Wednesday 16 December 2020

In Isolation | Day One

Before I get into this post, I just want to make it clear that the purpose of this piece is to purely write about how I feel. It's not meant to be political, or pointing blame, this is something that is currently happening in my life and I want to be able to express myself. For me, for others who have been in the same shoes, or those who just want to know what it's like.

Taken in The New Forest by Connor Cleary a few weeks before my self-isolation

It's 1am, I just finished my first break at work. I returned to the aisle I was working down, and wanted to play some music to find a new notification from the NHS Covid-19 App. My first thought was that it was just going to change our tier alert to something vague whilst they review our cases. I was actually slapped in the face with this message:

"You need to self-isolate for eight days"

I think I was just in shock at first, on a whim I sent screenshots of the message to my manager and she said I had to leave the store immediately. It's every colleagues dream to get sent home, yet I didn't want to go. I grabbed my things, clocked out and left with the promise that my pay will be covered for the shifts that fall within my isolation time. Colleagues leapt back five metres when I told them I had to self-isolate, they knew it was odd that I was leaving halfway through the shift, and as I said I was in shock. It wasn't until I got home that it really sunk in. I had been somewhere with a person who recently tested positive for Covid-19. I have to self-isolate for eight days, no work, no walks or outdoor exercise. I texted my boyfriend (who I live with) and left a note for his parents to see in the morning, because I felt I had a duty to let them know. I have no idea who this person was, where this exposure was, I am completely in the dark. 

That's when the anxiety and panic set in. My heart pounding, struggling to breathe at a normal rate, my thoughts running at a million miles an hour. Everyone was asleep, I couldn't talk to anyone about this and how I was feeling. I was alone. So many questions running wild in my mind: who was this stranger I'd been in contact with? Do I have it? Is my throat sore? What is happening?

The app literally doesn't give you any information other than when you're free to go back into the wild. I can see all the places I checked into, and I believe the app is active when I'm at work. It doesn't really help narrow it down. Whether it was from work or a restaurant, there's not much else I could've done. I wear masks when I'm supposed to, I sanitise and wash my hands like an obsessed person, but I'm relying on this infected person to have done their best. My fate rests in everyone's hands. I know that sounds dramatic, but it's true. We all have to work together to protect one another, to one day become a Covid-19 free country. By refusing to wear a mask for political reasons, because it's uncomfortable or unfashionable, you're putting us all at risk. Covid-19 is our enemy and that's where the fight should be.

To make things clear, I'm not and have never been worried about myself in this scenario. I've been worried about the domino effect, if I catch the virus. I don't want my actions to cause another person ill health, or worse. It's been my ethos this whole time. 

For the next week, I will be following the guidance on self-isolating. I'm quite lucky that most of my upcoming events are online, or any errands I can pass on to someone else. The moment I realised I couldn't leave the house at all, I felt trapped. Since Lockdown 1.0 I have enjoyed going on walks, getting fresh air and getting out of the house. I wasn't planning on seeing my family over Christmas, because I just didn't think it'd be a good idea. Living separately from both of my parents adds more households, and nearly all of us in my household and my parent's households have public facing jobs. If we were able to all self-isolate before Christmas then maybe it might work, but for us that's not possible. With this new potential exposure for me, I definitely will not be seeing anyone outside of my household.

Currently, I don't think I have any symptoms but as a young person I could be asymptomatic, so I want to take precautions. I don't want to scaremonger, I just want to inform you of what it's like as a person with anxiety and mental health issues, how something like this can affect you. Also, what to expect if you are to get a self-isolation notification. 

I will most likely post mini updates on my Instagram page related to how my mental health is coping with this sudden isolation. 

I sincerely hope you are all well, and coping as best as you can in these strange times. My heart truly goes out to all of you struggling with all of the Covid-19 information, if you're shielding, isolating or working on the frontlines. I also hope you're able to have a safe and Merry Christmas. 

Please keep taking precautions as best as you can 🙏 


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