Six Years in The Rye – Life in Lockdown and my Transformed Relationship with Mum

What crazy times are we living in at the moment? The word “lockdown” is in use about as much as the word “the”, social distancing is the norm and most of us can’t even remember what it’s like to meet up with friends in person. And what day of the week is it, again? But there’s plenty of stuff to feel positive to talk about. One thing being with my home anniversary this month. I moved into my first home six years ago now and while there is still more that I want to do with it, is has served me well. I only found out the name of the Taylor Wimpey house type, The Rye, about a year ago. That was a nice little nugget of info to find out.

Except, I’m not spending it here. We are in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic and according to my doc I’m in that group of people who has to be extra careful due to underlying health issues. I knew my mental health wasn’t going to hold up to spending an entire season on my own, and after two weeks in isolation I was really struggling. I went about stripping the house of valuable things (which includes toilet rolls at the moment!) and moved in with my parents after I’d isolated for a while and we could be confident I wasn’t going to endanger anyone here. When I arrived, I went into tears, so I knew I wasn’t coping.

Now that the government has put the country in lockdown, this is going to be my home for a while. Thankfully I’m coping much better here mentally, though like anyone my age I naturally miss having my own space. That said, it’s already been a few weeks and I’m sure the rest will go quickly.

I took up the same room I had when I lived with my parents six years ago. My mum styled most of this room and I definitely get the interiors bug from her. Some aspects of my house back home are inspired.

Like these bits for example…

And leaving the house may be out of the question for a little while longer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty of company here. And I’m not just talking about humans.

It certainly is such a weird time at the moment and it’s not just about physical health. There’s a huge mental health toll too. I’ve certainly been feeling it, with my levels of anxiety being all over the place worrying about not only my own health but also loved ones and friends. I’m also missing seeing friends in person and going out and about. These are things often taken for granted and I think we are all guilty of that, myself included.

But there is plenty for me to feel good about! Not least the great things I achieved in the last year in my home. One being designing my new bathroom and also giving my bedroom a refurbishment, the old furniture from the latter being donated to family and friends in need.

The bathroom renovation was by far the biggest and best project to have happened in the last year
I also completely redesigned my master bedroom last year

There are some more things I’d love to get cracking on with but I accept that for now things have to wait. I’m doing my best in the meantime not to think too far ahead or make any long term plans in these uncertain times. I am just taking it all one day at a time.

I am drastically limiting my exposure to the news at the moment simply because it was doing me no good. I’ve heard it said loads of times that anxiety is a product of a lack of control and it’s so true. With that lack of control comes a desire to collect as much information as possible and very quickly I can easily spend an hour or more looking at doom and gloom news stories and before I know it my anxiety has been cranked up to eleven. I was doing this daily but there came a point where I just took a step back and realised the vicious cycle I was in. Today, I hid the News app on my phone to a page on its own well out of the way. Seeing the evening news on TV is enough for me!

There is no doubt that this is a very testing time for everyone. Certainly for me it’s been a challenge keeping my mental health in check while taking all the steps to protect my physical health. Some things I’m doing to help stay upbeat and turn a negative into a positive include acknowledging the positive things in my life as it is right now and try to keep a sense of perspective. I’ve also seen other bloggers talk about this and thought I’d try it myself. I’ve listed them mainly as an exercise for myself to try and maintain my mental health. Here’s the list:

This isn’t forever

And while it might seem like a lifetime until I can see my friends in person right now, in the grander scheme of my whole life that amount of time will only be a small part.

I can get outside safely

As much as I love my own home, as a starter home it is small and although it has potential for outside space, actually creating a back garden is a really big project I’ve not had the resources to do. By moving here I now have access to one and I am making sure I make the most of it especially when the weather is nice and I can go out and get some vitamin D. Although I’ve never really had much outside space in my home, I definitely value it even more now. We are also very fortunate to live in a rural area where we can walk the dogs down a deserted road right where we live without fear of coming into contact with loads of people. Again, not something I have at home.

I have more time now and can start improving my physical wellbeing

Though I contribute to chores it still doesn’t equate to looking after a house on my own. I am also saving on two and a half hours a day on not having to commute anywhere. I am trying to put this time to good use, getting back into hobbies and a little self care. I’m going to also try to use this time to exercise more and get my physical health back on track, something that I often let slip due to varying levels of mental health along with things I normally do for pleasure. Also, the lack of a commute partly gives rise to another thing…

I can better save up for things

Since I’m not going out at weekends and not spending anything on either train fares or petrol getting to work and back. I’ve had some pretty big expenses this year so far so it’s nice not having these expenses for a while. I include in this the ability to work from home. Though I am still contributing to shopping bills.

I am getting family time

We need each other now more than ever. The first time I lived with family after having moved out was when I was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis in the spring of 2015. One key thing has changed since that time, which I’ll talk more about in a moment. But above all I am grateful we are all doing ok and are well.

The health of my family and friends

With all the lives that are being lost to this terrible illness, and my heart goes out to all those affected, I am forever grateful for the health of my loved ones. I’m also making more of an effort to check in with friends, especially longer distance ones.

And lastly…

My relationship with my mum has completely changed in the last 12 months

This I’m especially grateful for now that I am faced with the prospect of being under my parents’ roof for a whole season. Two years ago on here I wrote a blog post about the significance of my home – how my late nan was a part of it, and how I moved out in order to remove myself from a situation where I wasn’t fully accepted as a transgender person. I could not live an authentic life until I’d done this and the vast majority of problems came from mum.

We have had some tricky family situations since then, which I obviously won’t go into detail on. As a result of this though my relationship with my mum became transformed as she completely changed her ways of thinking. In the last year I’ve been out and about with mum many times, expressing my identity without fear. In fact, we have even been on holiday together. My mum is quite camera shy but here are some of our best moments.

Me out shopping with Mum on my 28th birthday
A rather unflattering photo my mum took in a Costa coffee shop

And to add to this, a lovely trip out to Norwich to look at home stuff, including looking at new sofas for her living room.

My mum said to me later on that her previous unsupportive stance was really because she was worried for me and thought that trying to talk me out of it, per se, was the best way to go. She knows now that that was a mistake and said to me that if she could turn back the clock, she would. But how grateful I am now that I can live with her and dad without fear of anything for an extended period during a time of crisis. When I was here in 2015 things were VERY different and we would still have heated discussions about it even with me being on death’s door.

I forgive mum completely for everything and part of the reason why I wanted to write this was to show that we have a genuine love for each other and it’s never mattered more than now. People still read my blog post from two years ago and say how much they love reading my story. But I dislike the fact that it shows my mum in a negative light, even if it was all just me being honest and it was such a major part of why I moved out in the first place.

I remind my mum and myself that we still have lots of years left ahead of us. We have many great times to enjoy together. I think we are off to a great start.

For now though, anything beyond us two watching back-to-back episodes of Homes Under The Hammer together will have to wait. Hopefully soon we will have some normality back and then I can also get on with the last of the projects I have planned for my home. Who knows what else awaits me after that, house wise. Something bigger and better perhaps? I’ve got a feeling that time could be coming.

With love,


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