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Thread: Coronavirus & mental health - will things get better?

  1. #1
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    Mar 2020
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    Coronavirus & mental health - will things get better?

    Hi everyone,

    Like many of you I have suffered with mental health issues for years now. 2019 was a tough year, but I was having some in-person therapy, and beginning to make some small steps forward. Then 2020 happened, and I feel like those 2 steps forward have turned into 200 steps backwards.

    During lockdown earlier this year, I developed such severe anxiety and months worth of insomnia & depression that I physically, emotionally & mentally felt dysfunctional. I actually ended up in A&E at one point, only to be discharged and then worry I had caught covid from the hopsital which further perpetuated the anxiety.

    Ever since this "episode", I believe I have developed a strange form of memory distortion whereby every so often I keep thinking the whole country is still in lockdown. My memory becomes foggy and I think - "everythings still in lockdown" accompanied by a form of agoraphobia where I become anxious about leaving home. I know logically we were not in lockdown over the summer, which is why this is an odd symptom.

    What's made this harder is I have kept seeing the media describe this as "the new normal". I appreciate what they probably mean by this is that we may have to get used to certain safety measures- but a part of me can't help but interpret this to mean that the dreadful way I've felt this year is going to remain "the new normal" and that life in general is just going to be nothing but pain for the forseeable future.

    I completely understand the need to protect the public from the virus - I understand steps need to be taken - and my heart absolutely goes out to anyone who has lost loved ones to this virus or been personally affected by it.

    And I do not wish to get into any sort of debate between pro or anti lockdown views. All I will say is this - I cannot help but feel a bit angry that the government claims to be so concerned about health & vulnerable people, yet there are so many vulnerable and isolated people with mental health conditions that are being made significantly worse by some of the steps they are taking and all the mixed messaging - which might be mitigated if they had invested more in mental health support but in my opinion, they (and other past governments) have not prioritised.

    I think what I need right now is just some hope that things are going to get better in 2021 and beyond , because right now I don't feel like they are. I'm in limbo right now , with my mental health at rock bottom, hoping all this bad news "goes away" but unsure that it will. I'm worried "this" whole situation is just going to drag on and on for years and years- and honestly I don't think my mental health (as I'm sure is the case with so many people) can handle many more years of this.

    My therapist can no longer see me in person and I just don't find the online/phone appointments quite the same. I also desperately want to get back involved in social things, many/most of which have shut down or gone digital - so my social anxiety has now gone into overdrive. I just hope this isn't how things are going to remain.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2011
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    Re: Coronavirus & mental health - will things get better?

    Yes, things will get better.

    It's probably best to focus on dealing with your mental health as things stand right now rather than waiting for things to get better.

    Taking the mental standpoint that media catchphrases such as 'the new normal' means that YOU will stay where you are is illogical. Life and the population of the planet is constantly evolving and changing, and this is part of that process.

    Start making steps to being ok with things as they are right now. Sometimes shit just happens and there isn't an answer.

    Nobody is going to give you a definitive answer about when things will get better. Nobody knows. This is new, and the responses are new, but you don't have to be completely frustrated and assume that everything is going to be a pain from now on. Nothing stays the same forever.

  3. #3
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    Re: Coronavirus & mental health - will things get better?

    Thanks, Joe, I appreciate you taking the time to reply. You're absolutely right - no one can predict the future.

    But it's hard to maintain a sense of perspective sometimes in the midst of everything that's going on.

    The NHS website itself says social contact is part of maintaing good mental health: "Socialising can improve your mood" - and yet this year has all been about "social distancing".

    So many things I would like access to (e.g. therapy, various hobbies, places to visit ect) remain closed or "online only". And when I do meet family or friends, I'm suffering a lot of anxiety in public places.

    The social isolation, uncertainty and fear have many of us glued to the internet more than ever before consuming news & social media - and there are lots of conspiracy theories right now which further heighten the fear. The World Health Organisation has even said we're facing an infodemic in addition to a pandmic.

    Right now I'm just not sure how to go about improving mental health under these conditions. We're clearly living through a volatile period of human history and to be honest I wish I could just skip over it and live in happier more stable times (like the 90's used to be).

  4. #4
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    Re: Coronavirus & mental health - will things get better?

    Thereís plenty of uncertainty out there right now, but one thing that is for certain (as the previous responder also said), things will definitely get better. 😊 Although I have to admit that I never ever would have dreamed I would witness anything like this in my lifetime, I think it is something that we will all start to learn more about both scientifically and informatively and I think it end up being managed better every day. I think it will probably end up becoming a disease thatís rare but still around, but it will be so rare we wonít think about it much and certainly wonít be having lockdowns etc. If you think about the ordinary flu, that was new once too and back then the world was also probably up in arms. Today, most people wouldnít bat an eyelid over flu. I think a lot of the problem was/is that because this virus was so new and we were all (I mean the world) so unequipped for it, we feel that it has turned into this huge mess. There is still a lot of uncertainty which causes frustration and isolation, but I suppose it is for the greater good. Although of course it is going to be hard to be apart from family and friends and especially for our mental wellbeing.You should definitely make sure you still connect with friends and access any kind of therapy remotely. Itís better than nothing and its Important to focus on you and not work towards a Covid timeline. The world will return to a normal again, but in the meantime, be kind to yourself and continue to focus on your mental wellbeing. This just requires a little bit of patience and positivity. Things will be ok in the end. But until such time, letís take care of ourselves. 😊

  5. #5
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    Re: Coronavirus & mental health - will things get better?

