How to take care of my mental health when COVID-19 restrictions are starting to eat me alive?
I understand people do not agree for international borders to open but when you’re not australian it makes it really difficult.
Im from NZ, moved here 6 years ago for uni then work. I didn’t mind the restrictions at first as it helped flatten the curve but I didn’t realise it’d be this long.
it means I can’t see my family and friends. I’ve never gone this long without seeing my family and it’s driving me insane.
on top of this, my relationship also turned into long distance as he left the country to be an expat just before the border closure kicked in so I haven’t been able to see him since he left.
It’s been 7 months and it’s been an emotional roller coaster. Most of the time, I’m doing fine but sometimes I’m just really on edge, feeling disconnected and frustrated and when this happens, i start to become resentful and envy of others
I’ve always been okay being on my own but i knew i needed company during this time. my existing friends are almost always unavailable which is normal in adultlife.
so far, I’ve just been burying myself at work and on my days off I plan things to do so Im kept busy. i love hiking so I’ve been joining hiking groups and it definitely helped heaps as I’m meeting new people but I still struggle sometimes especially when I’m with my own thoughts.
I worry that my relationship would sour. We are not struggling at the moment but I’m worried if this pandemic continues, it may happen.
I’m worried I won’t see my family and relatives for a long time and God forbid anything happens to anyone in my family.
i considered dropping everything and just leave the country to be with my parents but I’m worried I won’t be able to come back to aus for a really long time and in the end my life and my job is based in australia.
I understand there’s no point worrying about the future but I can’t help but feeling anxious so,
does anyone have any tips on staying in the present and to be positive? I really hate myself being so moody.
Any help or support would be appreciated.
if anyone else in this forum is going through the same situation as me I’d be really interested to see how you’re doing and how have you been staying well, mentally.
thanks heaps 🙏
Thank you so much for joing us here at our the Beyond Blue forums. We're so sorry to hear how much you're struggling right now - it must be really tough to be away from your partner. Please know that there is support available to you. If you feel it might be useful, we'd encourage you to visit our Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service. The website will be regularly updated with information, advice and strategies to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health during this time.
You are quite right that some of our members are going through similar - hopefully a few of them will pop by to welcome you over the next few days.
I've read some of your other threads and think you are underestimating yourself, and that your coping skills are pretty good.
As someone who values friendships but does not always find them equal the idea of joining hiking clubs and other groups sounds very sensible. It give you new things to think about and less time to brood on existing people.
As you say, being left to your own thoughts is not always good.
I must say a couple of your worries have not happened yet. You parents are OK and your LDR Boyfriend has not started to go 'go sour' as you put it. Bearing in mind (if I understand correctly) you were only starting the relationship when he left for his job I think that is pretty good. One thing you will be able to say , if your relationship survives the best of a year apart it will probably be very solid.
My own, based upon letters them email for a long time before we met was based entirely on text-based impressions, and has lasted 20+ years. with video it should be even easier.
I'm sure there will be times when you miss people, think they are not returning messages as they should, and even wonder if you are doing the right thing .
Perhaps you need something at home that you enjoy and distracts you - I use books, what would work for you?
Thank you for your comforting words.
yeah, I think my biggest problem is imagining scenarios. I think a lot of it has to do with what happened in the past and I’m afraid that history will repeat itself and i waste my time on the wrong people.
Soon, our problem will be more than just COVID as he will be making some decisions about his career which may make this LDR even longer or i may have to move overseas (If he will ever ask me to). everything is so uncertain, nothing can be decided so I’m just sitting here overwhelmed, not knowing what to say as this relationship is still fresh. we’ve been apart longer than we’ve been together physically. i have a feeling he’s being the same too, afraid to be direct, it’s like he’s making really subtle hints but i wasn’t sure if they were hints he wants me to pick up or im just reading too much into it.
“I'm sure there will be times when you miss people, think they are not returning messages as they should, and even wonder if you are doing the right thing “ - you spoke my mind right there, this is exactly how i feel.
