Category Archives: Lockdown

So It’s Been A Year…

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

It’s been roughly a year since the UK went into a restricted state. We’ve been in and out of lockdown. Many things have never been back. Therefore I thought I’d reflect a little on the last year. Some things will be linked to mental health, others more general.

What I’ve Learnt

The whole situation has been a learning curve. I think everyone has learnt something about themselves and others as well as maybe other skills. Here are mine:

1. I need social contact

I’ve always found social contact difficult and overwhelming. I’ve always pushed myself to do things socially and I’m exhausted afterwards. But I’ve found I do need it. I have missed seeing people. Having the hugs. Being with my friends. Just hearing their voices (I struggle still with phone conversations). I can’t wait to meet them.

2. I need alone time

I’ve known this for a while but it has been confirmed with being stuck with the people I live with All! The! Time! I need quiet. I need to get away. It’s tiring being with other people. I think everyone needs alone time really, we all just differ on how much.

3. I can draw

Turns out I can draw. And actually practice does improve it.

4. Phone/video appointments aren’t a substitute for face to face

Obviously a lot of appointments changed to being either online or via phone. I’ve found these so hard. I feel like I can’t get things across as well as I do face to face (and I don’t feel I do that very well anyway). I feel people lose the ability to understand people as well when you take away the physicalness of being in the same room. Also technology has a habit of not working and making it all more stressful. (Although being able to have my cat with me during therapy was a positive).

5. You can’t make eye contact on Zoom

Someone pointed this out to me and its bugged me ever since because its true and no matter what I try I can’t change that. I hate eye contact most of the time but I also try really hard to make some as I know it’s expected. I should be happy therefore that I don’t have to make eye contact but instead it’s annoyed me. Yes, I’m a paradox.

What Scares Me

Along with learning many things, this whole situation has created many fears within me for the present and the future.

1. Fear people will get ill

I’ve always been scared of people in my life getting ill. It’s out of my control although I have gonw through many things that I believe have given me control. Logically it’s not true, mentally I feel to blame when people get sick. This was heightened once we really got into the reduction of social contact and lockdown (before that coronavirus didn’t bother me, odd I know). I was often in tears that something I had or hadn’t done was going to make those close to me ill. I was so strict with cleaning and washing hands, more than usual. I was terrified. I still am.

2. Going outside or into shops

I’ve always found being out and about anxiety inducing, especially on my own. I’m now able to walk the dog just me and him but otherwise I struggle. This has been heightened in these times even though I was forced to shop for my parents on my own. My anxiety was through the roof. Now the thought of going back in to shops without anyone or any restrictions in the future terrifies me.

3. The lack of restrictions

There will come a time when restrictions are gone. Yes it will be a positive in many ways but I don’t feel anywhere near ready for this to happen and I don’t think I will be for some time. Each time a restriction is eased I feel such a state of anxiety that I have panic attacks over it. The thought of things being “normal” is something I can’t comprehend yet.

Where am I at?

So overall I’m struggling mentally with everything. There is a lot of change currently and it’s left me unsettled. Large parts of lockdown have been a struggle but other parts have played into my comfort zones of hiding away from people. I’m very much a home body. People keep talking about holidays and that’s the last thing I want to do. Not going on holiday was a plus for me and now I have no excuse to stay home. I both want things to come back but others I want to stay as they are.

What are your thoughts on your current situation, wherever you are? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

The Return To Normal

In the UK we are starting to hear plans of how things are getting better and back to some kind of “normal”. This has brought up many feelings for myself and others. Here I thought I’d explore some of mine.

In all honesty the thought of going back to how things were before the pandemic and lockdown feels scary. I didn’t particularly like it then and I’ve become more of a home body now like I have done in the past. I don’t want to go out other than to walk the dog. I like being at home. I like being able to do the things I want to at home. I don’t want to go back in to shops that are crowded. I don’t want to have to go to places that I don’t know. I don’t want to socialise. I’ve become comfortable with this life.

I really want to keep the two metre rule in place. I feel its helped us to learn a little about personal space, something so many people weren’t good at before. I don’t want to feel people closing in around me. Part of this fear will also be because we’ve not been allowed to be near others so we’ve become hyper aware of avoiding people and it will be strange to go back to how it was before.

