Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Lockdown 3.0: Thoughts, Fears & Plans


 

Hello my loves, today's post is simply going to be a bit of a rant about the current lockdown situation, about my mental health, studies, fears and anything else I can think to word vomit onto the screen.

Content warning for: suicide, eating disorders & self-harm.

So I think it's pretty fair to say that everyone is pretty pissed off with the UK going into a third lockdown. Though it was pretty clear it was bound to happen from the first announcement of the new coronavirus strain, that doesn't make it any less shit.

Lockdowns have majorly fucked over people's mental health, financial situation, job prospects and education. My heart completely goes out to final year students, or any students with exams their degree is dependent on, who are trying to navigate the absolute shit show that is the UK education system, and the complete lack of support there currently is for them.

The one thing I will stress before anything else is please reach out to people if you feel you are struggling during this lockdown, it is completely normal for your mental health to be impacted and you most certainly should not struggle alone. Whether its reaching out to friends, family, or a hotline, there will be someone there to listen to you and you absolutely shouldn't let yourself suffer in silence. You deserve to be heard.


Experiences in the first lockdown


I think the majority of my fears about this lockdown comes from the first lockdown, specifically in April, which resulted in me going to hospital for major self-harm, suicidal thoughts and a very awkward crisis evaluation (when are they not awkward though...). I was an absolute mess mentally in April, and to add insult to injury a friend I had confided in, and who I thought the absolute world of, decided to call up a mutual friend the day it happened and tell him I had been lying about it and to ignore me... yeah. Thankfully that mutual friend was so so supportive, helped me out of that toxic friendship, and has been very near and dear to me ever since. So I am relieved to know I have somebody I can reach out to if I am struggling.

In that first lockdown, I was only on anti-depressants and was not receiving psychiatric help or therapy. Since then I have started taking anti-psychotics, I talk frequently with a psychiatrist and am currently in therapy. For this reason I'm feeling slightly more confident about how I will handle lockdown, but equally its an entirely new ballpark regarding medication and developing mental health issues. 

The mental health issue in question is my quickly worsening relationship with food. I lost a lot of weight during the first lockdown, but wrongly dismissed it as my lack of activity meant I wasn't hungry/had no desire to eat. However, talking to my psychiatrist since September has involved a long and awkward conversation about my relationship with food and habits of restriction. It's gone from a likely symptom of my BPD, to a possible fully fledged ED. I've agreed (not that I'm entirely too sure I had a choice) to have a referral letter sent to the local eating disorder clinic, but like any NHS mental health service it will likely be a long wait until I hear back from them, even more so given the current lockdown situation. Knowing myself, I know that being alone in my flat, entirely in control of what I eat and what I don't eat could be somewhat risky. I'm not an idiot though, I know I avoid certain types of food and like to control how much food I eat in a day, but I equally don't think I am going to struggle that much. I like the freedom of living by myself and deciding what I do or don't eat and I feel I'm going to keep myself healthy provided my mental health stays somewhat okay. 


Therapy and funding


The biggest fear of all for me is that without work, my therapy funding will run out, and I will be completely left in the dark. In the summer time I decided to invest my savings into private therapy and a private psychiatrist after I was rejected from a local therapy service for needing more immediate care. I knew that this funding wouldn't last and have already spoken to both my therapist and psychiatrist about my integration back into the NHS system. Being able to afford to go private is such a massive privilege that I am grateful I was able to do. But as my work is non-essential, I won't be making any money to continue funding my sessions, which could lead to a very rapid drop from their system. I'm hoping I can make things work, and I'm not going too long without therapy or psych sessions.


University and productivity


On the slightly more positive side, this lockdown I actually have things to do. It may sound a bit sad, but throwing myself into my work and academics really keeps me afloat mentally. While the prospect of being alone for quite some time until my new flatmate moves in is daunting, I feel being able to structure my day with work and deadlines will really help. I'm not expecting my productivity to soar massively, it will likely be at the bare minimum, but at least I am doing something.

Finally, I see a lot of people emphasising how important self-care is - and I don't disagree! I think the mistake I made in the first lockdown was taking self-care too literally, face masks and banana bread and what not. Banana bread is great don't get me wrong, but I also need to focus much more on mental self-care, on practicing mindfulness, my DBT techniques, and make sure I am not pushing myself too hard mentally. First lockdown involved a really bad relapse, so I want to make sure I'm taking care of myself much better this time to avoid the same thing happening.

Well that's it, ramble over. I hope maybe this post brought some of you comfort knowing you aren't alone with your fears or anxiety over lockdown, and as always, my twitter dms (@connectingcait) are open for anybody who needs it.

Take care and stay safe x

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