As someone who has suffered from anxiety since their late teens, the thought of lockdown really did worry and scared me. Being away from my family and friends, working from home and to top it off living on my own. All of this didn’t sound like a great combination. I knew it would go one of two ways: more bad days than good, or for it to not affect me at all. Luckily, I had a mixture of both!
Anxiety and worrying is something that I do so regularly, it is a big part of me and weirdly I feel more anxious when I am not worrying about anything. It’s funny how some minds work! I can take a simple calm situation in my head and catastrophise (this is something I learned about in CBT counselling 6 years ago – it described exactly how I thought. It’s become a well-used word for me now) it so much the original situation isn’t even there anymore. So, you can imagine how my mind was working when you started to read and listen to the news about a global pandemic that has taken over world…
The main things that worried me were being on my own and not being able to see my family and friends who are a massive support system for me. And that this would affect my mental health. When you live on your own, these people are even more important, and the thought of not knowing when I could see them again really worried me. Before lockdown happened, I had managed to take hold of my mental health and that bully in my head (that I know so many people have). I was learning to not listen to it, I was feeling the happiest I had done in years – finally home, work and personal life were going in the right direction. So, trust a global pandemic to come and test me. But I also knew this would be a big opportunity for me to prove to myself how far I have come, and be proud of myself.
I said to myself in the mirror pretty early on that to take be one day at a time and not to be too hard on myself if I had a bad day or felt low. Let’s face it – we were all about to enter into unknown times and the word “COVID-19” was about to appear.
Working from home was a worry and struggle for me as I am someone who likes routine and structure. So, to have to wake up and walk downstairs 15 minutes before you were meant to start work was both satisfying when I didn’t want to get out of bed, but also hard as I missed the routine of going to work. Some days not seeing anyone in real life was really hard too, Teams and Zoom just didn’t cut it. This is why my daily exercise walks were so important, lucky I live in a lovely place so everyone you walked past smiled, said hello and some even chatted to you and that definitely helped!
Over the 13 weeks of working from home with tough lockdown restrictions, there were definitely days where I didn’t want to get out of bed and felt really sorry for myself. I cried a few days so much I was exhausted and felt helpless, but I knew that tomorrow was another day. I allowed myself that day to feel like that. Wanting to see my family and just wanting my “normal” life back – going for a random glass of wine or popping out to the shops, never again will I take that for granted.
But on the flip side of the bad days came the good (pleased to say there have been more of these), I felt amazing and unstoppable! So happy and content I felt like I could take on the world. This is a weird feeling, as usual, my anxiety would be so hard to overcome – but for some reason, I could manage it so well I almost forgot I suffered from it! I have spoken to family and friends and about this and I think being around people who struggle with worry, anger, anxiety or depression was almost a comfort to me. I didn’t feel so alone or isolated. It made me feel more relaxed and calmer and meant I could control my anxiety better. I know that sounds weird but it has helped me knowing I am not alone in feeling like that.
Now I am back to working in the office and seeing family and friends again I am feeling in a better place. Lockdown as a whole was hard, but it was for everyone, and I think for once everyone was in the same boat! Yes, I still have days where I feel anxious and worried, but these are definitely outweighed by content and happy days.
I have learnt to allow myself days of feeling sad, fed up, anxious or lonely and don’t ‘beat myself up about them’ – it is ok to feel like this. Above all, I remember that tomorrow is another day and that we are in the middle of a global pandemic.
One day at a time.
Big thanks to Laura for sharing her story.
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