The harrowing state of our lockdown mental health

Last year we took the testimony of ordinary everyday people about their experiences of the lockdowns; to ensure their opinions could be placed in the public domain we are publishing them over the coming weeks. This is part 4.

“It was the first time in about 10 years that I have cried for a patient”

THIS IS ONLY partly my story; it belongs to an elderly lady really. I looked after a 93-year-old lady in my resus room this year on Boxing Day. Sadly, the main blood vessel in her abdomen was leaking.

Whilst taking a history, we talked about how she had felt yesterday. She told me she had felt physically okay but very sad and angry.

It was the first Christmas Day in all that she could remember that she hadn’t been allowed to see her grandchildren or go to church. She cried, I said that I was sorry.

She died about an hour later. Her family didn’t make it in time to be by her side, but I held her hand and stroked her hair. It was the first time in about 10 years that I have cried for a patient.”

“I’m a Headteacher with over 1,000 students… schools need to be open now…”

“AS A HEADTEACHER of a secondary school with over 1000 students we have no in-school transmissions and yet we remain closed. Situated in an area of high deprivation our child protection numbers (already high) have doubled compared to what they were last year. So many staff and parents are paralysed with fear due to hysterical media headlines which don’t reflect their stories.

I worry that children next year will have weakened immune systems. How will they cope with flu next year when it returns? I worry that there will be more obesity (we have already noticed this amongst our children) and that all those ‘lost’ children will never return.

We know what level our Year 11s are capable of sitting next year and so it’s sad that we are not preparing them for the skills they will need (including literacy and numeracy) for their qualifications next year rather than trying to spoon feed them knowledge (they don’t necessarily need) for qualifications this year which will have no credibility in future years.

And when schools are open what do all the younger children think when they see all these people walking about with masks and forced to walk around schools festooned in yellow and black warnings, or worse still forced to stay in classes all day?

The vast, vast majority of kids are safe with regards to the virus and there is growing evidence to support the notion that if they do transmit it is a small payload and that there is very little evidence to suggest they transmit to adults. All of this is not caused by the virus, it is our response to the virus that needs to be considered.

Schools need to open now. It will be interesting to see how children today, judge our responses in the future.”

“Lockdown ended my 20 year career… a colleague committed suicide and I’m now on anti-depressants.”

“LOCKDOWN effectively ended my 20-year career as a nightclub DJ. A colleague from one of my venues committed suicide shortly after we went into lockdown. As a result of not being able to do my job I spiralled down and eventually had a mental breakdown. I’m now on anti-depressants which are helping me cope.

I’m fortunate to have a stable income from another source or I probably wouldn’t still be here. This week I’ve had a friend get to the same stage of wanting to commit suicide.

Lockdown is quite literally killing us. It has to end.”

“I’m a teacher… we can pretend otherwise, but the education of most of our kids is being severely hampered…”

“I TEACH IN A STATE secondary comp. We are doing our best, and probably doing better than many local schools. In short, the quality of our online provision, the attendance of kids, the actual engagement of kids, the quality of education and progress, is woefully below face-to-face teaching.

We can pretend otherwise, but the education of most of our kids is being severely hampered. Those coping the best are only the most very able and most very motivated and supported.

I gather, from friends and colleagues involved in state primaries, that education there is virtually non-existent. Try as they might, the primary state sector cannot adequately teach young children remotely. My own three children attend independent schools. Provision is excellent, probably close to as good as it could be… but a very poor substitute for face-to-face schooling.

My eldest (nearly 16, Y11) ‘attends’ all his lessons live, but is not really engaged, not writing things down, not recording, or learning. My 10-year-old gobbles everything up…but isn’t progressing as he would at school. My 7-year-old tries to stay focused on his live lessons but is bored to tears and not progressing. I am glad he is occupied, but that’s about all.

Clearly, with my wife and I delivering our full timetables live online, we scarcely support any of our children in their live lessons.”

“I have only seen Mum through a window since last year… given the choice, she would rather get Covid than not be with us…”

“I HAVE FOUND the fact of not being able to see my Mum except at a window since last year totally unacceptable.

She is in a care home and although the care home has been fantastic it does not compensate for not being able to be with her. It’s crucifying for her and our family. If given the choice she would rather get Covid than not be able to be with us. I’m less of a risk than the carers and nurses looking after her. 

Please do something to let families in to see their loved ones… before it’s too late for some.”

“Lockdown for me is a living hell. Monday before Xmas I tried to take my own life, mid-January I tried again.”

“LOCKDOWN FOR ME is a living hell. Monday before Xmas I tried to take my own life, mid-January I tried again. If this carries on much longer I can’t guarantee I won’t succeed in doing it.

I’ve been a sufferer of anxiety and depression for many years, I went through lots of counselling and therapy but the way I handled it was having my friends around me and doing the things I enjoyed. When I went through bad times I used the things I enjoyed as milestones to look forward to, to help me get through.

I’d have four music festivals a year booked which were my happy places, they were spread out between March and September meaning any time I struggled I only had a short while before I could be back in my happy place. I haven’t been able to attend anything like this since the end of festival season 2019.

I now have nothing to help me get through the tough times, I can’t see my friends, I can’t go to my happy place so I’m stuck in my head.”

“I just feel in free fall now. I really don’t know how much longer I can take all this.”

“I AM DISABLED following major bowel surgery five years ago. I suffer PTSD and severe depression and anxiety. Although I have a partner and son I feel so isolated. My depression is out of control. I go and sit in the bathroom so I can cry.

We have been given no extra financial help so can’t afford much now as my partner is older and at risk, and my son is an asthma sufferer. My depression was managed well because I swam.

Now I have nothing.

I just feel in free fall now. I really don’t know how much longer I can take all this.”

To read more Testimonies go to Part 1 here / Part 2 here / and Part 3 here.

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Photo by Goffkein from Adobe Stock