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Coronavirus, 6 months on: Fiona – “Daily life in a bubble with a shielding brother is really tough”

I struggle to think about the last 6 months of life as a sibling in Covid times, such a kaleidoscope of thoughts, feelings and experiences. Some days I feel like time is flying by, other days are long and difficult and loneliness really hits hard.

The loneliness of the last 6 months has been really hard, I feel very disconnected from many areas of my life. I have had almost daily contact with my brother and I am really very grateful for that, but I am also exhausted and feeling like I’m very out of touch with my own needs and my own life. Relaxing and winding down has never been more difficult. I work full-time and as Christmas gets closer I am counting down the days to being able to switch off the work part of my life for a couple of weeks.

Daily life in a bubble with a shielding brother is really tough. I worry constantly about how any decision I make will impact my brother and what other family members in the bubble will think of what I do. I have found myself feeling anxious and questioning everything I do. Things that are generally viewed as relatively ‘safe’, such as distanced walks outside with friends, are big decisions for me still. My world feels very small and video calling is great, but definitely not the same. I find myself feeling a bit jealous sometimes of other single people’s support bubbles as places where they can retreat and relax, especially with Christmas coming. Then I feel guilty for feeling jealous. The day when I can freely meet up with friends and relax again cannot come soon enough.

Through writing about my experiences for Sibs I became aware of the support that Sibs offers to adult siblings, this support has been amazing. Talking 1:1 and attending online support sessions where I have had the chance to meet and share experiences with other siblings has been more than helpful. Words really don’t do it justice. We have laughed, cried and most importantly connected. Contact with Sibs over the last 6 months has validated my experiences and allowed me to know in this difficult time that I have a voice too. When I feel lonely now, I can think back to this support and these experiences and I know that actually I am not alone. I know that other siblings ‘get it’…that I can be seemingly coping fine, but actually I am exhausted and still struggling to keep all of the juggling balls in the air.

For the year ahead I am hopeful that there will come a time soon when my brother can start to do all of the things he has been missing in Covid times. It’s so hard that he don’t understand why all of a sudden his life changed so dramatically and he lost access the things he loves to do. Many of these things that my brother loves are actually essential for his health and wellbeing, access to therapies like hydrotherapy have been a huge miss. When things start to return to pre-Covid times for my brother and family, then I am hopeful that once again I can get back to a bit more of having my own life.

All names have been changed.

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