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Ian’s blog: I coped but when lockdown was lifted, anxiety swept over me

Cast your mind back to when our country first went into lockdown. None of us knew what to make of it, writes Mind in Bradford client Ian Lamb.

I’m sure most of us felt worried, confused and, dare I say, excited? Excited because we had never experienced something like this. People didn’t have to go to work but still found themselves being paid. Kids didn’t have to go to school because everything had literally just stopped!

All of a sudden, shelves within the shops had all been left bare as people panicked and even hand gels and toilet rolls had all vanished. Still a lot of us really didn’t have a clue about what to do other than follow the rules that the Government had laid out. This of course wasn’t just the UK but practically the whole world as a pandemic took hold and everything was ground to a halt.

Perhaps still an air of excitement? A feeling of ‘wow, this is really happening?’ because right now, we are living a life that we’ve only ever read about in history books and now we, in 2020, are part of global history. But of course, it is all novelty and once that novelty wore off I, for one, was left with a great big void.

During my depressive times and when I have felt that brick just lift from being on top of my head where I have felt able to get out of bed, to get washed and dressed and to practically function, I would often go into town. Sure, there’s many times where I’d still be experiencing heavy bouts of procrastination, indecisiveness, dissociating and even great bouts of profound anxiety but window shopping had become almost like a therapy for me.

This is what I would do when on my journey back into a better and healthier routine, just before I’d return to work. I would literally push myself out of the front door. Like I’d given myself the biggest kick up my backside and into town I went. I actually enjoy having a bus ride and I do enjoy looking around the shops. It’s fresh air and it is a little exercise.

Even if I don’t get into the shops due to feeling overwhelmed by a little shop with lots of people in it, or if I’m struggling with my eating disorders then food places are going to take just that bit longer in order for me to pluck up the courage to go in there, instead, I’ll wander around town looking through the shop windows.

However, lockdown denied this as we were only allowed out for those absolute important of reasons. We all need fresh air and to be able to walk for exercise – window shopping wouldn’t be classed as something necessary, so I didn’t. I haven’t for almost three months.

How on earth will I cope? I’m pretty sure that that is a question we’ve all found ourselves asking. Going for such a long period of not being able to see our family, our friends or just being able to take advantage of the freedom that we all have, 2020 has seen all of this being denied and for understandable reasons.

Funnily enough, I have coped and far better than I could have ever imagined. Like most of us and in my own tinpot way, I have adjusted to life in lockdown. I have got used to staying in. Too used to it in fact. Even on the days that I did venture out, where I did get the bus and went off into town for those essential items, any such social anxiety I may have felt would soon disappear because the bus was empty! Town was empty too!

Of course, it felt depressing seeing all the shops closed and everywhere deserted, but I enjoyed the silence, I enjoyed having the bus all to myself and I enjoyed not having to push myself out of that front door – I didn’t need to. However, when I did first hear of lockdown beginning to ease, I felt anxiety sweep over me.

Of course, I felt happy for families to see each other. I felt happy being able to see my own family and to see my friends again, but I’d found myself to have become far too used to my own company. I’d become too used to my own bubble of being and doing away from the world. I’d become complacent to my own life.

So, easing myself back out of lockdown, I’ve felt it to be a struggle. Lockdown has I imagined, kicked us all out of a routine. It certainly has with me and as I pick up the pace of life, I’ve found returning to a routine and adjusting with the outside world once more something I’ve found myself feeling uneasy about. A gradual process for sure.

It needs to be as for some people a ‘slowly does it’ process needs to occur as we step out into this big wide world once more. Perhaps it’s a testimony at just how adaptable we can be as people and within some of the most unlikely scenarios too.

Posted on: 20th July 2020