Lockdown and ME by Hannah Green

I’ve lied and said that I was busy; but not in a way most people understand.

I was busy taking deeper breaths

I was busy silencing irrational thoughts

I was busy calming a racing heart

I was busy telling myself that I am okay

Sometimes this has been my busy – and I will not apologize for it.

If you told me at the start of the year that I could have over 8 weeks without social anxiety, I would have bitten your hand off at the thought. Little did I know the cause would be due to a national lockdown.

I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which makes some situations fearful for me, however please note that I am a (fairly!) normal person and go about my business as normal as you do.   To know me, you probably wouldn’t think that my thought process isn’t any different from yours (a little talent of mine).  However, just because someone carries a problem well, doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy.

Anxiety is usually the state of being afraid where there is nothing to be afraid of, catastrophizing outcomes and over estimating danger.  Yes ok, until you throw a world health pandemic into the mix!

When lockdown was announced, all of those weeks ago, the negative part of my brain went into overdrive worrying about childcare, money, the extra stress I would be under, the thought of loneliness, but worst of all was my entire strict schedule being interrupted.  I’m a very structural, habitual person, so the thought of my routine being disrupted was nerve-wracking.  I adapted the best way that I could and created a ‘new’ weekly structure, consisting of home workouts as I’ve found exercise increases my self esteem, as it provides a sense of achievement.

I also decided at the start of lockdown to create a diary which would force me to look for the positive memories in this situation, as the aim was to let my children read it when they grow up and discover how we adapted in these circumstances and to be proud of how we as a family managed this unique situation.

I’ve been practising mindfulness for a few years now, to teach me to focus on the present moment, as the alternative is letting my mind wander into a state of panic, and a panic attack is utterly terrifying, with all rational thoughts swept away.  This new thought process has made it a lot easier to adapt ‘during this time’.  I’m grateful that I get to go to work, and I get to have a busy day.

As the weeks have gone on, I have realised that I am not opposed to this ‘new normal’.  I have always lived my life in the fast lane, working, going to the gym, running after children so it’s been enjoyable for a big pause button to be pressed to allow me a chance to recuperate, gather my thoughts and start again.

A defining moment during lockdown for me was entering Tesco for the first time.  Something as simple as going for the shopping was now a regimental procedure.  At the best of times, supermarkets bring out anxiety in so many individuals (hence so many abandoned trolleys) and now that I had to follow a designated route, queue in the store for longer than normal alarmed me.  If I felt panic rising, I couldn’t just skip aisles and rush to the checkout as I have previously done.  I have continued to go to the supermarket (mainly because my family still need to eat), but also because I have learnt that avoidance maintains anxiety.

Facing up to anxieties, insecurities and fears, taking them on and interrogating them is very empowering.  For me, attending meetings and going out in crowded places such as restaurants are my triggers so I make a conscious effort to try to not avoid them, however I’m also very aware that having over 8 weeks in my ‘safe space’ could cause havoc when lockdown is no more.  But for now I’m not letting those thoughts consume my head.  What is important is the here and now.

It’s very easy to feel judged by society, especially with the rise of social media, however I feel that it’s important to not be ashamed if you have any psychological distress.  We are all human, and we all react differently to situations.  There is no right or wrong way to feel when a lockdown is implemented.  There is no handbook for this.  I’m not going to feel guilty that I’m gutted my holiday was cancelled this year.  That mattered to me.  There will always be someone worse off than you are, but comparisons will only serve to make you unhappy.  During lockdown how many times have you heard “it’s the same for everyone just now”?  We are all experiencing change; however everyone’s story is different.  Every single one of us is struggling with something, whether it is being furloughed, being deployed, having no income, missing family, grieving, loss, loneliness, working more hours, the list is extensive.  We can only focus on what matters to us, and providing kindness to others.

Being at home more during lockdown has made many individuals realise that work and other aspects of their life have previously been used as an emotional anaesthetic.  Lockdown has produced a different sense of identity for many asking what truly matters during a pandemic.  While we can be busy digging in the garden, the house is burning down.  Pay attention to the house, which in this case is your mind.  You will never speak to anyone as much as you speak to yourself in your head.

I’ve learned to accept that I am a work in progress, whilst being kind to myself.  It’s been really really hard, but everyone has been so brave and I’m proud of how everyone has dealt with lockdown.  Go and give yourself a hug, when was the last time you did that?

I was going to submit this blog anonymously, and then I thought, no, I’m proud of me and I own this.

Hannah 1

Hannah Green is Personal Assistant to Julie White, Chief Operating Officer at NHS D&G

39 thoughts on “Lockdown and ME by Hannah Green

  1. Hannah this is a great blog! If we are all being honest I think we can probably all relate to this or parts of this. We should all take a leaf out of your book and take the time to focus on what matters to us, we need to be kinder to ourselves and then this will allow us to be kinder to others. I’m so pleased you didn’t anonymise this always be proud of your journey.

    • Lovely blog Hannah I am sure lots of us will relate to your words and experience. Alison your point is so well put – not to anonymise this message, trust that you are surrounded by colleagues that care (and we do) and to be proud of your journey.

