Norma's story

My covid story is one of isolation, but also of hope. Before the pandemic, I spent a lot of time with my grandchildren and kept busy with gardening, house-hold chores and time with loved ones. Then it all changed. For seven months I was at home and felt really isolated. My anxiety around the virus meant that my routine altered dramatically. I didn’t want people in the house and spent much of my time cleaning and wiping. At first, I still managed to get out for some walks, but, as time passed by, I did this less and spent more time in tears. I would get up in the morning to do some cleaning, but gradually spent more and more time in bed. I wouldn’t eat food prepared by anyone else and wouldn’t sit in the same room as my family for fear of Covid-19. Put simply, my mental health deteriorated.

I was referred to Penumbra and we established a routine of regular phonecalls. I felt the benefit of talking to someone with lived experience of anxiety. This meant I felt able to share my worries without fear of judgement, knowing the other person had some understanding of my situation. These conversations also focused on positive distractions, such as the garden and taking walks. We also discussed the importance of staying connected to friends and family.

Throughout this period, I was also supported by my CPN, psychiatrist and family. Sadly, I continued to struggle and was missing my grandchildren. I couldn’t even Face Time them because I was so tearful. I was reluctant to be admitted to hospital because of my anxiety around the virus. I worried about using their cutlery, crockery and bedding, such was my fear at that time. Eventually, I realised this was the right place for me at this time.

I felt the benefit of talking to someone with lived experience of anxiety. This meant I felt able to share my worries without fear of judgement.

Being in hospital really helped. I received peer support from other patients. Talking and listening to other people gave me strength and the staff supported me to regain my routine with eating, sleeping and showering. I took some walks and settled into the medication regime that worked for me. I was only on the ward for around 10 days, but it made a big difference.

Like everyone else, I am still concerned about Covid-19, but my quality of life has improved immensely. I am able to see my grandchildren, take walks and do my shopping. I also spend time on happy distractions, such as listening to music, surfing the web, watching TV and cooking. In time, I felt able to stop one of my medications and have reduced my phone support. I still use this to discuss my situation and value the support I have received. I still feel some anxiety around the virus, but I know this is rational and it is no longer stopping me from living my life. I follow the rules, keep safe and am thankful to everyone who supported me.

Thank you, Norma, for sharing your story with us.

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