In this period of lockdown, the passing of time has contorted into a strange new format. Every day feels long, perhaps because there is such a rapid influx of news: the escalating death tolls, infections, testing targets and comparison between the UK and other countries is bewildering. Life before the lockdown feels distant and yet simultaneously recent. It’s a very prolonged version of the week between Christmas and New year where no one knows whether they are coming or going. It looks likely that we have many weeks, if not months, stretching out ahead of us with social restrictions in place. The prospect of that can feel overwhelming and frightening, but there’s little choice other than to make the best of things. Rather than focusing on all the stuff I would like to be doing and the plans that are postponed (if not cancelled altogether), I’m trying to count my blessings and concentrate on the good in my life. We’re taught to constantly strive and let the world know how well we’re doing. The pressure is on to be supposedly ‘living our best life’, but now the parameters¬†have shrunk and we have to lower our expectations.

If you’re struggling right now, I recommend making a list of all the things in your life that you are grateful for. Not just what you have right now, but the happy memories you will keep with you forever. All the lessons of the past, all the hope for the future. Write it all down and you might find that you are more equipped to deal with whatever tomorrow will bring. Of course, it won’t change the current situation one bit, but it might help you through a difficult moment. Just surviving another day an achievement. Here’s my list:

  1. My husband and my son, who are the lights of my life.
  2. My mum and my brother.
  3. My health. It’s hard to appreciate the value of good health until it’s taken away.
  4. My home.
  5. My husband’s patience. He’s been married to me for a decade, the man is miraculous.
  6. The relationship I had with my dad.
  7. My friends.
  8. The food in the fridge.
  9. Access to clean water.
  10. My cat Cleo.
  11. Chatting to my mum every day. We are Olympian chatters.
  12. My work.
  13. Access to psychiatric medication.
  14. My therapist.
  15. My psychiatrist.
  16. Dark chocolate.
  17. Sunshine.
  18. Spring blossom.
  19. Birdsong.
  20. Coffee.
  21. Carbs – pasta is keeping me cheerful.
  22. Being able to exercise vigorously and ride the endorphin high afterwards.
  23. Singing.
  24. My bed.
  25. The NHS. My god, the NHS.
  26. Groceries in the supermarket.
  27. The people who work at the supermarket.
  28. Toilet roll.
  29. Hot showers.
  30. My slippers, which are really old and gross and should probably go in the bin but they’re so comfy I can’t bear to part with them.
  31. Strawberries in summer.
  32. Soap.
  33. Films.
  34. Books.
  35. Music.
  36. The internet, which grants access to many the great works of literature, music and cinema at the click of a button.
  37. Living in London. I had taken all it’s wonders for granted until they became inaccessible.
  38. Art galleries.
  39. Silly nights out with my friends.
  40. The same friends who make me laugh till I cry.
  41. My memories of spending time with my dad on holiday, drinking cocktails and watching the sunset.
  42. The smell of new books.
  43. My son’s laugh.
  44. His little gapped-toothed smile.
  45. The time I spent in a psychiatric hospital. The memory keeps me motivated to stay well because I don’t want to ever go back.
  46. Podcasts.
  47. Walking in the woods.
  48. My ability to walk.
  49. The stupid jokes my husband and I share that keep us going. And the fact that we still make each other laugh after 18 years together.
  50. My dog-eared determination to never give up.
  51. My physical strength. Even after everything I have put my body through, it never fails me.
  52. The fact that my lack of co-ordination does not hold me back – that really is something. Going an hour without falling over or bumping into the furniture is rare.
  53. The internet again. There is so much wrong with it, but I think it’s coming into its own right now and I’m realising how useful it is to staying connected, while we are far apart.
  54. Everyone who has ever supported my blog.
  55. The people who got in touch to say they’d read my book and that it reminded them of what they went through when they lost someone they loved and it had given them some comfort.
  56. Having had the opportunity to write a book and put everything down on paper.
  57. Hummus.
  58. Dancing to cheesy music.
  59. My hair, which has always grown back, no matter how many times I’ve pulled it out.¬†Trichotillomania is a bitch.
  60. Having had the chance to travel.
  61. Sunscreen. I have the complexion of a vampire and I’ll go up in smoke without factor 50.
  62. Our family dog Dixi, who we had as a child.
  63. My 20s. It was a lot of fun but frequently painful and I learnt some of my most useful lessons.
  64. The delight on my son’s face when I blow up a balloon, play dinosaurs, he sees a bird in the garden, or I give him ice cream on a Friday night.
  65. The time I spent in Sussex as a child.
  66. Bipolar disorder. It’s a bastard and often makes a nuisance of itself, but it’s taught me to be strong, self-aware and (reasonably) emotionally intelligent.
  67. The gentle kindness of my brother Jack.
  68. The computer I’m writing on.
  69. The friend who hurt me so badly but taught me where my boundaries are.
  70. Being able to assert my boundaries.
  71. Forgiving that much-loved friend. Always forgive, holding on to old resentments is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.
  72. Not worrying too much about what others think of me. I have my dad to thank for that. His favourite phrase was: ‘If people don’t like you their either stupid, blind or they’ve got bad taste, so fuck ’em.’
  73. The chance to express myself creatively.
  74. My height, very useful for reaching high shelves and pulling off a maxi dress.
  75. Cleo’s purring, she follows me everywhere but especially when I’m unwell; physically or mentally. She’ll sit close and purr, reassuring me that everything will be ok. She’s a delightful, sweet natured cat, to me and my husband. She couldn’t give a flying fuck about anyone else. When I take her to the vet she’s a satanic hooligan.
  76. The London tube.
  77. Home deliveries.
  78. The people making home deliveries.
  79. All the teachers who are still working and supporting key workers and aren’t being celebrated nearly enough.
  80. Having a pair of working hands.
  81. Memories of swimming in the sea.
  82. Beaches.
  83. The stars and the reminder that we are all very small.
  84. Trees.
  85. The cemetery where my dad lies. He would have liked it there.
  86. Not being afraid to cry.
  87. Trying to be present. I don’t always succeed but I give it a good go.
  88. Meditation, again, I’m not very good at it but I recognise it’s value.
  89. My grief because it reminds me of how much I was loved and that I was one of the lucky ones because not everyone gets that.
  90. Roast chicken. My husband is vegetarian but his roast chicken is without parallel.
  91. The hope that I will one day, find certain and lasting spirituality.
  92. Dyslexia. It’s a pain in the ass but I can learn lines really quickly.
  93. Every time I’ve failed, because I’ve always got back up.
  94. The seasons.
  95. Memories of Paris.
  96. Memories of Rome.
  97. The fun I had during my University days.
  98. My first therapist, who died last year. I saw her from the age of 18 to 35, she was wonderful.
  99. Recovery. It’s never really finished, but at least I am still in recovery.
  100. All the times my husband has told me that everything will be ok..
  101. My legs. I hated them for years but now I realise how far they’ve carried me.
  102. The doctor who performed the the cesarean that delivered my son.
  103. The ICU staff who looked after my son in his first days.
  104. The ICU staff who looked after my dad in his last days.
  105. Time. You don’t know how precious time is until you realise it’s running out.

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