In a way, the pandemic has so badly affected my mental health that it’s been a good thing.
I’m someone who lives with autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal problems as well as depression and anxiety. On paper I should have had the worst lockdown ever. And, I have. Sort of. I was living with a friend and really enjoying life. She however, works in a school and so it wasn’t viable for me to remain there. On top of that my mum was at my Aunty’s and so my brother who has many other issues including being a crack addict was going to be on his own. He pretty much begged me to come home. So I did. There were many days which lead into weeks where he was clean and sober. But then the addiction and yearning would hit so hard that he would go off and I was left alone, in the middle of a pandemic. I didn’t know who he was with, were they safe, was he going to bring back Covid? On top of that a friend of his split up with his long term girlfriend 20 years and she came out as gay. He had no where to go so came to stay with us. The anxiety was real. Then one of my closest friends was sectioned and that was so tough.
I just kept going, adapting, ignoring, getting through. None of it was ok. It was stressful, horrific and at times so much that I had to get in my car and drive and park somewhere quiet on my own and cry. I kept it all quiet from my mum and only told one or two friends how bad it got. But I got through. We were able to go out again for a bit and then the lockdowns came back. The thought of going into another lockdown filled me with dread and anxiety. I couldn’t breath, couldn’t sleep, felt ill al the time. Tearful and feeling isolated, worthless and unimportant. It is so much easier to forget about yourself and keep the peace. Shut up and keep going but at what cost?
It has affected me deeply. I don’t want to go out anymore. I don’t even really want to go to the shops. I just want to stay at home. But, it has made me look to the future because I don’t want to live like this. I am now exploring the idea of moving far away. Near to my wider family who are supportive. It feels scary and I don’t know it’s the best thing, but it’s a decision I’m more able to make because of the serious impact the lockdown has had on my mental health. I feel like I’ve come full circle but still need to take that final step. I know now I want to make good and healthy decisions for myself, meaningful decisions, something I’ve never felt able to do or never even occurred to me to do before. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not done this on my own. My doctor has been amazing, I’ve been prescribed medication which has been amazing, offered counselling and am actually seeing a psychologist through the NHS.
I don’t know how deep the long term affects are on my mental health but I do know that I’ve learned that it’s ok to be someone who wants things for herself. It’s ok and not selfish to make them happen. I don’t have to Martyr myself and I think living with mental Heath issues for 30 years whilst having unreasonable expectations put on me by myself and my family is no way to live. Maybe the positive is that the horror of the impact lockdown has had on my mental health is that is has helped to solidify in my mind what I absolutely do not want to tolerate anymore. And what I deserve and want for myself. Day to day peace. A home which is a sanctuary. Choice and control over decisions I make which are for my positive benefit. I’m grateful that I’ve had this time to learn more about myself. Who I am and how I cope. Who I want to be and how I want to live. That I don’t have to have ‘things’ to be happy but instead, have had some semblance of autonomy which therefore means I take responsibility in a different way. And of course fluoxetine helps!
Going through lockdown was awful but if it is the stepping stone to a healthier and happier life I’ll take the hit. Maybe then I’ll be more equipped to manage my mental health issues.