By Phil Parkes, Expert Citizen
Just a few things first, in order to fully understand my meaning behind all what I’m about to say it would be beneficial to have a read of my previous blogs regarding my past and the reasons I think and behave as I do. Also, everything I’m about to say is based on my personal thoughts and feelings, I do not proclaim to be speaking for the masses, but if anything I say resonates with someone and helps them, it’s a bonus.
Now to begin, this train of thought was born out of the recent Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent isolation procedures that came from that. When I was told about having to self isolate my initial thought was a selfish one, I started panicking because the way my mental health works I self isolate when I’m not well, and this only ever ends up with me getting worse until I snap out of it, eventually going into work where I’m around like minded people, where I can offload and put the world to rights and start to get better. Now with all this that is happening I cannot currently do this, so even though I’m in a good place right now, if that change’s I have fewer options to get myself out of it. Added to that I am a recovering alcoholic and going into the office was one of my new coping mechanisms, one that’s not available to me under the current circumstances.
After that initial thought I started feeling extremely guilty, why was I worrying about myself when there were much bigger implications to all of this. There are people getting sick and if they’re unlucky enough to be elderly and/or already in poor health, it could have grave consequences. Then I started thinking about all the times I’ve felt similar to this and where it came from. With me I’m certain it came from my childhood traumas and the subsequent crippling anxiety that goes along with that. Why should I feel so guilty for putting myself first though, its only human to think about self preservation? Yet the guilt I felt trumped all that.
I think a lot of work needs to be done with people like myself to promote a sense of self worth, the feeling that our happiness is just as important as the next persons. I am lucky enough to have a great relationship with the people I work with and they’re doing their best to keep checking on me and to keep me busy (hence this blog), but I cant help but think of all the people who’s mental health is similar to mine who may not have that sort of support in their lives. Where do they turn, who do they talk to when times get hard. In my opinion a lot more needs to be done to ensure the health and well-being of everyone, especially right now.
If I could make some suggestions for ways to cope, I’d simply say to go with what you enjoy. We know in the current situation you can’t do some things, but instead of focusing on what you can’t do, turn your attention to what you can do. If that’s just simply sitting on the sofa and binge watching an entire season or two of your favourite show, so be it. If you want to keep fit but can’t go to the gym there is plenty of greenery around stoke, so pick a different jogging route everyday and explore your surroundings. Also what works for me is keeping busy with projects I think could help others, like this one, but even if you’re not comfortable writing a blog, keep simple notes of what you have done on a day to day basis, and who knows before long a blog might just jump out at you. In short the best thing you can do is try to stay positive, focus on what you can do to keep yourself healthy and don’t be afraid to reach out through social media, you are not alone, there will be loads of people experiencing similar things and there are possibly already groups set up for you to join and chat in.
I sincerely hope that if one thing comes out of this when we emerge from the other side, its that the kindness and community spirit that I see happening everywhere at the moment stays with us and continues.