Pandemic problems: Katie’s story


Like thousands of people living with mental illness, Katie’s life has been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. As restrictions begin to ease further, Katie shares her story of living with a diagnosis of mixed personality disorder through the pandemic and how she feels looking to the future.

In some ways my life didn’t change a lot when the pandemic came, because I did normally spend a lot of time at home and not see many people. But then there were huge changes too.

The main one was a shortage in my medication in the UK. Something that hit me very hard because it’s taken years and years, and a lot of personal research, to find a medication that works for me.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get hold of any for a couple of months, so my mental health completely dipped. It was an awful time for me. Within a couple of weeks of not taking it my paranoia and depression came flooding back. I desperately needed it but there was not an alternative to take. What was also really frightening was that there was no guarantee that the shortage would end.

Thankfully, I have a friend in Germany who found out that my medication was available there. So I spoke to my doctor, who wrote a special prescription for me. I then sent that to my friend who liaised with her doctor to get the medication. I then had to pay for it to be shipped over to my home.

Now, the shortage of that drug is over in the UK and I can get it. But I do look back and think there were probably many people like me who couldn’t get what they needed and went through a really awful time with their mental health because of this.

  • Within a couple of weeks of not taking it my paranoia and depression came flooding back.

Another way the pandemic has greatly increased my anxiety is that I have a medical phobia. I have a huge distrust of doctors. And I hate needles and hospitals. So, I’m worried about having the vaccine injections. But more than anything I’m frightened about catching Covid and having to spend time in hospital.

On top of this, if I did get it and I was at home, there isn’t anyone to look after me. I live on my own and don’t have anyone who could easily come and check up on me.

So seeing how things are starting to open up is making me really anxious. I feel like people will become too relaxed and the virus will start to spread rapidly again. Where I live is a nice place to go for walks. Normally, I try to exercise quite a bit because it’s good for my mental health, and it helps me to relax. But I can see that people aren’t social distancing properly, which is making me too anxious to always get out for a walk.

There are also other practical things that are affecting my mental health. For example, I struggle to get on buses at the best of times. But now, I’m even more worried because of the possibility that I’ll catch the virus if people don’t social distance properly.

Plus, because of limited numbers on buses, I’m worried I may wait for one and then be told by the driver that I can’t get on. That is a big worry because I live in a fairly rural area where buses don’t run that regularly.

  • Seeing how things are starting to open up is making me really anxious.

On top of the pandemic, the other big thing that’s going on in my life is that I’m being discharged from NHS mental health services after 10 years of getting various inputs.

That’s pretty scary, after having that support for such a long time. Because although I know I’m okay, I do worry, “What if I’m not okay?”

But I have been told I can call the crisis line if I need to. And I have been through a lot of tough times in the past, so I’m positive I can get through this one. 

That’s a message I regularly pass on to other people affected by mental illness as a peer supporter. Life can be a rollercoaster, with lots of ups and down, but life can get better.