Mad Covid Voices, with Eli

17th April 2020

How has your care changed since COVID19?

My care hasn’t really changed. I knew I’d be discharged from Early Intervention around Feb 2020, so I guess this process has basically just been a little more disorganised! 

I was contacted by someone from EIT yesterday who wanted to do the usual questionnaires they give out at appointments every few months. I told them I’d been discharged and they said “oh what? I didn’t know that and you’re the second person today!” They stressed that the switch to working from home had been rather chaotic for everyone.

How have these changes affected your mental health ?

It’s unsettling to know that the usual support isn’t really there in case of an emergency. I’m not happy about going so long without seeing the psychiatrist because I find my meds a bit tricky to manage sometimes.

Have you been told how to get help in a crisis during COVID19?

In case of a crisis, I firstly have my family (which I’m aware is a luxury that others don’t have). Due to the pandemic I wouldn’t be comfortable going to A&E if I were extremely suicidal. I’d hate to be there alone. If I were forced into being at A&E I know I’d feel that I was wasting medics’ time because of not being there for a physical problem. The Samaritans have been great before, as has Beat. But yes, I have been told how to get help in a crisis

How is the experience of self isolating/social distancing in the community? (how are you finding living alone/with others, are you able to access support, food, meds, things to do etc)

I’ve had major life changes because of Covid! My career is in performing arts so since January I’d been living away, on my own in an apartment that I loved. Unfortunately my workplace limited schedules etc because of the pandemic. Due to my age (early 20s) and health problems my parents told me to come home for lockdown. 

I’m not an extrovert so I don’t mind the isolation, and I like being with my family. However I find my mother to be quite difficult and this has been really stressful. 

Support wise I’m fine. I’m very lucky that my family can easily access food and necessities. I’ve got enough meds for now but I’m quite worried about the pharmacy not stocking them in the next few weeks (see article in BBC?). Several times (before covid) my usual pharmacy has not had all the quetiapine that I need and I’ve had to wait a few days for it to arrive – now that things are more dicey I worry that they might not have it. Will update you if necessary.

Have decisions been made bout your care (discharge, referral etc) that you believe wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for COVID19?

Not really – just basic lack of organisation

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us? 

I’ve had anorexia multiple times (badly) over the past ten years and really struggle with body image. I’m not an obsessive exerciser but I do walk a lot and really need that time for my mental health too. Unfortunately I’m not able to have those walks now,  mostly because my mum is quite controlling. It’s been a difficult adjustment to not have my own space and flexibility as I used to. (I can’t have phone calls with friends without her nosing around.) When I was away, I’d finally gotten my eating problems under control. Now that I’m home I am terrified of either “getting fat” due to lack of exercise, or conversely relapsing into anorexia again. I’m obsessive around food and I think my anxieties around the covid situation are displaying themselves through this rather than my usual depression (if that makes sense). 

I’d really like to highlight that the eating disorder services for where I live are DREADFUL, but that’s another story and I’m actually in touch with the local MP regarding this. My latest relapse of anorexia was autumn 2019 and I made a point of not asking to be referred to them – instead I sorted myself out with help from close friends and family.

The other thing I noticed was that I’m more easily upset (crying) over the past weeks – but I think that’s probably the case for a lot of people.

My OCD thoughts about death have been worse, but again, i’m sure i’m not the only one!

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