My name is Richard, and I’ve been a volunteer with Double Impact for around seven months, including lockdown time, which I’ve learned I have to navigate differently to normal time. As the lockdown loomed I was a bit worried, but I felt quite confident in my recovery. Last year I began  working for Opportunity Nottingham as a Beneficiary Ambassador, so I knew that I would be occupied for a couple of days a week, and I have spent the last year or so since I finished the Studio House program building up a network of people I knew I could rely on to keep my thinking in check for just this type of unexpected event.

I’d love to say that I have spent the whole lockdown doing exciting productive things and growing as a person, but the fact is it’s been quite the rollercoaster! I initially had a huge rush of positive energy, and was able to make myself useful, setting up meetings and teaching everyone from my grandparents to the beneficiaries I work with how to use Zoom (they have now taken to calling me “The Tech Guy”). I managed to get into all the habits I’d hoped, going for walks and enjoying the sun. Trying to adapt my previous routines was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, and I accepted the need to adjust to the new remote way of doing things. Just before we got told to stay at home I had bought a load of houseplants, and somehow the collection has multiplied and completely taken over my flat! I have been doing the odd shift to support the hub staff and have been helping to supervise the residents at the hotel the Framework Street Outreach Team have been providing for Nottingham’s rough sleepers to isolate in, and having this variety helped keep me chipper as time wore on.

I have a history of mental health difficulties, and I try to make sure that the way my life is set up ensures that when I begin to suffer from a low mood I am able to make allowances, managing my energy while still getting the essentials done. Given how long the lockdown seemed set to last I expected to have a dip sooner or later, but I hadn’t figured for how the lack of face to face interaction with my support network would impact me; I’d been so comfortable attending fellowship meetings in my lounging about clothes that I assumed I’d be perfectly fine to weather any storm! When I started to struggle I had to lean heavily on my friends, and it really drove home to me just how important having strong connections with them is to my recovery. I’ve been able to pay them back in kind, and it’s that back and forth that has meant the most to me these last few months.

Besides a bout of illness (tested – NOT Covid-19!) and a couple of emergencies I’ve had to step into to keep friends safe I have found myself a comfortable sort of equilibrium, and I’m looking forward to the next few months. I have changed a lot over the last two years, and have often felt that I am getting to know who I really am now I’m clean and sober, and having this pause before I begin my post-recovery-discovery in earnest has made me keenly aware of how important it is that I keep doing the things that keep me well, no matter what the future holds. The old normal didn’t seem to suit me anyway, and this “new normal” everyone’s talking about sounds much more my thing.

I hope you’ve all managed to stay happy and healthy through these odd times, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone when the hub has opened back up. Stay safe!




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