Today is World Mental Health Day and some of the TDL team have shared their stories below about managing their mental health during (and since) lockdown.
Whilst we try to focus on the positives, we do acknowledge that 2020 has been an awful year for so many around the world. Globally the year started with megafires and floods and since February there's been a constant narrative of the pandemic and its ongoing ramifications, police brutality, civil unrest, protests and a series of political crises. The majority of us have been affected in some way, whether large or small, and it can really take its toll.
Coping mentally with the various challenges throughout this year has been difficult and we as a team wanted to share how we've personally been managing our own mental health.
Having suffered with post-natal depression, I am acutely aware of how things can spiral out of control when it seems like there's no hope, especially if you feel alone. I've run a project raise funds for mental health before on my own blog and helped others share their stories. It's something I really try to be vocal about to hopefully remove some of the stigmas surrounding mental health.
Lockdown was a scary time for many reasons and after finding my mental health most affected when I was alone with my twins for months on end in 2018 (the year of my husband's big medical exams), I worried that I wouldn't cope again while my husband was working in the hospital every day. Thankfully I was wrong and although we had our struggles with distance learning, the kids and I managed to enjoy parts of it too.
I also realise that we are extremely lucky compared to many. We had an income, our home and a garden to retreat safely to. There is of course the guilt factor of complaining about a situation while knowing others may have it much, much worse and with so many deaths happening around the world. I try to remember that this doesn't make my own struggles and feelings any less valid and the same goes for you.
For me, documenting this time and focusing on my 365 project helped me to stay motivated every day. While my Bexphoto business was on hold, I was able to forge forward with my idea to start a magazine which, although it kept me extra busy (and stressed at times), also gave me a focus outside of mum life and my part-time work as an NHS dentist. We certainly had our fair share of screen time helping us all get through the long lonely days but getting out and about in nature always led to good memories and brighter feelings.
After just 6 months of self employment in photography, along came COVID. Everything up to that
point had been so fast paced and exciting. Overnight, business stopped, family could not be seen
and with no government support, it hit me hard. I felt anxious, stressed and overwhelmed at not
knowing when it would end. I had lost my sense of purpose, my daily structure, and frustration really
set in. To add to the mix, I had just decided to come off my depression and anxiety medication(and I'm still
not sure if this was the best or worst timing.) Parenting and home-schooling took over and at first it
was a fun challenge which quickly became a huge battle. I soon felt guilt for not enjoying this
enforced quality time with the kids, knowing that there were so many who had this all so much
I had to get out of the daily cycle and use my photography as a creative outlet if anything, so I
started raising money for a local foodbank through (socially distant) doorstep portraits. This was the
best decision I could ever make, although being all consuming whilst juggling it all without childcare,
it helped my mental health tremendously. Just talking to other families in the same position was a
breath of fresh air, giving back to the community and using my photography all at the same time felt
Just remember, your feelings are valid. Take one day at a time, talk, create and feel it all.
When the world stood still in March 2020, my initial reaction was one of complete relief. It had been an exceptional past six months prior to this, as my father was diagnosed with a chronic condition which has meant my parents have had to make significant life changes. Throwing in a global pandemic really made me stop and look closer to home. I didn’t realise how much I’d been using my work as a distraction to keep on going, a little too much.
I won’t deny that the intense range of emotions I experienced in any one day of Lockdown took me by surprise. At first I was pushing them aside, mainly due to the responsibility I felt in keeping my family safe and having to do weekly food shop for my parents as they were shielding.
I’ve never been more thankful for my art and the online creative communities that I love, for the unwavering support we’ve been able to share and express some of these feelings among us… through our cameras and more.
Finding a tangible way to express some of these emotions in a few personal projects during this time has been crucial to my wellbeing. I never knew how much I needed this visual journal until now.
This World Mental Health day, we'd like to support Young Minds - a charity supporting young people and their parents with mental health challenges...
"We’re leading the fight for a future where all young minds are supported and empowered, whatever the challenges. We’re here to make sure they get the best possible mental health support and have the resilience to overcome life’s difficulties.
The crisis in children and young people’s mental health is real and it is urgent. More children and young people than ever before are reaching out for help with their mental health. But for those who take that brave step, help is much too hard to find.
Together, we are changing this. We’re fighting for young people’s mental health. Join our fight."
If you'd like to help, you can donate here: www.youngminds.org.uk/donate