Kelly’s story: ‘Blessed, with a side order of guilt’

Photo by Erik McClean at UnsplashPhoto by Erik McClean at Unsplash

Photo by Erik McClean at Unsplash

To fully understand I guess I need to tell a little of my back story.  I’m in my 40s, married with 2 wonderful children, but I’ve known hardship from a very young age. This has led to keeping my cupboards full as much as I can so my family can be fed. Things have improved over the years and I would say we are fortunate.

Now this may seem odd, but for years (until this year) I’ve had apocalyptic dreams where I tried to save as many people as possible, gather and source supplies. These dreams were regular and got me thinking about being prepared. Then I had a dream where the queues at the shops were so long, unbelievably long. Everyone was queuing for their ration of peas, hilarious right? Nothing like that would ever happen?

Then the B word: Brexit. This filled me with concern, and I started to try to prepare more. Not just looking at stockpiling items or food, but preparing to be more self sufficient. I’m a stay at home mum, my eldest is in specialist education, on the few times I can get her to go. I have learned to make things for myself, make bread from scratch, learn more about growing my own things and what we would need to ‘bug in’ (stay safe at home in an emergency), and yes, top up the supplies each week. Looking at my family’s needs and even those of friends as I know they were not all in a position to keep things topped up.

This became a bit of a joke, me preparing for the zombies, although I didn’t always see the funny side. The thing I didn’t think about preparing for was a pandemic.

I started following the news in January and as the days and weeks were passing, my concern grew. I tried to warn some of my family and friends that something was coming, we needed to prepare. My dad was heading to Spain for 2 months. I was fearful for them. A few started to listen to my concerns, others not. I was a bit of a joke, or just being weird. 

Photo by Neidy Marrero at UnsplashPhoto by Neidy Marrero at Unsplash

Photo by Neidy Marrero at Unsplash

I was ill in February, the news was more prominent and things were developing faster. I was so ill, I couldn’t do anything, but we were safe right? The virus was still in Wuhan and not here yet? During a more awake moment I did a big order for compost and seeds. I wish I’d ordered more compost as it soon ran out. 

During my illness my legs nearly gave way, I just didn’t have the energy to hold myself up. I had to ask my husband to walk behind me as I headed up the stairs. It took a while as I had to rest frequently, I was scared at how unwell I felt, but didn’t want my family to know how worried I was. On day 10 I started to slowly recover. Until we get an antibody test, I will not know if I had the virus or something else.

Still following the news, different YouTube doctors and a prepper’s site, I continued to prepare as best I could. My husband was looking forward to some events later in the year, I didn’t have the heart to tell him they would be cancelled. When things hit hard in Italy I was on high alert, I nagged my husband to get the laptop linked up to work in case he had to work from home. He eventually did.

In March my anxiety heightened and I had a quiet word with the head of the primary school my youngest attends. They were still high fiving at the end of the day. I said I understood the importance of this, but is it safe? That week the elbow or foot bumps started. I watched the numbers rise, waiting for the cluster boom. The number that meant I would pull my kids from school. My eldest was due to start mentoring but I took her out as I felt now was not the time, I came across as a paranoid mum. My last scheduled meeting at my eldest child’s specialist school listed my concerns about covid-19 as the reason for not attending it.

I deliberately didn’t wake my child up for school when the climate change march came to the area. The school was due to join. 

People started to hit the shops like crazy, at which point I avoided them, I had seen and heard stories from friends of what it was like.

Photo by John Cameron at UnsplashPhoto by John Cameron at Unsplash

Photo by John Cameron at Unsplash

In the end I took my children out of school a week before they closed. My husband was sent home from work as he is considered to be at higher risk. This was it, my family was bugging in.

Throughout this situation I won’t lie, it’s not been plain sailing and there have been some hard times, but that’s a different story. What really hits home thinking back to my prepping and how I thought things would be, is the isolation from family and friends. How I can’t help as much as I thought I would be able to, and the guilt I feel that we are so blessed and more prepared than others. I want to be able to help, but I’ve been fearful of leaving the house. Juggling school and providing emotional support for my family has kept me very busy.

I help where I can, checking in with family and friends, getting extras  in our deliveries for local friends. I’ve been fortunate that they do the same for us. We are not essential workers, my husband is fortunate to be able to work from home. I’ve tried to make masks for family and friends, build them up and give support from afar, but it doesn’t seem enough. 

I read so many articles about individuals doing amazing things, and I personally know some frontline workers who I thought were amazing even before all of this. How can these people do so much, when I’m safely tucked away in my home?  I still feel guilt. In all my dreams I’ve always helped but the reality of the restrictions tie my hands. We are not financially ‘well off’ but we are lucky to have a house, a garden, loving supportive family and friends. We’re not in debt at the moment and for the time being my husband’s job is safe. We are blessed, but I still can’t shake this side order of guilt.

Share your story here.

Published by Kerry

Champion of neurodiversity. Carer. Music obsessive. Freelance writer. Music and Arts editor.

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