It’s my birthday tomorrow.
Hopefully celebrating a birthday in these circumstances will be a one off thing for everyone that has had to endure a birthday during lockdown.
However, one thing that remains is the day before, May 30th. On this day in 2014 I had my biggest mental breakdown which was the trigger for everything that has happened over the last six years.
If I didn’t have the mental breakdown on the eve of my 20th birthday who knows what would have happened.
On the five year anniversary 12 months ago I wrote a blog post where I spoke in detail about that night and everything that happened since which you can read by clicking here or the picture below.
That post one year ago was one of the best received I have written and for this year I want to talk more specifically about the last twelve months where, truth be told, I’ve let myself down at times.
The last twelve months
The majority of what has happened since May 31st 2019 has been brilliant. I completed the sale of my first home, travelled to Norway for a hiking holiday, pursued a career change to become a journalist, attended the wedding of two childhood friends and became an uncle for the very first time – life was good, life was very good.
It was towards the end of February where there were signs that my mind was beginning to slip and it was early March where I would say my mental health fell off a cliff.
My mind tends to slip early March which is why I try to occupy myself as best as possible with past years seeing me attend my brothers wedding or go on a skiing holiday.
But obviously this year with COVID-19 becoming an increasing problem in the UK at the time those things, as well as many others, weren’t an option.
So what happened?
At the start of March there was so much uncertainty as to what was going on in the UK in terms of trying to slow the spread of COVID with many calling for a nationwide lockdown that were already happening in Italy and Spain.
This was the part of the coronavirus pandemic that I struggled with the most.
Should I be cramming onto a commuter train to Liverpool Street in the morning and again in the evening? Should I be sardining onto the Waterloo and City line twice a day?
I live in a block of flats and one of my neighbours has a young child with breathing problems. Was I putting them at risk hopping on London public transport twice a day and exposing myself to the virus in that way?
All of this had my anxieties brewing and with that my focus on my course, home studies and placement work began to slip and my work standards dropped significantly.
At the same time I had people sticking their noses into an area of my life where I like to keep my cards pretty close to my chest and this constant nosiness created a lot of anger in me which is an emotion I don’t express well and it felt like I didn’t have the respect of people.
And the big issue that came with that was that I started to lose respect for myself.
The situation started to look up once we got put into lockdown. In case you are unaware I live alone and I have no issues about being by myself, in fact, I think i’m pretty good at it.
Once we were in lockdown I could incorporate a new routine into my life to get my productivity back to where it should be, I started journaling every morning to get my thoughts from my head to a page to grasp how I was feeling.
I was only leaving my flat for exercise or a food shop so I knew I wasn’t putting myself or anyone close to me at risk and at the same time I could have some me time that I hadn’t had in a while.
In the coming weeks i’m going to write a blog post about my lockdown experience and how I have coped mentally with it but I wanted to give it a little while before posting to see exactly how I would cope with it because I always try to be as honest as I can with these posts.
The recent lapse in my mental health shows that my depression and anxiety aren’t something that was going to go away after nine months of therapy in 2014/15 and supports my claim that it’s a mental illness I will suffer with until the day I die.
I frequently tell people that there will always be scar tissue from what I have gone through in the past and every so often something is going to seap through and I think that is what happened in March.
As for celebrating my birthday during lockdown i’m not fussed to be honest.
I spent my 23rd birthday on a flight to South America by myself so i’m no stranger to this albeit the circumstances are completely different.
This day six years ago was one of the darkest of my life so far and I hope there won’t be too many like it.
I’m forever grateful for what followed in the coming years and hope more good fortune comes my way in the years to come.
I’m going to end this post on a quote from a podcast I was listening to a few days ago – here’s to the next however many years.
“I appreciate the sunshine because i’ve sat in the pouring rain.”