Grief in lockdown

As we begin another national lockdown Bipolar UK’s Ambassador Leah Charles King relays her inspiring story of living with grief in lockdown that crosses continents, despair, anxiety and hope against a background of bipolar disorder.

I feel crap. In every sense of the word.

I’ve only left my home twice in two weeks. I don’t want to go anywhere or talk to anyone. I’ve had a migraine for days, I feel sick, my body aches and my heart feels heavy.

No, I don’t have coronavirus. I’m grieving and as I pen this blog, we are now in the midst of a second national lockdown. I don’t know how to feel about this. Will this additional isolation make my depression worse? Everything feels so uncertain. Again, not just for me but for many others too I’m sure. 

I promised the nice guys at Bipolar UK that I’d submit a blog but the truth is I don’t know what to say. I’m painfully aware as I write this that I’m seriously depressed.

Three months ago I lost my grandma unexpectedly. She was so young in spirit, incredibly active and full of life. We were really close and I’ve spent a lot of time over the years with her in St Lucia where she lived with my Grandpa. She wasn’t sick that we knew of, yet the morning I saw the call from my mum I immediately knew something was wrong before I’d even picked up.

My family and I always knew my gran’s wish was to be repatriated to the UK upon her passing and through our shock and tears we immediately began to make plans to fly out to St Lucia asap. No matter my state of mind I just knew I had to travel to the island to bring my grandmother home. Along with other family members, I felt it was my duty, and the least I could do for my gran in this moment.

On a normal day all of this would be traumatic enough, but since we’re currently living in a pandemic the word “traumatic” doesn’t even come close.

I’ve spent the best part of three months in lockdown and now suddenly I find myself flying across the Atlantic to “my happy place” under such harrowing circumstances and not knowing what to expect.

Preparing to leave the UK and travelling to St Lucia was stressful to say the least. Health screenings, Covid tests, lots of forms to fill, flights to book, transportation, the list went on. I don’t enjoy flying on a good day but to do so during Covid-19 sent my anxiety through the roof.

After two weeks of quarantine on the island and daily temperature checks we were finally permitted to travel to our village and face the heartache head on. Safe to say, it was awful being “home” with my granny not there. She was my happy place and now she’s gone.It was my birthday last week and my gran’s is four days after mine. Since I was a child I’ve spent almost every birthday with her in St Lucia as tradition. I’m reminded I’d be there with her right now and my tears just flow and my heart is hurting. Although I’ve left this country, repatriated my grandma, organised the funeral, and even spoke the eulogy, I’m still in disbelief.

I don’t know how to process. I’m trying to keep a lid on my anxiety and I don’t know if there’s an easy way to navigate this.

What I do know for sure, is my grandmother was a very special lady. She was confident, funny, full of life and stunningly beautiful. I’m proud and honoured to be her grand-daughter. I know she loved me so much. This is why my life will never be the same and I can’t quite get my head around what has happened.

Although I recognise I’m currently depressed, sat in my pyjamas for the last 3 days and barely have energy to even lie on my sofa, I don’t have any “bad thoughts” which is positive. I guess I’ll have to ride this out and take every day as it comes. Sometimes it’s okay to not be okay. If I feel worse I will tell someone I trust or speak to my doctor. Never suffer in silence.

 If you’ve got any advice, please drop a comment.

 Let’s stay strong together,

 Leah