for better mental health

Lockdown liberated me

Wednesday, 09 September 2020 Sophie

Sophie blogs about how her depression and anxiety eased when social pressures were removed.

You know when you enter a game for the first time, be it Animal Crossing or Sims, and your avatar just potters around the house doing whatever it likes, or maybe it decides to take a walk outside? That is what lockdown had felt like to me; freedom to do what you like in your own, personal world. I felt so dissociated and far from reality that everything just felt like it had that dreamy quality.

The dark and ugly beast of depression had crawled back into the very shadows of my mind

It’s like the dark and ugly beast of depression had crawled back into the very shadows of my mind. Lockdown was the weapon that was saving me. It starved my depression and anxiety because it had nothing to feed off. But now that lockdown has lifted in my county, a part of me wants to return to it. I think about how selfish it must be to crave lockdown and isolation when so many people across the country are suffering and begging for their own to be lifted. But then I wonder, how can it be selfish to want to be content instead of fighting back the sting of tears that constantly threaten to spill?

Before the lockdown, I struggled with the pressures of life. I would look on social media and compare myself to other people and ask myself; why are they doing better than me? Why do they have a better job? If people my age are getting engaged and announcing pregnancies, am I unlovable? I discussed these anxieties with my therapist, but I still felt worthless and pointless. I would sit in my room doing nothing but watching Netflix because it was the one thing that helped me to escape from the real world that was so dark, twisted and ugly. But now I find myself slipping back into that same routine. I go to a job that I find unfulfilling and tedious, I look on social media and wonder why I haven’t  been able to achieve as much as everyone else, and then I turn to Netflix for comfort and escapism.

When lockdown dropped everyone in the same situation of being unable to socialise and go out, I felt less pressure

When lockdown fell like a curtain over all our lives, I felt like everyone was finally in the same situation as the one I always find myself in. I would watch as my sisters socialised and went out with their partners and the only true outings I would get was the few days work that was tossed towards me like a bone and the couple of restaurant trips I would take with my friends. Sometimes, I don’t want to socialise at all. But when lockdown dropped everyone in the same situation of being unable to socialise and go out, I felt less pressure to live up to the expectations of social media. Social expectation feels like a heavy ball and chain around my ankle, and lockdown freed me from that chain for a few months.

I felt like I was at one with my family because they had experienced a snippet of my lifestyle

The feelings that I was useless, unwanted, ugly; became whispers rather than screams. Lockdown gave me the opportunity to write the story I had always wanted to write, to binge even more TV shows that had wormed their way onto my growing list and to take daily walks in the afternoon sun with my family. It had felt like an escapism within an escapism because people were sharing it with me. I felt like I was at one with them because whether they knew it or not, no matter how briefly, they understood me and had experienced a snippet of my lifestyle.

But now that lockdown has lifted, I feel like I’m being slowly pushed back into my cage by the beast. Since the end of lockdown, I have stopped writing the story I was working on, and although I’ve been out with a couple of my friends; its been a struggle to do so. I just feel so deflated and unmotivated compared to the creativity and freedom that lockdown gifted me with. I am trying to take each day as it comes by continuing with my weekly CBT, and engaging in activity monitoring, along with scribbling down any NATs – negative automatic thoughts – that I may have. I just hope that I will eventually be able to unlock the cage for myself.

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