My Lived Experience – Twelve Months Dealing with a Global Pandemic

The tautological statement ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’ summed up my early experience of the pandemic. I did not envisage the year 2020 to have such an askew vision. After the shock and realisation sunk in, I was struck quite violently by the reaction that was displayed in the media of how the general public were reacting. The pandemic became a slightly infinitesimally secondary concern compared to the hysteria displayed through the panic-buying that ensued. The imposed quarantine combined with the news of escalation in cases and deaths, and the fear that I experienced whenever someone got too close while coughing with no mask, quickly eroded my mental state. I became fearful of other people and agoraphobic. I was afraid of people shirking the restrictions and I was afraid of people getting too close. I experienced a complete self-disintegration. I contacted Manchester Mind with no expectations. I just needed someone to talk to. I never envisaged the amount of support that was there. The support from Manchester Mind definitely footed the bill owed by NHS services.

I was having therapy through the NHS but that stopped. The compassion focused therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) I was having was then quickly adapted to be delivered online, but I struggled with it because the complexity of EMDR could not be delivered properly via a digital interface and I could not connect with it. I felt too detached from the therapy and too self-conscious.

To talk to someone on a screen felt too synthetic and there was a definite disconnect and loss in the subtleties of communication.

I also felt overexposed talking about sensitive details online. I feel you need that face-to-face interaction in a neutral space to fully relax and engage in the therapy to get the most out of it.

Therapy rooms provide a neutrality and escape from a home environment which for me removes any stagnation in thought or any negative ruminations. Travel to and from that neutral space allows for a certain amount of relaxation or decompression.

Unfortunately my experience of screen therapy was counterproductive. I am now back on a waiting list for the therapy to be done face-to-face when it is safe to do so. I became and remain feeling disconnected from life and people. I feel that any hope of me getting back on track is utterly extinct.

However, when I contacted Manchester Mind I was surprised by the response. I was offered a lot of help through a service called the ‘listening ear’.

I was able to talk about troubling issues, I was offered the chance to participate in a peer support group, a meditation class, I was told about the support that could be on offer by referral to an art class that I had not been told about, even though this was a service the NHS provided, it was Manchester Mind that pointed me towards it. I have attended online workshops to do with mental health as well. I do still struggle with video conferencing. I am unfortunately experiencing a lot of ingrained overshadowing within the NHS.

I have a good GP, which I am lucky to have found but it should not be like that. Every GP or doctor you see should treat you with a certain amount of dignity, but that is not my experience. I do not want special or preferential treatment; I just want to be treated normally like anyone else.

I experience a lot of misconceived and ignorant approaches to my status quo. I often get dismissed and experience inappropriate behaviour.

I have had more support and I have been treated like a ‘normal’ person from the people at Manchester Mind.

Sometimes I feel like I have lost all hope. However, logically and objectively there is always the possibility of its return. Nothing is certain in life, just because I have lost something, doesn’t mean it can’t return. You don’t know what you don’t know. Anything is possible, even recovery and equality. There is a semblance of hope in that.

Two very understated words to Manchester Mind;

Thank you

Lee

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