Lockdown & my Mental Health

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while now (I mean as long as we’ve been in lockdown). I’ve taken some time to think about things and figure out how I wanted to word it. As you know if you read my blog post Succeeding with Anxiety ( https://beththanperfect.com/2018/08/12/succeeding-with-anxiety/ ) you’ll know I’m pretty open with my mental health and the struggles I’ve faced. I wanted to post this blog about how my mental health has been affected during lockdown. I am not very good with getting my words out and explaining how I am feeling to other people, I always find it so much easier to write it down.

It could be possible that someone reading this feels the same, I would like to think that they would feel less alone knowing I feel like they do. Saying that everyone handles things differently, so if you haven’t felt like I have it doesn’t mean you’re the only one, this is just how I have personally felt!

I also want to make it clear that if anyone who reads this feels lonely or feels like they are struggling and has no one to chat to about it, please reach out to me. I am not very good at reaching out myself and struggle because of that, but I am very good at listening. I’ve really been umm-ing and aah-ing about posting this post, especially now as I am feeling a little worse in my mind than I was when I began drafting this, and the thought of setting it to ‘scheduled’ has really left me scared, but if you’re reading this I’ve posted and it’s too late.

I know not everyone will read or care about how I’m feeling but I feel that being open on here and getting it all out really helps me. I think my mental health was in the best place it’s been for a while before lockdown, I was doing a bit more socially, finding things less daunting and I was definitely very happy and had a lot to look forward to. Lockdown has definitely changed this. If you’d like to read about my lockdown mental health experience then please keep reading.

I have felt extremely lonely and isolated during this lockdown. I living with my family and my boyfriend but then I have still found myself feeling so lonely most days. I think the lack of face to face interaction with those who aren’t my family everyday is what I am missing. As a receptionist I see a lot of people in a day at my job, having this cut away was a big hit I didn’t realise I would have. The option of not being able to see friends affected me a lot, knowing you CAN’T see people makes you feel lonely. Although, I feel like I didn’t really spend much time socialising before lockdown, knowing I was now not able to have any was a big thing in my mind. I am really missing Beauty at this time, the kittens are great but Beauty was a safety blanket for me. When I was lonely, she was always there to keep me company. I’m very aware it’s coming up to a year since losing her now too. I know I am surrounded by people at home, I can’t help feeling lonely in my own head. I’ve felt so frustrated not being able to do things I want to do, see people I want to see, events being cancelled. I know in the greater scheme of things it’s what’s best to keep everyone safe and healthy but it doesn’t ease the frustration.

I have felt so incredibly guilty to be someone living with my family and my partner when there are people out there who are missing their families and partners. My sister didn’t see her boyfriend in 10+ weeks, thanks to lockdown lifts she has been able to finally. I have felt guilty for being furloughed and being paid to not work while essential workers go out every day and work twice as hard. I’ve felt guilty for things like not being able help my colleagues with workload when I know they are finding things hard or not being able to go and see my nan when I know she can’t leave her house and is feeling so lonely. This had added so much pressure on my mum, seeing her struggle has been so tough, especially when you can’t help. I can’t deny how angry and resentful I’ve felt towards those not following the guideline rules. Those who are posting, those who are breaking the guidelines, I can’t help feel that way. Me and my family have followed the guidelines, no matter how tough it has been. No seeing friends or family we’ve wanted to see more than anything! To see those not caring for others has really made me resent people.

I’m not going to lie I’ve cried a lot during this lockdown. I’ve cried in bed, in the shower, on walks, on the toilet, my myself and to Ieuan, I’ve cried more or less everyday. Sometimes, well most of the time actually, I couldn’t even pin-point why I was crying. This sadness overwhelms me some days and I don’t even want to get out of bed. I’ve tried to help around the house as much as I can but I still feel like I’m useless, it really gets me down. Being furloughed initially played a big part in this sadness in the beginning, I felt like everything was coming crashing down and I wasn’t needed in my job role. After thinking it through I realised my employer has done this to ensure there is a job there for me and many others to go back to. I felt sad that I couldn’t see my friends and feel sad that I’m not seeing people even now. I’m not one to reach out to people, so I don’t speak to or see people, and that often leaves me feeling even more isolated and sad.

Being furloughed I had no real reason to get up every morning. I thought what’s the point I have nothing to do each day. I have had days where I’ve stayed in bed until 1pm with no care. I’ve had no appetite and had just been eating for the sake of having to fuel my body, something I again ruled pointless, what am I bothering fuelling my body for? I’ve had to force myself to get up, to shower, force myself to wash my hair, I know that’s something a little disgusting but it’s a fight with yourself to do these things when you’re feeling so down. I’ve started the past few years to look in the mirror and be happy with what I see, I don’t hate my body anymore like I used to, but since lockdown started I have noticed a few jigglier bits than before. As much as I really want to, I have absolutely no motivation to work out. I see all of these people on Instagram and tik tok with amazing bodies and diet plans, working out and it really makes me look at myself negatively, like I am a lazy slob. I really want to go out and run or do a work out but I have absolutely no motivation to do so. I hope I can work on this. I’ve downloaded couch to 5k and it’s been sitting on my phone for months, I wish I could push myself like others can. Especially when I know how much it would benefit my mental health as well as my physical health.

