By Callum Woodward
As I write this sentence, it has been 444 days since the first Lockdown in the United Kingdom. Those days have been shrouded in uncertainty, fear and the same four walls around me. I was unsure when I could see my family again, unsure when I could pick up where I left off with my life before the pandemic. We all thought these things.
It was as if ‘normal’ life were a swimming pool, and we have all been climbing a ladder to get onto the diving board – excited for the day that we can all jump back into reality. But now, as I stand on that diving board and I look down at the swimming pool below – I feel afraid to jump. Why?
As the title of this blog suggests, this is being called Post-Pandemic Stress Disorder (PPSD). The fear of how we move on with our lives after the pandemic. The fear of taking that step off of the diving board and into the water.
As lockdown measures have eased, the reopening of bars, pubs and restaurants have allowed us to see our friends in small groups – but I found myself putting off these social engagements. I made excuses, went quiet. I was afraid of the outside world. What I had known for the past year was that: Inside = Safe. Outside = Unsafe. Staying inside and re-watching ‘The Mandalorian’ seemed easier.
In those days, my anxiety constantly got the better of me. The rational part of my brain knew that seeing my friends again would make me happy, and I could take the steps to be safe in pubic (wearing my mask, sanitising when I could). But that’s the problem with anxiety; it is irrational and the thoughts are invasive. Whilst I know that the feelings that I had were totally valid at the time, I think that most people were thinking the same things that I was. Either way, the worry that I could contract, or pass on the virus to someone was terrifying.
But I am happy to say that, with the support and understanding from those around me, I have made positive steps to do what I can to return to some semblance of normal. I have been seeing friends and doing what I can, whilst still being safe and comfortable in myself, to step off of that diving board and swim in the pool of normality again.
If you are experiencing anxiety about the pandemic and coming out of lockdown, please contact us. At The Lighthouse Counselling Partnership we understand what you are going through and we are here to listen #talking helps.