I think it’s brave how you and your other half lasted 20+ years and started off with emails and messages. I think nowadays, people are so easily distracted, it’s hard to trust people. And this applies to friendships too.
ive been doing a lot of reading too, (not cos of covid) and i try to get out and do stuff and find more hobbies to do. But i still feel anxious from time to time. Not seeing my family was really hard on me and i never realised how much it’d impact me. I’m just going to wait and see, mu last resort is to get a flight out and stay with my family for a few months. I’m fine with isolation if i have to.
if you have any other tips, I’d gladly try 🙂
I am really sorry to hear you are struggling. I can't imagine what it is like not to see your family and your partner for so long. It sounds like things are really tough at the moment. Please know that you are not alone in feeling like this, there are many struggling with restrictions and it is understandable that you are feeling so disconnected and frustrated, I hear you. I can relate to the worrying about the future and about loved ones - it can feel quite overwhelming and distressing, and it always worsens when you are not with them and can snowball quickly into very negative thoughts. Even though no amount of worrying can change the future, we all do it. It sounds like you have some really good coping skills though. It's great that you are making an active effort not to isolate yourself - hiking is a great way to meet people and being outdoors is so good for you physically and mentally. In terms of being more present, grounding techniques can be helpful in bringing you back to the here and now when you get anxious - this can include things like moving your body (stretching, going for a run, and paying attention to how your body feels), describing what's around you/focusing on what you can hear/see/smell/taste/feel, listening to music, deep breathing exercises. It sounds like you are also finding distraction, work and keeping busy and having routine quite helpful too.
I wish I could help you and tell you that it will be over soon but everything is uncertain and I really don't know. I have some family in New Zealand and am hoping it may be okay to visit again in Jan/Feb but who knows... anyway take care and please feel free to chat more if you feel like it.
Thank you for you kind words.
i know i appear to be coping fine which i am mostly fine but every few days, i'd reach a really low point before having to pull myself back up again. it's like taking an emotional roller-coaster which is really draining. i think i'm more drained than sad or anxious. i think i struggle to trust people and i need to learn that if they truly like me, i shouldn't be worried. i also discovered that i'm more sensitive than usual, it's like i'm feeling fine all day but when i start talking about it, i get teary out of nowhere.
i had my first session with a psychologist but they are so booked out it'll be weeks until my next session. she's taught me grounding techniques too ( i also realised they're often techniques discussed on self help podcasts as well) they do work but only for as long as i'm doing it, as soon as i stop, i slip back into overthinking. When i overthink, i start thinking about the past thinking i'm going to get hurt and i start to self loathe and believe that i don't deserve to be happy. That's when i start expecting the worst case scenario.
i do work a lot to distract myself, but i'm now overworked and experiencing the opposite effect haha. i'm just saving up as much as i can for now so i can be prepared to leave the country if borders remain closed. i think the worst thing would be to see other states and countries opening up but QLD remains shut.
I am sorry things feel so exhausting. It must be draining trying to keep yourself afloat, especially when you are feeling disconnected and finding it difficult to trust others. Are you able to trust your partner? Is there anyone you feel comfortable talking with about what you’re going through?
Work can be a good distraction in moderation but you’re right, if you take it to an extreme it can do more harm. I think I know what you mean with the grounding techniques - they are more of a short term measure. It can be so difficult to stop overthinking when your thoughts start to spiral. I understand. It can feel all-consuming. Have you ever found writing helpful? Sometimes externalising the thoughts and emotions onto a page in writing or text can take the edge off (even just a bit) and can help you challenge and distance yourself from the thoughts. It doesn’t always work but maybe this is something to consider? I really hope that you are able to find a time with the psychologist soon to get some extra support. You deserve to be happy, despite what your thoughts may try to tell you.
