Anxiety, Covid, and Me

I’ve had a few people message asking about how I’m coping through this whole Covid-19 pandemic situation so thought I’d dust off the ol’ blog and write a post about it.

Well first of all, what an absolute shit show it is eh? Lockdown, tier 2, tier 3, don’t touch family, wash your hands, don’t sing songs, don’t go to funerals but you can brush shoulders with perfect strangers in the pub because Covid is ineffective that way. It’s been one huge nightmare to be honest, so why not share how I’m feeling about it? (because you’re all dying to know).

Well it’s been a weird one for us as a family as, in the midst of lockdown, we had a baby. My wife gave birth to an actual human being with zero painkillers because the pregnancy went too fast all while enduring a bloody pandemic. We then couldn’t introduce her properly to family because of the restrictions during lockdown, which meant for the first 8 or so weeks of her life it was just us 4 (including Mabel obviously) trying to navigate our way through parenthood armed with nothing but hope and blind panic. (Sidenote: They say birth is the most beautiful thing in the world. It isn’t. I saw things I never wanted to see, heard things I never wanted to hear. The only beautiful part was my daughter emerging for the first time. Until then, it was horrific.)

In all seriousness, it was really tough. Our family heartbroken that they can only look through a window at our little IVF miracle, knowing how much she means to us and how desperate we all were to have her in our lives. It was a really difficult time, and one I’m really happy to have gotten through.

‘OK this is all good and well but get to the anxiety bit’ I hear you cry. Well to be honest, I’ve been hugely surprised by it. I expected to go completely backwards. Home is where my comfort zone is, I went from avoiding going out anywhere to embracing the fact I couldn’t. Work dried up too, so I basically spent lockdown with my little baby, or completely vedged on the sofa for 16 hours straight. All this was fine, but in the back of my mind there was a niggling voice telling me that this would all be over soon, and I’d be back to square one.

To my surprise though, my anxiety has reacted completely differently. That’s a strange sentence when I read it back, but I’ve always pictured my anxiety as an additional thing to me, someone that follows me around, a nuisance or a pest. Anyway, basically I’ve noticed two shifts:

Anxiety – This is different. Less intense. I don’t notice nausea half as much now, I’m happy to go and eat out places, happy to visit friends and I’ve even been able to work through any nausea and brush it off with my mind, just like a non-anxious would. It’s still there, I still suffer, but it’s shifted in a way I didn’t expect.

Mood – This is the biggest difference to me. My mood has always fluctuated in various ways, but recently there’s a consistency to it, and a familiar feeling. I can wake up one day and my mood is just low, I’m irritable and my mind is racing. I create scenarios in my head and tend to go inside myself a bit. I feel it happening, I know it’s happening but I can’t reverse it. I just have to go with it.

So what can you do to help your own mental health? Well truthfully I don’t have an answer for this. I’m no Doctor and definitely don’t know much about that expertise, but I have my own things that help:

I go for walks – long walks in the fresh air tend to ease my mind. I have a good old chunter to myself and it somehow gets whatever I’m feeling off my chest.

Self care – This can come in any form. My self care is a hot bath, or an hour laid reading, or sometimes it’s creating a list of small jobs I need to do and just do them to help clear my head. If you struggle you can try maybe meditation, yoga, some light exercise to get you moving, crafts, adult colouring book – whatever it is that for even just an hour your mind is focussed on something other than anxiety.

Get out! – This is becoming increasingly difficult for people considering we are battling between tiers/lockdown but where possible try and get out. Potter in the garden, wander up and down the road. Whatever you can do to get outside just do it, as this can hugely impact your mental health in a positive way.

Speak out – I know a lot of people are struggling with anxiety and/or depression at the hands of the current situation that we’re going through at the moment, and this can often weigh us down. It’s important to reach out and seek help from whoever you can. My Twitter messages are always open for someone who needs some help.

Lastly, don’t bake a cake – you’re in the house on your own with nothing to do but kill time. You’re going to eat the whole cake. This is not good.

How’s your mental health doing? Any tips to share? I’d love to hear from you

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