I wanted to write something today. I've been wrestling with this urge to express things and free my mind from any burden I have, but I also feel like I have nothing to say all at the same time. I'm sure some of you know what I mean. I think I'm feeling so much right now; I feel happiness, I feel love, I feel excitement, I feel pride... but then I feel sad, alone and like things are falling apart all in the same instant. Within all of that I often just end up feel nothing. Sometimes I don't know what's worse, you know? Feeling everything or feeling nothing? It seems really hard to articulate anything right now.

Of course, this is probably an effect of lockdown and the fact this year has completely thrown a spanner in the works. There's no doubt that none of us could have prepared for what the last 4 months have entailed. Through it all there have been highs and lows (most of the highs being in those first few weeks of glorious sunshine and lovely walks, obviously), and I guess the combination of those two things has left me in a place of... neutral? No, that's not the right word. Maybe some kind of wandering feeling. A feeling of not knowing which way to go next.

I think I'm beginning to lack purpose, I suppose. There's no day where I wake up and know exactly how my day will go anymore. Each day brings something new and often that can be good, of course, but occasionally that 'something' isn't that great.

I'd be lying if I had said that this year hadn't affected my mental health massively. I've gone through moments of feeling like I really have myself together and then before I know it, everything is crumbling down around me again. It's been, to put it simply, a struggle.

From the smallest of anxieties, to fights with disordered eating, each thing has floated into my life again so effortlessly, as if I had never managed to attain control of them in the first place. I mean, not to say that before all of this I was living some care-free life of no eating disorders and no worry, but this whole situation has heightened everything.

Truth be told, comparison has always filled my life. I often wish I had someone else's face, or body, or personality or whatever it may be. Most of the time I'm longing to be someone that I'm not, because in my mind, nothing I am or ever do will be good enough. And, well, being locked away, phone in hand, scrolling through a sea of scenic garden pictures, stories of families laughing together and morning workouts, I've began to feel that comparison even more. I began to notice just how not 'perfect' enough, or well structured, everything in my life is. That really hasn't helped.

I know I'm not the only one who's found this time *triggering* in some way. When our routines that we've worked on - became comfortable in, molded to fit our busy lives - came to complete holt, I know a lot of us all felt this sense of 'what now?', and it was kind of terrifying. I mean sure, we can fill our days with endless Netflix marathons and do our emails from our desks at home, rather than an office, but it's all those little things that used to keep us going that made the difference.

For me, one thing I miss is my routine of getting up and going to work. As much as I'm dreading returning to work in this situation, I do long for that sense of purpose I used to have. I miss seeing my colleagues after spending days alone working for myself. I miss the rush of Manchester and the variety of characters I'd encounter in a day. I miss my train journeys, even those god damn Northern Rail delayed ones. I miss picking whether I was budgeting a Greggs for lunch or if I could splurge on a Pret A Manger. I miss the excitement of heading to my boyfriend's after my shift was over or the relief I'd feel after being on the closing slot and grabbing my stuff to head home.

I didn't realise how much being at that place, even just a few days a week, meant to me in my life. It was like a center point. I'd never had a center point before. It was something for the rest of my life to work around and I liked it.

I guess without that center point to revolve around, I've had a sense that my life revolves around... nothing? Obviously, there's ways around that and I've used those to the best of my ability during this time. Things like, writing a good ol' to-do list, getting myself moving in a morning and doing whatever I can to fill the day like shooting images, reading or baking... it works pretty much every time, but after 4 months of the same thing, I've gotten a little stir crazy.

I mean, is this my new 'norm' now? I feel like I'm going to be shell-shocked when I have to return to work and my 'regular' life. I can feel those old anxieties about being on public transport, eating in front of people, or worries over my appearance following me there already.

Before all of this I had become so confident and independent, but I know now that this situation has really knocked me, and more than I'd realised it could have.

Like I said, my mental health has definitely been affected. Lately, I've found myself lacking the energy to do much. I've found the evenings are becoming harder, my thoughts are becoming louder and I seem to keep finding myself in a place where everything just feels a little... difficult. Things just feel kind of heavy. And it's not that kind of heavy feeling you can just shake off your shoulders, you know? It's that kind of weight that you just have to sit with and hope it doesn't break you.

That seems dark, I know, but I can't really put it any better than that. It is what it is, and I'm slowly becoming more and more used to those emotions creeping in when I'm alone at night.

Yet, regardless of those days, there are also days where I feel fine. There are days where I feel productive, happy, at peace. Generally, if you message me and I say I'm doing 'ok', it's probably because, in that moment, I am. Some days are good, right? I don't think it's uncommon to feel really alone and sad one minute and then be able to pull yourself together the next. Life keeps moving and it's those days, those happier days, that keep me going, because I know that even on the harder days, there's hopefully a better one to come.

I guess this whole thing is just a roller-coaster, and not just for me, for us all. I don't think there's any 'right' way to be handling things right now. I think we're all dealing with this in our own ways, and that's okay. The sudden jump of things returning to 'normal' is a bit of anxiety inducer, of course, but I suppose it had to happen at some point. I think I thought we'd be able to ease into it more slowly though, do you know what I mean?

I do still think I'm eager to get back to my old routine. I do just want to throw myself back into it and keep going from where I left off. I daydream about having things just snap back into place. I'm hoping it won't be too much of a shock to the system, but I'll just have to roll with the punches when it happens.

For now, I'm handling things. Maybe I'm not handling them all that well, but I'm doing it.

Luckily, there are still those good days to keep me going. There are those days I now get to spend with my boyfriend, which fill me with so much love, days where I get to chat to my Mum and Dad, having conversations I never thought I'd have, and days where I'm learning to just switch off, indulge in crappy tv and let the hours pass me by.

Sometimes it's not about doing it all and keeping it going, sometimes it's about slowing down and understanding what you're feeling, taking time for the things/people you love and just breathing.

"take your time, forgive yourself and start over." - Alexandra Elle

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