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Lockdown, Mental Health and Me

1
LAs we reach the end of 16 weeks in lockdown, and the world slowly starts to venture into a new normal, it seems like a good time to look back and see what impact these unprecedented times have had on my already fragile mental health. I’ve always been incredibly open and honest when it comes to my ongoing battles with mental illness and today is no different.

All those weeks ago when our prime minister announced that the nation was to be locked down all I really felt was relief. I literally cried with joy when the school closures were announced.

SelfishMother.com
2
Suddenly the risk of the unknown was removed and I felt that I had been empowered to keep myself and my children safe by staying at home.

A natural introvert, I relished the idea of staying at home. We took our daily exercise, and dropped treats on the doorsteps of friends who were self isolating as a way to brighten their days. I liked and shared the memes and GIFs that did the rounds on social media declaring that having to stay at home suited me down to the ground because I hated going out anyway.

It didn’t take long for the novelty to wear

SelfishMother.com
3
off. As it did the reality of being stuck at home almost all day every day started to take a very real toll on my mental health. It may seem like the circumstances would be a perfect breeding ground to heighten my well documented anxiety. Not so. As an anxiety sufferer I have been preparing for the worst case scenario every day of my adult life. I could cope with the unknown. I switched off the news so that I didn’t panic about what was happening outside. Instead it was my dormant depression that rose up and knocked me for six.

I’d love to say it

SelfishMother.com
4
just appeared out of knowhere, slapped me hard in the face so I recognised it, and that I got help right away. But I can’t because that isn’t what happened. Instead it slowly crept in with a little memory from the past, something that I hid away a long time ago because it was too painful to think about often. Soon it became all consuming. It was all I could think about. I would replay certain days over and over again in my head, making different choices, wishing that I had done things differently. But something that happened twenty years ago can’t
SelfishMother.com
5
be changed.

By the time we were seven weeks in to lockdown I was a mess. I was crying all day every day, and had been for four weeks. Nothing could stop the irrational sadness that I was attempting to live with. I was looking after two young children all day every day whilst slowly falling apart. I still hadn’t recognised that this was depression. I cried because I couldn’t change the past. I cried because I could remember every word of certain conversations that my misery related from, even after all this time. I cried because I felt guilty about

SelfishMother.com
6
not being present as a parent. I tried to downplay the tears in front of them but it was impossible. On top of this I was working in the evenings, also mostly through tears. It was incredibly exhausting. I became slowly aware that I was unravelling as more disturbing thoughts started creeping in. I was compelled to contact my GP after thinking one weekend that everyone around me would be better off if I was no longer something they had to deal with.  If I could create a way to just stop the recordings in my head that were never ending. I became aware
SelfishMother.com
7
that I was considering an end. My own inner voice was constantly telling me that I was worthless. There was a lot of darkness that had crept in to my mind by this time. Looking back it’s as if my life had become all smoke and mirrors. Everything good I had ever done, every choice that I had made for my own good, was reflected back at me but twisted by this invisible, but incredibly vicious illness.

I was lucky that I recognised that I needed help when I did. Some tearful conversations with the doctor resulted in me being signed off of work to allow

SelfishMother.com
8
the increased medication I was prescribed to take effect.

It’s easier now. Not better. Just easier. My medication has been working for a couple of months. The intrusive thoughts are still there, but they have been significantly numbed. I’m no longer twisting myself into an emotional wreck. I’m able to accept what I have no control of and have let go of it. Mostly. 

People keep telling me how I should have been making the most of lockdown. How I’ve had this amazing gift of extra time with my children that was so unexpected and amazing. And

SelfishMother.com
9
yes, I am grateful for the quality time that we’ve had together. But for me that only started when I got help and finally stopped crying. The time itself is not a gift I am grateful for. Rushing around in my normal daily life leaves me with very little time to think about anything else, and there are some things I have locked away so that I don’t think about them all the time.  Keeping busy is apparently my gift to myself.  The gift I never knew that I was giving.  I will never take something as mundane as going into the office to work for granted
SelfishMother.com
10
again. 

It doesn’t matter how long I have lived with depression, or how accomplished I have become at coping with it. When it wakes up it becomes all encompassing. It’s a cruel beast that takes over and plays tricks your mind. It’s deceitful, and not instantly recognisable. It’s painful to live with, and takes a herculean effort to manoeuvre out of its grasp.

