Covid-19, Change, and Control
I really wasn't expecting this to be my first blog post in a long time, but here we are, living in pretty scary and uncertain times.
This post isn't intended to heighten anyones pre-existing fears or anxieties regarding the Covid-19 situation, it's from a personal perspective, but please be assured that I will provide some tips and tricks for keeping your mental health in check (as best as you can right now) and I am always happy to chat should you need someone to talk to.
I'm not entirely sure where to begin. My mind and thoughts are all over the show right now. The past three months have been pretty shit - to put it lightly - and this very much feels like the cherry on the top.
As a quick re-cap, in December my relationship ended and at the same time I started a new job, shortly after that I started on Methotrexate and have now been sober for over two months. So, a mix of positives and negatives.
I'm still very much struggling with the breakup, despite many people thinking I'm absolutely fine (knew my A* in Drama would come in handy one day), but a main reason I have been able to carry on and function is my new job. I love it so much and I am extremely fortunate to have the most amazing colleagues who are beyond supportive. With this and starting Methotrexate I have been able to get myself in to a good routine, something I have needed to do for far too long.
I've always hated routine, and I have always feared change, but recently the changes have been a wake up call and an amazing way for me to finally take care of my health, both mentally and physically. I'm used to getting up early, doing some exercise, prepping my lunch, going in to work, taking my meds, having constant doctor and hospital appointments and even having a great sleep routine. A lot of it has had to happen, I have needed to survive.
Then Covid-19 hit!
I spent many weeks reassuring people and convincing myself that all will be fine, and part of me very much still holds on to that. However, I am relapsing. I can feel it through every bone in my body. My anxiety is through the roof and at the same time I am so depressed that I have started to feel numb. I worked very hard through therapy to get a certain amount of control over my BPD, which brings with it a selection of heightened emotions - my worst always being anger. I also cannot deal with the lack of control I am currently feeling, it's too terrifying.
On Sunday humanity put this to the test and resulted in me feeling more rage than I have felt in an incredibly long time which took far too long to come down from. Since then everything else has very much spiralled out of control.
I know many of my fears are brought on by the fact that I am now taking Methotrexate which is an Immunosuppressive drug and therefore puts me at a higher risk of potentially catching this stupid virus. Due to this I am now on my second week of home working and who knows how much longer that could potentially last.
It all makes me giggle a bit as I have spent many years letting my mental illness and chronic illnesses control me and once I felt the smallest bit unwell would spend days in bed, hiding away from the world. Now, more than anything I want to be outside, I want to be at my work desk, I want to having human interaction, to be taking walks, going on coffee dates.
I'm trying my best to stay positive, to focus on work, but it's not easy. Part of my brain wants to switch off completely and the other part is racing at a million miles per hour. But, if there's anything the past few months has taught me - and when I really give myself credit, the past 10 + years - is that I am resilient, I am strong willed (or maybe just stubborn), and I have survived a lot worse than this.
Here are a few tips for how I am trying to look after myself when stuck at home which hopefully some of you may find helpful,
ONE: Get up and go (not so much the go part): Try and treat each day like you're still off to work, or off to do your usual routine - whatever that might be. It would be easy to think, "oh, I don't have to go in to the office so I'll just have a lie in or stay in bed". Whilst this might be a great idea if you actually feel unwell and need rest, it's the beginning of a routine which is harder to get out of. Once I start going down that mindset then everything else collapses. Nothing gets done, I won't move for days and with that my mental health will rapidly decline. So, I set my alarm like I would for work, get up, have a shower, make a hot drink and get ready for the day. I've even started the news reporter trick of looking professional on the top half and wearing PJs on the bottom half in case of Skype calls.
TWO: Keep talking. Yes, you might be isolated, but we live in a world with amazing technology. Also, don't forget that mobile phones still actually work as phones and you can make calls or text. If like me, you're anxious of phone calls, make sure you're still communicating with people in some way - my go to at the moment is simply sending people GIFs and memes.
THREE: Switch off. Remember you don't have to rely on social media to stay connected to people (see above). With all the mass hysteria and fake news flying around it's important to switch off from time-to-time. This topic is going to be in our faces for a while yet, so if it's causing further anxiety then take a step back.
FOUR: Do things people used to do before we had the internet. Read a book (or many), watch films, create some art, have a nap, masturbate, meditate, have a bath, dance, sing, write, laugh, scream, bake, cook. Whatever gives you a break from everything.
FIVE: Stay active, stay hydrated. It's a lot harder to find motivation when you're stuck indoors but staying active is super important as is staying hydrated. I know I don't need to spoon feed you information about the benefits all this has on your general health. There's plenty of great apps out there which provide gentle, easy-to-do at home routines and of course there's many videos on YouTube.
I know many of you are feeling the same, in your own ways of course and for a variety of reasons, but please remember that at times like this solidarity is key. Reach out to one another, I'm about if anyone needs someone to talk to. We may feel alone in this, but if anything we're all a lot closer than we have been. The world feels a lot smaller right now, very confusing and there's too much uncertainty, but it won't last and we can help each other get through it one day at a time.