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Mental Health

This Too Shall Pass

A Personal View of Mental Wellbeing During Social Isolation

There is quite a lot of advice coming out at the moment for managing mental health during this time of isolation and lockdown. I guess what I am aiming to offer is a personal view of some of the struggles, rather than a bullet pointed list of strategies to keep the black dog under control. However, if this post were purely my struggles, it would be pretty bleak, so hopefully I’ll strike a balance of encouragement too. Here goes…

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I’ve struggled with my mental health for a long time but only really acknowledged and addressed this after the birth of my second child, whereby I had prescribed medication and counselling. The triggers are many. Isolation/ loneliness is a big one, as is feeling out of control/ helpless, and change ranks up there too. I seem not to have developed the resilience that some people have, and my default coping mechanism has always been sugary food, leading to a guilt-shame cycle that can be hard to break.

Over the last couple of years I’ve developed new coping strategies. Getting out is a big help for me, especially with young children. We are on first name terms with the local library staff and have, at some point, frequented most of the toddler groups in our area. Failing that, we have a community cafe attached to our church where there is always a friendly face. Currently that has been stripped away, and my entire support structure seems to have moved online. We have a WhatsApp toddler group now on a Tuesday morning, instead of huddling round our cups of teas while children battle it out for the red and yellow car. Church is streamed through Facebook live into our living room on a Sunday, whilst we openly ‘talk’ over the pastor to get our hellos into everyone. Even Slimming World can be accessed virtually via Zoom- the app that no-one had heard of before Covid-19!

But it’s not the same. There is no respite from the incessant calls of ‘Mummy, Mummy, Mummy’. And, although my husband is working from home and physically here most of the time, he is unavailable, and I’m finding that hard. There are no Sunday roast dinners with family, only web chat via a device after we have eaten. There are no playdates, and I’m astonished at how my daughter seems to have taken that into her stride and deferred those pleasures until this is over. Me? Not so much.

I know that it is temporary. As many people keep saying, ‘this too shall pass’, but at the moment we have no idea of when. So, although I am really struggling to stay afloat right now, I just want to touch on what I am attempting to do to lift myself.


I need to come back to this again and again. I will hold my hands up and say that I can easily sink into a negative mindset and throw myself a little pity party (I’m genuinely not sure if this is related to my mental health struggles or just a character flaw). But at the moment, we are symptom free, there is food in our house, we have a house to keep food in, we have a garden attached to the house where we can safely get fresh air, I have people I can pick up the phone and speak to, we have jobs that we can continue to do remotely to provide an income. We are truly blessed, and this is only temporary.

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Find Levels of Connection

I have a love/ hate relationship with my phone. I rely on it too much. My children, too often, see the back of the phone cover, instead of my face, or don’t get my full attention when they are talking to me. Yet it keeps me connected with other mummies, struggling with the same issues just in a different street. At the moment, I am more aware than ever, of the temptation to be glued to it, responding to every ping that comes through...PEOPLE! But today, I have turned off my phone. It means that I missed my Slimming World group this morning (although I was eating custard creams at the time so perhaps for the best). Instead, I have written a letter to my mum, on paper. I am cuddling in closer to my children. I am trying to find levels of connecting with people that does not compromise the relationships I have with me right here. I think, going forward, I probably need to limit phone usage to three time slots during the day so that I get a balance of outside connection, and being present in the here and now.

Embrace Your Inner Child

Yesterday, we built dens. We have been playing bubbles in the garden. We are doing a lot of colouring and making cards (I have about six from my 4 year old now that say ‘To Mummy, I love you so much, Love Isabel). It’s heart melting stuff. My child doesn’t want to do endless phonics and maths quizzes (sorry Mrs Smith). She wants to play, and to feel safe. And, at the end of the day, that’s what I want too. I want to be nurtured, to feel unburdened, to feel safe. And so, I must learn to play more, and worry less. For once, there is nothing pressing. No obligations to fulfil. There is a new sort of freedom, and I want to embrace that in all its fullness.


A Little Help...

To finish, I feel I need to say this. Even with all of the well meaning advice coming out, and my fumbling attempt at being helpful, it is OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY. It is okay to reach out for help. Samaritans are still working, and can be reached for free on 116 123. Although it may seem that GPs are only dealing with Coronavirus, if you are worried about your mental health, you can still contact your local surgery for a phone appointment and talk through your concerns. If you are struggling with abuse, and do not feel safe in your own home, the guidance about staying at home does not apply to you and you are allowed to move from your home to a place where you do feel safe. And finally, many counsellors are offering online sessions for a reduced fee. If you do not have a support network, or perhaps if you or your colleagues (I’m thinking of education/ health particularly) are holding others’ problems that is beyond your training, please think about some group supervision (online, of course!) to share the load and keep yourself sane.

I will leave you with two verses from the Bible that I find to be a comfort:

(Deuteronomy 31:6).

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you’

(Colossians 1:16-17)

‘For in Him [Christ] all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.(Thankfully, this includes me!)