Is Lockdown affecting your mental health? - Lessons from a mental health warrior
“How are you today?”....a chorus of “Fines” may now be firing back at me ….and again I will ask that question…”How are you really?”.Don’t worry this isn’t a test, this is just me a mental health warrior, survivor if you wish, who through 30 plus years experience has navigated her mental health, analysed it, been to all the therapists and come out the other side a little wiser. Still learning but actually feeling more in control.
This isn’t a boast by the way, just an offer of help, a kind word of solidarity because I understand because I’ve been there, still go there. First hand experience if you wish that I’m giving to you because I care.
I get it, we often reply with the polite version , it’s a long story so I’ll spare the details in case I cry. The... you wouldn’t understand version, or perhaps I’m ok really ...only to spend the rest of your day sobbing on the sofa unable to move, unable to care for yourself, just about functioning on automatic. Here’s the thing...YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Lessons from a lockdown.
So we’ve been here before, except last time the sun was shining and the break seemed welcome, the reality hadn’t set in and quite frankly we all felt it’ll be over in a few weeks. You might have splashed out and treated yourself. Started a fitness routine, gone out for daily walks, and actually enjoyed not having to wear real clothes for a few weeks. That was until a few months in, when you realised what you did miss about your work colleagues and your normal routine. At this time I spoke to many friends that I knew were on their own. I offered to meet up for coffee, perhaps just a little walk or I stood at their gate having a conversation to help cheer them along. I did this because I know what it’s like when you don’t talk. These options are still available. So do take advantage or getting out the house, you may need to dress for the weather or have your meet up in your lunch hour or at the weekend. But the option to meet just one friend will be the thing that helps the most.
Keep talking - NO you are not boring me!
In the depths of my depressions I often found myself smiling weakly and fobbing people off with fake news stories about how my life really was. Too afraid to actually blurt it out. On the rare occasion when I was caught off guard at the school gates and ended up in tears the truth often fell out. What I learnt most from these moments was I wasn’t alone. WE were all feeling the same. There wasn’t one person who didn’t say, “me too”. There were the ones who had not experienced the darkness, so didn’t really understand but they still lended an ear they still offered a friendly coffee and chat.
You see you are not alone in your thinking, many have these thoughts many are feeling lonely, I can promise a trip to the shops just to buy one thing and a friendly exchange with the cashier does work wonders. But on a more serious note ...REACH OUT!
I know it's difficult, I really do, I was lucky to be able to talk to family and be completely truthful with how I was feeling. But once it was out there in the open the rawness of it seemed to soften and I started to feel a whole lot better. And you will too, there really are a lot of people out there wanting to help. I promise a quick sign up to Instagram and you will be welcomed with open arms by many groups who deal with mental health issues. These people will listen , will direct you to counsellors or The Samaritans, will help you through these dark days. Search The Blurt Foundation on Instagram or talk to a potato or #mentalhealthgroup and you will find an array of groups and people who will be more than willing to listen.
Why has lockdown been super hard?
Lockdown has been super hard, but be thankful for the use of technology and facetime, zoom and the like, because it really will help you feel connected. I know my own mother said she felt like she had “seen” me after a facetime call. We often played with the silly faces and hat options on Facebook messenger and after a good laugh we both said our mood had lifted. Sometimes I did go in, I had some time alone, and asked those in the house to just steer clear of me for a few hours. I did this so I could just let the mood wash over me without interaction and keeping up a pretence. It allowed me to get over the moment quicker.
It is but a moment in time
Here’s the thing, it is just a moment in time, this isn’t forever, this won’t be your life story. It certainly isn't the end. Yes I agree it may have put a spanner in the works, tripped up your education, battered your business or totally wiped out your income. And for those really affected financially I truly do send out a hope that you are able to ask for help. I Promise you the kindness of strangers does still exist. So please don’t feel ashamed, most people will understand. Those that don’t, well, were they your friend anyway? I understand the shame that you may be feeling in asking for help, I understand the embarrassment at feeling you’ve let someone down. But I can tell you now more people will be horrified that you didn’t ask, more people will be upset that you didn't think their door was always open. In my past blogs I have offered many tips and advise of how I mange my own mental health. So don’t suffer in silence, don’t be a martyr. Be that kind person to yourself and tell her/him to be brave and reach out, you may even be surprised at what comes back.