Coping with lockdown... Hannah's Blog
Posted: Mon, 27 Apr 2020 13:18
There is no doubt that lockdown is tough for everyone, but if you were already struggling with your mental health it may be especially tricky.
Back at the beginning of March, when I spoke to friends in Spain and Italy who were 'locked down' it terrified me. I genuinely thought that if the same happened in the UK it would be the end of my recovery. Until February I was classed as homeless, and I was regularly self-harming, drinking excessively and experimenting with drugs to try and get a grip on my PTSD.
The first few weeks I coped pretty well. I got into a routine, it felt strange but it worked. I watched Phil and Holly, ate regularly and took up running. It was the most time I'd ever spent on my own, but I kept telling myself I had been through so much worse, I'd been through years of abuse as a child, was sexually assaulted at uni, and spent over a year homeless. Lockdown should be a doddle.
'it felt like the rest of the world had gone into survival mode and having spent so much of my life in exactly that, I felt this strange sense of calm.'
The past week or so things have been tough, so I'm not going to sit here and write about how brilliantly I'm coping, because truthfully, I don't feel like I am. I am focused on survival, colouring, jigsaws, scented candles and Netflix. I've cried a lot, I have zero motivation and I miss people; all I really want is a hug.
For me, the most difficult thing is bringing myself round when my PTSD is triggered. It's much harder to get myself out of a bad headspace after bad nightmares when I can't be around other people.
Although it's tricky, I am trying to hold on to the positives. I thought by this point I would have gone well and truly off the rails. There's been no self-harm and I haven't touched alcohol which I definitely thought would have happened by now- so I guess that's something to be proud of.
I'm starting to accept that there is no 'right' way to react to the situation we're in. A lot of people keep mentioning that we are 'all in the same boat' but one of my friends rightly pointed this out yesterday;
'we are all in the same storm, but some people are in luxury yachts whilst others are in rubber rings'
Every single one of us is in completely different circumstances. Some of us live alone, whilst others are surrounded by family or friends. Some people are in big houses with gardens, whilst others are in bed and breakfasts with no cooking facilities and some are still sleeping in cardboard boxes. Some people have never struggled mentally and now they find that they are, some have always struggled with their mental health and are struggling even more now, whilst some people who have always struggled are finding the lack of expectation during this time exactly what they needed.
The easiest thing to do in this situation would be to resort to harmful coping strategies, alcohol, drugs, self-harm etc. We all have to remember that none of these things will change the situation. They might temporarily make it slightly easier to cope with, but after that temporary buzz it's going to be exactly the same, if not worse.
If you are struggling, my advice would be to cling on to that one thing to keep you going. For me, it's that first hug when all of this is over. That could be anything; the first McDonald's, seeing your friends for the first time or going back to the pub.
This will end, we don't know when, but we have to remember that it will and when it does, we will be so glad we got through it.
For more information on the North Yorkshire Get on Track Programme - https://www.northyorkshiresport.co.uk/get-on-track