Iain is SiMS Senior Fundraising Officer, and like many of you, he has been working from home for some time now. He thought he'd share his thoughts on his experience so far.

When lockdown began, I was temporarily on my own as my then-flatmate, fearful of travel restrictions, had pre-emptively moved back in with his parents. I’d soon be leaving also, but not before a fortnight of living alone. Most (all) of the furniture was his, so that all went with him, besides a clothes horse and an old wicker shelving unit he kindly left behind! I actually viewed this as a huge opportunity, now having entire rooms and lots of space available for activities like clothes drying, PE with Joe Wicks, displaying my collection of old football shirts, making videos where I dance to S Club 7 with my ghost (this actually did happen), plus there’d be no pesky colleagues asking me to turn Ken Bruce’s radio show down. Lots of fun to be had!

As you can see, I very much like retro football tops

Sadly, much like my clothes, my enthusiasm for morning PE soon dried up. The football shirt display ate up a couple hours one weekend, then I just stared at it ruefully thinking “I'm going to have to tidy that up at some point”. Strangely, some days I didn’t even turn Radio 2 on, or even leave the flat for exercise. I was using the abandoned wicker shelving as a ‘workstation’ which achieved that rare effect of being quite tragic looking yet hilarious. Additionally, due to the general lack of furniture there was a real ‘Tommy’s flat in Trainspotting when everything starts going downhill’ type vibe going on. It got to the point where I would’ve happily spoken to a ghost if it meant having some company.

Thankfully this fortnight came and went, and I was able to move flat. Now I’m living with a friend and his (our) impossibly cute dog, Leo! Time for laziness is limited these days with an energetic spaniel around who bursts into my room every morning to wake me up and needs walked/hugged regularly. So, the situation has improved hugely but there have still been challenges. Leo has knocked my PC over twice which has meant some amateur electrical repair work has to be undertaken. My flatmate routinely works into the evening which a couple of times early on left me feeling guilty for not doing the same, which feeds into a pervading feeling that I'm not working hard enough.

Leo likes to try sabotage my equipment so I can give him all my attention

At the risk of this sounding like paid-for advert, my colleagues at Support in Mind have been an excellent support during this period. The daily calls from my manager have been very welcome, and Microsoft Teams and Zoom have helped to keep everyone connected. Mark my words, the internet is going to be massive one day. In a broader sense, it’s been heartening to see a reinforced community spirit fostered, something which will hopefully continue beyond the point COVID is taken care of. From people checking in on isolated neighbours, volunteering where possible and the surge in support for charities like Support in Mind, it's been great to see people band together.

Things are by no means perfect now; Leo is a surprisingly loud snorer, there seems to be a new spider in my bedroom each day and my hair has grown out to the length I imagine Gary Oldman’s would be if he was playing an architect in his next film. Having said that, I’m getting better at looking at the positive side of things. If the 2-year-old spaniel is asleep it usually means we've been for a good walk, the spiders surprisingly aren’t bothering me, and I was considering growing my hair out anyway!

Snoring away

I’d never dream of trying to advise people on how to get through this, everyone has their own situation going on and there’s certainly no hard and fast rule. All I can do is pass on what is working for me:

  • Try doing something new. For me (and I'm as surprised as anyone to be typing these words) this has been running/jogging/ambling. It started with finally getting around to doing my NHS 5k and not hating every second of it. I now go out every couple of days and do genuinely feel energised afterwards.
  • Keeping a routine. Getting up at a decent time, washing, getting dressed! Might not sound like much but from a self-esteem perspective it’s a good habit to maintain.
  • Not comparing myself to others. Hats off to anyone who’s taken lockdown as a chance to learn new skills or better themselves, but I haven’t! I haven’t learnt Dutch like I lied to myself I would, haven’t watched those M*A*S*H/The Sopranos box sets in their entirety and I've made very little progress with the 2 books I'm reading. I will do these things, just maybe not in the next few months. And that’s ok.

And the main thing..

  • Not getting annoyed with myself for failing to do these things! Sometimes a run doesn’t go as smoothly as I'd like (or doesn’t go at all!), some days I'm still in pyjamas at noon, this week I've been snacking a lot between meals too! I’m not getting hung up on it, now is not the time for unnecessary self-criticism.

Take care everyone, we’ll get through this and I look forward to seeing you all on the other side.