There hasn’t been a year in my lifetime that has had such a negative impact on the mental health of so many like 2020 has. Yet me, someone who has had an array of difficulties with his mental health and continues to do so, has managed to stay positive throughout most of it.
If the year went as planned I would have finished my journalism course in May (instead of September) I’d have ticked off my fifth wonder of the world when I visited the Taj Mahal in June and I would have seen two of my dear travel friends tie the knot in California, which would have included a few days in one of my favourite places in the world – San Francisco.
Sadly, just like for everyone else, it didn’t go that way. Coronavirus swept across the world and was declared a pandemic in March, shortly afterwards the UK joined a quarter of the worlds population in living under some form of lockdown because of the virus.
For a few months as spring turned to summer theatres, cinemas, pubs, streets, shops and stadiums fell silent. The Premier League, Euro 2020 and Eurovision were all postponed and the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo will now take place in 2021.
The thing that still amazes me about Covid-19 is how global it is. Nothing is global like this. Things such as the weather are global but it’s different everywhere whereas with Covid the thing that affected all of us in so many different ways was on the news.
Without doubt the worst part of the pandemic for me was that month or so before lockdown when no one really knew what was the right thing to do. I was hopping on a train to London at 6:30am and returning home at 20:00 each day thinking I shouldn’t be going into the city now.
There was even a point where I cut out the ten minute tube ride from my commute as I saw it as a hot spot for Covid, replacing it with a 40 minute walk from Liverpool Street to Waterloo twice a day.
Around this time I was also seeing my therapist once a week for the first time in two years.
Return to therapy
While i’m not going to go into the details of the therapy sessions I can say there is one simple reason I found myself there again – respect – or the lack of it I was shown at the time.
It started off with a few people on my course who were making comments about a part of my life I like to keep pretty close to my chest, which I didn’t mind at first because I never told them I like to keep it that way. Once I asked them to stop most of them did, except for one guy who kept going and going and going.
It became a serious issue because I had to see him everyday. Similar to being on the same flight as a crying baby – I couldn’t escape it.
The reason this story has a couple of paragraphs here instead of an entire post is because in my eyes the situation ended months ago. Once I stopped seeing this guy everyday I didn’t hear his comments and in turn my depression eased.
In my entire adult life i’m yet to meet someone to continuously show me so little respect despite me asking, telling and begging him to stop. There is a lot more to this story but I feel I don’t need to go into it because as far as i’m aware the situation that caused me so much grief is over and I’ll never see the man who showed me so little respect again.
A matter of days before lockdown my course moved to online learning. Around this time someone I was close with started showing symptoms so I had to complete two weeks isolation. As soon as I found this out I cancelled a therapy session I had planned and haven’t had to go back since.
So, lockdown happened, something that seemed so draconian and impossible actually happened to everyone. We were all given one simple instruction – stay at home.
A lot of people showed concern for me in lockdown as someone that lives by himself but to be honest that was the way I wanted it. Lockdown and the pandemic in general was a very anxiety inducing time and i’m someone who knows how to avoid causing himself a lot of stress – I know how to take care of myself – as made evident when the behaviour of someone else sent me back to therapy.
When it became clear that the pandemic wasn’t going to end overnight and all those plans I had were unlikely to happen, I got rid of my list of things I wanted to achieve this year, I ripped it to shreds.
I always write a list of things to do and achieve at the start of the year and it helps me stay motivated to achieve them. But when I can’t complete them for a reason that is beyond my control the best thing I can do for myself is get rid of the list.
With that in mind once I struck a balance of learning, working and self-care I knew I would be fine with lockdown. And that’s exactly what happened, I endured exam success, zoom quiz success, burned through a lot of scented candles, read a number of books, took Sunderland to Europe on Football Manager, completed Netflix and turned 26, soon after, restrictions began to be lifted.
Similarly to every year I had a few holidays booked for 2020. I was due to fly to one of my favourite cities in the world, San Francisco, for the wedding of two of my dear travel friends as well as staycation in the Peak District.
