"I still don’t feel comfortable going out"

12/08/2020

In July, we asked our supporters how the easing of lockdown was affecting their mental health. Hannah was one of the respondents and we got in touch with her to hear more about her experience. She shares her story of how her recovery from Complex PTSD has been put on hold during this time and the impact that increased loneliness and anxiety has had.

Before lockdown happened, I was beginning to get my life back on track. I was granted funding to be assessed for therapy at an NHS trauma and disassociation service to treat my Complex PTSD - a therapy specifically created for my mental health problems. It felt like a lifeline had finally been given to me.

  • Before lockdown happened, I was beginning to get my life back on track.

But with lockdown and the restrictions, I’m still waiting for the initial assessment. A wait impacted by Covid-19 and this, which may be delayed further if cases of Covid-19 the virus increase and there are further more pauses in operations. I want to get better so badly and yet I am on a very long waiting list of 14 months minimum - even just for the assessment.

What’s more, key to recovery from Complex-PTSD is creating new relationships and friendships because invariably people who have experienced long term or lifelong trauma have withdrawn from society due to fear and lack of trust in people. I'd like to have spent time this year attempting to meet people in various ways, peer support groups, local social groups, going to church and meeting up with people for a cuppa, all with the aim of moving forward with my life and building on recovery.

However, with lockdown and my need to shield I have been at home for months, not seeing people and making no progress at all in my recovery. I’ve experienced waves of intense loneliness that have left me tearful throughout this time.

  • Now that lockdown restrictions have eased, it’s become harder.

Now that lockdown restrictions have eased, it’s become harder. I’m now more aware of others meeting up with each other, which you can see on Facebook and less people are texting me because they’re busier again. I feel desperate to see someone and incredibly isolated. Normally when I feel like this, I would just try to re-integrate into society and meet people but I can’t imagine doing that right now and it's just not possible. Even though the government have announced people do not need to shield anymore, I still don’t feel comfortable going out any time soon as I am in the high-risk category.

My anxiety has also increased since more people are returning to work, leaving less people available to volunteer. Goodness knows what I would have done during this time without the local volunteers in my area that have been bringing me my shopping and regular prescriptions. The government haven’t said anything to address how they will fill this gap in communities that will inevitably return, once the brilliant local volunteer group set up in my area is forced to disperse.

  • The changing government advice has triggered my anxiety further, as I am constantly worried about my daughter who is a nurse working on the frontline.

The changing government advice has triggered my anxiety further, as I am constantly worried about my daughter who is a nurse working on the frontline.

So for people like me who are living with mental illness and Addison’s disease (an immune system defect disease), it still feels like life is on hold while I wait for things to go back to normal for me, and I wait for the therapy I need to recover from my Complex PTSD. It's as if the lifeline that could change my life is dangling like a carrot from a stick in front of me, but it's out of reach and I just can't get to it.

Our survey showed that there are many more people out there like Hannah struggling with their mental health at this time, even as lockdown eases. If you’d like to share your story please get in touch at campaigns@rethink.org

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