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Cabin Fever

This blog post was written by one of our supporters who wanted to share their experience of living through lockdown and the effects that it has had on their existing mental health issues as part of our focus on Mental Health Awareness Week.

We would like to thank the writer for sharing their story.


“Stay home! Protect the NHS! Save lives!” is a slogan that became a negative mantra after 5 weeks of lockdown. I wanted to scream and shout: “Shut up! I get it! There is a serious virus!”

I was always careful visiting certain vulnerable family members, even if I had so much as a cold.  I had a cough left over from a previous cold; so I stopped going to my parents, even before lockdown. My brother and sister are their carers, and I stayed away from them, too. The blow came when the lockdown started, and I couldn’t even see my boyfriend: It wasn’t possible for both of us to isolate together. I became very distressed. I phoned the Samaritans, and they encouraged me to contact my GP. 

I had an irritated oesophagus from having a hiatus hernia, so I cleared my throat a lot. I’m menopausal, and my temperature was constantly going up and down. How on Earth would I know if I had the virus? The information was so vague. I also ended up with a urine infection and had to get antibiotics. 

I didn’t feel like I was going to harm myself at that time, so no face-to-face treatment was made available to me for my anxiety. I was meant to receive a self-help guide through the post (which I didn’t receive). I felt as if I were a burden and had done everything I could to manage my anxiety, but it didn’t help.

I have an already existing anxiety disorder and complex PTSD; so to help me cope with all that, I am a “Paths for All” Walk Leader and a member of a queer choir.  All those activities, everything that had kept me stable over the past two years, had stopped because of measures taken against the virus.  For a while I tried all the different coping mechanisms like meditation; having a daily routine; I joined my choir online; I cooked and baked, and ordered a fruit and veg box to help me stay healthy. I even started doing readings of Shakespeare’s Sonnets online.

All I really had to myself was my daily walking exercise. But I went through hell every time I left my flat to walk down the stairs of my close. I hated having to touch my communal close door. I avoided touching traffic light buttons, and my hands were cracked and sore from over-washing them. 

I reached out to friends, family and even strangers about my struggles, and they really did their best to help me. But it just wasn’t enough to stop me suffering. I broke down to a friend and said I couldn’t cope, I just didn’t want to live in this hell anymore. 

Then I worried I would be judged by people for not being able to cope with the isolation. Unhelpful advice like being dead is the alternative really didn’t help. I would at that point have rather died than gone on living in my own private hell. 

I was eventually in such distress that my friend let me isolate with him at his house. We have separate rooms and a big garden, which have all helped ease my anxiety. But I was still shaking when I went to bed and kept having disturbed sleep.

I still can’t get any treatment and I am still suffering. I understand the need for a lockdown; but I knew it couldn’t go on indefinitely, without me feeling suicidal. I came off Facebook: some of the intolerant, black-and-white views held by some individuals with no compassion for people like myself, was just causing me too much anxiety. It’s not everyone’s experience of lockdown;  but I matter, too.

Still, it took me five weeks as it was, to realise this; and only through the kindness and compassion of others, and for that I will be forever grateful

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