Mental Health… Hidden Truma…and COVID -19
I have been here before. Not in a pandemic, no. But I have been in situations where things are happening to me and around me that I can’t control. I have known that fear before. I hate to ever speak for others, but I think that anyone who suffered trauma growing up, maybe even in adulthood…. you have been here before.
I’m not going to lie; I really struggle when COVID 19 (Or Rona as I refer to it now) started. I have been trying to work out what happened that made me dip. I mean …. obviously, we all know what happened… but I have been doing a lot of work on myself (Hence the no writing). I have had to because for a hot second I was scared that I had gone to far again. I made a promise to myself 4 years ago that if I ever felt like that again…like I was losing control, that I would try and check myself and if that didn’t work, I had to reach out to others
It started when obviously everyone started talking about “lockdown”. We started preparing at work and I started preparing myself for it. But that’s a lie. I just busied myself. Flapped around a lot. I don’t think I really understood what was happening. I don’t think lots of people did. I could feel myself not being OK, I don’t know what day it was, I think it was the Thursday before we all broke up. We had a meeting at work and as I sat in the meeting and my boss spoke, I only head several words “Not back until September” ….
I am never silent in meetings. Never. But I honest to God couldn’t speak I kind of just kept getting smaller in my chair. People noticed I was told after. As the meeting finished, I walked straight into my boss’s office and straight onto an important safeguarding call. One of my best friends asked if I was ok and I said not now. The meeting started and due to the nature of it and the child…. I started crying. No one could here me in the conference call and my boss was leading. But we started talking about how we would now try and safeguard this child when we went into lockdown. A child that frequently goes missing and his parents don’t report him. A child that has slept in a park rather than go home. A child I truly care about. And here we were talking about how hard it will be now to monitor this child…the increased danger for him living in a home with a dad who had recently been released for prison for savage domestic violence. And it all got too much for me.
I went home and I think from that point until …well… until the 1st of April. Everyday got worse in different ways My last blog spoke about trying to both home educate my daughter and also support her as she struggled to come to terms with what was going on. You can read it here. It was other things. My sons not coming home. I started watching the news on and off through the day…. watching data I didn’t understand and listening to things that confused me. I started looking into conspiracy theories around it (still not ruling any of them out by the way) but I was reading things that scared me.
I started worrying about…everything. Not having enough food, not having stuff I might need. Not being well. My daughter falling ill. My sons getting sick. I could go on and on. The best way to explain it is like a snowball picking up speed. Each day getting bigger and bigger and faster. My oldest son…. boy…. he had to deal with the brunt of it. Like always. He communicated with texts and calls. Calmed me down. Put things into perspective every day.
I started going out and sticking up. I can’t drive so panic buying in thee extreme is not what I did. However, I started ordering things and going out and getting stuff “Just in case”
I cried. A lot. I would say those 10 days I cried more than any other point in my life but its not true. When my mum died, I cried for about a year every day. But this come close. I cried at anything. When my daughter was going to bed, so was I and I was crying. I woke up crying a few times. My biggest worry?
What if I die and I have to leave my kids? What if my kids get sick and they try and say I can’t go to the hospital with them? (I thought…what if I hand cuffed myself to my daughter…then they would have to let me go…. Should I but handcuffs? I swear down that was an actual thought I had) That’s it. Nothing else. Over and over. My kids…. My kids…Yes, I was “worrying” about a million things…. but that was the bottom line. I just couldn’t see it at the time.
One of my biggest fears since I was 15 was losing my kids. To social services. To the streets. To someone else. Even as I type this (With a good sound mind) I get tearful. It’s something that will never leave me. And now I felt like I was in a situation where I may not be able to care for my daughter and keep her safe. Safe from the virus… safe emotionally…. food…. heat (remember they started saying we would have a black out). And I just felt like it was happening…. All out of my control.
Then on the 1st of April I got the reality check that I needed. I had to deal with something that rocked me to the core. You can read about it here.
It triggered something in me. Something that has been part of me my whole life. Fight.
