I am a single parent with a young daughter. I never considered myself to be a single parent until lockdown.
I have an amazing support network which includes my sister and mum, who I rely on daily - but almost overnight, we were cut off from one another due to the lockdown, as my parents and sister’s husband all had to shield. My daughter was at home with me during the week whilst I worked.
I just felt totally trapped and alone. I felt this huge pressure of trying to keep everything as ‘normal’ as possible.
Trying to home school my daughter and keep her entertained, whilst working…. I just felt like I couldn’t cope. I was worried about how my parents and my sister were coping, the impact lockdown would have on my daughter’s mental health, my friends….it totally consumed me for the first few weeks. I didn’t share how I felt with anyone for fear of losing it. I just shut down emotionally. It was a really lonely time with no apparent light at the end of the tunnel.
I tried to take my mind of all the uncertainty by focusing on my work and my colleagues were incredibly supportive. We checked in on each other with video calls and through messages. I felt like my line manager and CEO genuinely cared about my mental health and not because I was an employee, but because they cared about me as a person. The flexibility that I was offered because of my caring responsibility was a huge weight off my mind.
Friends who I would only speak to every few months, suddenly we became closer as we found we were experiencing the same concerns and fears. We connected more because of our shared experience.
I would visit my parents from a distance and when the weather was nice, I would take a couple of camping chairs so we could sit outside and have a catch up! It reassured me to see them in person, even from a distance.
I was amazed at how supportive people are in a crisis. Everyone wanted to help each other. The news reports of people hoarding food (and toilet roll!) was not what I experienced.
Neighbours, friends and colleagues all offered to drop off food parcels including precious rolls of toilet paper! There was a real sense of wanting to help each other. It was incredible. The most important lesson I learned was that it’s ok to be scared and its ok to openly say “I am not coping”.
The support I received, without even saying anything meant a lot to me. Talking about how I felt, knowing people shared my feelings, really helped my mental health and made me feel less lonely.
A variety of local services are available to support people who are experiencing loneliness and isolation. For example: