I'm trapped in lockdown with my conspiracy theorist parents

Imagine waking up every morning to the blasting sounds of David Icke screaming about the world ending through your bedroom walls. 

It’s been my life since I started shielding in early March. My mum listens to the famous conspiracy theorist on full blast every day; he is her gospel. 

When I greet them face to face over breakfast, I’m told I should be measuring out my portions exactly ‘so we don’t run out of food in case the world ends’. 

Both of my parents have been conspiracy theorists since I was born. When I was very young, they kept that side of their life away from me. 

But then, several years ago, my father went to see my mother’s idol live. David Icke is an ex-footballer, turned presenter, turned conspiracy theorist. My dad left enlightened, parroting Icke’s theories and convinced Bill Clinton is a lizard. 

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It was just before I started high school when they started to tell me all about overlords, that the royal family are reptiles, and the impending apocalypse. They were my parents, so I assumed they were telling the truth. It wasn’t until I started repeating some of the stuff they said at school that I realised how wrong they were. 

I’m ashamed now to admit I espoused my parents’ extreme views and the derogatory comments I had heard about certain groups without any understanding of what they really meant. As soon as I uttered the words – things I don’t want to repeat, given how vile they were – I was put into my first and only school detention. It was a wake up call that what I was saying wasn’t normal and my worldview changed in an instant. 

I have blocked out so much of my childhood but the decision to move back in with them during lockdown was still a hard one to make. My new flat was unfurnished and, with my flatmates gone home for lockdown, I was scared of the impact loneliness would have on my mental health. 

Largely, though, it was because I have a serious health condition that I rely on medication to manage. As I am shielding, I knew I would need someone else to collect my food and prescription while I stayed indoors.  

As time goes on, I no longer think it was the right decision. 

Every day I am met with lectures about how doctors are killing patients with prior health conditions on purpose by forcing them on ventilators unnecessarily, just so they can put Covid-19 on the death certificate. Although I know it’s nonsense, it’s distressing to hear this theory every day as someone with a health condition. I’m also terrified of telling my parents if I do feel sick in the fear that they won’t seek help for me, as they now distrust medical professionals. 

The new coronavirus angle on their usual conspiracy theories arose when the mass hysteria around 5G masts took hold. Up until then it had just been the usual lizard and sacrificing babies chat. 

When my dad met my first girlfriend, he sat her down and said he could prove the moon landing was fake

First, my mother’s computer died. To her, the most rational explanation involved a supposed 5G mast in our street. Not only did that not make sense, there is no 5G near us as we live in the middle of nowhere.

In April, 77 5G masts were destroyed, which shows that my dad isn’t alone in his thinking. 

Since then, I’ve heard from my parents that the virus is both completely fake, and that it’s also the beginning of the apocalypse. I have listened to every possible thesis they have regurgitated from other conspiracy theorists that they’ve read and seen online. Their social media profiles are now echo chambers, where they blast their ideas and are surrounded by others doing the same.

I’ve tried to disagree with them, citing actual experts to use logic to prove them wrong. They are so convinced they are right, and the arguments get so heated, that I have learned to block them out over the years. 

I’ve put off discussing anything that could get them riled up. A good grade in a difficult exam would become a lecture on how I’m just being indoctrinated into a system of oppression. A successful job interview became a lecture on how I’m a slave to mainstream society. Graduating university meant I was a ‘trained animal, ready to repeat any information’. 

During lockdown, they’ve become harder to cope with. It’s harder to cut myself off from their delusions. They have bulk bought tinned food, real gas masks and created survival drills for when my medication runs out. They’ve told me they do these to protect me ‘from officials breaking in and taking me from the house’. 

I am incredibly grateful to my parents for caring for me during the lockdown, but it has reached a level that I cannot deal with. 

At the beginning I didn’t understand why people would break lockdown, but now I know that anyone else in my situation may feel they have no choice not to. At the minute, it is only my health condition keeping me put. 

I’m lucky I own a pair of noise cancelling headphones for when I’m in my old room. 

I can only imagine what the local villagers think when they cross paths with my father, as he tells them the world is ending, the internet will be switched off in mere days and celebrities are sending satanic messages through social media. 

I used to be embarrassed, but I’ve adapted. There have been a few instances where I couldn’t help but cringe – like when my dad met my first girlfriend and insisted the moon landing was fake and he had proof. At least now they are also trapped indoors. 

For now, I must stay put; I have no choice. I hope each person appreciates the cold wind passing through their arms and the ground beneath their feet during their daily walk. 

I promise, once this is done, I will be taking a hike back home to London and to my worried girlfriend. I will have a glass of champagne in one hand, and a burning copy of a David Icke book in the other.

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