Lockdown has played havoc with my mental health. It’s possibly the darkest time that I’ve ever had to pull myself through. Now, as we start to move on I doubt that I’ll ever be

SelfishMother.com
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able to look back on lockdown 2020 with fondness. 
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being.imperfectly.perfect

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- 17 Jul 20

LAs we reach the end of 16 weeks in lockdown, and the world slowly starts to venture into a new normal, it seems like a good time to look back and see what impact these unprecedented times have had on my already fragile mental health. I’ve always been incredibly open and honest when it comes to my ongoing battles with mental illness and today is no different.

All those weeks ago when our prime minister announced that the nation was to be locked down all I really felt was relief. I literally cried with joy when the school closures were announced. Suddenly the risk of the unknown was removed and I felt that I had been empowered to keep myself and my children safe by staying at home.

A natural introvert, I relished the idea of staying at home. We took our daily exercise, and dropped treats on the doorsteps of friends who were self isolating as a way to brighten their days. I liked and shared the memes and GIFs that did the rounds on social media declaring that having to stay at home suited me down to the ground because I hated going out anyway.

It didn’t take long for the novelty to wear off. As it did the reality of being stuck at home almost all day every day started to take a very real toll on my mental health. It may seem like the circumstances would be a perfect breeding ground to heighten my well documented anxiety. Not so. As an anxiety sufferer I have been preparing for the worst case scenario every day of my adult life. I could cope with the unknown. I switched off the news so that I didn’t panic about what was happening outside. Instead it was my dormant depression that rose up and knocked me for six.

I’d love to say it just appeared out of knowhere, slapped me hard in the face so I recognised it, and that I got help right away. But I can’t because that isn’t what happened. Instead it slowly crept in with a little memory from the past, something that I hid away a long time ago because it was too painful to think about often. Soon it became all consuming. It was all I could think about. I would replay certain days over and over again in my head, making different choices, wishing that I had done things differently. But something that happened twenty years ago can’t be changed.

By the time we were seven weeks in to lockdown I was a mess. I was crying all day every day, and had been for four weeks. Nothing could stop the irrational sadness that I was attempting to live with. I was looking after two young children all day every day whilst slowly falling apart. I still hadn’t recognised that this was depression. I cried because I couldn’t change the past. I cried because I could remember every word of certain conversations that my misery related from, even after all this time. I cried because I felt guilty about not being present as a parent. I tried to downplay the tears in front of them but it was impossible. On top of this I was working in the evenings, also mostly through tears. It was incredibly exhausting. I became slowly aware that I was unravelling as more disturbing thoughts started creeping in. I was compelled to contact my GP after thinking one weekend that everyone around me would be better off if I was no longer something they had to deal with.  If I could create a way to just stop the recordings in my head that were never ending. I became aware that I was considering an end. My own inner voice was constantly telling me that I was worthless. There was a lot of darkness that had crept in to my mind by this time. Looking back it’s as if my life had become all smoke and mirrors. Everything good I had ever done, every choice that I had made for my own good, was reflected back at me but twisted by this invisible, but incredibly vicious illness.

I was lucky that I recognised that I needed help when I did. Some tearful conversations with the doctor resulted in me being signed off of work to allow the increased medication I was prescribed to take effect.

It’s easier now. Not better. Just easier. My medication has been working for a couple of months. The intrusive thoughts are still there, but they have been significantly numbed. I’m no longer twisting myself into an emotional wreck. I’m able to accept what I have no control of and have let go of it. Mostly. 

People keep telling me how I should have been making the most of lockdown. How I’ve had this amazing gift of extra time with my children that was so unexpected and amazing. And yes, I am grateful for the quality time that we’ve had together. But for me that only started when I got help and finally stopped crying. The time itself is not a gift I am grateful for. Rushing around in my normal daily life leaves me with very little time to think about anything else, and there are some things I have locked away so that I don’t think about them all the time.  Keeping busy is apparently my gift to myself.  The gift I never knew that I was giving.  I will never take something as mundane as going into the office to work for granted again. 

It doesn’t matter how long I have lived with depression, or how accomplished I have become at coping with it. When it wakes up it becomes all encompassing. It’s a cruel beast that takes over and plays tricks your mind. It’s deceitful, and not instantly recognisable. It’s painful to live with, and takes a herculean effort to manoeuvre out of its grasp.

Lockdown has played havoc with my mental health. It’s possibly the darkest time that I’ve ever had to pull myself through. Now, as we start to move on I doubt that I’ll ever be able to look back on lockdown 2020 with fondness. 

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