Mental Health Awareness Week: “My life had to turn digital”
Its Mental Health Awareness Week, 2020 – and in support of this Mental Health Awareness Week, some of our team, friends and family are keen to share their hints, tips and experiences relating to Mental Health.
Ive always had an element of pride with how I cope with situations, strong, level headed, ‘grabbing the bull by the horns’ some would say. As a military wife in isolation hundreds of miles from home, while my husband is away for weeks or months on end is nothing too unusual to me. But this tour of duty has been on a whole new level.
I had suffered depression when I was younger, and as a result had me labelled as high risk for PND (post-natal depression). Following the birth of my first two children I was mentally stable and taking it all in my stride, even with high risk pregnancies. However my third was another story. The pregnancy was relatively straight forward, but my labour complicated and risky. I struggled to fully recover mentally from this, and when the date arrived for my husband to pack his bags and leave us for another tour our little boy was just 6 weeks old, and Mr Johnson had announced lockdown. I was generally coping well until this point, getting past the trauma and becoming myself again with the support of my husband, family and best friend – who would message me every morning without fail through WhatsApp.
“My life had to turn digital”
Over the following week my confidence and strong will completely crumbled, home alone with three children ranging from 10 -years old to newborn was getting to me. I became anxious and fearful of my toddler catching the virus with him being high risk, myself also being high risk, worried over who would look after the children if I caught the virus or had to take my toddler or newborn to hospital.
My mental health took a spiralling downfall, my best friend who was going to visit before lockdown was initiated was 300 miles away, family 250 miles away and my husband over 1,000 miles away, my life had to turn digital to keep me sane. WhatsApp video calls to my friends and family made it possible to see the faces I love and miss. Group Skype calls over Easter and missed birthdays allowed us to link our lounges as if we were all together.
Another major part of my week and making a day different was joining a Zoom quiz on a Sunday. When all days seemed to be the same and the only highlight was the shopping being delivered it was nice to have something for myself to look forward to.
Doing something for yourself
It was recommended that I to try and spend some time to myself each day (easy to say in my house but hard to do). Most days I have been able to do something for ‘me’. I have done new things, like learning to draw following videos by Bob Ross on YouTube (there is a huge array of ‘how to’ videos on YouTube). I’ve picked up on old favourites like knitting and crochet, but sometimes it’s as simple as binge watching Modern Family and eating a whole bag of giant skittles without feeling guilt for not sharing, even pretending to share while my best mate talks me through how to fix my sewing machine so I can make some more nappies for my son.
Finding a balance
Staying in contact with friends, family and my husband through various digital platforms and spending time on myself, even if it’s only half an hour, has made a huge difference to my mental stability. This week I even went out (for something other than a medical appointment) for the first time in 7-weeks to walk the dogs with my kids, something most are taking for granted, but it’s something I have found difficult and daunting… but I did it and I’m proud.
Had this happened a mere 10-years ago, I feel that the story wouldn’t have been the same, because technology hadn’t advanced as far. It wasn’t as easily available to everyone. Sure, there were things like Skype, but they would often glitch out. These days, most people I know have an iPhone and WhatsApp.
“Use the digital world to your advantage”
So many people are struggling right now, but know you are not alone. If you feel alone at home, try and find something to break up the week, there are local zoom groups running quizzes and chats, and even mum and baby groups have moved to zoom. If you’re like me; surrounded by kids and animals, try and take some time for you. Learn something new, or rekindle the love of an old hobby… use the digital world to your advantage, this is what a lot of it was designed for, keeping people connected and sharing information.
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Discover more hints, tips and experiences relating to Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, shared by our team, friends and family here.
Mental Health Helplines
If you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, these helplines and support groups can offer expert advice.