Why I don't Want Lockdown to End. By Natascha Graham There are the obvious reasons why I don't want lockdown to end: potential death being the forerunner. I'm severely asthmatic and a part of the “clinically extremely vulnerable” group, so let's just say that catching COVID wouldn't be the best idea. But it is the other feelings and emotions that go alongside the fear of death that seem to have acquired some sort of mob-mentality and are bashing me over the head at every available opportunity. Anxiety. That's a big one. Anxiety rules all others, never shying away from the front centre stage, anxiety takes her role seriously and can stop me from entering a shop even before I have planned on visiting one. Then, curtseying to anxiety (and sometimes intertwined with), comes panic - this can range anywhere from, Oh God, I've forgotten my mask/accidentally gone out in my pyjamas/forgotten to book a Tesco delivery slot and now I won't be able to get one until two months time to wondering if it's COVID every single time you feel even vaguely unwell. Then there is the sense of loss. Nostalgia even. Gone are the first few weeks of the pandemic, when the UK went into what is now somewhat ruefully known as “Lockdown 1”, and we spent our Thursday evenings waiting for 8 PM when everyone in the country would stand on their front doorsteps to clap or bang together pots and pans to cheer for the NHS. Gone too are the 11 AM mornings when people in my street would play music and dance together (socially distancing of course) in the middle of the road. I have a fondness for those memories. In the beginning of the pandemic, there was a feeling of panic. No one could find a bag of flour for love nor money, and everyone was buying out all the bloody toilet roll, but somewhere within that, once the panic began to fade, there was the feeling of community, an old-fashioned sort of communities pulling together feeling which was reminiscent of the war that can only be imagined by myself, having been born in the late 80's. We were all in this together. And I felt that. My wife and I coped by digging a vegetable and herb garden. We nurtured seedlings from seeds, grew potatoes from potato peelings and learned along the way how to (and how not to) create a garden that worked. While doing this we swapped seeds and plants with people nearby, conversing and making arrangements via Facebook Marketplace and then leaving the plants on the doorstep with instructions to drop the money through the letterbox. Even this was a form of connection that felt like it meant something. So often things don't feel as though they truly mean something anymore. And maybe that's just me, but I don't really think that it is. Don't get me wrong, my heart ached every single time the death toll rose, and I felt as annoyed as the next person when I spotted a lunatic wearing their mask on their chin, or beneath their nose, or pulling up a scarf or sleeve over their mouth, and I felt and inordinate amount (and still do) of rage toward people who come within about six metres of me, my wife or our children (never mind the two metres). As a society we get up, we go to work, we come home, and in between there is a lot of complaining about what time we have to get up, the work we are doing, and how little time we have to ourselves when we get home. Then for people like me who work from home, there's the loneliness and isolation that comes with that. Ironically, and surprisingly, I felt less lonely at the beginning of the pandemic than I have ever done before. For once, we were a united front. Great Britain and the world joining forces against a virus that was keeping us apart. We had a social distancing VE Day, we looked out for each other, and people came together to form groups to collect prescriptions and other things for vulnerable people. People looked out for one another, on the whole - there were still some nitwits, but on the whole people truly cared for one another. I don't want to be confined to one country, and I don't really want to live in lockdown forever, or be unable to visit pubs or shops, but I do want to keep a hold of that sense of community that seemed to flourish so quickly, only to die a death, along with any hope we had of returning to normal life, at the end of lockdown 1. I have never felt as firmly connected to others as I have done during the beginning of the pandemic, and I miss it now with the same pang of nostalgic wistfulness of childhood - the kind that makes your chest ache, and if we take anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, let it be that. A sense of community, of looking after one's next door neighbours, and of others. Of being kind, and truly caring for those around us.
