Charlotte’s #MadCovidDiaries Diaries 29.4.2020
Last time I wrote I was quite pessimistic, thinking that my mental health wouldn’t hold up much longer under lockdown. I was, initially, wrong. I had several weeks of really good mental health, just feeling “me”. Not anxious, not depressed, not hypomanic, not even feeling the need to check in with myself when I woke to see what mood state I was in. It was lovely. I was fully able to enjoy the warm spring weather, my daughter’s company, the chance to do lots of very productive gardening and my on-going exercise programme.
Things started to slip maybe a week and a half ago. I began getting an old symptom – a sudden anxiety attack late in the evening, apparently tied to nothing at all. This progressed to being unable to fall asleep due to anxiety, then waking up in the night and being anxious. Some of the anxiety was about old, old, stuff, things I said and did that I feel bad about five, ten, twenty years ago. I was even beating myself up about something I did when I was seven.
I found a couple of COVID-related things really played on my mind. One was how to get my daughter, who had come for a five-day visit but ended up spending five and half weeks at my house due to the lockdown, from South Wales back to Devon to collect her possessions from her student house, and onwards to her permanent address at her Dad’s near London. I was really, really worried that the arrangement for my husband to take her to he house and meet my ex there would not work, because they would be stopped and challenged by the police. My husband Tom emailed the local police force but was told they could not give advice and that it would be down to an individual officer’s discretion. I generally mistrust the police and don’t like the idea of a single person having that much power. Anyway, my anxiety came to nothing (story of my life!) as the operation went off without a hitch.
Something destabilising happened in my extended family, a sudden death. I can’t go into the reasons why it upset me so much, but let’s just say I don’t need anybody’s condolences. It stirred up a lot of childhood stuff for me, so there was that to be added into the mix.
Last week we decided with our neighbours that we would have to have a socially-distanced face to face meeting. There’s a complex legal matter that needs sorting whereby ownership of our private road is transferred from the builder to us. It was too convoluted to discuss via the WhatsApp group and not everyone knew how to use Zoom, so we set up chairs in the street with each couple sitting a good five metres for the next. Something had to be written down and I passed a pen to a neighbour, but it felt wrong to be so close and I immediately felt scared that I had done the wrong thing. During the meeting I had a coughing fit for no apparent reason, and in the night I began to worry that I had been coughing because I had COVID-19. I wasn’t worried for my own health; I was worried that neighbours would think I had COVID, and that they were right and I had transmitted it to them.
All this worry is starting to take its toll. Over the last few days I’ve had to take diazepam a few times, either to deal with intense anxiety before bed, anxious rumination in the middle of the night or, yesterday, to manage acute anxiety upon waking. Yesterday’s anxiety attack was coupled with a lowering in mood and was the worst I had felt mentally in months. My Community Psychiatric Nurse rang yesterday afternoon as scheduled and was alarmed to hear of my change in mood and anxiety level, offering to ring me again later in the week (we usually only have one contact a week unless things are really bad). I declined, I’m not sure why… anyway, I know how to get hold of her if I need her.
This morning I was shocked when I woke to find how late it was. I felt very low; despite 11 hours of sleep, all I wanted to do after breakfast was go back to bed or curl up in a ball and nap on the sofa next to the cat, who had already curled up into a ball. Tom chivvied me into getting dressed, which I resented, but I knew he had a point because it would make me feel a bit better. He proposed that we finally start going through the mountains of boxes in the spare room, boxes that we are ashamed we have not yet opened after over two years of living here. I was very reluctant, but agreed that I would try it for half an hour. In the end it was quite fun, because I unearthed some buried treasure. A sepia photo of my great-grandmother on my mother’s side. A gold-framed black and white photo of my dad’s mum (who died before I was born) sitting on the stairs at my paternal great-grandmother’s home, a house I often visited as a child. I found my pinking shears! I had known they were in that room somewhere, but had held out little hope of finding them. Now I can start participating in my town’s bunting challenge! Lots of people are making bunting out of old scraps of material to be hung up all over town when lockdown is finally over. I’m not that competent a sewer and I don’t have a sewing machine, so it will be a bit of a challenge. But at least it’s something to do that isn’t tweeting, eating, drinking too much alcohol or watching TV (now that we’ve hit a rainy spell we’re no longer out in the garden all afternoon).
I have to admit that I feel better for having done some sorting, although I still don’t feel like myself. I slept on the sofa most of the afternoon, so who knows if I will sleep tonight. That’s a worry, because insomnia leaves plenty of room for anxiety to swell. I’m worried too about the suddenness and severity of my drop in mood. I stopped exercising because I had an injury but now I feel too inert to start again, just when I was getting on so well with my running. I feel lost and stuck and very lacking in motivation. Blah blah, poor me, etc etc. Sometimes I worry that these diaries give me too much space to whine.
Until next time.
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