Warning: this post discusses mental health, suicide and depression. Mental health should not be a taboo. It’s okay to not be okay.
I have not been okay for months now; both my mental and physical health went into a downward spiral. I have lived with a chronic pain condition for years and have accepted the limitations placed on my life because of it. However, I was not expecting lockdown or the diagnosis of Crohns. With no help of support for a new potentially life threatening condition – NHS closed- no face-to-face, nothing. I basically felt it was a put up and shut up mentality, there was only one illness Covid-19. Everyone failed to exist outside of that. In fact I wished I had gotten Covid sooner just to be seen as a person, by a person.
Some medications that were required meant I had to shield. I managed in lockdown one due to making scrubs and felt we were all in this together, see my blog for my lockdown diaries.
July turned into august and we had a holiday in Scotland, a much needed break for us. August turned into September and Covid again, more restrictions, more tiers and more lockdowns were to come.
More pain, and the depression that came along with it increased exponentially and hit me worse than I would have ever anticipated it could do.
My husband was back working from home. The dining room now his office. I could not sit in there to use my computer because he was dealing with video calls and reviews, confidential issues were at play. I also found I could not sit in the living room and sew because my sewing machine or embroidery machine would cause an issue for his work. If I sat and read or watched television, I would occasionally overhear the calls and that again was not ideal. In the first lockdown I had my tent to escape to, it was my space, but the weather had taken its toll on my poor tent and had left it only suitable for storage. The tent finally came down in January, what was left of it.
My husband had done a great job of getting it weather-proofed however, it no longer felt my safe space to relax or sew. Pain from my stomach meant the only other option was to lie down. Sitting even when I could was painful, being upright was painful, and eating was painful. The days turned into weeks and then into months, I spent most of them in bed, laid down, not sleeping or sleeping too much. I could not function. I was only getting up to do those chores I needed to, those alone, would wipe me out. I clean Monday’s and Thursday’s and do the evening meal cooking as best as my energy would allow.
The NHS was beginning to open again for those that did not have Covid. I am fortunately lucky to live in an area where our local hospital did not get completely overwhelmed with Covid and that the departments were soon able to start functioning again, albeit rather slowly. I was eventually put on a liquid diet to help sort the flare out.
Thus, meaning the stress around doing the evening meal was removed. Husband and everyone else had to sort their own food out. Husband was not happy, and some friends said I was selfish for not cooking him tea after he had been working, which I add was from home. This comment stung a bit, he is an adult and why should he not fend for himself. I do not prescribe to the theory woman do all the house work and men do nothing – Shirley Valentine theory – I was not going to stand there cooking a meal I did not or could not eat. I did not want to be around food.
The shelf’s being empty at the start of lockdown had meant that we had to source whatever we could, and that meant brands or items unknown to me, inducing a Crohns flare and pain. Food shopping to keep the costs down as we live hand to mouth most months means going to three different supermarkets. In lockdown one, our eldest daughter did our shopping and it took her all day, husband would drive her and wait in the car and then move to the next one, bless her as she stood in queues for hours.
October came and went with myself worth going along with it, tension in the house was mounting and both my daughters were not the best people to live with in what I now deemed a cage and prison, rather than a home.
My car had been written off due to some drunk driver crashing into it at night; taking away my only form of independence. A further lockdown meant we could not look for another one. My husband would not let me drive his car, despite me being on his insurance so I was even more housebound, and was only able to go out if he wanted to. We have had endless quarrels over this and his control issues – I am aware of them – and so is everyone else.
I felt guilty for not writing for months, not being able to sit for more than ten minutes without pain, or even having the concentration to write. Before I publish I need software to read things back to me because I am dyslexic and struggle with word blindness and fat fingers if I am tired. From can become form etc and live can become leave. So the software helps, but that requires me to stare at my computer and time doing so was scarce. I had started my infusions at this point and had become more tired and was a walking corpse on the best of days. I told Sylvia and she said for me to take as much time as I needed, this took pressure off, but in my head I still felt useless.
By the end of November I was ready to kill myself, tensions with my daughters and husband had got to beyond breaking point. I wanted to stab a knife into myself and end it all. Luckily there was someone on the end of the phone for me to seek help from. Within two days I was staying at a friend’s house. That gave me respite that was very much needed. I stayed for just over a week. Husband and the girls – mainly youngest – had to sort themselves out. It helped my physical health as the stress reduced the flare of my Crohns. This seeking of help was me starting to accept that it was okay to not feel okay.