thank you xx
there’s really no point talking to anyone except a psychologist. Nobody knows how i feel, they say they are here for me if i needed to rant and unleash but all I’m doing is repeating myself and nobody wants that. I’ve realised a long time ago that doing this ruins friendships.
i think what I crave is a friend to check up on me, not only be here for me when I reach out myself (which I do but I’m not going to keep doing that) But nobody checks up on me afterwards. And tbh, I can’t expect anybody to do that as we are all living a busy life.
i did tell him that I’m stressed but I don’t think he gets it fully and I don’t feel he’s stressed even though he said so. But again, how much can you tell over phone calls right? I guess i do have some trust issues im trying to overcome but i feel a part of me refuses to trust fully so that if things go south it won’t be too much of a shocker. I’m also afraid to unload fully as I’m afraid that it’ll ruin the relationship. I think this fear has a lot to do with my past relationships.
i do write, but I don’t have the time and energy to it every single day. Work is pretty exhausting and i often just want to rest and do nothing when i get home. Im trying to do it whenever i can but yeah I’ve got a lot of improving to do apart from complaining.
I know everything is fine, my family is fine, there’s no definite sign that my relationships gone sour, it’s all in my head. i just need to get through it and over time I’ll learn to trust. But that’s only if things don’t go sour otherwise I’ll have to start all over again.
I have a feeling that travel restrictions will not be on for much longer, no matter where you are and you can trip to your family without having to stay an extended time.
You did ask in your last post to me for a couple more tips.
I believe sunnyl20 has already at least partially answered one, you said "Nobody knows how i feel, they say they are here for me if i needed to rant and unleash but all I’m doing is repeating myself and nobody wants
That is something writing -even if it involves extra effort, can help with . Here you can vent, it's private so you can be as blunt or personal as you need, and does, by the very fact of venting, answer a human need. Perhaps if you set aside a regular time of day for ¼ hour or more to do just that.
Reading back may help. Looking at past pages and seeing your fears laid out in detail, sometimes the perspective of time can help, particular when you come across matters that drove you frantic at the time, but now has little or no power over you - irrelevant to life. It can make you wonder about current perceived threats.
It's also a handy record if you needed to give your psych an idea of what you have to live though.
Grounding techniques can evaporate when you stop, it's true. I've had that problem, also when being hypnotized, as soon as I walked out the surgery door the world was back full force.
One free smartphone app, Smiling Mind, has helped more than others. With practice it can leave one in a calmer frame of mind, I use it both when in a very tense situation - like waiting for something that might be unpleasant, and also just to generally make me concentrate less on the things I am anxious about.
It is free, has sections for adults as well as kids and government approval, it's used by the NSW Education Department for instance. You can also turn the awful background music off 🙂 Even the initial demo can help.
I hope this helps
Hi Croix 👋
I’m hoping travel restrictions would be lifted too. We’re hoping by end of January it would open up. It’s not like him and my family are located in worst affected areas like Europe or America but I’ve lost hope as it seems that majority of AUS (except NSW) and NZ are going for elimination so it seems unlikely they’ll open up to countries that still have cases and that’s basically the world. Plus I’m in QLD which is probably the toughest state just behind WA. i feel I’ll have to go through sydney and melbourne to leave but then coming back to QLD I’ll probably have to quarantine (which I’m okay with when I’m desperate but not when i have to pay thousands for it)
I agree, I’ll definitely try to spare time each day to do some reflective journals. Funny you mentioned looking at past pages, i literally was just doing that before reading your post. I didn’t realise how frustrated a month ago, compared to what I’m feeling now! I should be taking that as a good thing.
yes, i know about smiling mind, I’ve been installing them un-installing them for the past couple of years cos i just couldn’t adhere to it. I should probably try and force it into a habit. I’ve heard many good things about it but I don’t why i find meditation and mindfulness exercises really difficult. But it’s like what emphasised “with practice”. Was it difficult for you at first as well? May i ask roughly how long did it take for you to get used to it?
thanks heaps for your support.