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Lockdown: inside story

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Nicola Swanborough

Lockdown: inside story

In our new series, Lockdown: Inside story, Social Media Officer, Paige Dawkins, talks about changes to her work and the challenge of finding a suitable work space alongside two cats.

cat and woman
Not impressed – Julius the cat steals my chair


Hi everyone, my name is Paige and I am the Social Media Officer at Epilepsy Society.

I live at home with both of my parents and unfortunately my dad has fallen into the extremely vulnerable category, due to his asthma. So, in order to not have to stay 3ft away from him at all times, not eat meals together and not use the same bathroom, our entire household has decided that following the stringent social distancing advised for at least 12 weeks is the way to go.

This means no going out for daily exercise or going to the shops. This also means keeping away from our other family members including my young nephews and baby niece. But if it is what must be done to keep a loved one safe, then so be it. I feel extremely grateful to have many rooms in our house as my siblings moved out and a garden so that we can each still have privacy and outdoor space. I also feel immensely grateful for having a treadmill. I find myself regularly reflecting on a new appreciation for what life is like for many people with epilepsy and other conditions: fear of going outside and isolation. I feel this experience has given me a new existential touchstone to be able to empathically understand this - even if it is just a tiny droplet more.

Finding a workspace with furry colleagues

Finding a suitable space to work initially was a challenge, as I ended up with a very sore back, but after some juggling around (and telling my cat off for stealing my office chair!) I seem to have solved that problem and am now working comfortably next to my dad in his office.

I am usually a bit of a bug-phobic so this is one challenge I am working to overcome whilst spending more time in my garden - by the end of this I hope my new job title will be Paige, Lord of the Flies!

cat on printer
Home-working life - Hamlet the cat naps on the printer


A helping hand from neighbours and friends

I feel very grateful that we have a circle of friends and neighbours who have kindly volunteered to help us if we need anything. For example, my friend dropped me off some strong white flour at the weekend as I am hoping to make some hot cross buns for Easter. More essentially, my dad’s pharmacy got in touch with our neighbour who kindly picked up his prescription medication for him so none of us had to risk going outside. And I’d also like to shout out to the Tesco delivery drivers who must be worked to the bone but continue to deliver our groceries with a smile.

hot cross buns on a plate
Avoiding feeling hot and cross- I’ve always found baking relaxing


Missing conversations with colleagues

As my role is focused around social media, I am able to continue my job almost 100% as normal from home. Although I am missing the daily banter and ideas generated in casual conversations with my colleagues.

I have worked in social media marketing for over 6 years now and feel that this pandemic is really showing off the absolute best (cat memes) and the absolute worst (fear mongering) of social media. It is a phenomena that continues to fascinate me and I am glad I am able to continue supporting people affected with epilepsy through our platforms during the pandemic.

Nature and animals make lockdown easier

I have really taken to enjoying a cup of tea sitting by the wide open window in my bedroom which overlooks my back garden. I often see pigeons (my favourite bird) and the other morning was greeted to three of them sleeping in the tree at the back of our lawn. This is definitely one habit that I wish to take forwards post-lockdown and I wonder why I haven’t done it before!

I am also taking regular screen breaks to go and squish my cats (lovingly); I am definitely enjoying their furry company and they seem very happy to have us all home 24/7!

I’ve also taken to some drawing which I haven’t done in YEARS. This was my first creation during the lockdown and I hope to create some more:

Drawing a line - This ended up feeling like a homemade mindfulness colouring book


Being there for others

I find it hard that everyone in the household feels differently about the situation at different times. One day I’ll be feeling positive about it, and that is when someone else is feeling anxious. On these days I find it hard to support them as I am not wanting to start feeling anxious myself. For me, it’s about being there for each other when we can be and knowing when we need to step away and focus on caring for ourselves.

A big part of this for me has been limiting the time I spend watching the news and browsing social media outside of work and ensuring that any information I read is from an accurate source.

Lessons from covid-19

I think it’s best we don’t know what is coming in life. If someone had told me 2020 would entail a pandemic I know I’d have just panicked - whereas I am surprised at how I am coping now it is actually here. I also feel this is a good time to try out “life in the slow lane” and try to not rush around with a constant to-do list of 1000 things.

Discovering new things

I am watching The Thick of It for the first time and am thoroughly enjoying it.


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