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Christelle Evaert

We asked women at Warwick to submit an image of themselves for inclusion in the Warwick Women's Montage and a short description of the challenges they've faced/continue to face and how they're dealing with them.

See Christelle's submission below:

"The pandemic has affected us all, for different reasons. The year 2019 was a difficult year on a personal level due to the breakdown of my relationship. In November 2019, I moved into my new home on my own and the same week started a different role at the University. In December 2019, my dad was hospitalised due to mental health problems, leaving mum on her own back in my home country. I had put in place lots of strategies to help me cope with the grief and healing process of the relationship breakdown including going to the gym six times a week, volunteering, socialising, seeing my friends, meeting new people, learning my new role and focusing on my CIPD qualification. Needless to say, all of this literally stopped overnight in March 2020 when the pandemic struck. Suddenly my new house, which didn't quite feel like a home yet, became my place of work and gym. I could not see my friends, particularly my best friend, whom I missed terribly. While I am fortunate that I have carried on working throughout the pandemic, the sudden shift to working at home on a permanent basis meant that I had lost the connections with colleagues. I felt isolated, alone and lonely, except for the company of my cat (!), a rescue I adopted in December 2019. I found myself having meltdowns unexpectedly as well as anxieties which I managed with medication.

As restrictions were being lifted, and living on my own, I was able to go out and see a friend for socially distanced walks. I started running with a friend and the impact this had on my mental wellbeing was huge. Now I never enjoyed running and surprised myself at how good it felt as we were pounding the pavements and pushing each other. I managed a 10km run after just doing four runs; off-road runs through fields was incredibly uplifting.

The gyms reopened in July 2020 and needless to say I was there on the first day! Being back felt so good and it was great being with like-minded people who share the same passion for working out. I started to notice that I was feeling better in myself, I was getting physically and mentally stronger and my confidence started to grow again. I no longer felt the need to take medication to help me cope with the anxieties.

And then came lockdown 2.0 and 3.0. I realised that I was in a much better place. I am aware many have struggled in particular during the most recent lockdown. And whilst I have had some off days, I have felt mostly okay. The dark nights of December are behind us and we are a step closer to spring and now closer to resuming what will feel more like a normal life.

I am a firm believer that there are always positives that come out of difficult situation. So, what have I learnt over the last 12 months? I am fortunate to have some wonderful and genuine friends. I have made new friends and my social network has expanded despite the lockdowns! I have learnt that I am resourceful and can face challenges on my own. I have learnt to process my emotions and the lockdowns have enabled me to take some time to reflect and get to understand and know myself. I have realised that I am resilient and have become so much more confident. I am fitter than I have ever been and physically and mentally stronger (bring on those burpees tuck jumps and one-handed burpees!). I still have off days, but that's okay. I believe that these new-found strengths will offer me richer and more meaningful personal and professional relationships moving forward."

Read more personal stories on the Warwick Women's Montage page.

You may also be interested in:

ED&I Newsletter

Charters - including Athena Swan (gender equality Charter)

Gender Initiatives

Data and Reports - including Gender Pay Gap Report

Policies

Taskforces and SIC - including Gender Task Force

* If you’re struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic find sources of support on the Staff Wellbeing Hub and access confidential online or phone support from the Employee Assistance Programme.