Where do I even begin? The past couple of weeks have been pretty awful for a lot of people for multiple reasons. This virus is unlike anything many of us have ever seen and it has affected us in different ways. I’m writing a post about the mental health effects of this virus and just putting my thoughts out there. Prepare for some rambling and complaining – my two specialities.
The stress and overall mental health effects
With a lot of people worried, sick, on the verge of losing their income, mental health is a very real issue right now. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a pre-existing condition or not, this crisis is destroying a lot of confidence and certainty for all of us which can take a toll on your mental health.
I’ve been in a pretty lucky position so far. I worked from home anyway and for now, most of my work has been coming in. That could all change of course but let’s hope not. A lot of people aren’t so lucky.
Some people have been sacked, lost their home and are struggling to eat. The governments of the world are trying to do something about it but it’s not fast enough. In the UK, there’s pretty much no support for self-employed people. You can get sick pay through the benefits system but it’s about £400 a month which isn’t enough to live on. And besides, if you’ve been saving for tax, your personal savings likely push you out of being eligible so it’s not an option for most of us.
I’m currently stressed about a couple of things besides the wider global impact of this virus of course. There’s always the worry that I’ll lose work and not be able to pay rent of course. I’m worried I’ll run out of food. All the supermarkets that deliver have been booked up until mid-April so I’d have to go out which is a risk to try and find food (of which there is barely any in the shops).
Right now, it’s impossible to try and eat healthy because the food just isn’t available. People are honestly stockpiling broccoli for god knows what reason.
I was trying to keep to a once a week publishing schedule here but it’s clearly not meant to be. I’ve had a bad case of writer’s block which is difficult considering I write for a living. I’ve been able to do my work, just about but everything is taking much longer to do and I’m exhausted at the end of each day.
To be fair, this was a little of this before all the panic hit but now, I have no motivation to write. I’m forcing myself to write this little blog post and I hope it makes some sense and isn’t just rambling. But overall, how the hell are you meant to concentrate when the world’s falling apart?
From what I’ve seen on Twitter in the writing community and beyond, I’m not alone. Everyone is struggling to be creative right now because it feels like the world is falling apart. When you’ve got writer’s block, you end up feeling guilty and like you’re not a real writer which also has its own mental health effects. While it’s important to keep busy, there’s a lot of shit going on right now. You can be forgiven for not writing a whole novel in isolation. I’m sure we’ll see a few pandemic-inspired novels next year but you don’t have to write King Lear, guys.
All we can do is self-isolate and hope it goes away quickly. I can’t speak for other countries but I know a lot of people here are just not taking it seriously. On the rare occasion that I’ve had to go out, the streets are still full of cars, many people are walking around with a bunch of kids now the schools are shut. All in all, they’re treating it like a holiday and ignoring the advice. Shit got serious when the pubs closed – but how did the British celebrate? They piled into the pubs one last time.
I know that self-isolating for many, particularly people who live alone is really difficult. But it’s necessary and we’re just going to have to accept that we’re all going to feel lonely for a while.
One of the most important things I think we need to stick to is some kind of routine. This is something I’ve always struggled with but it’s more important now than ever. If you’re working from home, you need a structure in place otherwise you’ll get nothing done and you’ll feel unproductive every day. If you’re not currently working, you still need a plan of action for the day or you’ll go insane.
There are plenty of workout videos, things-to-do-at-home blog posts and millions of books you can download. I’d recommend fantasy fiction (of course) because you can disappear into a new world and you’ll definitely want that right now. If you can plan a day out, please do. It will help you feel like you’ve done something productive which is crucial for good mental health during this time.
I don’t really know what I’m hoping to achieve with this blog post. It is mostly rambling but this is the first thing I’ve managed to write except for work. I really hope everyone out there is staying safe, accepting that we need to give a few things up and are also looking after their mental health.
This is more than just a flu, it’s a global catastrophe but I think we can get through it. Life will likely look different on the other side of it all.
How is the pandemic affecting your mental health and/or creative work? Do you have writer’s block too? Feel free to vent about your mental health effects in the comments.