How has COVID-19 impacted your mental health?: "Yes. I want to say no, to say I've been made stronger or that I'm resilient, etc. But that would be a lie. The pandemic, the lockdowns (which is still prefer over herd immunity strategies while also disliking in practise), the cancelled events, the hike in prices, the complete change in how daily life is organised and managed, the shift in public attitudes to social issues and heighten tensions becoming less obscured. Its all very stressful, very triggering and very distressing. And I'm a cis white woman blessed with the NHS and UC (while universal credit is torturous -workhouse of the mind- its better than the nothing many other people have to fall back on), I'm a woman of privilege, poor but still privileged. I hate how much recent events have hurt those less fortunate that I. To, the main things this year that have effected my mental health:
1) Universal Credit. It is a mentally and emotionally traumatising system. Designed to benefit the few and punish the majority. Its especially difficult for me, and I image many other women in similar situations to me, as it brings back memories and feelings that were common during abusive relationships. Having to please someone else in order to stay safe and fed. Having to jump through humiliating hoops - and applying for jobs you know won't take you just to prove to job center that you've done enough to be considered worthy of one's meager bread. Then getting an income for your efforts that's so little, based on what one needs within our culture and society to live a thriving life, that it becomes a painful, demoralising cycle. The biggest barrier to work is poverty, those most in need of work are the poor, so give the poor enough that attaining work isn't bared, not just enough to stay alive while hating every second of one's situation. It's heart breaking. And hurts. Leads to anxiety, drespression, etc. Triggers my ptsd also. 2) the whole covid situation really. As above, UC triggers my ptsd (memories of being locked up by my ex, unable to provide for my children's basic needs, including food, unless I pleased my ex, etc) while combined with all of that, the lockdowns and lower income mean I'm unable to manage my anxiety and ptsd symptoms as efficiently as I used too. I'm unable to get a bus ride to the beach, or visit play areas, or attend support groups, etc. I'm even unable to shop around for cheaper food options due to the virus, meaning I'm having to pay for the convenience of more expensive food that can be delivered. 3) the behaviour of others in recent months. I normally try to be a peace keeper, love all, not judge, etc. But it's been so hard lately. It blows my mind how some people have behaved. I've had neighbours having parties during lockdowns. I've lost friends who were openly racist, transphobic and who said "no one I know has had the virus, don't care about others, just numbers isn't it, no big, etc". It's sickened me. I had to cut out a lot of people. For the sake of my mental health. And from the need to be a good role model to my children on being a good ally to those in need. We've had petty crimes, minor crimes, major crimes (including murders and assaults with weapons) and several suicides in our area. Thousands of people have died (including a my uncle). Thousands of people, including me, live in fear of catching the virus. Not sure if their bodies would be able to fight such a virus off, or if hospitals would consider us worth helping, etc. In my head, everyday, I hear "if we catch the virus, with our luck and health, we'll die and our children will be unprotected and unloved" it's terrifying. Then I see my neighbours partying. I've got one local neighbour who's got a prem baby with underdeveloped lungs and who already relies heavily on oxygen tubes. That mother caught a mild strain of the virus a few weeks a go. I was so worried for her. But she was fine every a week and managed to no pass it onto her baby. Then last time I see that she's live on Facebook, drunk and dancing, in a room full of adults and children (her family and friends) all partying so celebrate her and her baby's birthday. I was horrified. I know I'm not meant to judge but the blatant lack of care for protecting people from the virus is staggering. I've taken to keeping my curtains closed cos I'm so sick of seeing my neighbours flouting the rules, rules that are in place to keep us safe. It makes me angry, to see them no caring about something that has killed so many people, that so many people are terrified off, and they are ignorant to the depth of what their actions mean. I do understand why they act as they do, the lockdowns is hard, I miss people too, and so many on our estate are so poor anyway that death isn't really a huge threat anymore. But it makes me angry, cos I'm scared, it makes me feel guilty for judging and shamed for the fears I feel. Then overwhelming sorrow for the things that keep me afraid, the fear of leaving my children unprotected and unloved, the fears of going hungry, of having to please others to justify my existence, etc. All those fears and dreads and doubts all collect and feed into one another until I'm left a tearful, anxious, depressed lump of skin bone and flab. Trying to do the best I can. Knowing it's never going to be enough. The thorough hopelessness off it all. Of living to function, not living to thrive. Is devistating, mentally, and makes my usual ptsd struggles so much harder. Covid on its own isn't the cause of my mental health issues, but the situation covid has put me and millions of others in has pushed my mental health to the point where I'm not confident of a return to "healthy". All I can manage now is "functioning" (my kids don't starve, my house doesn't burn down, my kids are educated and supported and loved) but beyond that I've no energy left for anything. Covid isn't the cause, its the flashlight. The cause is a society that promotes punishment and shame for victims (while I don't like to think of myself as a victim, perfering to use the term survivor, it is ignorant to pretend that I and others like me aren't victims). Victims of abuse. Victims of the systems we were raised by (education, welfare, etc). Victims of an unjust society that punishes the poor, that punishs women for men's actions, that punishs children for the actions of adults, etc. Covid is a light on those systems, bringing them to the attention of new eyes."