Thoughts & Life Updates

Keeping It Real: An Honest Chat about Mental Health during Lockdown

Welcome back to the blog! Today I wanted to have an honest heart-to-heart about mental health during the global Coronavirus pandemic. It’s been 3 months since the UK went into lockdown and particularly with living in Wales where restrictions still aren’t easing, it feels never-ending. It’s been a tough time for everyone the world over and I feel it’s really important that we share how this bizarre time has impacted us, as a way to recognise our emotions and begin to move on once we are out the other side of it all. Although I have shared my thoughts through this period with close friends and family, I just really wanted to consolidate and bring the reality of my emotions over the last 12 or so weeks to this blog for several reasons.

Before we dive in, I would like to acknowledge that I realise I have been in a privileged position throughout lockdown: I have been furloughed from work since 23rd March, earning 80% of my pay to stay at home. I recognise many people throughout this country and the world have not had this safety net. Thousands have been working day and night to help the ill and the elderly, putting themselves at risk daily for the future of others. So many have lost their lives. Many others have been working tirelessly from home or have lost their jobs completely. And this is part of the reason that I struggled with my own emotions of sadness in the early stages of lockdown: how is it fair for me to complain about feeling lonely, worried and sad when I am in a physically safer and in a more financially stable position when so many others are not?

One of my best friends sent me a quote which I kept coming back to: “Just because the person next to you is in a full body cast, doesn’t mean your broken arm doesn’t hurt.”

This is something I keep reminding myself. You have a right to how you feel. You have to allow yourself to feel every emotion. It is a strange and scary time. There is no need to be hard on yourself on top of everything else that is going on.

To be honest, the first couple of weeks were relatively okay. Although being forced to stay at home unless going shopping for essentials has been tricky in terms of getting bored, I have found ways to pass the time. I – like the rest of the internet – have made several loaves of banana bread, cracked out a puzzle or two and dusted off my old Nintendo DS which still works after a long time on the shelf.

I also have an upcoming wedding to plan for. I could write a whole other post about the nightmare that is trying to plan a wedding during a global pandemic when it may or may not be able to even go ahead on the original date, so I won’t go into it too much now. Just know that it has been a huge stress. At the same time, this has been a great distraction. I have been able to do so much arts and crafts and DIY that I wouldn’t have had time to do if I had been working full time.

Especially at the beginning, it felt so strange to not be in work and to have so much free time on my hands, but the novelty wore off.

The biggest struggle for me has been feeling lonely. I live with my fiancé in a little flat in Cardiff, but he is a key worker who has had to do lots of overtime and covering other people’s shifts when they fall ill. He has had a rough time over this period, not just with working more, but with having to work harder to make sure safety measures are upheld and having to deal with the British public who have not been the best to say the least. He has come home with some shocking stories of outrageous and disgusting customer behaviour. For large portions of the day I have been pottering round on my own and no matter how many Facetime calls you do to family and friends, how many podcasts you listen to or vlogs you watch, it’s just not the same as having someone by your side.

The thing about living with a key worker, as I’m sure many people will recognise, is that when they get home, they don’t always want to talk because their day has just been too much and they need time in silence to process and relax. I found (and continue to find) this difficult to come to terms with. All I want to do it chat, even if it’s about nothing at all, to fill the silence I’ve been surrounded with all day.

I have searched several times on Google for advice for people who are, like me, living with a key worker and wanting to support them in the best way possible. Obviously, I have been doing the laundry and most of the cooking, making packed lunches – all the physical things around the house as I have all the time in the world. But in terms of emotional support I couldn’t find any useful articles online. I have just had to come to terms with the fact that sometimes the best thing I can do is take a step back, make a cup of tea and be patient and remember that I would probably be the same if the situation was reversed.

It’s not been easy; there have been good days and not so good days, and this is something that everyone I have talked to has said. Even though we are all in different situations, we are all experiencing this pandemic together, trying to cope with our different stresses, worries and emotions the best we can.

I don’t want this post to be completely gloomy, but I do want it to be real. This is the article I was searching for, to reassure myself that someone else was feeling the same as me. If this can give even one person the boost that they’re looking for then I’ll be happy. And I’m sure it’ll be interesting to look back in a few years and remember this very strange time.

To end on a positive, here are some of the best things I have done which have really boosted my mood:

  • Facetiming my sister and Mum every morning to do a workout together.
  • Created and sent a care package swap with two of my best friends.
  • Made a picnic to take to the park and watched dogs run around.
  • Read books in the garden when the weather was amazing.
  • Started learning a new language.
  • Had a socially distanced coffee with a colleague (this was much more recently, don’t worry!) in the park.

It’s been a bizarre time, but it has been filled with self-learning. I have found so many ways to keep busy, but I have really been trying to not be too hard on myself on days when I don’t feel like doing much. I love to be productive, and really struggle when I feel like I’m “wasting time” but I’ve learnt that if I’m having a bad day, I just need to put on my dressing gown, make a cup of tea and watch a film. Sometimes you just need a good cry, and that’s okay.

Know that tomorrow will always be better.

Hopefully this won’t go on for too much longer.

If you or someone you know needs support with mental health, please contact Mind. The NHS also has lots of resources on their website which you can access here. Or if you just need a friend to vent to, please message me. Even if you are a stranger, you can always reach out to me via my contact page or on Twitter. I will always listen and help as best I can. Don’t suffer alone.

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3 thoughts on “Keeping It Real: An Honest Chat about Mental Health during Lockdown”

  1. A great message Holly – I think we all need to learn that sometimes it’s ok to not feel ok, and allow ourselves time to do whatever we need to get through that – rather than what people expect us to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like my lockdown Holly and you’re right we should consider ourselves lucky:- being paid, sitting in the garden etc, many people are considerably worse off on the other hand it’s ok to not feel ok. It’s great you have written this to help others. Thank you xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Jan. I really hope it resonates with others and helps them come to terms with this bizarre time. Hopefully see you soon xx

      Like

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