Micheál and Leo insist we are all in it together – so why does it feel as if I am going it alone?


It’s been two years since I made the choice to return to Ireland and live by myself. After four years in London, I’d grown sick of the endless noise of the city, the uncaring crowds of people and the lack of any personal space on the tube. So when the opportunity arose to move back to Dublin and have a place to myself by the sea, it seemed like a perfect fit.

The first 18 months left me feeling freer than I’d ever felt. But the last seven have seen all that freedom evaporate under the burning light of the “new normal”, like some kind of ironic punishment.

You want some time to yourself? Great, we cancelled all your plans for you. You moved back to be closer to your friends? Well, they’re nearby, but you’ll have to video call them if you all want to hang out together. You missed the sea while you were away? Excellent, because half the 5km area you can travel to during lockdown is underwater.

The first few weeks were a novelty of Zoom quizzes and Netflix parties, but I soon realised I wasn’t handling it as well as I had thought when I shaved my head and bought a skateboard.

A sort of millennial life crisis, unable to afford the flashy excesses of the more grown-up, midlife equivalent.

I have a long history with depression and so in May I decided to go on antidepressants for the first time in nearly four years. I also enquired about therapy, but was told I’d be waiting a year for any in-person sessions.

When I checked in again last week, I was told I was still a year away from seeing anyone, despite being on the waiting list for five months.

It’s hard to imagine that far ahead, if I’m honest. I recently celebrated my 29th birthday the same way I have spent most of the last seven months: alone.

I like my own company, but there’s a big difference between a quiet night in by yourself and 200 of them.

And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. While thousands of people were losing their jobs, my employment situation actually became more secure during the pandemic as I moved from the uncertain world of freelancing into a staff role.

Trying to build a rapport with your new co-workers is a significantly more difficult task when done remotely, but I think there are a couple of hundred thousand people on the PUP who would love for that to be their biggest concern on the job front right now.

My friends and family have remained supportive throughout the pandemic, checking in regularly and dropping provisions over to make sure I’m surviving. I even buddied up with another friend who has also been living by himself.

On the weekends, he swings by and we head off to Tesco to do the big shop. Afterwards, we take turns making the other watch our favourite TV shows.

These have been the pieces of humanity for me over the last seven months. The moments where I’m allowed to forget, however briefly, about losing my late 20s to this pandemic and instead just enjoy having a laugh about something stupid with a friend.

But now it looks as if our weekly sanity checks are off the table, with household visits no longer permitted under Level 3.5 Part 2 of the Government’s ever-changing ‘Living with Covid’ plan.

At a time when clarity is key, the Government can’t seem to get its story straight about where we’re at.

Nphet is said to be considering separate guidance for one-person households, but why is this being addressed only now?

We’ve been in some form of lockdown since March.

Three parties in coalition and not one of them thought to ask the question.

Hell, even Boris Johnson was wise to this problem, laying out a plan as far back as June.

Micheál and Leo keep insisting we’re all in this together, so why does it feel as if the Government is expecting me to go it alone?

Irish Independent

Source: Irish News