Coronavirus Tales - Constantly Treading Water
I thought I would write this blog as part of my journey towards a better me, as we have heard about mental health being in the spotlight.
Since March 2020 I have been working almost entirely from home, 14 months in total. During that time I have had to go through a lot of change. My wife and I had to struggle with having our two children home although it’s true my wife had to home school them whilst I worked. However having to deal with a child who is a high functioning Autistic, who is adverse to change, then has “meltdowns” as he cannot cope with it all takes its toll on everyone in the house. I also have a younger child who is waiting to be assessed for ADHD, so having to cope with keeping him interested and focussed can be draining.
We had to deal with this, everything else going on in the country, work and also being quarantined in the house with no real outlet for all this energy. It took a heavy toll on my mental health and when things kept happening one after the other it felt like I was literally treading water. Constantly trying to keep above the water line but having each thing pull you down that little bit more, until you tire and go under. Then just when I thought it was getting better and Christmas was around the corner we caught COVID 19 after having it brought back from school, so we were all stuck indoors feeling terrible. Fortunately we survived and after 3 weeks we were back to what you would call normal.
There I am again treading water, trying to keep afloat… Don’t go under… Don’t go under.
2021 came and we all thought that this would be the end of it and we can look forward to a new year and start again. Then I had that dreaded call from my mum, “Dad is being taken to hospital”. My heart sunk, but after a day of assessments, it turned out to be a gall bladder infection, so they knew how to treat it. After 2 weeks of ups and downs we get another call, it seems my dad had contracted COVID 19 whilst in hospital.
Don’t worry I say, he is strong. Don’t go under… Don’t go under…
However after a little longer in hospital we get a phone call saying that he won’t make it. Devastating is not the word. All the way through it we could not see him so we called him and every time he seemed fine. Surely this shouldn’t happen, it’s not fair!
Keep swimming… Don’t go under… Don’t go under…
The funeral took 6 weeks to happen, then when it happened it felt like a weight had lifted. I got on with life, working in the office occasionally and smiling thinking everything was fine. I was above water! But little did I know that I was kidding myself. Without warning I started to feel angry and sad all at the same time. It came like a bolt out of the blue, some days I would be crying and others angry with the world. Why my dad? Why us??!!! I felt like I just wanted to disappear from this world.
I was treading water but losing the battle, soon I would go under!! My wife sat me down and talked to me, letting me know that talking to people is not a sign of weakness. The thoughts and feelings I was having were real and perfectly reasonable for what I have been through. This was not what I had been thinking as I felt alone in my battle to stay afloat.
I called my GP and I was referred to a mental health practitioner and speaking to him made me feel like a weight had lifted. I got in contact with a local bereavement counselling service, who in turn talked me through the process of getting help. My manager helped me with my situation at work, making sure I was OK and giving me the support I needed. I am now not alone, I may still dip under the water from time to time but there is always someone to pull me back up and keep me afloat. You are not alone! You can reach out for help, it is there so don’t be afraid to ask!!
Lee Chapman is a Senior Account Manager at Servoca Resourcing Solutions
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Thank you to Austin Kehmeier for use of his images.