Catherine Bohart: ‘I’m frightened of losing what I found in lockdown’

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  • Award-winning writer and comedian Catherine Bohart shares what her own lockdown mental health journey helped her discover

     ‘How’s your lockdown going?’

    People have been asking me that question since the first lockdown and I still find it baffling.

    Surely, the question should be, ‘how’s today going?’. I’d even take, ‘How’s the last hour been?’. The situation we are in, and I think this bears repeating, is utterly unprecedented, bizarre and difficult.

    Yet, the question is ‘How’s your lockdown going?’. In essence – are you having a good one or a bad one? It might have taken a few months but we got there, true to form. As people, we’ve already managed to make the time during a terrifying global pandemic something you thrive in or fail at. Well done us.

    The worst part about the celebrities vowing to lose lockdown pounds (unlike you, you lazy bin fire) or the friend writing a novel (catch up, Catherine) or seemingly everyone you know buying a house (How? Now? How?) is the feeling that getting through this horrible and scary year hasn’t been enough.

    It is. More than that, small, tiny wins, should be celebrated.

    So, am I having a good lockdown? Not really. Some days. Depends on when you ask? On paper, my relationship of five years ended, my industry collapsed over night, my rent is high, I don’t have a puppy and my OCD is harder to manage when all the things my doctor has been saying for years are ‘irrational behaviours’ are now government advice or policy.

    So no? But also, I’m dealing with all of those things. Day to day, this entire year has been proof of our resilience and I’m proud of us all.

    Plus, there are things I’ve discovered in the last year that it might have taken me a decade to work out. This is mainly thanks to the fact I’ve had to spend time alone and have started therapy again. I’m in awe of therapists this year, they are dealing with this pandemic, too, and having to deal with us all looking to them for the answers.

    Also, it must be so hard to be a therapist when everyone can see into your house on Zoom, nothing gives the game away on you having your life together like a duvet with the word ‘dream’ on it.

    For me, lockdown has been the first time in my adult life that I have been at my own behest. I am a massive people pleaser. What? The clown likes to make other people happy? I know, a shocker. But I had not realised how much I do or how much of my time I give to making sure everyone thinks I’m a good guy until lockdown began.

    For a year, I haven’t been able to say ‘I’ll be right there’ or ‘I’ll do that’ or ‘want to get a coffee?’. That has been good for me. I have had to spend my time on and with myself, as we all have and it’s made me realise how alien that is to me.

    I like to keep busy, have everyone like me and let my problems pile up until they are undeniable. You know, healthy stuff. So when lockdown hit and the only person I could meaningfully spend time with was myself, I realised I never do that willingly.

    I’ve been able to hear my own opinions on things, I’ve asked myself what I like for lunch and what time suits be best to work. If these don’t sound like profound moments to you then well done, you were already living your life for yourself but I’m not sure I was.

    I’m feeling slight re-entry anxiety about going back to the real world, not because I’m thriving in lockdown but I’m a little bit frightened of losing what I found in lockdown.

    Balance.

    The capacity to have good and bad hours.

    Good and bad days.

    The freedom to prioritise myself.

    So, until April, I’m going to practice saying ‘no’ around my flat. I’m going to say things like ‘thank you for thinking of me, but I’m afraid it doesn’t suit this time’ in my shower.

    If I can do that, then I’ll have learnt something in the last year, there won’t be a before and after shoot but hey, small, tiny wins.

    Catherine Bohart is a comedian who hosts weekly online stand up comedy show Gigless – more info at catherinebohart.com. Check out the rest of our International Women’s Day content while you’re here, on site and on social at @marieclaireuk

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