1. Living with the stages of isolation being self employed

    Whether you seen it coming or not, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnston announced that all citizens had to stay at home in a bid to curtail the spread of Coronavirus on March 23rd 2020.

    2020 didn’t get off to the best of starts with the Bush fires in Australia, Brazilian floods and locust infestation across Africa and Pakistan. There was leaking footage emerging from social media sites of a deadly virus in China. Some listened, some called it fake news. Some countries acted quickly and some laughed it off.

    As the weeks turned into months, the looming fear began to set in that this could happen to us. But we were assured, it’s just the elderly, the already terribly ill. If your young, you will be okay. We were afraid, not only for our families but our businesses. As a Newborn photographer, I knew I couldn’t work and practice social distancing. All the training I had didn’t prepare any of us for a Global pandemic on this scale. Suddenly you were seeing businesses closing around you, your competitors and your friends. We asked each other would this day be okay to take this client and would that date be okay to do this job? Deep down we knew from March there was no risks worth taking on a child’s life for photographs. So we closed before Lockdown.

    But still people weren’t getting it, the old Belfast saying “…aye sure be dead on”, rang in our ears as we tried to believe it wouldn’t come here. Many said …”sure we’ve been through worse.” And as a child myself conceived in The Troubles, I thought we had put hiding in our houses past us. But this was an enemy you couldn’t see. Didn’t care about your Religion, your gender or your net worth. We gradually came to accept it could come for any of us.  It wouldn’t give you a chance to have a funeral or comfort love ones, it took away hugs and tore Grandparents away from their Grandchildren. The Easter baskets they so carefully created remain undelivered as we entered the stricter phase of staying at home.

    We filled those early days updating websites and did some blogging and caught up all work outstanding. For the first time in my life I had no editing pile. Nothing to create, nothing to do became my day to day life. Next we panicking about Rent and paying phone bills, cancelling debits we didn’t really need and some of us bought enough toilet paper to last to Christmas. We played the meme game and we played it well. We deleted Facebook, reinstalled it, doing this a few times a week. Suddenly what was valuable in the world became hand sanitizer, rubber gloves and pasta. The most valuable members of our society became Nurses, Doctors, Supermarket shelf stackers and Bin Removal staff.

    The next phase is what I like to call the ‘Sadolin Phase’. If you weren’t out your back painting your fence, your furniture or your cat, you were failing at isolation. Your car was clean for the first time in forever and your windows and gardens got some much needed TLC. You painted rainbows on your windows and argued over the correct colour order of these rainbows. Then came the power hosing, if that wasn’t already done before the paint began. And now we’re in the hot tub phase that all the work is done physically possible to your garden, for us that has money to do so.

    It’s now the peak, about to peak or just off peaking. No-one really knows. You can’t concentrate on that book or have the patience for any TV show. You give in and watched Tiger King and now all you can think about is who is looking after all the animals we’ve put in cages for our amusement? You start to feel like an animal in a cage. You couldn’t find anything to watch on Netflix the best of times so you try Disney Plus but you’ve seen all that so you turn the T.V off. You make lists. You walk. You try to run. It is Wednesday. Thursday, your delivery has came so you try Yoga. You get excited for dinner time as you count the days away until the weekend family zoom quiz call that you kept meaning to exercise your brain for. You clap for the NHS and talk with neighbours, the highlight of the week so far. At least it is the weekend now and someone in your house won’t be working from home and you won’t be as lonely. And then it’s Monday again and your all alone again. And repeat.

    It truly is a bizarre and depressing time for all of us. I worry what life will be like for us after this, will we be the same again? Will every member of our family be around the table for Christmas and will the children remember us? More like will there be enough stuffing and wine if your house is anything like mine!

    We will hug and kiss again, we will fight for our economy and support our local businesses again. We will sing in the rain and not complain about it, we will dance in the bars like no-one is watching and we will have our roots fixed and hairs cut! We are Northern Ireland, we are neighbours and we are in this TOGETHER and we will get through it TOGETHER!!! So stay in your homes and hopefully this nightmare will end soon. I live for this day and so does everyone on this planet <3