Social Distancing Day 7 and Mental Health

Let’s talk mental health…

My time as a postgraduate student has been a time of self-reflection, and a time where I have been able to self-reflect on and take steps to improve my mental health. I can now fully admit that before having baby, I was on a downward spiral of PTSD and depression, and self-medicating these mental health problems with alcohol.

I wouldn’t quite say I was an alcoholic, but I would definitely say that I turned to alcohol as a way of coping with my own problems.

You see, my partner and I lived through some pretty horrific events that, to this day, I am still unable to talk about. And rather than seek help to deal with the trauma caused by these events, I lived a life filled with shame where it was easier to drown my sorrows in a bottle of whisky.

In fact, the week I realised I was pregnant with baby and suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I actually thought that I was just really hung over.

I can now look back and admit that for a good year, I didn’t fall asleep sober once.

I was lucky, things changed for me the moment I saw that positive pregnancy test, on my partners 29th birthday.

From that moment I quit smoking and drinking completely and managed to change my habits whilst beginning to take steps to become stronger mentally.

I think once you have been dependant on a substance for relief, it’s a feeling that never leaves you.

Now fast forward to today, we’re on day 7 of social distancing, and my demon came knocking at the door.

What is happening in the world right now terrifies me. I’ve completely distanced myself from every situation that involves other people, only seeing my partner and children for days now. I’ve hidden us away in our home, only leaving to source baby formula (see yesterday’s post), and take a drive with the sunroof open for fresh air!

I’m terrified of the very real possibility that this virus could change my family forever. I have a vulnerable kid, and two vulnerable parents who I know I won’t get to see for the foreseeable future.

For a moment I turned to alcohol.

Whisky was my drug of choice and whisky was what I bought.

For a second I just thought ‘fuck it, the world’s gone to shit’, so I poured myself a large glass, and I drank the large glass. And I stopped.

I want to say that I stopped because I had an epiphany that I didn’t need to find oblivion at the bottom of my whisky glass, but I stopped because it tasted awful.

And I recognise that in itself was a huge step for me. Eighteen months ago I would’ve drank it anyway, but now I just didn’t see the point. My throat was burning and it wasn’t actually making me feel any better about things!

And instead I talked. I reached out to my people and told them I was sad and asked for support, and it was given in abundance.

I kissed my sleeping babies and saw the beauty of life in their faces.

I cuddled my dogs.

And I talked to my partner. Instead of hiding my depression away in shame, I leaned on him for support.

So if you’re feeling mentally low in these awful times, reach out to your people. Talk.

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