The power of silver linings

Pink sky

12 months ago, I sat nervously on the sofa to listen to the latest announcement from the Government. I knew it would be something significant, but nothing can really prepare you for being told to stay at home for the foreseeable future.

Of course, the idea of staying at home all day was once quaint and the stuff of dreams during a long day in the office, but now, give me the commute, the shared kitchen and the office with no temperature controls and I’ll be happy.

I can truthfully say I will never take life in the office for granted again. For this and being able to interact with others while there is now one of the silver linings of our very existence — the very things I have spent the last 12 months learning to find.

“Every cloud has a silver lining,” they say. Sometimes finding that small glimpse of positivity in what feels like an endless storm of uncertainty can be the challenge, but to make it through these last 12 months, it was something I clung onto to survive.

I never thought I would say that I am grateful for the lockdown. Could any of us really find something good in all this as life became a shadow of what it once was?

Like many, I have my struggles. Generalised Anxiety Disorder being something I wasn’t diagnosed with until during the lockdown, but something I have been dealing with for the best part of a decade. I’m not saying that this is one of my silver linings, but having spent many years struggling with GP appointments and not feeling like help was out there, I am grateful for the help I have received these last few months. I don’t know whether it’s that doing things virtually means we all need to try harder to communicate in the right way — all I know is that I no longer feel so alone.

Unlike a plaster cast or bandage, we cannot see mental health. I have spent years feeling angry at the ‘out of sight out of mind’ mentality that this nation adopts, but no more. It’s a sad reality that we are facing a mental health crisis, and this worries me. But could it be that from all of this there IS a silver lining? If that’s possible, for me it will be that mental health is finally on the agenda and something that’s talked about. One day I hope that I will look back on these last 12 months and tell my future children that 2020 was the year that not being ok, really did become ok.

I’m a firm believer that in these hard times, we can all find a sparkle of hope. Having a sibling living abroad means I’m not blessed with regular visits and doing simple things together like having a cup of tea that many may do countless times a week and take for granted. But what I now realise I am blessed with is knowing that no matter what the distance, miles cannot separate the bond of sisters. Lockdown means we have talked more than ever, laughed more than ever and supported one another more than ever. Though I miss the pure happiness I feel when I’m with her, the silver lining I am grateful for is my sister’s unconditional love which can’t be broken by the changes in the world.

Time at home has driven me mad. There have been times where I have felt like I am trapped in a prison of bricks and mortar with no escape, but over time, I have discovered that home really is where the heart is. Living with a significant other is a gift that cannot be described in words. Before lockdown I knew my boyfriend was the one, and though being in the same person’s company 24/7 isn’t always easy, I can honestly say with all the love in my heart that I am now even more certain that he is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. It would be easy to focus on all the times you want five minutes to yourself or all the times you argue over insignificant things like washing up, but having so many months to reflect and think has helped me to find my silver lining in all this. When life goes back to ‘normal’ I’ll miss all of the laughs, chats and good times we’ve had from simply being together day in day out.

I’ve said before that finding a silver lining in bad times isn’t always easy. And the hardest glimpse of positivity to find was in not being able to see my two best friends — my Mum and Dad. Pre lockdown, visiting home was a regular occurrence on a weekend. All of a sudden, the one thing I wanted to do had been taken away, and months and months were spent only seeing that as a negative and a black hole of sadness. Of course summer time came and we could get together, and for a while, I didn’t think I would need to find a silver lining as I believed things were better forever.

And then Autumn and Winter brought steps backwards and visits home were no longer allowed. It was at this point that I felt the lowest I had done in years. Finding that silver lining seemed impossible and unattainable. But like with every struggle comes the reemergence into brighter days. I knew that being just like my Dad our special bond could not be broken by not being able to see each other, and so 12 months on from the lockdown, we are now best friends even more. For me and my Mum, laughs on the phone became more frequent, and recalling what may seem like insignificant memories and old conversations over the phone has become something I spend all day looking forward to.

Mum and Dad, I dedicate this writing to you. Thank you for always being there for me and for teaching me that even when things seem bad, life goes on and silver linings can always be found.

And my hope for the next 12 months? That’s simple. I hope for more silver linings in life. I hope for brighter days for us all, and I hope for that moment where My parents, sister and I can all be in the same room again, for that’s all that life is about — happiness no matter what.

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Natalie

Natalie

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