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Tuesday 19 January, 5:50pm
As I lay on the moor with my foot in agony and at an awkward angle, I couldn't believe what had happened. I had only gone out for a 'short walk', but ended up in hospital with a dislocated ankle, two broken bones and a lot of pain. Two operations later, I returned home with a zimmer frame, learning to hop with vigour on my right leg. 8 weeks of bed rest lay ahead of me.. 8 weeks of reading, jigsaws, podcasts, puzzles and TV. All sounds blissful until you have to do it all the time, then the novelty quickly wears off...
Sadly too, we are in local lockdown, so I have not been allowed the supportive visits from friends who would have kept me sane and in a positive frame of mind.
But as I tick off the weeks until I can be mobile again, I have been delighted with the support, encouragement and practical help that I have had from my friends. Cards, flowers, magazines and books, chocolates, cake arrived at the doorstep as well as meals. Text messages, phonecalls all helped and continue to keep me sane. I honestly cannot thank my friends enough for all the support they have given me.
So if you are going through a rough patch, for whatever reason; or if your friend is struggling, take a few small steps to keep in touch. It helps to lift a person's spirits and keep them in a positive mindset. It helps them feel as if they are not going through things alone and that they have good people around them. This could be a quick note or email, phone call or text. Or you may feel more comfortable doing something practical - what might they need or be missing? What are their interests? And if you are in a tough place try and reach out to someone you know - they may not even realise you need a hand.
Friends asked me what they could do to help, they wanted a job but weren't sure how they could help. I found it worked better when I gave them a specific job to do; for example, I suggested that if they were cooking a meal, could they make a little extra for my husband and I. My husband is a university lecturer so is right in the midst of online teaching at the moment. September is his busiest time of year, meeting new students, writing and giving lectures. He is working like crazy and this year has the added job of caring for me as well; so a little help with meals has been an absolute godsend to us both.
When the Covid and lockdown struggle comes to an end, when I am walking again and we are able to meet up again properly, I will have a party, as a big thank you and in recognition of the great friends I have around me!
How you can help your friends when they are struggling:
texts and phonecalls
treats - magazines, books, flowers, cake, puzzle books, jigsaws, beauty stuff to make them feel better, something for their interests eg knitting or gardening
share a Zoom session - choir, art class, online lit fest - whatever you are both interested in
offer to help - you could cook a meal, or if they are mobile you could take them out on a trip - for a walk, out for coffee, a trip in the car. Obviously things are limited at the moment but this will change over time
Be there for your friends, and they will be there for you.