It is no secret that this Covid – 19 pandemic has seriously effected peoples mental health. Whether it’s the young missing out on school and seeing their friends or the elderly desperately missing family visits I believe that everyone has been effected negatively in someway.
The statistics around this are truly shocking and many professionals believe the numbers are much higher than is actually stated.
- More than half (60%) of adults and over two thirds of young people said that their mental health had gotten worse during the first lockdown.
- 1 in 5 adults are now experiencing a form of depression, that’s up from 1 in 10 last year.
- The number of suicides and suicide attempts have increased with the London Ambulance sharing that they are now attending 37 suicide attempts or suicides per day, that’s up from 22 last year.
We were already in a mental health crisis before the Covid – 19 pandemic hit and now things are reaching a shocking level there is just not the right amount of support available to help people suffering with their mental health.
I don’t – and have never – understood why your brain gets so much less help and attention than any other organ in your body!
It is 2020. Something must change.
This is about Covid- 19 and how it’s effected my mental health and I have to admit that for me going into the first lockdown was a lot easier than the second time. I was very anxious and found being locked up on my own with a 7 year old and 2 year extremely stressful at times but it is nothing to how I feel now.
If I am honest I feel a bit lost. I feel lonely a lot of the time as well. I may see people everyday on the school run but it’s a different kind of loneliness I just can’t quite explain. I think I was so used to taking my toddler to groups and clubs, having play dates and catch ups with friends and then for it to abruptly stop with me having no control over it has hit me hard. I know there are people around to talk to if I need to but it’s that reaching out that my mind has always made so difficult for me to do, that is preventing me. Not only that but there is that aspect of not wanting to bother or burden others. I know, as a family, we have been lucky with being healthy and have not had any major issues so to text a friend to say I’m feeling down and lonely seems so selfish in comparison to what some people out there are going through.
I seem to feel in a constant state of anxiety. I wake up in the morning and my chest feels tight, my head feels mussy and I feel in a state of worry or even panic and I’m not sure why. It takes me a while to get myself into a slightly calmer state to start my day. I don’t sleep either – I am 29 weeks pregnant so that might have something to do with it as well – but at 1am/2am every single night it is like someone has flicked on a switch in my head and the generators start up, the lights come on and BAM – my brain starts listing off all the things I can carry on worrying and thinking about. I am exhausted!
I find myself being really miserable at times as well. I am moody, snappy and just not really not fun to be around. I know it and try to change it but it seems like an uphill battle at the moment. My poor sons and husband!
I do suffer SAD as well and find this time of year, up until spring time, quite difficult. Dark mornings and evenings and a lot of the time dark days with no where to go. I really struggle to do anything some days. I have that ‘can’t be bothered’ ‘what’s the point.’ attitude which I HATE in myself. That is how I know my depression is hanging over my head at the moment. It sucks away the joy, it’s casts shadows on anything positive so it is an uphill battle for me most days at the moment.
Covid- 19 and how it’s effected my mental health does not include anything about self harm or suicidal thoughts and I am so thankful that my depression hasn’t reached this terrible low for me this time.
Something I know I found extremely difficult in the first lockdown was lack of routine. I crave and I need it. It keeps my anxiety in check knowing what my family and I are doing each day but obviously that all went out of the window. Early on I did get a handle on this and made a daily timetable for my son and his school work, when breaks and lunchtimes would be, what days and times he had Maths, English etc. It might have been a bit over the top to some people but for all of us, it 100% worked!
Something I noticed about myself (a little too late at times) was how I would become addicted to the news and social media updates on the virus. I would know all the facts and figures about new cases and death rates. Because of my BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) I have a tendency to have a bit of an addictive personality and can easily become obsessed with things, good or bad. This was definitely bad and I had to start forcing myself to detox from it. I would delete my social media apps for a few days at a time and keep the TV off of the news and current affairs shows.
It is not easy but after a few days I always notice a big change in my anxiety levels and my mind feels clearer and calmer.
So, what else helps? Well, I find writing and crafting very therapeutic. When my mind is running away with negative thoughts, worry or panic I get out my notebook and pen and just write. Doesn’t matter if it’s lists of things to do and remember or its the start of a blog post, writing just helps. Also crafting. I will get out my crafts and potter away or even my toddlers crafts and sit together getting messy with glue and stickers. It doesn’t need to be complex or expensive. Even colouring in some of your kids colouring books ( if they let you), putting together a photo album, upcycling an old unit, what ever works for you to change the negative thought process and show anxiety the door!
Another thing which 100% helps reduce my anxiety and depression is cleaning and tidying. A weird one maybe and my husband definitely doesn’t get it – but it honestly helps me. Clutter makes me stressed and anxious so if can see something is clean and organised on the outside it makes me feel like that on the inside. Whether it’s cleaning out the fridge, organising the kitchen cupboards or having a sort out of the kids toys. It all helps bring me a bit of calm and even joy!
I also find doing things for others brings about a sense of positivity and joy. I have always been someone that likes to see others happy. I think it comes from knowing real pain and sadness through depression – you know that awful feeling and you never want anyone else to feel remotely like that. During lock down my son and I spent a lot of time making and buying gifts and cards for friends and family and dropping them off. Knowing we bought them joy brings us joy. A little bit of kindness goes a long way.
Lastly, a list about what helps your mental health wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention exercise. I haven’t properly exercised in years! I don’t really enjoy it so I avoid it. But exercise doesn’t have to be gyms (if they’re open), boot camps or running 5K it can be just going out for a walk. I found that even though I may think a walk with my toddler is the last thing in the world I want to do, I force myself and we both feel better for it. Just a bit of fresh air can lift you instantly and clear away the cobwebs and help you focus and think more clearly.
I am definitely having some tough days in this second lockdown but thankfully (hopefully) we are approaching the end of it and resuming some of our normal activities once again.
One of my favourite quotes of this year is
We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm.
This hits the nail on the head. We are all going through these awful times but not all of us are experiencing it in the same ways.
So, as usual I sign off in the same way;
Be kind, always. You never know what battles people might be facing.
Love Amy x