Life in Lockdown: Six Months On

Author: | 15 Sep 2020




Life in Lockdown: Six Months On

Last Summer our scholar Shaun wrote a blog which struck a chord and shocked in equal measure. Describing a cycle of prison, release and homelessness, he told of being given a tent to sleep in after one prison sentence.

Here Shaun, who is studying a distance learning degree, writes about his experience of lockdown…

In early March I was ready to start a new life. I was moving out of supported accommodation and had high hopes of getting a job to support my studies. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way…

A week after I moved into my new home, my plans were scuppered by the national lockdown. To say it was a massive blow to me is an understatement. An avid gym goer – as much for my mental well being as the physical benefits -overnight I lost something fundamental to my recovery from a serious and chaotic drinking problem. I didn’t do much in life apart from study and go to the gym. And my world was pretty solitary after cutting off negative people to better my life and create a better future for myself. To compound my isolation part-time work opportunities had fallen away.

Here I was, alone, locked off from the world.  Would I be able to cope?

I found myself getting quite low. Things were looking grim.

My old life was haunting me. The new block of flats I’d moved to were filled with people who were ignoring government advice. I witnessed people walking around like zombies scoring, taking drugs and drinking in the communal areas. As a former addict, it offered dangerous temptation.

Lockdown delivered another major personal blow. Contact with my mother ceased just as I was rebuilding a relationship with her.

Even my face-to-face contact with my mentor – we meet here and there – had fallen victim to Covid-19. We spoke via telephone and email, but it wasn’t the same as meeting up and talking in person.

I felt helpless – locked in. Able only to leave the house for essential items and no gym, it wasn’t long before I fell into drinking again. Every time I went shopping, I’d substitute a food item for alcohol. This soon escalated into a serious drinking pattern.

Suffice to say, lockdown played havoc with my life. Old styles of behaviour were creeping back. I felt myself falling deeper and deeper into a sea of depression and bad decision making. I felt like giving up on my degree.  Now, once again, I was allowing alcohol to get a hold of me. I couldn’t stay there. It was a one-way road to self-destruction if I did.

All hope seemed lost. I had to do something.

I had sought to escape supported accommodation for a long time. Now, alone, with what seemed like the world falling apart around me, I begged to go back. At times I would randomly burst into tears, although I’d never let anybody see me cry. Men don’t cry right? At least that’s what I’ve been taught. I felt weak.

It was in mid-May that I received a glimmer of hope.

I had a move date, June 3rd.

Finally, I could see a way out of the mess I was in. I had come so far, now I’d gone back. I thought I was ready to live independently again, I was wrong. Perhaps had this whole Covid-19 thing not occurred, I may well have succeeded in my plan? Who knows? It’s impossible to say. Anyway, June 3rd rolled around, and I moved back into supported accommodation. It was a massive relief.

Fast forward two months and a lot has changed for the better. Slowly, the pandemic restrictions are being relaxed. I am back at the gym, hooray!  Life in lockdown has affected us all in some form or other. I am very grateful that the Longford Trust never gave up on me and that my mentor continued to reach out to me.

Getting paid work continues to be tough. Instead, I am volunteering a few days a week with a local charity, Emmaus, something I can do alongside my studies. In the long run, this will also close the gap on my CV help my chances with future work. And I enjoy working with the charity. I give what I can in terms of time, but I receive so much more. I am building new relationships and forming a kind of social life, determined to break away from life as a recluse.

By the time you read this, you’ll realise, life in lockdown for me has been one hell of a roller-coaster ride. I have found hope again.

I hope that one day, I will be ready to live alone again, fully independent and able to deal with whatever life throws at me. It’s important to remember that we are never alone, even if it seems that way. We mustn’t be afraid to ask for help no matter what is going on around us.