I suffer from paranoid schizophrenia and this article describes the challenges I faced during the first lockdown when the mental services I use shut their doors.
Mundane tasks such as getting the shopping or going for a walk heightened my paranoia, especially when someone would cough or sneeze next to me, resulting in me thinking whether or not I had caught the virus. I worried about this constantly and replayed the scene in my head, how did they cough, what did it sound like, how close were they too me etc etc. I couldn’t focus on anything else for most of day.
What compounded my problems was the day centre I relied on closed in order to prevent the virus from spreading. This made me feel isolated unable to communicate my fears to anyone other than my immediate family who are not trained to manage serious mental health disorders.
The group I used to go to, called “my beliefs” was a gathering of people who were in the same boat as me. We would share our problems with each others and this allowed me to release my problems.
The loss of this group further added to my paranoia as I had built in thoughts that I could not share with others.
As this virus is a once in a generation event, mental health services were playing catch up as to how to look after the needs of people like me who were mentally ill. During the immediate stages of the virus I had no support.
I am lucky to be computer literate and the manager at the Greenwood Centre in Camden was kind enough to connect with us via zoom.
This resource helped us lot at. He set up a group where we would discuss various famous people and it was something that I would look forward to, because it was a fun distraction within a supportive group of people.
He also organised a check in group where we would discuss our various problems which helped a lot in terms of fellow group members offering advice and encouragement to the problems I was facing.
Currently mental health organisations have managed to think of ways to support people like me via online methods however the tragedy is mentally ill people who are not computer literate have very limited support and are at risk to themselves and possibly others. My hope is that in light of how much Covid has impacted peoples mental health, the services set up to support them, particularly, serious, chronic mental health services are given the funding they so desperately need.