I'd like to think that before the pandemic struck, I was an outgoing, sociable person. I had plenty of friends and enjoyed going out. I felt I had the world at my feet. I was volunteering, not working through choice, and training to be a counsellor. Every week, I'd go to my Rainbow group to lead a group of five- to seven-year-old girls. I supported the under 25s with their mental health online, and I would travel by train once a week to go to my college course. I'd see my friends as often as I could or would go out visiting places with my partner.
In the space of a week, when England was hit with the first lockdown it felt everything was taken away from me. To be honest, at first, I thought I could take advantage of being at home to give me the reason to sort out my spare room. How wrong was I?
I was no longer able to run my Rainbow group, face to face, a lot of the under-25s I was supporting were experiencing anxiety of the unknown, my course went online and socialising with my friends and partner no longer existed. Luckily for my partner, he worked throughout the pandemic, but for me I was stuck at home. For the first few months my mental health was affected more than I thought it would be. I felt incredibly isolated and lonely. To keep me company I was signing up for endless online workshops, social meet up's online and my college course. Any excuse to be able to socialise without leaving my house. Even seeing the postman was becoming the highlight of my day. It seemed that overnight, I became the shadow of my former self. Also, I felt more alone than ever.
Before the pandemic, I thought once I was qualified, I would be a self-employed counsellor who worked online. What the pandemic has taught me is that I don't like the idea of doing my counselling work 100% online. It's made me realise how lonely and damaging it's been to my mental health. It's important for me to look after my mental wellbeing, as well as that of others.
I'm now working full time; I'm back running my Rainbow group face to face and slowly being able to socialise again. I feel like the old me is gradually coming back. If I stay home, it's because I choose to and not because I'm not allowed to go out. I even managed to pass and complete the classroom element of my college course. Ironically, I'll be starting my counselling placement remotely soon. I cannot wait. I now know I need to ensure I give myself plenty of self-care and the opportunity to socialise.
However, in case you're wondering, I'm still sorting out my spare room!
Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.