TW: anxiety, medication
The pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s general wellbeing and has caused a lot of panic worldwide. With the one-year anniversary of the UK’s first lockdown passing back on 16th March, it is important to reflect on the impact it has caused on mental health.
My mental health is something I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. In particular, I have had issues with anxiety, from finding it hard to be calm in social situations to generally feeling worried and overthinking with no apparent cause. The pandemic has only heightened this. I vividly remember the panic caused by the announcement of the first lockdown in March 2020, and I do not think that I have really calmed down since.
It has been exhausting seeing people not taking the pandemic seriously. Being aware of people being selfish by having house parties and going out when they shouldn’t makes me both exasperated and angry. Why should these people be allowed to socialise and enjoy themselves while the people taking the pandemic seriously have been essentially stuck at home for a year feeling hopeless and lonely? Not only this, having family members who are classed as vulnerable makes me extra cautious about the virus, and seeing people act in this selfish manner worries me deeply as there is always a risk to my loved ones if they continue.
According to Dr Antonis Kousoulis, the Director of England and Wales at the Mental Health Foundation, ‘There is no vaccine to protect our mental health against the consequences of the pandemic. Instead, we need to focus on prevention.’ This statement resonates with me, as the pandemic has actually urged me to seek professional help for my mental health, including starting a course of medication for my anxiety. Looking back a year, I think my past-self could not have imagined taking such a large step for my wellbeing, and I partly thank the pandemic for urging me to do this.
The transition to online learning has been quite difficult for me, and struggling with participation has been a main issue. The mere thought of an online seminar had me stressed days in advance. Luckily, I have had very supportive lecturers who have been more than willing to help me throughout this year. This feeling of anxiety and stress that I have had throughout this semester, both in terms of the content of my degree and the strain placed on me by the pandemic, urged me to take steps to attempt to improve my mental wellbeing. It is a work in progress, but it is something that I could not have imagined myself doing in the past.
The pandemic has definitely placed a strain on my, and no doubt others’, mental health. The best solution I’ve found during this difficult time is trying to distract myself. Whether this is by watching a comfort TV show of mine, or going for a walk, it is good to try and clear your mind. Do not be afraid to ask for help. I think asking for a helping hand is one of the biggest steps when struggling with your mental health, and taking it is definitely worth celebrating. Remember that you are not alone during this difficult, unpredictable time.