Mental health during lockdown!

Guys, I want to move away from vaping momentarily just to go through the issues some of us face during these difficult times.

With all the factors concerning COVID-19, mental health is an important issue to acknowledge along with our health, livelihoods and wellbeing.

When we first went into lockdown in March 2020, I honestly thought this problem would be short lived. How wrong was I! I spent the first few weeks watching videos, playing video games etc. After this time, I was literally astonished as to what I was seeing on the news. Images of London looking like a ghost town, people queuing outside supermarkets wearing masks and worst of all the sad images of people in hospital dying.

This had a profound effect on me, I was deeply saddened by all of it, then came the fear. Seeing and hearing of younger people also dying or getting extremely sick scared me beyond comprehension. I was terrified of catching it and still am. I was more frightened for my parents especially my father who is elderly and has a heart condition.

I started to isolate myself from everyone and everything. We were locked in anyway so I thought it would be easy, it was not……. it was HELL!

After 6 weeks I started feeling low, my girlfriend was on her own, she would have had it harder. She is strong, she coped well. I did not! I was watching the news all day and all night, watching the daily briefings trying to figure out a solution. The 3 things that kept me awake at night; how did this happen? What is going to happen? Will I catch Coronavirus?

When the 8-week period approached I was not the same person anymore. The simple things in life had been taken from me. The basic everyday freedoms I took for granted were gone! It really messed up my head! Could not even go to the GP, had to do it on FACE TIME!

My chest and head were starting to give me symptoms. Headaches were daily and constant. Aspirin had no effect. Then the chest pain started, tightness, heavy feeling like sack of potatoes was laying on me. My chest muscle was going into spasm and I could not expand my diaphragm. This resulted in shortness of breath and eventually PANIC ATTACKS!

Panic attacks are very frightening. My heart goes out to anyone who suffers these horrific episodes. The feeling of not getting air literally feels like you’re dying. These episodes lasted about 3 weeks. Waking up at 5am having a panic attack is one of the worst experiences of my life. I hope and pray it never happens again.

Once the easing of lockdown started in around June time, I started feeling slightly better.

Shortly after, I realised I had to lift myself back up. How was I going to do this? Watching the news, hospital admissions, the suffering, the fear was all impacting me in ways I cannot explain. It is a hard thing to ignore, I could not ignore it! I still cannot! With the summer passing and cases dropping, I was relieved, but my sixth sense was telling me it was not over.

As the autumn was drawing in, cases started rising again. I started to feel the fear again. I thought to myself although we are not in complete lockdown (I live in London) there are many areas especially up north where the virus is growing. This could quite easily become a catastrophe again. I started really analysing how I could prevent myself from getting ill again. The rate I was going, I found I was getting ill without contracting the virus.

I pray for all of us to be safe and well. I follow the guidelines in keeping myself and my loved ones safe. Apart from that, I have discovered there is not much else I can do. I WISH I COULD! Making myself ill through worry and fear is senseless. After the recent infection rate and terrible death toll, I knew it could all easily start again.

Off course when one has general anxiety and depression and suffering with it for prolonged periods, it is even harder. I would never advocate a “get on with it” policy. It is a debilitating condition and must be taken seriously. Again, I sympathise with anyone and everyone who suffers from this. I have suffered from this and appreciate what it feels like.

I am not an authority on anxiety and depression. One must always consult their Doctor for help and advice. It is an important matter and must always be taken seriously. I will briefly explain my experience and the method I used in calming it all down.

I believe when a person understands a condition like anxiety and depression it makes it easier to deal with. There could be valid reasons for some people to suffer from it. Bereavement, relationship breakdown and many more experiences. Fear is a great dictator, if we can control fear life is much more pleasant. I would ask myself; do I want to give these fears and worries all my attention?

You may say there is much more to it, and off course you would be right. But when it comes to the mind, it is far more complicated………… or is it?

I realised all we have is the here and now. I knew I had to be in the here and now in order to keep my sanity, after all we can never be anywhere else. I simply thought about it. It took a while but I realised all these unwanted thoughts coming into my head would keep on coming regardless.

I discovered the function of the brain is to create thoughts just as the heart has its function, lungs, eyes, legs etc. Trying to suppress my thoughts, or fight them was the worst thing to do as they simply came back stronger. So, I played a trick on my brain. I let the thoughts of anxiety overcome me as usual but instead of getting entangled with them, I stepped aside and watched them go by just like leaves on a river. They kept coming but not at me, I just observed them as they passed through. After a while, they literally had a much lesser impact on me. At last, I was in control!

When we try to stop a thought process, it is impossible! Fighting with it afterwards is stupid…… so I stopped! Or rather stepped aside from it. By doing this, it allows me to live in the present moment. Not living in my mind but living in the here and now.

All being well, once the pandemic is over and normality resumes, we will be entangled with normal everyday problem once again. By being in control, you will feel better, not perfect just better. Do not allow others to determine how YOU should feel. Feel yourself, be in the moment, experience reality and you will enjoy your life much more!

Now, life is very hard with this terrible virus. I know we will all get through this. Normality is not far away. We just have to keep safe until then. I look forward to good times ahead and I think you should too. We deserve it!

Stay safe Guys

God Bless

Alex

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