I suddenly realised that yes…. this was a reality. Children are losing their parents. Children I know. And yes…maybe…that could happen to my children. But it wasn’t happening to us right now. Not directly. So…. best I pick myself up and fight this fight.
And so, I did.
I put myself in check. I lay there on the night of the 1st waiting for the text to say that she had died. Aimee O’Rourke. Its weird when I put a name to it. Because I have spoken to her on the phone, sat in meetings…. and Now I lay in my bed praying she would be OK. And she was not. Her death has had a massive impact on many around for different reasons. But for me….it shot the fucking life out of me. It was so real that it snapped me out of this …. pretend fear and I was faced with the reality of this Pandemic.
And I tell you what…. I was fucking angry. Angry at the government …. angry at the press…. angry at people.
But that’s another blog.
So, since the 2nd I have been regrouping. Doing what I need to do to get buy. Some days that means jet washing my house all day until I fall into bed exhausted. Some days that means buying a plant when I go to the shops. Someday it means not engaging with the world.
I need to do what I need to do so that I can help myself and others. I’m no good to no one if I am not OK.
I can only imagine what many people must be going through in terms of mental health right now. The fear and the confusion. The loneliness. I have been thinking about it a lot.
Just before this pandemic I had said I was thinking about ending my blog. It just seems like a lot of hard work. Or it did. Since then…like 5 days later…. everything went mad and I have been unable to write. It was like the universe went “Oh you don’t want to right…. fine…. we will take it away then”. And what I was left with was a million thoughts and feelings trapped in my head…. Popping away like bowl of rice crispies that someone had just poured the milk on. And I hated it. This blog gives me a way to get that out, And I am thankful for it.
I think a lot of people are saying they are coping with his when they are not. I think some people are unsure what they think or feel. I think that many people have had everything stripped away and are now faced with a lot of thinking time…and might not like what they see. And that’s OK. Its all OK ….as long as you share it and don’t let it fester away. Reach out…please. I’m lucky. I have a circle that not only cares about me, but also know my limitations. More so I have my son who has been to rock bottom with me and knows what that place looks like for me so is able to gauge where I am at. And put me in check if needed.
However, I started with the fact that I have been here before.
When I was very young things happened to me that I couldn’t not control. Things that hurt me both physically and mentally. I can still, if I want to, remember that fear. There was a point where I learnt to zone out and stay zoned out until the bad stopped. I can’t tell you how. I just know that I could. As I got older (but still a child) I found myself in situations where things were happening that were out of my control and, sometimes, so overwhelming….physically… mentally ….emotionally….that I …how would I describe it….I disconnected from it all. That could last minutes…. hours…. days. And then I would get the snowball thoughts. Over and over in my mind until I couldn’t think straight. And then I would crash and burn. I would fall apart.
I remember, I was about 13, And I was in some house. A trap house…. I don’t know what it was……but I didn’t want to be there. I had been there for a few days and I didn’t feel well. I wated to go home but they wouldn’t let me. These grown men just kept going on and on. Do this. Go there. Stand here. And I just …stopped. I was like…robotic….and one of the men kept saying “She isn’t OK”. I went home the next day and just cried in my bed. I didn’t eat, I didn’t do nothing. I crashed and burned because I could not handle what was going on.
However. I raised myself. In me is a voice that has been there since I was a young child. A voice that says…. get up. Stand up. Get through this.
All survivors have the “Voice”. The one that has got us through them times we want to forget. The voice that made you survive…in whatever way you needed to……We have been through worse. OK…I can’t speak for others. I have been through worse than this pandemic. Its horrific and overwhelming. But right now, I am well, and my children are well. I have been through worse than this and have survived.
Don’t ever forget that.
So here I am. Yes, I crashed and burnt…. but like a blodclart Phoenix watch me rise. I do go down…. but I always come back stronger. Always. Because I have children, I need to safeguard. A daughter I need to raise, friends I need to support and a masters to get…
I said to a good friend last week…” You know…. people will regret I have had so much thinking time” ….