The last four months have certainly had highs and lows. Our new columnist, TV presenter, campaigner and mental health advocate, Gail Porter writes about her life in lockdown.
Well, this has been an odd year hasn’t it? I’m not entirely sure what year it actually is. I put the news on in the morning just to check the date.
My father passed away in Spain one week before lockdown. It was unexpected and very sudden. Dad never did things by half.
It knocked me for six, and is taking a long time to process. Mind you, I have told him a lot of naughty things I did as a teenager.
Feels odd chatting to his box, but he can’t tell me off (!) and I really feel he is here with me. Anyway, that was the beginning of my lockdown.
I have spent so much time thinking of people who have been in lockdown on their own. People who are unable to get out for a walk. People who are lonely. People who may be ashamed to ask for help, and of course all the wonderful carers out there that put other people before themselves. They are true heroes.
I have worn a mask since I returned from Spain. And I have stayed in, apart from buying essentials.
But a lot of people can’t even do that due to disabilities, anxiety or general fear of this pandemic – no-one seems to tell us exactly what is really going on.
However, I think we can all take something positive from this experience. We can appreciate all our fabulous friends; the services from the NHS, Mind, to The Samaritans.
I have actually been asked to become a UK Ambassador for the Samaritans – an absolute honour, which I accepted instantly.
The Samaritans helped me in so many ways. I remember being alone, struggling with debt, lonely and cutting out all my friends due to embarrassment. I picked up the phone so many times and hung up just as much.
There was one day that I couldn’t see the end to my struggles, pain, anxiety, debt, fear of leaving my flat. That was the day I called and didn’t hang up.
Just to talk to a stranger that asks no questions, doesn’t ask your name, just listens: It really meant so much. I’ve been homeless, bald, broke, sectioned with mental health problems, but I’m still here.
Remember, however low you feel, there is always someone to talk to. This is a very tough time for everyone.
Even so, lockdown has been tough, but a good time to reflect. We are all in this together and we will get through this.
And thank you to all the carers, NHS staff, Samaritans volunteers, or any other stranger that listens. Never be lonely; never worry that you are bothering anyone by sharing your worries. You would be amazed how many people want to talk and help.
Sending love to all.