It is widely accepted that general anxiety, depression and overall mental health has been adversely affected since the Covid lockdown was imposed in April of this year, here in the UK. People forced to stay at home and to have greatly reduced, or even forbidden from, physical contact with important members of social and support networks.
Furloughed from work, not knowing what will happen to income and then the small matter of the risk of catching a virus that was killing hundreds of people every day.
Key workers going to their place of work, literally risking their lives to provide important roles within the community.
Parents having to home school their children, who were also struggling due to lack of contact with friends.
Unprecedented times, indeed.
However, I believe there could be a new wave of problems resulting from the current situation.
If you are a person that struggles with anxiety, how is all this latest uncertainty going to affect you?
When the original lockdown was imposed, it was shocking but as the announcement got nearer, we were all pretty much expecting it. When the rule came in, things seemed quite clear. "Do not leave your house unless it is absolutely necessary." "Do not go to work unless you are a key worker". "Do not have contact with other households, no matter how you are related or how many of you there are at any one time".
Strict measures but seemingly even across the board and relatively easy to interpret.
This instilled almost a level of 'certainty' into daily life for some people, when all around seemed so uncertain.
If you struggle with anxiety, great uncertainty can be exceptionally harmful. If you get nervous or anxious at what might happen, you really don't want to be in a situation where you cannot predict anything. But when somebody says "No going to work, no going out except for food shopping and no meeting up with people", even allowing for the draconian levels of instruction, there is an element of certainty and predictability about life from day today. It's not nice but there were rarely unexpected surprises around the corner. Days could be bleak but they were entirely predictable
Now, however, the country seems to be in perpetual confusion and uncertainty. At the time of writing this, the rules on what you can or cannot do are, at best, difficult to fully understand and keep up with. They seem to change on a daily basis and some guidelines seem to contradict others. You then have the additional confusion when certain parts of the country are deemed to be a 'higher risk' and therefore have special measures imposed, which differ again from the rest of the country.
I can only imagine what this can do to a person that already struggles with anxiety. Should I be going to work or not? Am I allowed to meet up with friends and family? If I have a relative round to my house today, can I have someone else from a different household round tomorrow too? Do I have to wear my mask while standing at a bus stop? How do I feel about that person in the supermarket that isn't wearing a mask? Are they allowed or are they flouting the rules? Is there another lockdown on the way because I barely kept my head above water last time?
I can imagine that just reading these words can trigger anxiety, never mind about what can happen when you are living it, every hour of every day.
The mental wellbeing of the country took a big hit earlier this year and there is another hit on the way. The difference is, people will be taking this hit after being knocked back hard by the first one so they will be taking it from a weaker starting position. This second wave may not involve the lockdown measures of the first one but the psychological toll could be far worse this time around.
If you are struggling with anxiety, stress, depression or anything else that is affecting your mental health, please talk to somebody about it. You may prefer that person to be a trained professional. As well as face to face counselling here in Southport (as long as regulations permit), I offer online counselling via Zoom so even if you're not nearby, I'm still available.
If you'd like to read more about me and the services I offer then just visit www.beyourselfcounselling.co.uk