I also have quite liked the lack of expectations on me. I’ve not been expected to be sociable which I struggle with normally. I miss my friends massively, please don’t get me wrong, and I want to hug them but I’m terrified of the social interactions returning. I’m scared I’m not going to manage it at all. I’m scared I’m going to screw up all my friendships again, like I have in the past. I liked having a stress free birthday and Christmas.

Travelling is going to be hard as well. I struggled with public transport before the pandemic and I feel that any progress I was making has been torn away. I don’t feel I could use public transport for some time.

I’m also terrified of just the thought of people doing normal things. What if things aren’t as OK as it seems? What if people I love become ill still? I’m scared of losing people still. How do we know it’s OK?

So those are a few of my worries. I currently have to fight off the panic attacks linked to thoughts of things becoming “normal”. And will normal actually look the same as before? I’m not great with any change but this all feels so big. I’m scared and overwhelmed with it. I’m trying to just go by each reduction and not try to think too far ahead but it’s hard not to let things snowball in my mind.

I hope things will get easier for all of us. If you wish to share your thoughts on lockdown easing and any tips you think may be useful use the comments below or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Lockdown 3.0

This is not a post I thought I’d write. Actually more hoped I wouldn’t write. The UK is back in lockdown. Our 3rd. I won’t go into the politics of it, that’s been covered a lot.

With each lockdown there has been new challenges to get through. I’ve found my tolerance for other people has deteriorated dramatically. I’ve felt more and more alone each time. And my support system feels more and more depleted each time.

With regards to other people, they make me angry. Anger is an emotion I struggle to cope with so it’s an awful place to be in my head. I want to scream and shout at the selfish people who keep putting us back in this place of lockdown because they can’t do as they’re told. I want to shout at those who get too close not only because they shouldn’t, but also because it scares me. People scare me enough as it is. The pandemic and lockdown just add to this.

Loneliness is another aspect of lockdown that gets to me. I can message people but it still doesn’t feel enough. I live with people but sometimes that makes me feel lonelier as they don’t understand what I’m dealing with inside. I don’t like a lot of physical contact but there are some people I just want to hug. I miss them so much. The thing is I’m also finding myself getting anxious about talking to people. Zoom groups are feeling harder than ever and I feel so detached.

The reduction in support is also feeling more of an issue. My contact with mental health services has been depleted and I’m struggling. I feel like I have nowhere to turn at the moment and more things I use to keep me well ish are disappearing.

So yep lockdown 3.0 is set to be a challenge. I’m trying so hard. I’m looking at skills I can use from DBT to help me get through. I just need to get through it. The thing is I’m a paradox and the thought of “normal” scares me too.

To keep in contact please feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Lockdown 2.0

Here in England we are heading into our second lockdown across the country. While the first was not great, I’m finding the thought of this second one much harder to cope with. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

For the first lockdown I had lots of projects I set myself. I had a routine that suited me well. I even enjoyed my lockdown birthday. This time I feel so empty about it. The idea of finding projects to do feels overwhelming. This time I’m not in charge of my routine. This time I can’t keep everyone safe as those that I live with who were shielding no longer need to this time.

The thing is I’d been hoping for a second lockdown as I didn’t feel safe in the world as it was becoming. People were hugely selfish and disregarding the rules. In shops it was like people thought their mask made them invincible. I’m convinced many had stopped washing their hands. And noone could count to six.

So now the second lockdown is here I’m anxious. I’m living with someone who is terrified of being trapped in the house again and who’s mental health has suffered a lot. This has impacted on my own mental health detrimentally. I feel trapped with them. I feel I’m not strong enough to support them through it all again. The first time took its toll as it was.

It also doesn’t help that my own mental health is probably in a poor state anyway. I’m going through therapy and it’s hard. I’m cut off still from those I just want to hug. And have been for months. I’ve seen so many people deteriorate over this time period that I’m worried what it will do to them further. But I don’t feel strong enough to support them and feel guilty about this.

Overall I’m full of anxiety and doing my best to stick my head in the sand. I don’t want to read the news or the endless speculations. I don’t want to see the selfish people who are hoarding already or hear the complaints about what is being done to save lives. It’s overwhelming me with feelings I can’t identify but make me feel sick.

