Lockdown wasn’t good. Being forced to stay in for a prolonged period of time is something very, very few of us had experienced before. However, one positive thing that did come from it, is the fact that everyone was in the same situation, with many of the same problems, and thus could more easily relate to each other.
This was the situation I found myself in when talking to David, a psychology student at the University I go to. David is 20 (the same age as me) and from Redditch, and found himself working in Tesco as covid-19 hit. “When it first hit the news I wasn’t particularly worried, like most people I knew. When you hear about a virus on the other side of the planet, it’s hard to get properly worried until it’s closer to home.”
Of course, after not too long, it did end up closer to home. As cases grew and the virus spread across the country, many of us had to come to terms with how different life would be for the foreseeable future, and not knowing how long that would be provided a challenge for many.
“Yeah, lockdown was where I did start to worry, I guess that’s the same as most people. I didn’t mind too much at first though, I had plenty of things to watch and plenty of games to play. I find that if I can really get into a game then it helps take my mind off of a lot of outside stuff, so that was kind of a way of coping with some of the stress.”
“The toilet roll craze [which he admits he finds funny looking back on] was one of the first big changes I noticed at work. People seemed to be rushing around a lot and the problem ended up kind of self-perpetuating.”
“It got harder as the news got more serious really. When you’re at home it’s a bit easier to distance yourself from the deaths and the cases on the news, but when you’re at work wearing a mask for 8 hour shifts while you see customers ignoring one way systems and not wearing masks it’s hard not to worry for yourself and the people around you.”
Like many, David found work much harder as lockdown went on. “My job changed completely. I’d been there for about half a year so I’d definitely settled in, but it felt like the rug was pulled from under me in a way, as my role in the store changed so much and we had so many more things to keep in mind, you know with cleaning and washing hands and basically being extra careful with anything we did.”
He pauses for a few seconds before continuing, “I think that was it you know, just kind of the ticking up of the news getting worse, becoming less confident and more worried at work and not seeing my friends or family. That’s why I ended up talking to my doctor, I just felt stressed.”
David voiced his concerns about his anxiety and work to his housemate at the time, who agreed with him, and after a fairly short discussion over the phone, he had come to the conclusion that he wanted to leave his job.
“Obviously I knew it was quite a big decision, with so many people losing their jobs it might seem silly for me to have quit, but it felt right. I knew I shouldn’t have been as stressed as I was, but after talking to my friends, doctor and boss, it all pointed towards this being the best decision for me, and that’s why I made it.” He finishes his sentence seeming a lot more relaxed than he started it.
When asked what his plans for the near future were, David chuckled for a second and said “It’s hard to say now isn’t it… with unemployment high and university complications, but all I can do for now is focus on my studies and do whats best for me.”
What I took away from David’s interview was the importance (especially now) of those last five words and their implications. Look after yourselves out there.