My mental health is usually pretty stable. Despite living with MS, I manage to keep cheerful most of the time, count my blessings often and don’t allow dark thoughts to fester.
Since the world’s gone mad due to the corona virus, I find my mental health has deteriorated and I don’t recognise new feelings, stresses and worries.
This has little to do with self-isolation though. The average MSer is equipped to deal with staying at home all the time and most of us don’t notice much difference! I’m used to not seeing family and friends for weeks at a time and can usually keep myself occupied and connected through social media, WhatsApp groups and the phone.
What’s causing my mental health to suffer is the extra layer of fear in these dark times. As a disabled person I experience fear every day. Fear of falling and being unable to get up, fear of not making it to the toilet in time, fear of progression and the future……………
These days I find myself feeling panicky and breathless. I’m unable to concentrate on anything for long and feel the need to glue myself to rolling news. I feel close to tears a lot of the time and my mood swings widely from stoic optimism to existential despair!
We were told at the beginning that MS is an underlying health condition that puts us all on a high-risk list. Some of us then received the “letter of doom” which put us on an even higher risk list, and we were instructed to stay in, or else!
If this wasn’t scary enough, some of the rhetoric in the media seems to blame underlying health conditions for the current mess we’re all in. Most people won’t be in mortal peril if they get Covid19 so it’s us high risk people ruining it for everyone.
This adds to the layer of fear and it worries me what will happen to some people if they find themselves in hospital where beds and resources are running low. Who is deemed more worthy of treatment? Whose life is worth more?
Ironically, I’m pretty sure I’ve had the virus and have lived to tell the tale. Despite being more at risk, I didn’t experience any complications and didn’t need hospital care. I felt pretty rubbish for 2 weeks, but my MS symptoms weren’t impacted negatively and I’m on the mend now. I have no way of knowing for sure as I can’t be tested yet. There’s still a chance I could catch it, so the fear is still there.
All we can do is focus on the future. This won’t last forever so try to keep calm and carry on.