For the last ten years I have periodically been told by healthcare professionals that if I were to get flu I would die, and so have become accustomed to the reality of my own fragile mortality – who would have thought that learning to accept this would one day become a positive….
What is genuinely terrifying is the difference with which others have met this news, for ten years I’ve done a pretty damn good job of keeping myself safe, using all the information available, a lump of common sense and avoidance of situations where I couldn’t minimise the risk; the lack of concern and appreciation of the situation shown by a percentage of the population has been beyond disappointing. Until the reality finally dawned when lockdown commenced, I have been called dramatic, a hypochondriac, selfish, attention seeking – the list goes on, all for trying to protect myself; the random dances from trying to maintain a safe distance, the strange looks from wearing surgical gloves to put fuel in the car. Who would have thought looking after yourself would make you such a social outcast?!
In the midst of this I have rapidly moved to a new home – notice had been given as the landlords (and neighbours) wished to move family into my cottage, understandable. Yet the pressure to move as the COVID-19 panic grew and more people arrived next door was horrific and more true colours were shown. So as lockdown was announced I was busily packing my worldly goods into a horsebox to extract myself – I know that I didn’t have to and that I was entitled to stay beyond the notice period given the current situation, however one thing that I know without any doubt is that wherever possible you need to feel safe, secure and happy where you are living; and despite virtually all my possessions being in a shipping container I do feel safe, secure and happy in my new quarters and the difference that makes to my mental health is worth a crazy 24 hours moving when I wasn’t entirely sure that it was allowed.
As I sit in my caravan workspace I have a view over paddocks and uninterrupted countryside – I couldn’t ask to be restricted to anywhere better; and despite my initial reservations, working from a caravan is just perfect. Tucked in behind the cottage with electric connected and wifi I have privacy, space and can ‘go’ to work in my little oasis. I find myself looking forward to getting caught up with all the things I’ve struggled to find time for and getting the opportunity to be creative without feeling guilty as there were more pressing things to attend to; looking at this as an enforced opportunity to really embrace self-care, to consider, to reflect and to learn.
So far there has been stress and challenge, not created by me or my thoughts, however, by taking action those have been minimised or overcome enabling me to maintain my usual approach of making the best of what I have and finding the positive and good to reflect on. Who knows perhaps this massive change to how people live will prompt a quiet revolution in how we live moving forward, with more appreciation for what we have and a recognition of the difference between what we need and what we want and a change in the pressure we put ourselves under to attain the wants rather than the needs……
For me, I am thankful of previous life lessons learnt, enabling me to recognise what I can change and for teaching me that stressing over what I can’t is a complete waste of time and energy.

Amanda Donkin counsellor and GamCare practitioner