Our daughter, Kirsten, is 39 years old and has been a member of a Camphill Community since she was 7 years old. Kirsten has thrived in the routines that are built into the Camphill ethos and we have seen her flourish over the past 32 years.
Then Lockdown happened!!
At the beginning of lockdown, we had five adults in the house including Kirsten’s sister, Claire and her baby Jamie; Grandad, 92 and forgetful; and five dogs.
Life was full on and time flew past. Kirsten took her responsibilities as Auntie K very seriously and spent hours singing songs, virtually non-stop, to Jamie. She loved the opportunity to go out on walks with the pram. We also did a lot of activities including jewellery making, papier-mache and drawing. At the end of May Claire and baby Jamie returned home and David, her brother, took his dog back.
And this is when things started to go wrong. Our busy household was not quite so busy. Kirsten struggled to focus on activities and we were struggling with them too. What had been a novelty became mundane and our enthusiasm was replaced with despair at the thought of trying to hold her interest when we were all tired of the activities.
Kirsten’s mental health deteriorated and medical intervention was required. This helped and we all carried on as best we could. When Grandad, still forgetful, returned home at the end of July we were down to three adults and three dogs. Surely this would make life easier?
The thing we are still missing in our life is routine for Kirsten. Lockdown has shown just how dependent she is on routines. She has floundered without them and become obsessive about her soft toys. I think the day she asked her dad to apologise to Tigger as she felt he had been rude to him was probably our funniest but also most depressing moment since she had been at home. Soft toy obsession is ongoing and can start at 3am.
Kirsten’s only routine now is twice weekly Zoom calls with a local charity for quiz nights, crafting, dancercise and more. It makes me feel better knowing that others are struggling too but their input has been amazing.
We also facetime the craft workshop every Thursday so she can say hello to her friends. She misses them all very much and it can be very cheering for her to see everyone and say hello.
Despite these activities we are still struggling to make a structure to her days. Her obsessions have increased and as I write this, she has refused to get ready this morning. No bath, teeth brushing or hair washing. The need to deal with the soft toys now overrides personal care and meals.
Eventually, I know, everything will return to normal. I am sure we will make it through but some days we do start to doubt ourselves and I am sure we are not alone…
(Photo Kirsten, Lesley, Mack and Mickey Mouse)