On Black Friday 2019 I decided I wanted to put some miles on my soul before parking it behind a desk on completion of my NCTJ multimedia sports journalism qualification that would see me become a fully qualified journalist. I ultimately decided on India due to my fascination with the country and desire to tick off another wonder of the world – Taj Mahal.
However, like almost everyone else, I had to cancel each and every one of them. As a man who loves travel as much as I do and has seen the mental health benefits as much as I have a lot of my close friends and family were concerned at how I would respond to this.
And to be honest, I was fine. I tried everything in my power to go but this year just wasn’t the time or place for that. The Peak District is a trip I’d like to think can be rearranged once the vaccine is rolled out and the tier systems are reduced.
As for India, everything I was planning to see and do in that magnificent country isn’t going anywhere. The Taj Mahal, stunning beaches of Goa and the various places of worship in New Delhi will still be there whenever I find a good and sensible time to fly to that part of the world, and I have the attitude that it will be even better then than it would have been in 2020.
However, I was gutted to miss my friends wedding in California, I really was. It was something I was looking forward to for so long but I tried everything I could to go, but sadly it didn’t work out. The photos from the big day look absolutely amazing and i’m sure when i’m able to fly to that part of the world again I will have an amazing time as I always do.
For the entirety of November the UK went into a second national lockdown. Pubs, non-essential shops, restaurants, golf courses and more had to close once again as the second wave of COVID-19 began to take shape with the arrival of winter.
When the lockdown was announced I was of the opinion that it would be easier than the spring lockdown from March till June, but I was wrong. I found the November lockdown much more of a challenge.
I’ve given this some thought and I think it is because of a mixture of the following. The first lockdown came at a good time for me as I mentioned earlier, obviously I wish the circumstances were different, but the idea of being at home and away from certain people at the time was ideal.
I also think because as a nation we had gone through months and months of restrictions which meant we couldn’t see friends and family, go to the pub or play football or a round of golf that when the spring lockdown came to an end the gratitude to have them back, albeit not in their normal fashion, was so high.
This meant that when the nation went into lockdown once again and all of those were taken away for another month I hit the wall.
I was consumed with boredom and completely lost any sense of motivation and drive which I managed to keep hold of during the initial lockdown because my NCTJ qualification course was into its final few weeks whereas in November it was complete and I was a Gold Standard journalist.
In the final week of lockdown two something wonderful happened to me. I was offered a place in the 2021 London Marathon with the mental health charity Mind! When that happened my motivation and drive returned and the training schedule, which i’m currently four weeks into, is doing a very good job at keeping my mind in balance.
An optimistic approach to 2021
So here we are, on the eve of a brand new year and I think I speak on behalf on the entire world when I say 2020 will not be missed.
Traditionally i’d be in a village pub around the corner from my mums house with a number of my closest friends but obviously that isn’t the case this year.
Although I fully expect the first few months of the year up to Easter to be tough and no different to recent times I do have an optimistic view of life beyond when everyone who needs a vaccine has one.
I hope that families are reunited, NHS staff and key workers get to go home to the heroes reception they deserve and we get some sense of normality back.
As I highlighted earlier, the one thing that is so unique about the pandemic is that it’s global. The thing that is affecting each and every one of us is on the news.
It is for this reason that I think the day we get to put this nightmare behind us will be a time that the nation and wider communities around the world will be closer than ever – as if it’s a repeat of the roaring 20s a hundred years ago.
For me personally completing the London Marathon to the best of my ability is my challenge/project of the year and I know that will be enough to keep my mind positive until the conclusion of lockdown restrictions.
As for the bigger picture, the news of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine being approved for use in the UK is a huge turning point for us all and means the light at the end of the tunnel for the horror show of the epidemic is getting bigger – better days are coming.
Wishing you all a very happy new year and i’ll see you in the next one where I hope to be more active on the blog.
2021 London Marathon
As I mentioned a few times in the post i’m running the 2021 London Marathon for Mind. If you wish to donate or keep up to date with how my training and fundraising is going you can do so by following the links below.
Fundraising Page – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JordanCamp
My new Instagram page dedicated to my London Marathon journey – @26.2MilesForMind
Strava – https://www.strava.com/athletes/9589825
Mind Website – https://www.mind.org.uk