    Iced_diamond -
    Thank you for your kind & encouraging message there, it's much appreciated. You make some very sensible points.

    To be honest I struggled to write my initial post because there are multiple layers to this issue as to why I'm struggling to stay positive.

    Putting coronavirus into recent historical context - we've had a lot of upheaval over the past 10+ years. There was the economic crash of 2008- which led directly into a decade of austerity. Part of our unspoken 'social contract' is that children should be better off than their parents & grandparents generations and yet so many of us during the past decade have failed to get on the housing ladder, or to get the jobs/opportunities we hoped for, or to earn an income that would give us a nice quality of life. Our estimated retirement age keeps being pushed up & up. Politics has become more polarizing than I can ever remember - because large swathes of the population feel alienated and betrayed by the system and want something to change.

    Even before 2020, I have personally felt this negative "energy" building up in the general population - so many people seem unhappy or frustrated or angry and feel that their life or the country as a whole is not going in the right direction.

    On a personal level I'd been struggling with mental health problems for years which was made worse by the fact all of my close friends were getting married & having kids and then gradually meeting up less and less until most of us lost touch.

    So I arrived at the doorstep of January 2020 exhausted. I wanted it to be a fresh start. I wanted it to be a decade of stability, and prosperity and one where I could get out, meet new people and conquer my mental health challenges. Then a global pandemic happened. And lockdowns happened. And well - you know the story by now. But it honestly couldn't have come at a worse time and it's very difficult not to look at this and feel utter despair.

    I'm very conscious of the fact so many people are struggling (and even suffering) - so I don't want to make this a "poor me" type post, I guess I just wanted to try to use this space to express some of the thoughts that have been whirling around in my mind.

    I think it's a great point that this virus is/was NEW. Therefore we're learning and adapting all the time at how best to deal with the situation. And hopefully, much like anything else, we will collectively evolve to a point where we have this situation under control.

    I guess from a social perspective, it's just concerning how long this will keep going on for. Because 6 months or a year or two years are easy figures to write on paper, but these are ultimately months and years of our lives that are being directly effected - it's time none of us can get back.

    The point you made about trying to live a good life in spite of the coronavirus "timetable" is a good one. I'll have to reflect a little more on that. Perhaps it's all too easy right now to let our lives be dictated by events on the news.
    Last edited by anxious_dan; 14-10-20 at 00:16.

  6. #6
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    Re: Coronavirus & mental health - will things get better?

    Couldnít agree more on the political context- things seemed pretty bleak already and then they got even worse! 2020 was actually the year I promised to finally follow my dreams. I had planned to move country in April last year. It was all in place and I was really looking forward to starting a new chapter. Then 2-3 weeks before my departure that dream came crashing down followed by months of isolated working from home and to top it off I had some other personal problems which really damaged my self esteem and Iím still fighting it. I recently started a new job as well and I have so many worries on my mind every day that sometimes I honestly donít know how I even cope. Iíve come home many a night and just burst into tears out of exhaustion, frustration, worry, fear.....but then I somehow do manage to pull myself together and force myself to tidy up, make sure I have dinner, check in with family over the phone etc. So much for what was supposed to be the best year of my life, right? But, you know what? I know it sounds a bit cliche, but these things really do make us stronger. Life is a test and it will keep testing us. And if we can get through this, we can get through Iíd say almost anything. What happens around us does affect us and I myself feel pretty depressed when I look at our current state of affairs. What can be done is the question....I think that we can still make a conscious effort to be good people. Help others, do the right thing, be kind, compassionate and even if it feels like it never gets rewarded externally, being a kind and good person is really itís own reward. And whilst I think the state of affairs is in tatters right now, Iím a firm believer that things will work out for the better, for the greater good. Things that are just wrong, will never prosper, even if it takes some time for that to be realised. Hope all this makes some kind of sense. I think what Iím trying to say is, donít let them get you down and let the world do its thing- and you do yours- be kind to others and yourself 😊 Please donít worry about the future and the virus. Of course we all need to be mindful and careful, but letís also not let the media get the better of us. Remember that ďEverything is fineĒ stories donít sell. They have to exaggerate and hype- itís what they do. Iíd say trust legitimate sources, but take everything else with a pinch of salt and trust your own good judgement.

  7. #7
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    Re: Coronavirus & mental health - will things get better?

    I don't believe things will get better at all. I think the wheels of war are turning even now, and they cannot be stopped.

  8. #8
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    Re: Coronavirus & mental health - will things get better?

