‘What living alone during coronavirus has really been like for me’

May 24, 2020
Trouble sleeping and living alone has meant Robyn has been spending a lot of time watching television during lockdown. Source: Getty Images

It’s 5:30am and I’ve been awake since 3am. I haven’t been sleeping all that well lately. I go to bed around 10pm and sleep until the wee small hours and then I’m up. What can I do during these long hours before daybreak and during the day to keep myself occupied?

I often watch television, binge watching programs that are new or have been shown before but that I’ve missed. I write down on small pieces of paper the name of the show and how many are in the series and mark them off as I watch them otherwise I would be watching the same program over and over.

Recently I tallied how many I programs I’d actually watched over the past two months, it was a staggering amount. Literally at least a couple of hundred hours of television, movies and documentaries.

I’ve been taking sleeping tablets that would knock out a horse, but I feel that I’ve been on them for so long that they aren’t as effective anymore. Sure, I get off to sleep quite quickly, but then I wake up and once I’m awake I’m raring to go.

Part of my problem is that I am bi-polar and have manic spells, which I feel I may be experiencing now. I’ve been upbeat for the past couple of months and as my moods change during the year I have times when I cannot sleep very well and have bundles of energy. I’ve never been one for walking or going to the beach or gardening, I am very much a shut-in type person and only see my caregivers twice a day, seven days a week. Occasionally a friend will pop in, but mostly I have hours and hours to kill during any week.

I think the worst thing about living alone — at least for me — is that I don’t get to chat with anyone for longer than 30 minutes. During the times when the caregivers are here I hardly have the opportunity to discuss any subject in-depth. I don’t feel that would be appropriate anyway. It’s not like I can get bogged down in a conversation about how I’m feeling …

Such conversations are reserved for old friends, and I do speak with one of mine most days. My friend also lives alone too.

She used to have a cat, which was not permitted on her lease, but it passed away recently and she was bereft. I fear that should she choose to get another pet her landlord will ask her to leave.

Coronavirus has certainly played its part in my stress and anxiety. I have been fortunate to have a good friend drop by with food for me and my dogs. We had also discussed what could happen if we go into lockdown. I am not afraid of the virus and strongly believe things will get worse before they get better.

My mother and I had Asian Flu in San Francisco in 1958. We were so unwell that we didn’t leave the hotel room for eight days and lived on water (there wasn’t a restaurant in our hotel or food close by). We were so sick that going to the toilet was a huge undertaking, we had to hold onto walls and nearly fell over we were so weak.

I was eight years old when we got sick and thousands of people died who contracted that particular virus. It too was a pandemic. This time I feel more secure as I have food and everything I need so I am prepared.

I am a regular internet shopper, ordering my groceries online. Some of the items I would buy normally, such as toilet paper, were not available, so I was grateful that my friend had the foresight to provide me with some when she dropped off the groceries.

I look forward to restrictions lifting here in New Zealand.

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Have you been on your own during the pandemic? How have you passed the time?

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