Gabi (she/her) lives in the Republic of Ireland, works as a mental healthcare worker and a is a mum to three young kids. Gabi struggles with her mental health and is under the care of mental health services. She faced difficult feelings of isolation during lockdown, however, this experience has led to her having greater appreciation of her loved ones and support network.
Gabi had very different experiences during the first and second lockdowns in Ireland. The first lockdown was “very difficult” - being told to work from home shortly before the lockdown started was tough, especially as she worries about her “unpredictable” mental health. Living alone with her children, it was a period of time where Gabi struggled with a “feeling of isolation”. She hardly spoke to anyone and she found that her mental health was impacted.
If I’m not seeing any other adults it makes me feel very cut off, isolated. Because your mind doesn’t have the distraction of company, you start really getting into yourself and it’s not very healthy for me.
However, as Gabi was grateful that as she had struggled with her mental health in the past, she “knew of the support that was out there” and felt confident that “this can get better”. She received mental health support from her counsellor and a nurse who were “really helpful”.
Because I found the first lockdown so difficult, I rang in one day for nursing support. There was one nurse in particular who I checked in with every now and again if I started to feel myself going down, because I was feeling quite anxious. She was brilliant. The two of them would have been my main support. I was really lucky.
She was also appreciative that social distancing restrictions meant she could re-join an old language course online, which “was a positive” and “a bit of fun” during a difficult time. Gabi also found solace being around her children, who helped her emotionally.
Being with kids is number one. Even if I’m feeling a bit off or whatever, they’re always a massive help.
Despite this it was still a difficult time, and a huge relief when ‘social bubbles’ were allowed during the second lockdown. This meant that, after weeks of isolation, Gabi was finally able to see friends and colleagues face-to-face again.
The second one [lockdown] was probably best because we could have one person in our social bubble, so my friend was around. That was a massive difference.
During the third lockdown, Gabi suffered an “awful shock” when she very suddenly lost one of her friends to coronavirus, and very shortly after, her uncle also passed away. Her loss underlined her appreciation of her family even further, and she felt worried for her children if she were to catch the virus.
Reflecting on the pandemic, one learning for Gabi was to “take things one day at a time”. The year has been a “time of upheaval” for her, and she’s faced many challenges. However, she is grateful for the strength she’d been able to draw from those around her and she remains cautiously hopeful for the future.
Something that I would hope coming out of it is that there's greater importance on looking out for each other and connecting with our families.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.