Isolation and Depression: How To Cope (Part 1).

Hi everyone and welcome back to the blog. This post will be up a day before the Podcast and Vlog, work commitments have meant I haven’t been able to do more than one this week and as an apology here’s the Blog post a day early. I can’t imagine it’s much of a treat but hopefully you enjoy 🙂

My last blog post seemed to get a lot of attention and I think it may have been because of the subject matter. So with that, I’ve decided to help anyone who stumbles across this blog who are struggling with the current situation and their mental health.

Because of the uncertainty of the next few weeks or months, knowing how to deal with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues is going to be difficult; isolation at the best of times had it’s difficulties but if you are one of one in four people who suffer with mental health problems, the difficulties can be tenfold.

Thankfully we live in a time where almost everyone has Social Media and uses it every day to stay in contact with friends & family near and far; I have a very good friend whom I speak to most days, despite him living in a different time zone.  Many people complain about the over-reliance of Social Media but it is in times like these that it can, quite literally, be a life line for those in isolation and who are lonely.

The internet has opened the world to most people and with that comes a never ending supply of information, programmes, games and activities. It’s going to be a very important tool we can use, as well as other offline things. I’ll share with you a few things to consider to help with isolation, loneliness and mental health.

Bring The Outside In

By this I mean see if there are any outdoor/out of your house activities that can be done at home or in your garden. Obviously, if you don’t have a garden certain things can’t be done there but if you do, use it! Especially here in the UK at the moment, the weather is lovely and set to stay that way for a little bit. Even if the weather isn’t the greatest, if you can get out and do something then take the opportunity.

My Husband and I go to one of the local pubs every Saturday for a sort of “Date Night”. We have a couple of drinks around 5/6 pm then head home for supper. A couple of years ago we bought a beautiful house with his parents and younger sister, for various reasons, and though we have our own space and “wing” of the house to ourselves, we do enjoy time away from everyone to enjoy each other as a married couple. This is why we started the Saturday Evening Drink tradition. We’ve lost this little pleasure but we’ve been imaginative:

Garden Pub We have a summer house in the garden, it wasn’t particularly warm (hence the blankets) but we wrapped up, took a couple of beers out and had a good hour and a half alone to enjoy each others company and have a drink. As the weather improves and we move firmly into Spring, I feel this will become a firm replacement for our usual pub trips.

If you enjoy a drink or two with a spouse, partner, family or with friends, you could try this (within reason) or even host/be a part of an online gathering via Skype, FaceTime or other platforms. Equally, if you enjoy going out for a coffee with the above mentioned, try going online or Al Fresco too:

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The Gym

The loss of being able to go to the gym is something I’ve felt deeply; I typically go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week including classes and Personal Trainer sessions. Training and the gym is something I utilise to help me with my mental health; I’ll get into that in way more detail another time (or you can check out my Podcast!). But not all is lost! Thankfully there are a myriad of online fitness and workout programs, YouTube channels and a good percentage of Personal Trainers that offer online coaching. Some of these are free, but paying for a trainer who might be struggling at the moment (if you’re able to) could be a great way to help them and keep on top of your training.

If that isn’t possible for financial or logistical reasons, classes can be recreated at home. If you’re comfortable enough huffing, puffing and sweating at a gym, doing it on your own home or garden isn’t going to be an issue! My Mum, my Husband and I usually attend a Bootcamp on Tuesday nights, it’s hard as hell but incredibly rewarding, I swear each week our trainers eyes glitter with excitement at the thought of torturing us in new and inventive ways! As mentioned above, the weather here in Britain is pleasant so we’ve decided to torture ourselves with our very own Home Bootcamp:

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If the weather turns or isn’t as nice where you are, there are plenty of exercises and activities you can carry out inside, fitness DVD’s and YouTube videos are perfect for this set up.

If you’re considered ‘High-Risk’ (over 70, health conditions etc.) you have to a little more careful but having to isolate doesn’t mean you have to stay inside 24/7. It’s been deemed okay for you to go out for walks and even bike rides; these activities can be done on your own or with others as long as you stay 2 metres away from one another. I have 3 grandparents who are all quite active; my Granny and Grandad are planning on taking picnics to beauty spots instead of their usual bi-weekly Pilates classes.

Working From Home

Working from home, for those who can, has almost become compulsory. If you have a job that can be done from home then this is going to be another facet of self isolation and social distancing. This also goes for children at school; most schools are now closed to the majority of their students and they’re now distance learning from home.

This development has me counting my blessings and feeling very lucky; I work from home anyway, in a house that is rarely completely empty. My job is entirely consumed online so my pay and work won’t change one bit. For that I am very grateful.

Equally, my Husband is a teacher, and he’s not in school but still on full pay. Having him home and my working not being affected is a blessing and I am very aware of the privileges I have that means social distancing and isolation doesn’t mean complete isolation, unlike for many people. Obviously this has the potential to be a short lived positive, the chance I’ll become frustrated at having everyone home 24/7 is a real possibility. It might end up being a bit Hunger Gameseque…who will survive this lock-down?!

The main thing to remember when it comes to working or studying from home is how important a schedule is going to be. Directionless days can be the death of productivity so keeping a very similar day that’d you’d have normally is the best course to take with working or studying away from your usual environment.

Procrastination has the potential to be a real problem in this situation, so if you find working in one environment (e.g. Lounge) an issue, try setting up a work-space where there are minimal distractions. A dining room, study if you have one, or a spare room might be a better place than somewhere with access to televisions, non-work computers or gaming consoles.
Saying all that, breaks are important too! I’ll no doubt be interspersing my workload with trips to Skyrim, shooting bad guys with Lara Croft or flaming Gnorcs with a very specific purple dragon.