    Iced - I'm very sorry to hear about all the plans and dreams you had being put on hold by this horrible year. But the key words are "on hold" - I hope you'll still be able to do them some day in the not too distant future.

    I've struggled to respond if I'm honest because I just don't have a whole lot of positive things to say right now. My mental health was already bad before this year and now everything just feels a hundred times worse. Sometimes I think this is all some bizzare nightmare and I'll wake up soon.

    And the news is just like one 24/7 doom-fest and has been the entire year. I understand the need for all the measures to control coronavirus but it just feels like our politicians are so hyper-focussed on this one issue that they're forgetting literally EVERYTHING else - peoples mental health, every single other health condition that isn't covid, even little things like my dentist not being able to see me when i had a toothache earlier in the year or all the countless cancelled events/plans - a whole years worth of potentialities and opportunities just wiped out not to mention the economic impact.

    I want to try and see the positive side of things but to be totally honest the year has been a complete and total disaster.

  9. #9
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    Re: Coronavirus & mental health - will things get better?

    To say this year has been a bit of a nightmare would be fair I think..... I think at the very start people just ran with it and we were kind of lead to believe that in a few months we’d Have conquered it. Sounded pretty hopeful. Something to go on. Ok, so 3 months indoors with limited contact seemed doable, as there was some light at the end of the tunnel. Then summer approached and things started to let up a bit, restrictions were lifted, but the virus was still around and of course a lot of us knew that as soon as the world opened up again the number of cases would rise and this is where we are now. It’s a really tough balance in a situation like this between containing the virus and keeping the economy going. Something really has to give. And you’re absolutely right in that a lot has gone by the wayside as a result of the pandemic and there have been plenty of people who have suffered not necessarily from the virus (although of course that too) but because of it. It was always going to happen. Of course the virus took us all by surprise globally- some countries had better management strategies than others and I’m sorry to have to say that I feel we here didn’t adopt the best strategy to handle it. Of course it’s going to be a tough job for anyone, but I really think certain things could have been done better. I also think that whilst everyone would argue they have suffered and found the lockdown and general upheaval of the pandemic hard, it’s hit some clearly harder than others. In a way, I have kind of just bargained with myself that unfortunately this year is just a bit of a write off. So whilst life as we know it is kind of on hold for now, there are still things we an do and number 1 being looking after ourselves and those close to us. Make sure you have something to occupy yourself, things you enjoy (that of course you can currently do), talking to others (even if it’s remotely), being kind to ourselves and seeking the support we need to ensure that we keep on top of our wellbeing. Another important thing to never lose sight of is that this will come to an end and believe me I know it’s hard right now to think in those terms, but please don’t lose sight of that. Because, there will be a turn for the better again. It just needs a little bit of acceptance and possibly a few adjustments. I know how hard it can feel, but I honestly believe things Will get better again and it won’t be that much longer either. We’ve managed the biggest part already. Keep the vision that normality will return and start thinking about the things you want to do in future and plan ahead for them. I too have not given up on my dreams and I point blank refuse to. Things will be ok, but please do look after yourself and don’t lose hope.

  10. #10
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    Re: Coronavirus & mental health - will things get better?

    Thanks Iced_diamond - your posts are always very reassuring and helpful and I very much appreciate that.

    Your summary of this year is spot on. I remember earlier on in the year, despite being under lockdown, there were some positive news stories such as how lockdowns were lowering pollution, and that the National Trust would provide free access to their sites, I remember the support for the NHS as well as the government scheme to get people volunteering. In other words, the lockdown was really tough - but there was a sense something positive might come out of all this, and that it would all be over soon if we all just hang in there.

    But somewhere along the line that light at the end of the tunnel seemed to get lost - and I feel like it has been replaced with an ongoing climate of fear, chaos & anger - with political polarization, social unrest, economic hardship, and increasing cases/deaths. The idea that "this will all be over soon" has been replaced with a much more forboding sense of there being no end in sight and that perhaps we are living in a dark period in history which will linger on for some years to come.

    I guess much like yourself and others - life feels like it's on hold. But there comes a point where life has been "on hold" for so long, that it no longer feels on hold, it just feels like you are merely surviving instead of living. "Social distancing" was the exact opposite of what my mental health needed this year - I desperately wanted to have the opportunity to sit face to face with a therapist, to embark upon new hobbies and also to move to a new city and start a new life - I just don't want life to be all about staying locked indoors doing everything online.

    Perhaps the best we can do at this stage is to use this time to really plan out the things we want in life, and hope that in the not too distant future there comes a point whereby various social changes take place to allow us to then pursue those dreams like never before.

    Historically speaking we're living through one of these rare events that effect virtually everyone in the entire world in one way or another. Whether it's being directly effected by Covid, or losing a loved one, or losing a job, or spending extended periods of time in isolation, or suffering a mental health crisis - the world is hurting right now and there's a lot of pain out there - and I can only hope that out of all this pain eventually comes a kind of global period of "healing" from all of this, and a better future overall.

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