Howie P on 14 January 2021

The reality of the new lockdown is really dawning on me now. Initially as I had just been working non-stop to catch up from lack of income in the last lockdown and through different tiers and restrictions, I was initially only thinking about getting a rest! Now, I am beginning to wonder how we will cope financially and if it means that I am on a covid roundabout of no work, no money and then a desperate iron man marathon to catch up. It's really tricky, as it's not even just the catch up it's the keeping the momentum of your business going when you can't essentially run your business. I am grateful that I am at least creative enough to be able to dream up new ways of doing things and keeping perky, when work just becomes suddenly impossible. I am grateful also that I have got deliveries of food sorted. In the first lockdown, we couldn't get any fresh food. We live in the middle of nowhere and couldn't get a slot for a supermarket delivery and even posh veg box schemes were sold out. When it all calmed down, I managed to set up a subscription for a veg box that is delivered to the door. It's more money than I can afford but I thought if I don't set it up with a bit of fore thought after no food last time, then we will just end up going without fresh stuff again. My hunch paid off, as here we are stuck in the middle of nowhere unable to get supermarket delivery slots. Probably rural pandemic is a different issue to city or town pandemic. The other thing that has been worrying is the mental health thing again. I feel people are struggling more with this lockdown as it's winter and we have already had this for almost a year. For us the stress is actually mostly coming from online learning. It's not healthy, being in all day, it's a very insular way of working-even though we are all in the same house you would never know it. At risk of sounding dramatic it genuinely feels like a bit of a dystopia, we are all disconnected from nearly everything apart from social media and more online stuff. I am also at a point where I have to decide if I can continue my study at university. I know that without work, I can't afford the fees but if I pause study then I won't get a student loan and we may not be able to afford to live without it. It's a financial rock and a hard place but also a strange psychological one too where having the kids at home all day everyday means I have next to no cognitive functioning beyond domestic chores. I can make dinner and put washing in and then I'm done! Whether I pause my study or not, my brain has paused study. It's stressful and frustrating that a choice I made to hope to improve our security in the future has not turned out to be useful, due to the pandemic. Before the pandemic even though we would struggle, I could rely on myself to just work hard and be determined-now that all means nothing really. Hard work and determination don't have the same value as before covid. I kind of wish I was in a job that could be furloughed, or done from home, those people must be having a different experience to me.

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