The other day I was talking to my dad and told him “I feel like I didn’t achieve anything over the last 4 months!” and he answered “Stop talking bullshit! You kept your job, paid bills and rent on your own, this is a lot!” He was right. It was a lot and I didn’t even realise it.
Life is very slow at the moment and it’s hard to stay positive when there’s so little to do and options are limited. Like many of you, I thought that things would start getting better. Like the more you live a situation, the easier it gets because you get used to it, right? Not really! The more this coronavirus is around the worse is becoming because I reached the point where I no longer tolerate not being in control of my own life.
I live with depression and anxiety. Having a routine which I can stick to is important to stay mentally sane. At the moment there’s nothing I can control. I don’t know when I can see my family next, if the government call for a new lockdown, when the gym is going to reopen and how long for, if the train timetable changes and I have to readjust to a new work routine. I don’t function this way. My anxiety has been really bad, my depression is back. I lack the motivation to do things. I just want to stay home or on the beach and chill, watching TV because no one can spoil my plans. Not the virus, nor the government.
I have been doing therapy for the last 2 and a half years because my depression did not start with this pandemic or the PhD. It’s been forever. It’s really helpful to get to talk with someone about your feelings. I also talked to friends and work colleagues and everyone feels the same about the pandemic. And this was a lot helpful. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one struggling, kind of made me feel a bit more “normal”. In fact, it made me realise that my feelings about this situation are valid. No matter if I still have my job or I am not classified as vulnerable, it’s okay to feel my feelings and feel horrible about the situation. Even though, non-essential shops are open now, it’s also okay to feel bad because no one feels like it used to be. We are all coping from post traumatic distress effects due to corona pandemic.
Taking to someone about your struggle makes things easier
I relocated for work and two weeks after, lockdown started. When I moved here, I wanted to do things differently. Due to my depression and social anxiety, I never managed to enjoy my life in Nottingham and ended up overusing social media to fulfil the lack of social connections. I didn’t want the same to happen again. Despite the lockdown and limited options, I put the phone down and started looking for things to do here. The town where I live is great and I wanted to know and explore more! more coming in the next blog posts. I joined loads of local Facebook groups to get to know the place more. I found out about a local protest to support the Black Lives Matter movement, I joined an outdoor boot camp group to exercise and meet new people, I keep up to date about events, places that are reopening after lockdown. Considering my lack of social skills and the lockdown, I am quite happy with the activities I have done so far.
As much as you can, put your phone down and seek fulfilment and joy in real life and people around you!
Most importantly, the main activity that kept my mind sane and keeps doing it is getting out of the house to go to work every day. For 3 months, my work colleagues were the only people I met and I was quite fortunate because many didn’t see anyone at all. Doing stuff in the lab gave a purpose to my day, it was enough motivation to get out of bed and win over my anxiety and depression. This gave structure to my day and it was a distraction from the misery happening around me.
As far as you can, give structure and a porpouse to your day.
To be consistent and keep myself accountable, I tend to write down the intentions of the day, I love writing as it should be obvious by now. That doesn’t mean you have to change the world. Small things as calling a friend, cooking breakfast or dinner, go outside for a walk or asking a stranger how they have been coping with the pandemic can give equally fulfilling purpose to your day!