'People are struggling' - Mansfield Chad readers discuss the mental health impact of lockdown

With no end to lockdown currently in sight, many people are now discussing the impact the pandemic is having on everyone’s mental health – with some admitting they are ‘really struggling’.

By Katrina Taylor
Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 7:00 am

Much is discussed about coronavirus deaths and the economic recovery, but isolation, money worries and health anxiety are becoming more of a focus to many.

Lisa Walker gave birth to her second child, Jules, just before the pandemic began and has admitted she found having a young baby during the pandemic harder than she expected.

Having managed to attend a couple of baby groups before lockdown began in March, she says she was ‘so lucky’ to have the experiences of motherhood with her first child to draw on and she cannot imagine what it must be like for first-time mothers to have given birth and brought a new baby into the world under the current circumstances.

Lisa pictured with her children Jules and Leonardo

The 35-year-old beauty therapist from Mansfield only realised she suffered with her mental health after a conversation with a friend fairly recently, but admits the third lockdown has left her really struggling with intrusive thoughts and anxiety.

Lisa said: “I have always been an over-thinker, but just assumed it was normal and everyone thought like that.

"After speaking to a friend, I realised I maybe had a problem, and it was then I actually started looking more closely at the symptoms I was feeling.

"I think as a mum you worry about being judged, so you are always reluctant to speak to health professionals, but I am really struggling during this lockdown.

"You don’t want to feel like a bad mum, or having people think you are not coping, so you just say ‘I’m fine’.

"I was so lucky to have experienced motherhood before the pandemic with my eldest – I can’t imagine how hard it must be for new mums doing this for the first time.”

The third period of lockdown and ongoing money worries have also exacerbated Lisa’s anxiety.

"Money is the biggest worry for us at the moment,” she added.

"My husband was furloughed, then I was made redundant, so it was keeping me awake at night.

"I’d just opened my new beauty business when they announced the third lockdown, which was devastating.

"As a self-employed person it’s really a struggle and I know many who are worrying about the financial impact.”

Lisa has finally decided she is going to seek medical help as her intrusive thoughts are affecting her sleep.

She said: “It’s hard, but I know I need to speak out.

"My anxiety can come out of nowhere – I can be driving along and suddenly my throat feels tight and I struggle to breathe.

"I lie awake worrying that something is going to happen to the children, even when they are safe in their beds.

"I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I’m just lucky I have my husband to support me.”

Carrie Austin lives on her own and admits she is struggling with the isolation, alongside the money worries of being self-employed.

The 40-year-old said: "Before lockdown there was no issue to me living alone – if I wanted company, I would pop out or have someone over.

"I'd be out working which makes up a lot of social time, so it was always nice to come home and it just be me and my pugs.

"I potter around and get bits of work done to keep everything ticking over, so it isn’t just boredom, but you certainly feel the 'lonely' vibe which is different to being alone.

“I’m just so grateful that I have a bubble, because I don't feel completely cut off, and I’m so grateful for technology to be able to talk to people every day.

"Without that I would be really struggling."

Carrie is a photographer and runs a wax melt business, and admits she has struggled with the financial burden of lockdown.

"Lockdown has been really hard for self-employed people,” she added.

“Lack of information initially about what grants were available, and a stressful application process has all taken its toll.

"Then there are the people who have fallen through the cracks and aren’t eligible for government help, which I know affects many.

"Our bills still need paying and it can really impact your well-being.”

Nick Fletcher is a personal trainer and admits he has had to use his fitness expertise to help improve his mood.

He said: “When the first lockdown first came in there was a bit of a novelty to it because no one had ever experienced anything like it before, however as time went on people’s mental health did start to take a hit due to the uncertainty that we faced.

“This time even though we have the hope of the vaccines we still don’t know when we’re going to be out of this – people are struggling.”

Nick has a few suggestions on how people can improve their health during lockdown, and suggests planning your day in advance and setting small targets, and ensuring you set aside time for some form of exercise.

He added: “Gyms are closed, however we can still get exercise – even if the thought of a walk might not excite you, once you have done it you release endorphins which improves your mood.

“Set yourself a squat or press up challenge, two exercises which are easily adjustable to match your skill level.

“Use tins of food or bottles of water as dumbbell substitutes for added resistance when doing certain exercises.

“Climbing stairs is also a great calorie-burning exercise, so try and make the effort to do plenty of flights up and down. Exercise really helps.”

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year.

You can call them for free on 116 123, email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

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Nancy Fielder, editor.