This lockdown is necessary. But it’s scary. I wish I could say we’re all in this together but some have shown us otherwise. I’d like to say I’m here for you all but that would be stretching myself too far. All I can say is there are numbers in the crisis contacts part of the blog (look in the menu). If you feel bad, talk. You are not alone. Big hugs to you all. Be kind πŸ’š

Mask Anxiety

This is a tricky post to write as I’m sure I’m going to get very mixed responses. All I ask is that you be kind and respect others.

What I want to talk about comes in light of the new guidance on face masks and the rule in the UK that they are compulsory in shops except for those who are exempt from wearing them. The topic is the anxiety that comes with wearing a mask.

I know I’m not alone in having anxiety when wearing a mask. I’ve shared about this on Twitter and had responses from others who are having similar difficulties. There are many reasons for the anxiety I have with wearing a mask.

My first reason for anxiety is that I feel I’m suffocating in the mask. I know this is not the case but it is the feeling I get. I’ve always had difficulties with things around my face or neck. I can just about manage a loose scarf in winter and at school I cut the top buttons of my shirts so they couldn’t make me do them up. It feels almost like a form of claustrophobia. I feel trapped and like I can’t breathe even though I know it is not the case. This leads to panic which makes it harder still to breathe and a cycle is created.

Another reason for my anxiety with wearing a mask is other people’s behaviour. I have noticed that masks seem to make people feel they are invincible and less likely to social distance even though that is still necessary. As well as this people seem to struggle with using them correctly or fail to carry out other hygiene routines. This makes me feel that the risk is higher and I’m terrified of people I care about getting ill.

I understand the reasoning behind mask wearing and appreciate that it’s for everyone’s benefit but there are people who are exempt from wearing a mask and that includes people with mental illnesses especially anxiety. However I know people who are truly struggling with wearing a mask but are scared not to due to the comments people have been making about those who don’t wear them, calling them selfish. Until it was made compulsory I was not wearing a mask. I took all other precautions but I just couldnt bring myself to do it due to the above feelings. I read all the comments from others about how awful people who didn’t wear masks were and I felt awful about myself. The thing is although it seems selfish it’s actually self care and a benefit to others. If you have someone have panic attacks in shops that is not going to help the situation. As long as people are still taking precautions and using good hygiene practices they are not being selfish.

If you are in aa shop and see someone who is not wearing a mask, it is not your role to have a go at them or ask why they are not wearing one. Be kind. You do not know what they are going through. If you are struggling with wearing a mask please look after yourself. You are not selfish. Here is information about wearing face masks and there is a link on there to exemption card templates if you feel this would help you to have on you. This information is by the UK government.

Remember you are not alone. Take care. πŸ’š

Positives From Lockdown

Lockdown has been a hard time for so many people, myself included but I’ve also found some positive things have come from lockdown too. Therefore I thought I’d look at my positives.

1. A lockdown birthday

I had my birthday in June when everything was still pretty much shut and we could barely see anyone. It was one of my favourite birthdays. I went for a picnic and a walk and then went home and did what I wanted. No pressure whatsoever. So I reckon on my birthday we should have a lockdown each year.

Birthday walk and picnic

2. The 2 metre rule

Yep it’s been the bane of so many people but I want to keep this forever. I now have a reason to tell people to get out of my personal space or to move away from them without appearing rude. Long may it continue with people we don’t want to be near.

Picture from Pinterest

3. Wildlife returning

During my walks I have had great pleasure in spotting different wildlife that has returned to our local park. We had a regular heron (named Herbert by me and adopted by others). We also had some Little Egrets. We also got to see the regular geese, ducks and coots have their offspring. I got particularly involved with one pait of coots who had a tragedy when their nest was destroyed. Wildlife is amazing.

Herbert

4. Finding new hobbies

I have taken up drawing again. It’s something I’ve not done in years but I seem to of improved over the lockdown period. I’ve enjoyed extending my range and developed some confidence in this area. I even set up Facebook and Instagram pages for my art. I’ve also managed to do more Lego building, which I love but just could never find the time for. I’ve adapted my routines to incorporate these things.

A drawing of mine

5. Getting things done

I have managed to get so many jobs done. Things I’ve always put off as I’ve been to busy or tired to do them. I’ve enjoyed them too. It’s not just been the mundane daily life jobs but things I wouldn’t normally get to do. I built my mum’s Christmas present from 2018 for her which I’d been meaning to do since she received it.

