TW: Suicidal Ideation.
Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
We’re coming up on our one year anniversary of on-and-off lockdowns. There’s no denying that for some, lockdown has been incredibly detrimental to their mental health. I know that I myself have struggled a lot over these last few months with the combination of lockdown stress, homesickness after opting to quarantine in Southampton, and the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). However, I also found that the first lockdown way back when gave me ample opportunity to work on my own mental health.
I entered that first lockdown period already in a very dark moment of my life. I was struggling with suicidal thoughts, impostor syndrome, and was on the brink of dropping out of University. The break and complete distance that lockdown provided honestly kind of saved my life. I was forced to do nothing but evaluate myself and how I had arrived at that awful point and figure out how to break my way out of it. Moreover, the first lockdown seemed to have a lot of emphasis from the media on recognising and facing up to your own mental health. There were workshops advertised, Enabling started sending out tasks and activities you could do at home to keep yourself mentally active and avoid stagnancy, Solent Mind reached out via email stressing that they were there to talk if you needed. I was surrounded and constantly bombarded with things telling me to actively look after my own mental health.
After a moment of complete rock bottom, my GP gently pushed me to tackle therapy and medication, because for the first time I felt like I actually had time to do it. I didn’t feel like I was ignoring my other responsibilities by looking after myself. I had never really put myself and my own mental health first before. Instead, I pushed it to the side for the sake of other commitments like work, university and my social life. With the new time I had to spend alone, I began to really self-evaluate. How had I gotten to this point? What can I change in my own life to make things easier on myself? Sometimes it takes stepping out of the frame to see the bigger picture and isolated back home in with my family, I had an opportunity to look at my personal situation from an outside perspective. I could cut out people and habits that were toxic and made me unhappy, because I wasn’t constantly surrounded by things that reminded me of them. I stopped drinking, taking drugs, and focused on friendships and relationships that made me happy, rather than stressed or anxious. I branched out to things that I had previously been way too nervous to do, like writing for publications, and prioritising time just for me and my own hobbies without guilt attached. With the help of my therapist and family, I began to understand that it isn’t selfish to look after yourself—it’s necessary.
I can say with the utmost confidence that I don’t think I’d still be here today without the time that lockdown has given me to grow out of the bad place. It’s undeniable that lockdown has definitely had its negative mental health moments too, but the time it gave me to really sit back and evaluate myself and my own issues is something that I am infinitely thankful for. I dread to think what would have happened if I didn’t get that chance to break away and just escape for a while.