I have been scared a lot of the time. It’s a global pandemic for goodness sake, I am scared that someone I love will be effected. I am terrified that I will loose someone. Having high risk family and a sister who is a teacher – especially now with schools being back but virus death’s still rising, I am terrified. It’s a weird feeling when you fear your family leaving the house! With lockdown easing this fear isn’t getting any less. I have had times in my life where I have been too scared to leave the house, I am anxious that my mind will go back to feeling that way after working so hard to overcome this. Going back to reality after living in isolation so long could have a real impact on me anxiety-wise, I overcame a lot working in the job I do, and now I’m not doing that. I am worried my head will get used to living like this and having to go back to the ‘real world’ will impact me negatively. As much as I look forward to doing this it is going to be a lot different. I do not like change, I do not like new things. What if I can’t adapt?! I admit even leaving the house for a walk has me nervous more recently, I find myself putting it off. I only seem to leave the house if something is making me go with them. I’m so worried at the thought of going out and I can’t figure out if that’s general anxiety or still fear of the pandemic.

I’ve really not been sleeping well at all lately. As soon as my head hits the pillow my mind is consumed by everything that’s ever worried, hurt or upset me ever in my life. I think about all the sad things that have ever happened. Every flaw is highlighted and I can’t stop thinking about it. I lie awake for hours and worry about the past, the future and what could or what won’t happen. This is really taking its toll on me during the day too, adding to my lack of motivation. I think about how much easier things would be for everyone if I disappeared. These thoughts are bad and deep down I know they are untrue but I can’t stop my brain thinking these things. It’s overwhelmed me a lot recently, I’ve come to the point where I’ve spoken to Ieuan and my mum about this and I’m glad it’s something I’ve got off my chest, but it takes a lot for me to open up. I wish I didn’t feel this way. I’m also trying to cut down my screen time, mindlessly scrolling through my phone constantly, seeing all these perfect lives and perfect people on social media. I know it’s not affecting my mental health well so I am trying to cut down my mobile time as well as still using it to keep in touch with people I can’t see in person, it’s a difficult balance.

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I’ve been very proud of my essential worker family members and friends. They’ve adapted to a tougher way of working and manage so well. I am also proud of myself. I have had the chance to practice my baking, especially gluten free, and my cooking with the help of my dad and Ieuan. Everything I’ve baked and cooked have turned out yummy and I’m getting better each time. I’ve done as much as I can of a scrapbook I’ve had just sitting there since 2018. I have learned a lot of new stuff through quizzes! I’ve tried my best to be helpful around the house by cooking and cleaning, making tea and lunch, as well as tidying and emptying/filling the dishwasher and putting clothes out to dry. I’ve taken golf back up, although I am now anxious to go out and do this, I have taken the first step so I just need to push myself. I’ve read more, although recently I’ve lost my motivation and concentration for this. I’ve tried my very best to not let having nothing to do each day stop me. Like I said in my previous posts I’ve not pushed myself and I am also proud of this. Living through a global pandemic is something new and different that we have had to adapt to quickly, I’m proud of each day I get up and take on another weird day.

I was already extremely grateful to live with my family and boyfriend but in a time like this I am 10 times more thankful they’re all under one roof with me. I can’t imagine if I am feeling this lonely in this environment, how lonely I would feel at home with no one. I also feel so grateful to have some work colleagues and friends who are worth missing as much as I have! Having those people who I am looking forward to seeing so much it hurts shows how lucky I am to have them. I am also grateful that I can speak to them virtually each day. I also am grateful to have a job that I am missing as much as I do, my employer has been so good keeping me positive while on furlough. I am back in work for a tiny bit now as a Staff Rep for my office and I am so happy to be back, nice to get my brain focused on something. I am incredibly grateful for where I live during all of this, to have the sea right on my doorstep and being able to go out for my daily walks has been one of the most positive aspects of this lockdown, not to mention that the weather has been amazing up until recently. Although I am now currently anxious to go out, when I do, sitting by the sea is one thing that calms me so to have that 5 minutes away from my house is so good.

I feel extremely loved. Again this comes down to my family and Ieuan. The reason I am getting out of bed in the morning (or afternoon) is to see them. Ieuan is amazing everyday, but on a down-day especially as he will drag me out of bed and get me to do something, even if it’s just sitting in the garden. Our kittens and their little purrs have definitely given me a reason to smile when getting up. Having my dad ask me to cook with him or go on small errands with me has really helped me. Having mum or my sisters just ask me (or tell me at the moment) to go on a walk or do something like play on the Wii, watch a movie or play a game. Doing our family theme nights together ( https://beththanperfect.com/2020/07/01/family-lockdown-saturdays-pt-1/ ) has given something to look forward to, a reason to get dressed up and do my makeup and enjoy. I bake to make people happy and that’s it so when I get complimented for the things I made for people I am delighted.

Having friends who I speak to every day and who ask you how you’re doing or just chat to you about crap. Most people are fed up of quizzes by now but I am so thankful having friends who want to sit there and do quizzes and chat on until 12am, those friends that just make you laugh and smile effortlessly. I definitely don’t tell my friends enough that I am lucky to have. Having all of those people in my life, even though most are virtual right now makes me feel so happy and so loved. I know even though my mind may make me feel it sometimes, I really am not alone. I can’t wait to get back together with all of those people when it’s safe to do so.

It’s been a real up and down ride for me during lockdown, I’ve accepted recently that I might be struggling a lot more again, and I am currently on a down. I’m at war with my mind. I am just so lucky to have those people around me who can build me back up when I am feeling down.

Like I’ve said before, we’re living through a global pandemic, it’s something new and weird. Definitely something we didn’t think we’d have to live through in our lifetimes. But it’s happening and whatever your way of coping is, whether it’s baking a cake or gardening or going for a run, you do what helps you. Take each day as it comes and this will (hopefully) one day be something we can just say ‘remember when’ about.

Thank you for reading.

Beth x

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