Throughout the national lockdown, we invited women from across the country to share their experience of the coronavirus pandemic. After a summer break, we checked in with our diarists to see how the last couple of months had been. We’ve drawn together a collection of their responses on how they have been doing and feeling. These thoughts were shared before the Government’s announcement of a November lockdown.

Some of our diarists are experiencing long Covid. They described the impact it is having on them:

These months have been an absolute struggle. My muscle pains, breathlessness and chronic fatigue finally got diagnosed as long Covid and I'm waiting for occupational health to come through and help me with pacing myself, since it looks (6 months since I had Covid) that these symptoms are here to stay.

I am a COVID long hauler and I'm very grateful that long haulers are starting to get recognition and support. Whilst I appear to be doing better than many long haulers (and clinically I count as 'healthy') I wake up every day not knowing whether I will be capable of driving my kids to school, or whether I will suffer from muscle pain all day.

Research is showing women are likely to be more at risk of redundancy. Some of diarists told us that they are concerned about losing their jobs:

I am likely to lose my job. I am currently on half pay due to not getting the medical attention and expert advice I (and my company) need to ensure I can work safely.

My employer is impacted by the current situation and has had to make several of my colleagues redundant or placed them at risk of redundancy… I can't help but feel apprehensive about the future seeing my colleagues lose their jobs. I am a junior manager and feel responsible for my staff. What if we were to lose our jobs as well? 

I am still working from home, still in the position where [my employer] is allowing me to do this exceptionally due to my personal circumstances (caring for shielding partner ), but....there is a really high value on face-to-face meetings, and I feel increasing tension around my WFH status…I worry that I will lose my job...

While mothers wrote of the relief they feel that their children are back at school, they also worry that at any moment they will have to isolate:

Our children are both in childcare and every time an email pops up from school/pre school I fear it is going to be the one telling us their bubble is shutting down. It will be a relief if we make it to half term.

I have already had time off work since the children went back to school as my son had a persistent cough. We had to isolate and wait for a test. Luckily we got a test and the results were negative... This is one of the negative impacts of COVID on women in the workplace. I am lucky I can work from home, but my boss prefers everyone to be on site. How many absences will he tolerate?

Due to extra precautions and the need to be constantly alert, day-to-day activities now require careful planning, which is emotionally draining and anxiety inducing. For some diarists, doing an activity beyond the essential can cause extra anxiety.

I had to go to the eye clinic at the hospital a few weeks ago. The hospital is out of town and too far to walk, I would have to go on the bus. To begin with the thought terrified me, so I didn't think about it until the day... Arriving at the eye clinic 15 minutes early set me off again as the letter said not to arrive more than 5 minutes before the appointment.... I sat there, waiting, in an absolute panic. My heart was pounding and my chest ached so much. When I went in with the nurse I said I thought I was having a panic attack and burst into tears. I said I had never suffered any anxiety and had travelled around the world…and was fine. It was her gentle understanding and talking things through, without being hurried or patronized that I was able to calm down. 

It’s a strain navigating life in Covid World and by now we are stiff from holding on tight emotionally for so long... Our thoughts are muffled and everything needs planning. Nothing can be spontaneous anymore.

I also broke my own rules, I went to a cafe, and had a tea and cake, I couldn't or didn't resist it ... and was left with worries about what might happen.

Diarists are concerned about what will happen in the winter. They are anxious about not being able to see family or friends, the uncertainty of restrictions, and how the Government is responding.

I am fearful of Christmas and of being alone, not able to see people or no one having space in a bubble for me.

For reasons I don't quite understand, I have found the last couple of months more challenging than earlier on during full lockdown…Now we know what to expect and the prospect of further containment during the dark winter months is depressing.

I'm tired of Covid, the restrictions, the uncertainty, the appalling mismanagement of the entire thing, the government, of never coming out from under, tired of being exhausted, tired of having no energy, of not sleeping well, of working, of everything being a chore.... 

My daughter has been to visit me twice here…which was an incredible boost for me. My life brightened enormously, I was on top of the world, but each time she left I felt so bereft, so alone, my life became meaningless.

Adapting to new ways and attempting to think positively has been the key for some of our diarists:

My community choir and Pilates classes have started up in person again... All done properly, strict social distancing, sanitiser, no mingling and we have to wear masks. Sounded awful but is fine…Adaptation is key in these strange times.

I’ve discovered a technique which helps. When chores need doing, I tell myself, “good, something to keep me occupied “. When I need to fetch/get things, I tell myself, “good another bit of exercise."

And for some women, the pandemic brought new opportunities – and new beginnings:

In June I applied for and was successful in securing a job in a different city… the pandemic has actually made this easier in some ways. I was able to apply for jobs in other places, after getting confirmation that if successful I could perform the job from home, which meant that my husband didn't have to also find a new job immediately and we could find somewhere to live.

We got a puppy which has been a brilliant distraction. I even created an Instagram page for him…Getting out for dog walks will hopefully be great for our mental health and getting us out even in bad weather.

The culmination of all our careful shielding and social distancing has been the birth of our second daughter 4 weeks ago... When I started writing these entries I was 16 weeks pregnant and terrified that something would go wrong with this pregnancy as it has so often did before in previous unsuccessful pregnancies...The birth was a calm and totally healing experience after so much worry and doubt and in our new baby bubble we even forgot about Covid for a short time.

Thank you to our diarists, for sharing their experiences during the year. If you would like to take part in the diaries, you can get involved here.

If you feel in need of support at the moment, we include some suggestions in our Help for Individuals page.