Making Mum’s Christmas present from 2018

Overall lockdown has been tough for me and many others. It has by no means been a positive experience fully but there are positive bits in there. Sometimes we forget these among all the talk of death and failing businesses. What have been your positives? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Feeling Lonely

Today the feeling of being lonely and isolated has really got to me. I feel so so alone in this world. I feel abandoned by certain support systems and others are just unavailable due to unforseen circumstances. I just need to get these thoughts out so apologies for what is ahead (though I’m also hoping to share some resources).

Loneliness is not necessarily about being on your own physically. In fact for me it is far from that. I live with my parents. I have people around at all times and that’s hard in a lot of ways too and can make me feel even lonelier. I feel like I’m stuck in my head without an escape. Like there is no one I can share what’s going on in my head with. I feel like a burden to everyone so I don’t feel I can share with them.

At the moment I realise I’m far from the only person dealing with loneliness especially with the lockdown and being separated from friends and family. Being lonely is a horrid feeling to deal with and it has been stated that being lonely can increase your chances of premature death by 30% (More info here). Combating the feeling of loneliness is difficult. It’s more than giving people contact, it’s about connection. It’s about really listening.

Tonight I feel like I am lacking that connection. I can’t see the people I really want to. I can’t hug them. I can’t feel part of a friendship group. I can’t be me at the moment. Everything is so limited. And I know everyone is feeling the same. But I also think my mental illnesses are making things harder. Lately I’ve had a lot of paranoia (or maybe it’s not) that I’m being excluded from things. This has made me retract into myself at times as I feel it’s my fault that I’m being left out. I feel I’m burdening others.

Feeling like a burden definitely adds to feeling lonely. It adds to the lack of connection. I struggle to let people know what’s going on. I don’t want them to leave me alone but this makes me feel lonelier. Paradox appears again.

So some resources that may help.

1. Elefriends is a forum by Mind for people with mental illnesses to connect.

2. Samaritans are always there to listen (other services for other countries are in the crisis contacts in the menu).

3. In the UK your local Mind may be offering services to support people during this difficult time. My local mind is doing welfare calls and holding some groups via Zoom.

4. Let’s Talk Loneliness has more detailed resources for helping with loneliness.

My last thing is to ask that if you think someone is feeling lonely then please reach out to them if you can. If you personally can’t support them share some resources with them. Sometimes it’s not easy for the person who needs help to reach out.

If you have any tips or resources to help with loneliness please feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Helping Me Through Life In Lockdown

Getting through lockdown has been tough but it has meant I have had to find things to help me through. I thought I’d share some of them with you.

1. My Local Mind

My local Mind has been amazing (Mind BLMK). I’ve had welfare calls at least once a week so that I can discuss any issues. They’ve set up zoom groups of their regular groups. They’ve just been amazing. I’ve always been grateful for them but more so now than ever.

2. Drawing

I’ve got back into drawing and kind of discovered a bit of talent for it. I even started doing them for others as a way to maybe help cheer them up. But it really helped my mental health and got me to focus on something other than what has been happening. I have now set up an Instagram and Facebook page for my art.

One of my drawings

3. Friends

My friends are amazing. They’ve been so supportive. I’ve had cards from them. I had presents for my birthday. We’ve messaged regularly. They’ve given me space when I’ve needed it. I love and miss them lots.

4. Finding Projects To Do

From the start off lockdown I decided to set myself little projects. Most of them were things I’d meant to do since before lockdown, like putting together my mum’s Christmas present from 2018 😳. This kept me a bit saner as it gave me a focus.

5. Lego

Lego has helped me a lot and links in with the making myself projects. I love focusing on making the models. It’s really helped me concentrate on something other than what’s happening.

One Lego creation

6. Avoiding News App

Since the lockdown started I have not gone on the news app on my phone at all. It was getting overwhelming for me so I decided I didn’t need to keep checking it. And it’s been great. I do keep up with what’s going on but in my own way and not an overwhelming one.

7. Social Media/Phone Breaks

I’ve started making sure I have time away from my phone, and social media in particular. Being so connected and everyone being in there all the time was too much for me so I took a step back. I try and have at least an hour in the afternoon without my phone if not more. Its eased my anxiety a lot.

