The combination of the impending January blues and the news of ANOTHER lockdown has got me thinking and wanting to write. I’ve written A LOT about the first lockdown and how it made me feel, and what I did to get through but I wasn’t sure if my personal thoughts and feelings on it would get misconstrued so I haven’t posted them.
But I know a lot of people will be feeling anxious and uncertain about a third lockdown, and I am too.
Being depressed isn’t about being sad. It’s not about being ungrateful for what you’ve got, nor wanting what you don’t have. I think there’s a misconception that it’s one or all of those things. But from my experience and reading and seeing it for myself, it’s totally out of your control. You could have all you’ve ever wanted on the outside but it’s something on the inside that isn’t ‘quite right’.
We all have mental health, it’s like physical health. Some have it better than others, most have good and bad days, and many, particularly now will be finding it harder.
Not many people know this about me but in early 2018 I went to the doctors because I couldn’t stop crying, I didn’t feel present with my family and friends and I started to get panicky in certain situations. It wasn’t my normal doctor and within ten minutes of seeing him he had prescribed me anti depressants. I don’t think I was depressed, my actual doctor, at a later date explained it was more likely a spell of low mood. I do suffer with anxiety which I understand much more now than I did at the time. I was so desperate to not feel how I did, that I started taking them. In all honestly it really worked. It probably shouldn’t have been the first port of call, but it gave me a much needed breather and I finally started feeling like myself again. I watched @suziejverral say something about this recently and it was so relatable. I’m not saying they should be given to everyone, but neither should they be discounted. For some people they can be life changing.
When I went back to see my actual doctor, who I don’t think was too happy I was put on them in the first place (so, always see and talk to your actual doctor, one that knows you and your history), he explained that low mood and depression are a chemical imbalance in the brain and it could come and go throughout your life. It’s about finding out what works for you in terms of not spending too long in the part that makes you feel down.
Thankfully I came off them pretty quickly and have been relatively ok since, but I know that it could slip back anytime. I now just maybe have the odd day or two feeling like that and I know that if it was any longer I need to open up and talk to someone. It’s so funny because 2018 was such an amazing year for me. We’d finally got into our house we’d been waiting over two years for, we were getting married, going on a number of amazing holidays. People that perhaps don’t understand mental health would say, what have you got to be sad about? But it’s so much more that that. It doesn’t discriminate and it certainly doesn’t care what you’ve got going on in your life. Thankfully the help I got meant I went on to fully enjoy those moments. Asking for help was the single best thing I could’ve done.
At the start of the first ‘lockdown’ I had to be dragged out for a walk, I was petrified. I’d move 2m away from parked cars (because they carried the virus, right? 🤦♀️)and almost drove the pram into walls trying to stay as far away from other people as possible, cursing those who didn’t move out of the way. When we got shopping I’d put it all out then spray and wipe it down before putting it away, and any deliveries or gifts we got went in a ‘quarantine corner’ for at least 48 hours.
One of the worst moments for me was when Boris Johnson went into ICU. Not because Boris Johnson was in ICU (not here to get political!) but because if he could get that ill from this virus, anyone could. I imagined all of my loved ones dying (which sadly has been then case, and still is for some 💔), but thankfully that night, mid breakdown, I had to have a word with myself (along with a pep talk from my husband!). I had a newborn baby to look after and I wasn’t getting through this with that mindset.
Things that got me through were regular contact with friends and family, be that over face time or at the end of a driveway. Good food, cooking, baking, takeaways.
Cut through the shit. Don’t listen to the scaremongering. We know a lot more about this virus now than we did in March. It’s about being careful, balancing risks and using common sense. I found a professor on twitter early on and he was honestly my sanity. He waded though the crap and provided positivity where there was little. Honest updates and facts. That’s what you need. As long as you’re being sensible, it isn’t going to help seeing the news everyday, reading about the bad stuff. If you appreciate it’s a serious situation then all that does is make your anxiety worse, trust me I’ve done it and occasionally still do. Follow accounts that give you positivity, good news, things you enjoy/make you laugh.
Do you things that make you happy; watch Netflix, scroll Instagram, do yoga, go for a walk with a friend, drink nice coffee (or wine), eat nice food, read, write, do nothing. (OK, these are things that make me happy) (I also need to learn to take my own advice more…)
I also learnt this week you can appreciate we may need another lockdown AND hate the fact we’re in a another lockdown. And just because you may be in a good position it doesn’t mean your negative feelings are invalid (thank you @annamathur!). You can feel both things. You can feel all things.
I can’t wait for the day where we don’t have to remember masks when we leave the house, we can turn on the news and not hear about it. We can nip for a brew with our friends, go for Sunday roasts with our family, travel again and see the world. But I guess for now its about getting through these next few weeks, day by day. I know and appreciate the rules but at the same time I can’t help but feel like we all need to understand the risk to us and our families and use our common sense. But hey-ho, what do I know 🤷♀️