  2. This is such a powerful and timely blog, when there is still so much unknown ahead of us. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your strength, this is really worth reading a few times!

  3. Brilliant blog Hannah, thank you so much for sharing.

    I live with periodic mental ill health and a mild learning disability – people probably don’t know that when they meet/work with me. But I need to have a clear direction, a plan and a time frame to work to – the current situation is my worst nightmare. I hate the feeling of no control, the uncertainty about my job, the inability to plan, the constant change, it is very challenging for me to hold it together at the moment.

    I really appreciate your honesty and openness. It is a really inspiring blog and I am going to try to follow your example and set myself a better routine which includes being kind to myself as well as others.

  4. Thank you for this fantastic blog Hannah, very open and honest. There will be many of us that can relate to this, I know I can. You should be very proud of yourself for owning this, a huge positive for your diary entry tonight. Stay safe.

  5. Wow Hannah…..Thank you so much for sharing something so personal for the greater good. You should be very proud to put your name to this. Jill x

  6. Thank you Hannah you are an amazing and authentic person, your blog has really made today already feel like a better day.

  7. This is fantastic inspiration to everyone but especially all the people out there who live with GAD and I am certain there are a great many. You have shared some of your innermost thoughts and feelings showing us truly what it means when we ask people “What matters to you?”. Your honesty is brave and very moving. Thank you for sharing Hannah.

  8. wonderful captures exactly how many of us have been feeling and trying to plod on through this horrible situation. xxx

  9. So much to read and reflect on thank you Hannah, will ponder on emotional anaesthetic…. thank you I loved this.

  10. Excellent Hannah, great insight and perfectly written. This is really familiar for all of us who deal with anxiety daily, especially those that hide it well. Well done!

  11. Thank you for your blog , Hannah. I really enjoyed reading it and it resonated with me, as I’m sure it will also do with many, many other people. You’ve given a voice to everyone who lives with anxiety. And a reminder to all of us to check in with how we are feeling and to be kind to ourselves, needed now more than ever

  12. Hannah
    Your openness to share your struggle with anxiety is liberating to us all during this uncertain period. Thank you!

  13. Hannah – open, honest and powerful written blog. I am so pleased you were able to ‘publish’ it and share it with us all x

  14. This is so well written Hannah. I appreciate your authenticity and thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. This has made a difference for me today and I’m sure it will for others who read it.

  15. Thanks Hannah for deciding to share this, The routine of ‘normal’ life allows us to manage and adapt our individual traits over time , but lockdown has created internal disruption and dilemmas for many ,and I feel you have captured it perfectly

  16. Thank you for the blood Hannah. I can see from other comments too how your opening up of your story resonates with others and myself too. Very powerful messages and Recognising the need for and then giving support to the self is such an important lesson

  17. Hannah, I love your blog and admire you for your honesty and courage. What you have written will touch so many people as they identify with parts or all of your piece. Thank you

  18. Well written Hannah. Talking or writing about things is definitely a good way to help in these and most situations and from a personal perspective I am pleased you recognise the benefits of exercise.

    BTW your use of American spellings messes with my OCD more than abandoned trollies 🙂

  19. Amazing Hannah! I love the personal blogs the most! Well done you!
    PS always envious of your exercise routines (and those gorgeous boys!) xxxx

  20. Well done great read and great to be open and honest.many people will have anxiety without thinking they do. You have made me think about thinking abut now not before or after live for now too. Thanks

  21. Wonderful Hannah. You should be proud of yourself, you’re a great person and by sharing such a personal story you’re helping lots of us. Thank you. You’re doing great and we are all work in progress. Take care. Viv x

  22. Thank you so much for your honesty and encouragement to us all to extend that kindness to ourselves which we often neglect. I loved your blog, well done

  23. Fantastic. You are not alone! A lot of our customers would 100% relate to this. How would you feel supplying a hard copy to put in the shop notice board? A lot of the older generation don’t have access to the internet to see this. I beleive we all had a moment where we very scared and all coped in different ways.

    Great blog wrll done 🙂

  24. Thank you to each and every one of you for your comments. I’m beyond speechless.

    I was on the fence about submitting this blog, as I was scared to come across as ‘not normal’, however sharing such truthful, heartfelt words has eased my load in a way I cannot describe.

    Overwhelmed does not even come close to how I am feeling tonight after the amazing responses.

    I’m so grateful to everyone for their kind comments, and appreciative that more people are opening up about their own experiences. Sharing vulnerabilities helps us to connect to each other.

    It’s time for everyone to enjoy their own qualities, and to have a lot of self compassion.

  25. Amazing Hannah x Courageous, brave and honest words from a strong beautiful person x thank you for sharing

  26. Hannah this is a great blog. Thanks for sharing it. I love the reminder that our chosen thoughts change our mind as it reminds me the brain is changeable and moldable by our thinking just as a muscle is changed by whether we exercise. Thanks.

  27. Pingback: Lockdown and ME by Hannah Green – LPGA Gameday

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