Coffee Hour

And Overview of Mental Health in Isolation

As it is mental health awareness week now is probably a good time to assess the health of you and those around you. It’s not really possible to assume that everyone’s mental health is deteriorating in isolation. But it would be naïve of us to think that there isn’t some toll being taken by isolation on the mental states of the nation as a whole. There have been a plethora of articles on all sorts of platforms from BBC an onwards about how lockdown might take its toll, so this isn’t a new topic of discussion by any means. But as we’re almost 2 months in, now might be a good time to assess what you mind have really been through. My mental health during lockdown deteriorated in stages, some of you might recognise these stages, some may not- but this has been my experience:

  1. The beginning of lockdown. It’s all fun and games.

It starts as something novel, exhilarating almost. You’re living a historical moment, you’ve never seen society deteriorate so fast, and your carefully cultivated routine has never been disrupted so badly- but you needed a break anyway.

2. Optimism at its highest

Goodbye, menial minimum wage, long hours, working- you- like- a- dog, customer service role- and hello gruelling,-yet rewarding- 24-hour free time for you to be as productive as possible. You’re going to hit all of those goals that normal everyday life was getting in the way of.

3. Self-assurance

OK, don’t worry, it’s fine DON’T PANIC – you’re not hitting your goals yet, but who knows how long we’ll be here? Two months is more than enough time for you to doss about and still be productive. When this is finally over, you’ll be better at your craft and your business than you could ever imagine.

4.Try something new

Right- all of these new ideas and plans are going to require new money. Let’s see if we can get a job, a new skill that will make you more employable – we can be fluent in French in a month. Then we can start applying for jobs. We could even be employed as soon as lockdown is over and then we can begin tacking that paper! Or maybe we can find something that will allow us to work from home, and we can put a down payment on those dreams

5. Doubt

All this free time and your still not where you want to be. You still don’t have a job, you have no concrete plan, you haven’t learnt any new skill – maybe it’s not the hours in the days that are the issue. Perhaps you’re the problem

6. Loneliness

I just want to go do what I have to do in a pretty coffee shop in High Street Kensington, with my friends. Is that too much to ask?!

7. The block

No work is getting done, you have no energy, no motivation to wake up and do anything except, eat, smoke and watch old movies. You can’t even be bothered to watch new movies. Every day looks exactly the same. What’s the point of waking up in the morning? What’s the point of hoping lockdown will be over. What are you rushing back to? You’re shitty job, and wasted humanities degree? You ridiculous spending habits, wasting money on frivolous outfits that will never get worn so that you can plug the hole on your heart eroded away by despair. Why are you rushing back to your five days a week gym routine? You’ll still be fat and ugly, and you’ll still be alone. Everyone’s dealing with the same issues right now, they don’t have time for you. What are you leaving isolation for anyway? Who even cares about you? You might as well curl up and die here.

8. The surge

That was just a bump in the road. We’re back on this. We have to stay alert now, so lockdown might end soon, let’s get this done before we have to go back to being yelled at by ungrateful customers and slaving away at a job that doesn’t care about you. If you drop dead now, they’ll replace you in a heartbeat, and you’d have nothing to show for your life– don’t rush back just yet. Do you boo.

To be honest, I still fluctuate between stages 7 and 8. The breakdowns have become a regular occurrence and if it wasn’t for the fact that its Ramadan I’d be in my Nirvana, HIM, Slipknot and Ed Sheeran playlist constantly. But I but I’m still here, I’m still writing, so I haven’t resigned myself just yet. I think we probably need to acknowledge that in some way, the lockdown has affected ALL of us mentally. It’s all well and good being told we have to do this for the good of society, but that doesn’t negate the fact that many of us have hit, either one, or all of these stages during this time. And whether you realise it or not, we must acknowledge and discuss these things so we can keep it pushing once this over. Otherwise, a lot of us are going to drag these insecurities and unrealistic expectations of ourselves into the ‘normal’ world that we’ve been bigging up so much in isolation and abstinence. But when ‘normality’ falls short of everything that we hoped it would be – and it definitely will-  we will have to love ourselves, despite being as unsuccessful, unfulfilled and unoccupied out of lockdown as we were in it. And if we don’t love ourselves through these misgivings, a lot of are going to left feeling entirely devoid of value when all of this is over and that should never be the case.

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