There’s never a good time to be mentally unwell…

… and lockdown certainly isn’t one of them.

(Please note this does not contain any medical advice. I am just talking about my own experience. If you are struggling please see your GP)

You may have noticed I haven’t posted in a while. Truth is I have been struggling once again with anxiety and depression. Whilst there’s never a good time, lockdown made it even harder. Mental health is extremely isolating in itself. The last couple of times I was struggling I was surrounded by friends and distractions at university. This time I felt very much alone.

Number of times I’ve come off my medication: 2

Number of times I’ve relapsed: 2

Coming off my meds is definitely one of my biggest regrets. I beat myself up about it so many times. Had I not learnt the last time? Why was I so insistent that I didn’t need them anymore? I think I still had some self-stigma around taking the meds. I was also struggling with some of the side effects, especially the excessive sweating, which was made worse working in a hot environment. I also was looking into joining the armed forces reserves, something I’ve been keen to do for a while but knew that I would not pass the medical if I was on regular medication.

Another big factor this time was guilt. I had to stop working as I was all consumed with anxiety and unable to concentrate. I felt so so guilty knowing that the hospital was dealing with a crisis and I was at home not working.

Recovery has been slow. I restarted sertraline which to begin with had no effect apart from making symptoms worse. I then restarted mirtazapine which helped with sleep. Eventually my anxiety lessened and I was left feeling very very low. I felt as if I was just going through the motions. I was unable to enjoy anything.

Things that have helped have been: regularly talking to friends (sometimes I was unable to say anything but having someone talking at me made me feel less alone), watching TV as a distraction (I especially liked The Crown), cold water swimming (, baking with my sourdough starter, restarting medication, time and coming out of lockdown (the restarting of group activities like running and cycling clubs has really helped). The jury’s still out on therapy – I’m currently having CBT but still remain unconvinced that it is right for me.

So, I’m back at work and focussing on life-work balance and keeping well. At one point I thought I wouldn’t be able to do Jurassicman (my main 2021 goal) and that it would be too much pressure. But I have now decided that I am determined to do it. I am going to slowly build up the miles and watch out for overtraining and it becoming a source of extra stress.

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