Whilst we are in the midst of the second national lockdown April Kelley explains why this time around she feels confident enough to tackle it all on her own.

Okay, so I’m treading a fine line here. If you’re reading this and you don’t live with a mental illness know that I’m not meaning this to sound like I’m attempting Mount Everest, nor am I one of the incredible NHS doctors and nurses who are yet again battling this virus on the front line.

If you are someone reading this living with a mental illness, then you’ll know where I’m coming from and I hope this encourages you and gives you a different perspective.

I was brought up to believe that everything happens for a reason… but boy, has 2020 put my parent’s theory to the test. Hindsight is a beautiful thing… actually, no – hindsight for people living with a mental illness is infuriating and usually too late.

Not sure if you guys read my piece on how Lockdown 1.0 went for me, you can have a gander here. I thought I handled it superbly, when in fact I didn’t. At all. I must have fooled myself into believing that.

Between the night terrors, passing out, panic attacks, weight loss, and tears I now realise I didn’t do enough to help myself. My parents did the best they could with the limited information they had, simply because I didn’t give them the information and, if I’m being honest, I still wasn’t clear on what information to give them.

They put food in front of me every day, which I tried to eat. They (gently) pushed me out the door to walk Annie on the days I allowed them to, they sat with me after a night terror until I fell asleep again and they allowed me to avoid, avoid, avoid… because we didn’t know I was avoiding. (Remember, I’m the Queen of the façade, hiding and convincing myself of anything besides what is actually going on.) In short, I became their little girl again.

So, aside from my superpower of avoidance, what else did I do ‘wrong’ on reflection?

  • I drank too much, and I’m talking every night except for a handful of them… in nearly 6 months. A couple of beers a night, sometimes 7, sometimes wine. It wasn’t a big deal, it was summer, I wasn’t eating much so at least beer was calories.
  • I relied on people too much, and not in the healthy way. Everyone was my distraction, I relied on my happiness to come from everyone else.
  • I didn’t take control over my thoughts, I let them take control over me.
  • I didn’t take responsibility over my health. I couldn’t eat or leave the house unless my parents made me.

To conclude… no wonder I was having night terrors, passing out, panic attacks, losing weight, and crying a lot.

So, now Lockdown 2.0 is upon us (the sequel to the mediocre first film), I’m going to tackle this one on my own (sidenote: I live by myself, I’m not taking myself off to some remote island).

  • I’ve done a weekly food shop for the first in over a year (I kid you not) and cooking for myself.
  • I’ve got a Netflix and Amazon Prime ‘watch list’ I’m storming through and actually focussing on – not playing on my phone or laptop.
  • I’ve drawn up a little daily health routine; vitamins, water, green tea, walks, facials.
  • I’m going on social media less.
  • I’m relying on people less, but that doesn’t mean I’m not checking in on them and still overusing Zoom (there’s a difference).
  • I’m still sleeping as though it’s an Olympic sport.

Another side note: I dislike the terms ‘self-care’ and ‘taking time for myself’, if you’d like to call it that, then by all means – everyone is different. I’m still working out what I call it.

Why am I doing this? A few reasons:

  • What’s the point in doing therapy if I’m not going to put the tools to practice?
  • I’m moving to a new country next year and I won’t have the same safety blankets I do here.
  • To put it bluntly, my parents aren’t going to be around forever and when that day comes, it’s going to be hell of a lot worse if I haven’t learnt to cope without them.
  • This is hard to admit, but because I’m lonely (probably another article to come on this). And I can’t distract myself from that by avoiding it or boozing it away. I wasn’t lonely 3 years ago, so I need to teach myself again to be better in my own company.

So, there you have it folks, and taking the notion that ‘everything happens for a reason’ I believe I/we’ve been given a second chance to attempt something scary, to learn and to fight in a different way to last time.

Will I stumble? Of course. Has my love for jäger bombs lessened? Don’t be silly. Do I keep trying? Yes, for my parents.

And remember troops… Take it day-by-day and when that’s not possible, hour-by-hour.

All my love,

 

April x