The past 10 weeks have been a confusing time for me and my mental health. I've felt myself dipping my toe into the waters of depression, sometimes wading in until I'm waist-deep. I've felt myself becoming entangled in webs of anxious overthinking, knowingly peppering myself with negative self-talk. And I've felt the usual side effects of both: irritability, restlessness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, a lack of drive.
But along with the negatives have come some confusing positives. When I've not been feeling down or anxious, I've found the time to do things I've been putting off for a long time (in some cases, years), like getting back into drawing and running. I feel like I've experienced somewhat of a reconnection with nature, now finding the time to just go for a walk around some local parks. And, possibly what I expected least from all this, I'm relighting friendships that I've (ashamedly) let fizzle out over the years.
Now before I go any further, I'm in a privileged position. I live in a house with little financial obligation. My career prior to this pandemic was going well enough that money isn't too much of a concern for the time being. I only have my own mouth to feed. And I don't know anyone personally who has contracted Coronavirus or lost their life to it. I know there are a lot of people out there for whom this lockdown has been a serious struggle, and the unfortunate truth is that a subsequent mental health crisis, fuelled by increases in cases of anxiety, depression and grief, could well be on the horizon.
But – and I say this with the utmost respect toward the toll this terrible virus has taken on the world – I feel like there are some positive lessons I (and perhaps we) have been taught during this period of lockdown.
For me, it's taught me what I really value in life – my loved ones, friends, health, the environment, the freedom to go and do what I want when I want – all of which I usually take for granted. From a societal perspective, it's highlighted where we need to improve in order to preserve and better protect all of these.
It's highlighted the sheer amount of 'noise' in my life. From the literal noise of my morning commute, to the gigabytes of data that would bombard me every day, to the entirely unnecessary noise in my own head.
It's given me a clarity on what can help me manage my wellbeing because, although I've had some staple activities that have always helped me out, I've since discovered new ones. Simple things like visiting a park or just sitting outside have become so much more appealing and effective than usual.
It's given me a new sense of time, both from the perspective of how much of it I actually have (as opposed to the very little I believed I had before this pandemic) and how much I value the hours that are available to me.
These are just the 'bigger' things I've learned. I'm sure you have your own perspective on the matter and that perhaps you've had moments of clarity during this period too. I just hope that we've all been able to find some positives.