I was going to start this post with how many weeks we’ve offically been in lockdown for, since the very start of the Coronavirus pandemic. But, don't worry, after quick consideration I came to my senses, and realised it would be benefical to everyone's sanity to let that number remain unknown.
But it feels like forever.
I think we all did so well for so long, supporting each other and trying to lift one anothers' spirits, but that's getting a bit harder to do. It feels like we are all now collectively losing the plot a little. It doesn't help that it's been raining for 40 days and nights and that the days are still pretty short. Brighter days are on the way though! Hopefully metaphorically too. That's one little thing to look forward to 🌞 *clutching at those straws*
I speak with a lot of people throughout the week, mainly parents of students who I teach piano to, and the conversations are usually very similar: 'Isn't this getting ridiculous now? We're all just so fed up. When is this going to end?' Friends and family are feeling the same, and it's hard to try to respond with positivity, because, yep, it really is quite shite at the moment. No point in trying to polish a turd.
Lockdown seems to be intensifying what would normally just be regular, manageable changes in mood and emotions. It seems to hold a magnifying glass over them and forces you to unnecessarily dissect and obsess over them.
Feeling a bit on edge today... Hmm have a bit of a knot in my stomach... Aw god I bet it's to do with that zoom call last week, I made an idiot of myself didn't I? I did, that would explain this knot in my stomach. Bet everyone was talking about it too. Ugh I'm so stupid and embarassing and... -enter choice of words to quash selfworth-. And that's you. Goodbye, you've entered into the abyss of anxiety.
But, feelings can just be feelings, you don't always have to justify them by attaching them to a thought or memory. The way the world is right now is enough to cause unease inside of you.
The pandemic is affecting us far more than we give it credit for. There is a global anxiety in the air. And if you've never experienced anxiety before, it can be really scary.
Why won't my mind just shut off for five freaking minutes?
Why can't I stop worrying about everything?
Why am I obsessing over altercations that haven't even happened?
I've been there and it's grim! Contrary to what that little voice in your head might be saying, you are not losing your mind.
Remember that not everything you think is true. If there's a particular worry or thought floating around your head, write it down and ask yourself what the truth is behind it, if you're not too sure how to get started, the link below contains 10 ways to challenge these thoughts. You can screenshot it so that you have it handy for when your mind is working overtime. I've found them really helpful!
I think one of the most important and beneficial things we can do right now is talk to each other. We all have a global pandemic in common right now, lets talk that shit out, it helps so much.
If you don't feel like you can talk to anyone you know about it, there are so many fantastic charities that's main purpose is just to listen. That's what those people are there for, you are not being an inconvience, there are so many people who not only can help, but want to help you. And you deserve that! That is the absolute very least that you deserve. Click here for a list of charities who will have your back.
If you think your feelings of anxiety or depression have passed the mild point, where it is starting to feel unmanageable, maybe it's time to outsource some help? There is still, thank the good Lord in the sky, a wide range of mental health services available throughout lockdown. You can always go to your GP, or you can phone the charities bewlow and self-refer yourself for counselling. Most appointments are done over the phone at the moment, which, if you have anxiety, is actually a godsend. Praise be.
Action Mental Health (in conjunction with New Life) - 02890629759
I've just finished 8 weeks of counselling and honestly, even though we are hitting what feels like the hardest part of this lockdown, my mental health is feeling the strongest it's felt in a long time. I knew counselling had worked for my depression and anxiety before, but part of me was worried that this time I mightn't be so lucky. I was feeling scarily low before therapy, so I started anti-depressants as a way of lifting my mood enough to get me by until the counselling started.
I know that for some people, the anti-depressants are enough, and they may not want or need to go any further than that. My depression and anxiety had been recurring party crashers, so I felt like there was some stuff under the surface that I needed to sort out, so I chose to do both.
When I had my last session with my therapist, I had to admit to her that I had an underlying fear.
What if it's actually just been the antidepressants making me feel better, not the therapy?
And her response was that the anti-depressants didn't do all the work in therapy, you did. The anti-depressants just gave you a leg up to get started. And now, if things do ever start to slip again, you have so many techniques that you've learnt and tools to fall back on.
^Amen to this!^
She also sent me a graph showing how my mental health was progressing at each session. I thought I'd inclue it below, as a sort of evidence to show how powerful talk therapy can be, if that's something you've maybe been considering doing. It's not exactly a smooth ride, but sure, what is? Ups and downs are all part of the process, the main thing is, that line is on its way to healthy!
I hope that by sharing my thoughts today, some people may feel a little less alone in their thoughts and feelings throughout lockdown. Sometimes just knowing you're not alone provides enough comfort. If you are struggling, know that there is help out there. Reach out. There is absolutely no shame in doing so.
If I could summarise this whole post into one sentence, from my experience of where I was when I wrote my first blog post, to where I am now, after seeking help, it's that things will get better. Nothing lasts forever, and that includes this pandemic.