“I want to go back to work, but I’ve been at home for a long time now, and I get panicky when I think about going back. I’m worried about public transport being busy and other people not wearing masks. My job is customer facing, and I can’t control what other people do. I’ve had both my vaccines, but I’m worried I might still get ill. And if I don’t go back now, I might lose my job.” Melanie, 32, works in hospitality
The pandemic has shattered the fabric of our lives. Many people are beset by physical illness, isolation, uncertainty and money worries. Much has changed. People who used to commute work at home. Children have been home schooled through lockdown or after a ‘ping’. Parents have juggled work and helping the children. Some families have been thrown together more and long for space, while others have been separated from those that they are close to. These difficulties can leave us struggling with our mental health. We might feel overwhelmed, down, or worried.
Now we are taking tentative steps towards normality. We long for the pandemic to end, but, after a year and a half of lockdowns and restrictions, the opening up of life poses its own challenges. We might want to go to shopping, or the cinema, or on holiday, but feel uncertain about whether these activities are safe. Or we might feel safe at home, and worried about going out.
Moves back towards the workplace can be particularly challenging. Some have preferred the convenience and efficiency working at home and resent the return to commuting. Others long for their old ‘normal’ and fear that the companionship and social interaction of work will never return. Many are struggling financially, through redundancy, the loss of contract work or downturns in small businesses.
For couples, there can be difficulties when partners have had different experiences. While Melanie has been on furlough for over a year, her partner Steve, who works in the NHS, has been on the front line, often working extra shifts. He is exhausted and burned out. Melanie resents Steve’s work routine, while Steve sometimes thinks Melanie has had it easy on furlough. The couple have been arguing, and they are struggling to see a way forward together.
For those struggling with their mental health or their relationships, counselling, whether individual counselling or couples counselling, can provide a helpful space to think with an experienced, non-judgmental therapist about the experiences of lockdown and the many difficult feelings to which they can give rise. Simply to talk about how we are feeling to someone neutral often helps, and counsellors are highly trained in listening carefully and helping you and your partner to make sense of your emotions and experiences.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how our services could help you.