we still have at least another two, maybe three lockdowns to go, and that’s me being optimistic.

Everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright. . . it’s not the end
Philip Kennedy, Dublin
Lockdown 3 is different. I moved into my first home that I purchased on my own just one week before national lockdown. I am a secondary school teacher also. Overnight my empty, scarcely furnished home became a hybrid of a gym, an office, a home pub, a table quiz hall (didn’t we all do Zoom quizzes?), and a place to lay my head at night. It also became a place where I missed my family, friends, and colleagues more than words can say. It was a place where I felt the sadness of grief whereby I mourned the loss of the exciting and thrilling time those early days, and weeks in a new home should be.

The second lockdown was short, sharp, and painful. No longer comforted by the tantalising sun rays which kept so many of us afloat during lockdown one, I felt the bleak midwinter – just like we all did. I felt lucky to be going to work everyday to maintain some sense of “normal”, but I felt apathetic and the experience was futile. I felt I was a the lead contestant in a game of whackamole and the Government was using the hammer to keep us all at bay to buy time for an eventual surge of cases which was inevitable. “This is such a waste of time,” I felt myself saying almost daily.

This time around things are different. Sometimes you really do have to wait until January to break bad habits, and build new ones – and that’s just a fact. I have ditched the comfort food, the chocolate, the wine, the JustEat app which had taken up residency on my iPhone, and instead have decided to give the extra kilos which have taken up a permanent home on my hips their P45! I have some fancy new kettlebells (check me out, what?), a new pair of runners and a routine. I refuse to come out of this year in lockdown looking like I’m about the audition for the title role in ‘Peppa Pig the Musical’.

Hope is on the horizon. I am confidently optimistic I will get my thrillifying days in my new home again this year – the ones I lost out on last year. There will be time for gatherings and parties. These thoughts lift me up during those blips in the day.

“It’s nearly over,” I say to myself. I am uplifted by the thought that this year I will have the life I should’ve had last year. I will have a second chance at that life – how lucky am I? I have signed up to a 60 day sanctuary meditation challenge (I know. . . pure notions!). I look forward to meeting my new niece Emilia this year when I travel to England. I am motivated to stay positive for the hugs and kisses I will be greeted with when I finally visit my sister and my nephew Luca in the UK. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen them. I miss them terribly.

At this moment in time, I would drink a pint of that vaccine if they put it in front of me if it meant I could get on a plane. We’re nearly there. The end is in sight. Everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright. . . it’s not the end.

I honestly don’t think I’ll see my parents until the vaccine program is complete
David Vaughan, Blanchardstown, Dublin
Lockdown 3.0? It feels more like an extension of Lockdown 2. I shouldn’t complain. I can’t. I’m lucky enough to work in IT, can work from home, and have not been laid off or such. The mortgage is being paid, the bills are being covered, the savings have grown. All positive, all good, and all feel mostly useless. Life feels empty, like a long drawn out case of Groundhog Day.

I’ve not seen my family since one weekend after Lockdown 1 was softened. I don’t have a commute for now, but while I don’t miss the wasted time, I do miss being able to see my city and its wonderful, weird, rough, smart and good inhabitants each day as I travelled through the city centre.

I miss seeing my colleagues in the flesh. We were in the middle of moving office when Lockdown 1 came on us last March, my desk sits empty, waiting for whenever I get back there. For now, I’ve been content to explore as best possible the backways, roads, alleys, and nooks and crannies of Blanchardstown. Its home after all. I’m incredibly grateful to have a husband to keep me sane, and a cat who, despite being with us nine years, keeps us both amused, happy, and reminds us that we’re not the centre of the universe, in his furry opinion. I’ve a gnawing fear of my elderly parents getting sick, so I’ve avoided heading to visit the family in Clare since this all began.

I honestly don’t think I’ll see my parents until the vaccine program is complete – I’d be in the last General Population group to get the jab – and while its frustrating, I’ve personal experience of how important vaccines are. I’m perfectly prepared to wait for others sakes. What have I learned? I’m a lot tougher than I gave myself credit for. I knew I was somewhat of a loner type, but this extended “every day the same” existence has stressed my limits. However, I have not cracked, have not broken. It feels like a victory over the line of crap that life has dealt us all over the last year, and which will continue for the foreseeable. Screw you Covid, I’m still here.

I’ve learned that while Ireland is a very imperfect home, it still beats a lot of places on this planet and that includes countries we would have regarded as ‘superior’. I’ve learned that there’s always people far worse off than you. Don’t just think of yourself – consider others needs and safety as well. If we all think like that, hopefully Lockdown 3 will be beaten, we get the jab, and life returns. It’ll be a new normal, when it returns, but it’ll still be a normal. This pessimist loner has become an optimist for the future, maybe?

It’s very hard to keep your spirits up
Sandra McDonnell, Dublin
I’m deeply unhappy to spend more time indoors alone with my husband without any hope of it ending. Other countries are rolling out vaccines so well and we are just floundering. It’s very hard to keep your spirits up. Come on guys. Get it sorted soon.

The pandemic has brought my husband and I closer
Kathleen Cox
As I am over 70 with pre-existing medical conditions I have been more or less in isolation since March. I thought it was crazy to open up the way we did for Christmas. Particularly when there was a massive surge in Northern Ireland. I am doing my shopping to keep me sane.

I am lucky that I can afford to have ongoing sessions with a psycho therapist. This helps to keep anxiety at bay. On a positive note, the pandemic has brought my husband and I closer as we have been spending more time together

There is a sense of foreboding
Catherine Crowe, Athy, Co Kildare
We knew this was coming, how could it not but it seemed like an acceptable trade off for having some type of Christmas. It clearly isn’t. Things feel very different now. We knew few people during the first lock down who contracted the virus, even within our older children’s circle. This time around we know quite a few and members of our family have had to be tested.

We are quite worried now and that I think is the biggest difference between this lockdown and the others. Life goes on, we work and study from home as we’ve done before but there is a sense of foreboding which is new. We patiently wait for the roll-out of the vaccine and hope that come spring the evening’s will not be the only thing getting brighter.

I’ve no choice but to take unpaid leave
Susan Pollock, Dublin
I’m an essential healthcare worker in the community and feel much more nervous this time around. We are not getting clear directives and now I have no childcare and no choice but to take unpaid leave. Its much more difficult this time.

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