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Hello.

I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind www.thetimeofourlives.net - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Lockdown tears? Make 'em noisy, wet, long and loud.


'It's OK not to be OK' is always a key message in Mental Health Awareness Week. Never more so, when the week falls slap-bang in the middle of a global pandemic. But it's a message for other people, surely. Not 'glass-half-full' people, like me?

The thing was...I'd just cancelled a regular Zoom catch-up session with two of my closest buddies, because I felt 'too weepy' to attend. Tears had--pretty unusually, for me--just spilled over, and for the fourth time that day, too.

There'd been other times during the past nine weeks when I'd found myself thinking about my family and crying with....well...acute 'missing-ness'.

Was I 'down'? Or just 'lockdown' down? And, I wondered on Twitter; was I crying alone?

Apparently not. So how often are we all welling up?

Benji tweeted back that throughout lockdown, he's cried 'most days, about something'. Helen's cried 'many' times; (so too, her mum, Ruth, who tweeted separately, about missing her family )Emma and Stephanie-- both doctors--reckon they've been shedding a tear three or four times a week. Kev; slightly less than that. Charity worker Sarah, who suffers from anxiety, says she veers between days 'brimming with positivity' to other 'very dark days which are spent in tears'.

A couple of dozen more reported crying weekly, for a whole mix of reasons: fatigue; anxiety about the future; their children's education; their jobs. Alistair who'd first just tweeted 'it varies...' returned a day later to report he'd got a bit teary the night before, Zoom-quizzing with friends. Jules said she'd cried quite a few times; 'for the loss of feeling safe and all the uncertainty and loss of freedom.'

For this ITU nurse though; it was specific. 'My eyes have leaked once only, '
said Andi, 'holding someone's hand whilst they passed away, as family couldn't be there. Very tough to smile for a few days after.'

Inevitably, it was the sad stuff, mostly, that had been triggering tears. GP Stephanie had cried when 'feeling very tired or ill; through intensely missing people; looking after lonely and scared patients; and utter frustration at the never endingness of it all.' As well as due to concern for her children who were 'desperately missing their friends'.

Laura's a GP, too. But in her words, 'not a big crier any more.' Even so, she'd cried that day after reading a sad post from a friend, marking the anniversary of a loved one's death. That was enough to get Laura thinking about her own late mum, and how much she misses her.

The sadness of missing grandchildren was mentioned by many, including Carla and Ian,
and Michelle, who's cried several times. 'Sometimes over nothing at all, ' she said, 'or at bedtime story time with a grand-daughter, and she cries because she wants a hug. I defy anyone,' said Michelle, 'not to cry, then'.

Luckily, mid-pandemic, good things are happening, aswell. Although,with widespread, heightened emotions, they're often making people blub, too.

Sarah was crying while writing, she said, having just heard about plans for an online memorial book for loved ones lost to the Corona virus. Carla was finding that 'people being kind..... or even bluetits fledging,'  were likely to 'set her off'. And decorator David admitted to having 'had a moment' when a customer offered him a 50% payment advance for the next project; something David said he found 'very humbling'.

So, given that Covid's going to be around for a while, how are we going to deal with it?

Your tweets contained some great advice; for criers, and non-criers alike. GP Stephanie reckoned it's best not to aim too high. 'Getting through the day is as good as it gets, sometimes,' she said. 'And that's OK.'

Marie; who's feeling down about 'no life, no hugs and no job' is seeking solace in 'Netflix ...and running. If I make myself go for a run before breakfast, I find it helps me all day,' she said. Martin agreed that exercise was helping him, too. For Benji, Sarah and Peter, it's all about limiting the number of news bulletins they tune into. Glynis used to keep a diary, and is finding now, that jotting things down in a journal is helping her, and means she can 'rant, without worrying others'! 'Mr B', meanwhile, says he's been running chat and resilience sessions for colleagues and staff, which have proved useful.

And if all else fails....the message that came back loud and clear was 'carry on crying'. Kev said he'd 'always rather show emotions, than bottle it all up with a British, stiff upper lip'.

Marie 2 said crying was acting as a release of pressure...'like bleeding a radiator'. Carla agreed. 'When tears roll, tension pours out,' she said. Clare said talking to a friend online, had allowed 'tears to come naturally'. Carole; a relational psychotherapist, described what we're going through, and what's to come, as 'a major mental health issue. She predicts more tears ahead; and lots of them. 'Tears and weeping', she said, 'are essential and, ideally, noisy, wet, long and loud '.

So back to that Zoom call with my mates, that I cancelled, after thinking my mood might spoil the jolly catch up we'd all planned. The truth is, the three of us have already shared so many tough times and tears together --from tears of sadness, to tears of uncontrollable mirth, laughing so hard our mascara melted. It's friends like these who would've been uniquely qualified to cheer me up yesterday. Or to just understand that I felt a bit glum.

Probably time to reschedule.

(PS: There was a brilliant response to my Twitter post about crying --thankyou so much, whether you're mentioned here, or not, for getting in touch. And special thanks to Julie--another fantastic friend who's always 'been there' for me. Spotting on Twitter that I was planning to write about crying....she 'casually' fixed a check-in call with me. As if she was just passing. What a great buddy she is...)












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