On Friday, when I began isolating after having potential indirect contact with someone with COVID-19, I was shocked to find myself feeling angry. After national lockdown in April, I had expected a second lockdown might make me feel lonely, but not angry. This was new. Unlike normal anger I could not attribute this to a particular person or event. But yet the feeling lingered. I now felt not only physically trapped, but mentally too.
The second lockdown is definitely different to the first and this might explain why my feelings were different to what I expected. Coronavirus is now much more prevalent in my own social circles at university, and not just something I heard about in the news as before. There are undoubtedly benefits of national lockdown ending but the guidance now seems so unclear that in many situations it’s down to the individual as to whether or not to should isolate. While you face two weeks in isolation, others enjoy the freedom to see their friends and enjoy the city; it can feel like you are being punished for something that was out of your control. Before, there was the overarching sense that this was an exceptional circumstance and therefore, we only expected to complete the bare minimum in extended deadlines in order to maintain our mental fitness in this highly stressful time. Now I feel like – although we are still in the middle of a global pandemic – we have to continue to work as hard or harder than ‘normal’ and just cope with the added stress of COVID-19. Any extra support or consideration for the situation we are in seems to have gone out of the window.
How have I coped with the feelings of anger? I definitely feel somewhat better now. I think a lot of this came from gaining clarity on the situation when test results were received. Talking, lots of it, and a couple of tearful episodes. Accepting that this is still an unusual and unfamiliar situation to be in, and it’s ok if I don’t have an established emotional response to it yet. Knowing that a lot of people feel the same way as I do. Accepting that we are still a long way off ‘normal’ and what we are used to and that as a result, my mental fitness may need a little more work than ‘normal’. I found that when I didn’t know how to make myself feel better, it helped to focus on what might help my friends. A big bag of chocolate and sweets helped them, and a slice of cake did the same for me.
Keep checking in with yourself. If it’s getting too much and you can’t manage it by yourself, then there are people who are ready to support you too.
Frankie Bowles, TOOLS TO:TALK Lead Co-Ordinator at the PROJECT:TALK Bristol Society
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