Damn that British stiff upper lip - it’s good to talk | Blaise Tapp

When our beleaguered Prime Minister announced to the nation that we are likely to experience at least six more months of disruption and uncertainty you could almost hear the collective groans.

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 2:55 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, on September 30. Picture by: Jack Hill/The Times/PA Wire

There was genuine surprise, even anger in some quarters, when the usually Tiggerish Boris Johnson glumly dashed any lingering hopes that we might be back to normal by Christmas – vain hopes he fuelled just a few short months ago.

Personally, I couldn’t see why anybody should be surprised by last week’s re-tightening of restrictions – for some time now it has been clear for all to see that we are heading in the wrong direction, meaning that there is more chance of me landing the role of the principal in Swan Lake than there is the that the halcyon days of last year may return.

The idea that 2019, with all its toxic politics and general unrest can now be seen as a high watermark is further illustration of the mess we currently find ourselves in and explains why there are very real warnings of a ‘mental health’ timebomb.

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While there are many possible long-lasting effects of the pandemic to worry about, we ought to be most concerned about the impact it is having on the wellbeing of millions of us.

The three months of lockdown we experienced between March and June was the toughest thing that many of us have ever done – especially those of us who haven’t been to war or worked on the frontline for emergency services.

The monotony of being stuck indoors for weeks on end, especially with increasingly fractious children being thrown into the mix, while not being able to see loved ones on top of having all well-laid plans cancelled, was a struggle.

But we came through it just in time for the summer, with the promise of holidays abroad and trips to the pub and restaurants, where we could stuff our cakeholes with half-price fish and chips all serving to fuel a creeping confidence that we might get our old lives back.

Even though it soon became clear that the new found hope of July and August was something of a false dawn, many chose to believe that we could find a way to live with the virus just as long as it meant that we didn’t return to the days when queuing for the supermarket was the highlight of our week.

What many of us our feeling right now is despair that this horrible mess is far from over, tinged with embarrassment that our mood is low.

Guess what, it is fine to feel like this but do yourself a favour and don’t do that horribly British thing of keeping your anxieties to yourself as the days of pulling ourselves together being a recognised cure are thankfully behind us.

Mental health – which is a deliberately broad definition – is no longer a taboo and should be something that every one of us is able to talk about. Sadly, this isn’t the case but there is plenty that we can do to both help ourselves and support others during these, the weirdest of times.

Everybody is different but whenever I have been at my lowest ebb, I have always found that talking helps, be it with loved ones and friends or professional counsellors. Being able to talk through my fears and worries with mates down the pub, on the phone or even via WhatsApp or Zoom have always helped.

There are plenty of mental health experts who have recognised how much damage the pandemic might cause and are taking to social media to share tips on how to cope with these most unprecedented times.

General themes are to be kind to yourself and stay in contact with those who make you happiest.

It is perfectly understandable to feel all at sea right now but never forget that you don’t have to do it on your own.

For more information, or to seek help, go to mind.org.uk/coronavirus-we-are-here-for-you, check out samaritans.org or call Samaritans on 116123.