It is no secret that we are living in a crazy time right now, one that we have never seen before. I do not think anyone could have ever prepared us for the dramatic changes that the COVID pandemic has inspired. I do not think anyone could have prepared us to handle the pain-staking death toll that this virus has brought about. I feel as though that is how tragedy works, though. Even though we think we are prepared for major events to happen in life, there is nothing that can be done to prepare us for the consequences of a horrific event, no matter if the outcome is expected or unexpected. As sad and frankly shameful as the pandemic handling has been in the United States, there are also positives in the situation as well. I believe that there are positives in every situation in life, even if you have to search high and low for them. I believe that the pandemic has strengthened many relationships due to all of the time most of us have been having to spend together in close quarters. This either has strengthened your relationships or made them worse. Do not worry, though, you are not alone. We have all been stuck together, and we all get on each other's nerves after long periods of time together. In the case of being homebound most of the time, this pandemic often just felt like my normal life. I have Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, and as a result, I have to be dependent on a wheelchair to move about my days. To many people reading this, this might sound like a nightmare. It is really not that bad, though, and if it is all you know, it is what you adapt to. I am not able to work a normal job due to chronic pain issues and extreme fatigue. As a result of both of these issues, I am used to being home at least 5 days-a-week with the exception of medical appointments and the occasional grocery trip. When the pandemic first began, I honestly found solace in the fact that a large number of normal people were experiencing what it was like to live within the confines of a limited lifestyle. Even though this led to an increase in cabin fever for many, it was almost like everyone else had developed a sense of understanding when it came to my lifestyle and the opportunities that exist, albeit limited. Many of you were forced to find and discover new hobbies and activities that you enjoyed doing to fill the empty spaces. I can definitely relate to that idea. Coloring has always been a hobby for me. It carried through with me from my childhood. It has been a huge relief for me throughout the hard times last year and through the problems that we have yet to overcome this year. Coloring has been significantly helpful in treating both my anxiety and depression. I am confident that there has been an increase in depression throughout these times. It is not only understandable but relatable. There is nothing wrong with asking for and receiving the help that you may need. I am sure that there are people in your groups of family and friends that are willing to help you along your journey, and if you find that their advice is not sufficient, you can always seek the professional help of a therapist or counselor. Needing help in life, especially during significantly tragic events, does not make you weak. If anything, it makes us human and more compassionate about life. I am often asked how I am so happy and in an even-keeled mood most of the time, even when times get hard. The secret is actually not much of a secret and it is not that hard to maintain. It is that I am grateful for everything I have in life. I count and rely on my blessings every single day to help me along my life journey, which is both arduous and amazing.
subconscious ordeal* It was a cool Saturday evening, I went to watch a football match which ended at around 11 p.m. I decided to trek home since I had no money left on me. On my way home, I passed through a scary bush path that was supposed to make my journey Short(apian way as we fondly call). While walking through the scary bush path, I started hearing sounds of birds which seemed normal at first, so I walked further. The sound became scary this time, which activated my adrenaline, hence I took to my heels. The sounds came with a terrible breeze and a nice scent which made me wonder where the scent was coming from. I paused afterwards, just to observe if someone was coming behind. My body trembled in fear when I saw no one. However, I could still perceive the scent even more which convinced me that someone was definitely following me, and this heightened my fear. Nevertheless, I summoned up courage and continued my journey home. This breeze came again, but this time with a terrific scent and horrible sound from various angles which frightened me the more. Swiftly, I saw a lady pass, and all of a sudden my heart started beating fast, and my head in turn weighed more than my body could carry. Surprisingly, the lady made her way through the bush and I lost sight of her. That moment, I felt a slow yet heavy slide down my pants, I then realized I had dropped a liquid excrement. My eyes saw my ears and I thought the end had come. Slowly and steadily, I sped off, taking an unknown direction which seemed to be a path leading towards a cemetery. Unknown to me, I was heading closer to the end of my existence! The devil was calling unto me and I was running to him for rescue unknowingly. As I ran and shouted for help along the road leading to the cemetery, I could only hear terrifying laughter and voices and that increased my speed. I felt the earth rotating and I staggered to hold a balance. I was bewildered at the things I saw. First was a grave epitaphed "the end is near", I trembled. Again, I saw a sculpture dripping what seemed to be blood. That moment, I knew I just paid the fallen angel a visit. From a distance, I saw a creature wearing a white cloth with gray hairs all over her head, her face was so wrinkled that I could barely see her eyes. I just saw a ghost. Unbelievable! I was so scared to death that I had to run; but the farther I ran, the closer she came. I was so confused on what to do that I forgot God, I forgot to pray. My body was vibrating as if I was being electrocuted, my clothe was drained with sweat and I felt cold under a very scotchy sun. I gave up the run and Immediately, I heard the woman saying "welcome my son, don't be afraid because tonight you have made the right choice" come and see what place I have kept for you. I was calling death to come soonest before she touches me but little did I know, she was death herself. Nothing was working at this point. Before I knew it, I was down, struggling to free myself from her grip. Then I had one very last choice to make, facing the evil itself amidst my fears. I turned to look straight into her eyes but all I could see was a burning fire with a sharp tooth desiring a fest. Her mouth was full of blood and her hands and legs were so terrible that I nearly puked. The devil abducted me and starved me for five days. I lost my last strength and hoped I could die away. On the fifth day, I saw the same figure marching towards my direction, in her hand was an axe glittering. She scratched it against a wall hoping to send fear across. She succeded, because all I knew at that point was fear. I couldn't move a limb not to talk of speak. I saw death. When she was close enough, she raised the axe above my head and immediately, I jerked from my slumber to a realization that I had been in coma for two weeks. Just then, I wondered why I had to see the devil while I was still alive. Story by cheif host