The bottom line to working or studying from home is to be kind to yourself. Deadlines will always be a part of it, but they’re no different to the deadlines or projects you’d be dealing with in the workplace or school. Breaks are as crucial as a schedule and don’t forget to have days off. Stress will never be a good bedfellow for working from home.

So that’s it from me this week. Hopefully this post is of some use or comfort to many of you. I intended to write more but honestly, this post took me nearly 2 days! I’ll probably carry it on next time with a few more suggestions and reflections on our current situation.

Thanks for tuning in, I hope this post and the accompanying podcast and vlogs find you well, please feel free to check them out below!

Exercising Depression YouTube Channel

Exercising Depression Podcast on Spotify

Exercising Depression Podcast on Apple Podcasts

Exercising Depression Podcast on Google Podcasts

And available on many more podcast platforms just search Exercising Depression Podcast,

Claire

These Uncertain Times: Isolation

Welcome back to the blog!

I am fully getting back into the swing of things with this blog and syncing it with my Exercising Depression podcast and YouTube channel.

I recently found an old blog of mine from, believe it or not, 10 years ago! In 2010 I started a blog for my musings and thought-recording, and it was adorable re-reading my old posts. There weren’t many, but one thing that made me reflect was one post I made about The Snow of 2010. It was a nationwide phenomenon that, not unlike one Coronavirus, occupied most thoughts, writings and conversations.

In reading back my post from ‘The Snow of 2010’ I realised how disconnected I was from my mental health. I wrote with such vivacity, colour and boisterous narrative; I miss that. I remember being that person; I was 23, living somewhere new and all I could see were fresh horizons and a new adventure. Little did I know that my time down there would be miserable, isolated and borderline suicidal.

My vlog and podcast episode this week were along the lines of isolation, uncertainty and mental illness. The isolation being the main focus. Now, I work from home, spend much of the day in my own company, with the odd interaction with my In-Laws, and wouldn’t change it for the world. I adore my job and the opportunity to work in my own home; it can get a bit monotonous and lonely at times but these tend to be short lived. The pluses always far outweigh any negatives I encounter.  It’s the loss of being able to leave my home that is proving the real difficulty for me. I am a social person, I like to be outside, meeting people and being part of a community; be it church, the gym, my own family outside of my house or the local pubs. These are what give me real joy and purpose outside of working.

The aforementioned previous blog is linked to this, I promise. And here it is; my supposed carefree writing and view of my world was insincere. I have a terrible memory at the best of times so it’s hard for me to recall most details of every-day life when I lived in Pitstone, but reading my few blog posts from that time has really let me back into my own mind. I lived in a sort of blissful, self-inflicted ignorance. I knew I got sad sometimes but I largely ignored it. I never imagined that I would end up being medicated, out the other side of many therapies (with varied results) and with official diagnoses.

I write of living in a small village during a long period of snow:

“…clad in what can only be described as Tanks in Boot Form, leopard-print coat, two scarves, two pairs of gloves, floppy hat and ear muffs, I wandered to the shops. I am always delighted when walking through my village as, no matter what you look like, whether you have two heads and a toilet brush stuck to your shoe, you’re always guaranteed a pleasant smile and sincere greeting…”

As whimsical as this paragraph seems, I remember feeling isolated, alone and hopeless. I recall hating where I lived and its distance from anywhere I could interact with people and be myself. So why did I write as though I were happy? I can only put it down to the aforementioned disconnect from my mental health. I was in the throes of an (unrealised) eating disorder and thought of harming myself as you would about getting a new toothbrush. This was just my reality, but I didn’t see it as problematic. I didn’t want to not hate food, and antidepressants were the furthest thing from my mind.

Which brings me to today and my most recent podcast episode and vlog. I am very much connected to and understand my mental health problems. These things affect me every day and have an influence on almost every decision I make, activity I perform or plan I make. Is this connection to my mental health…healthy? I have automatically thought through the next few weeks or months in terms of my mental health and how it will impact my life and mind. Should I be more distant from instinctively thinking like that? I know I certainly find reading my blog posts from 2010 much more enjoyable than the narratives I share on my podcast and vlogs (and now blog posts).

Maybe this is just how I was meant to grow as a person. I must admit, keeping my mental health problems in the forefront of my mind has crippled me at times, but in others it’s made certain achievements that much bigger. I genuinely don’t know what to think.

But enough now, please feel free to check out the podcast and YouTube channel to check out how I feel I am going to cope in the next few weeks and months; this blog post is more of an extention of my thoughts and a reflecton after finding my old blog. I will certainly share more from that old blog in coming posts, I hope you enjoy them!

 

Thanks everyone,

Claire

Exercising Depression YouTube Channel

Exercising Depression Podcast on Spotify

Exercising Depression Podcast on Apple Podcasts

Exercising Depression Podcast on Google Podcasts

And available on many more podcast platforms just search Exercising Depression Podcast

I’m back and ready to start the conversation…

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So this is a tiny bit weird. I’ve not been here for quite a while! I left for personal reasons, but I’ve decided to take up this platform once again. I recently got a couple of email notifications that people had stared following this blog, of which a I have to admit, I forgot about until then. So I will be taking this back up and syncing it with the scheduling of my new(ish) podcast and YouTube channel…

In 2019 I decided to start a podcast (as most people have, I’m sure!) about my mental health, I’ll leave links below if you want to check it out. It’s a podcast about me, my daily struggles with mental illness and my attempt to lift the stigma surrounding mental illness by having open, frequent and honest conversations about everything that comes with mental health.

Thank you sincerely to those who hav recently started following this blog, it was the kick up the behind I needed.

I stay tuned! I upload new podcast episodes and vlogs on Fridays, and this will now include a blog post so watch this space!

 

Thanks everyone!

 

Claire