8. Pets

I can’t forget my pets. They’ve been great. Walking the dog has definitely helped and we’ve been spotting wildlife a long the way. The cats have also been great for cuddles and entertainment during zoom calls (Why my cat always chooses the mindfulness exercise to leap on the keyboard I do not know).

Spice: one of my three pets.

So those are some of the things that have helped me most during lockdown. What’s helped you? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

The Anxiety Of Leaving Lockdown

I know a lot of people have written about the easing of lockdown and the effect its having on their mental health. I can relate many times. But I wanted to get my own anxieties and thoughts out so here goes.

I know we need to ease the lockdown. I know there are benefits to it but I feel its happening so fast. Within a few weeks we’ve gone from only being allowed out once a day to people allowed in our homes and shops reopening. It feels like we’re not waiting to see the effect of one change before the next is brought in and that scares me.

I’m not scared of me getting coronavirus. If I get it, I get it. The fear is for other people. My mum, and to a lesser extent my Dad, have had to shield as they are in vulnerable groups. They could get really sick with the virus. It’s meant I’ve had to go into shops. It’s terrified me that I’m going to catch it and give it to them. I’ve been obsessive with hand washing and sanitiser. I’ve panicked if I’ve made one small error. Now it feels more risky than before and my anxiety of going into a shop is higher.

I want to protect my family but obviously they have their own minds and can do as they want to. I’ve tried so hard to resist panicking in front of them. I’ve tried my hardest not to get angry when I am scared they are putting themselves at risk. This is becoming harder as they are allowed to do more. How can I stop them when the government say its OK? Truth is I can’t. This feels so out of control and this leads to an increase in anxiety.

Another thing adding to the anxiety is that as things are eased people think it’s OK to break the rules more and more but they are doing it in bigger ways. This makes me scared for the people in my life too. My family are vulnerable. I don’t want to take risks but others don’t see the problem and even in shops get closer than they should. It’s scary.

Places are also getting busier which brings my normal anxiety into play. I hate busy places and crowded places. This meant the two metre rule for me was fantastic. I want to keep it forever. I’m now starting to be scared to go out again. I feel I’ve gone backwards in this area.

So those are a few of my worries. I’m sure you all have your own. I think I need to just focus on what I can control rather than what I can’t. If you have any tips or want to share your anxieties then feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

Supporting Others Who Are Isolated

We are in a really rubbish time at the moment. Lots of people are isolated, either on their own or with immediate family. Both situations have their own difficulties. So what can we do to support others who are isolated and may not be able to get out? I’ve put together a few ideas, not just the practical but some to brighten others days.

1. Shopping

This may be obvious but offering to do some shopping and deliver to their doorstep may help them a lot. Obviously keep to the guidelines of social distancing but you may even be able to have a quick chat from a distance.

2. Write them a letter

This is something I’ve done for a few people. I wanted them to know I was thinking of them and how awesome they are. I could of sent a text message but I wanted them to be able to keep it to read to remind themselves in tough times. Also getting post can be really cool. I got a card from a friend and it made my day. I’ve also been making friendship bracelets so I added one into each letter in colours they like. The feedback was lovely. I’ve also used the Touchnote App (not an ad I promise) to send postcards with pictures on to my grandmother. She’s loved them.

3. Give them a phonecall

If you can, phone them. Sometimes it’s nice just to hear a different voice. I’m lucky in that my local mind is doing welfare calls so I get to hear someone else’s voice each week. I’m not the greatest with using the phone but I’ve realised hearing someone else makes me feel a bit better.

4. Just check in

If you can’t phone then that’s fine but maybe just send a message to see how they are. Let them moan if they need to (obviously look after yourself too). A text takes a few seconds to send.

5. Share something for them

Another thing I’ve been doing is doing drawings for different people and then sharing on social media. Not only has it occupied my time, it seems to have brought joy to others. I’ve also done them for my friends’ children to enjoy too. I have had some lovely comments about how it’s lifted people’s mood and that they’ve been waiting each day to see what I’ve drawn. Obviously it doesn’t have to be drawing but sharing something each day for others may lift someone’s mood.



These are just a few ideas. I’m sure you all have many more so feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.