How lockdown saved my relationship with my family

27/05/2020

After being hospitalised for four years to receive treatment for an eating disorder when she was 17, Georgi Lopez missed some crucial time together with her family. By the time she had returned home, her brother had gone to university and they were rarely together for more than a few days in the next three years. Covid-19 has at the very least been a period of great uncertainty and anguish for everyone. But, for the Lopez family, this adversity has brought them closer together, and allowed Georgi to reconnect with her brother. 

While I am acutely aware that for many people around the world, the current lockdown has been a time of fear, sadness and grief, for my family it’s been something of a saviour.

I was admitted to hospital to receive treatment for an eating disorder at the age of 17. At the time my brother was 14. Throughout the four years that I spent in various hospitals, we rarely saw each other: he was (understandably) not particularly fond of coming to the wards and had his GCSEs, followed by A Levels and was - quite rightly - out living his life. My parents, when they weren’t at work, were visiting me, so my family kind of splintered into four separate entities.

  • "My family kind of splintered into four separate entities."

I was discharged four years later at the age of 21 - during my brother’s first year at university and, after celebrating as a family with a glass a champagne, he went off to study (debatable…) for the next three years, only coming home to visit the family for a week or a few days here and there.

Consequently, since I have been at home, our family has spent little time together. We have felt like four puzzle pieces that just don’t seem to fit together. It’s sometimes made things at home tense or awkward, particularly for me and my brother (who is now home from university), because, having spent around seven years apart, we didn’t really know each other anymore.

As I recovered, I changed frequently, fitting four years of growing up into a short space of time and having had a multitude of strange and horrible experiences that were also influencing how that happened. This was difficult for my family who had lost me to anorexia and The Services as a teenager and brought me home again as an adult, who in no way resembled the sixteen-year-old they had lost.

  • "So, having to stay at home together during lockdown has been a godsend (an occasionally infuriating and frustrating godsend, but a godsend none the less)."

So, having to stay at home together during lockdown has been a godsend (an occasionally infuriating and frustrating godsend, but a godsend none the less). We’ve had time to cook together, to eat together, to drink together and to simply have a good ol’ chat together. My brother and I have bickered like siblings should. We’ve had family BBQs and brunches in the garden, table-tennis tournaments, wine-fuelled singing and a lot of laughter.

Our relationships with each other no longer feel awkward and are more like how I imagine they would’ve been if I hadn’t been admitted to hospital all those years ago. (Although, dinner-time political debates have invariably ended with someone stropping off stating that ‘we can’t agree to disagree, because your opinion is just wrong’).

So, while I am totally ready for the world to be safe enough for the return of (in particular) pubs and cafes, lockdown has brought with it, among all the chaos and fear, a few positives for The Lopez Family and it has really opened my eyes to how lucky I am to have such a loving and supportive family to lockdown with.

To read more about Covid-19 and mental illness, head over to our Coronavirus Hub

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