‘I struggled to cope’: over-50s in UK describe Covid’s toll on mental health | Mental health

‘I struggled to cope’: over-50s in UK describe Covid’s toll on mental health | Mental health

As Uk society started to shut down in March 2020, the uncertainty all over the long run began to get to Tina Flintham. “I felt thoroughly not in manage. You just didn’t know what was likely to take place.”

Flintham, 61, from Rotherham, is one of several who uncovered the pandemic introduced mental well being worries. She professional high ranges of stress, specifically as she had aged dad and mom in bad health and fitness. “Every early morning I would wake up pressured, pondering if I, my partner or mother and father would get Covid or die,” she says. “A incredibly near friend’s husband died with Covid [early on] – it truly introduced household how undesirable it was.”

Tina Flintham
Tina Flintham

Study has located that in late 2020, British people today in their 50s and early 60s ended up dealing with bigger levels of psychological distress than they experienced at any time experienced before in adulthood. For many in excess of-50s, the pandemic induced a “second midlife crisis”, with ladies worst afflicted.

Flintham, who is now retired, experienced been as a result of a time period of melancholy in her mid-50s, which she attributes to the menopause. “I was incredibly very low but I managed to carry on performing. It was a actual physical sensation of [being] down and went on for 3 months. I was at the level of pondering go to the health practitioner, but then it just went.” She says she “gritted her teeth” and got via it, incorporating that she has always relied on exercise.

But lockdown brought new difficulties for Flintham, who labored for the local authority at the time. “I’ve normally been a quite sociable human being, usually assembly up with mates, executing yoga and swimming, but I experienced none of that to assistance me via. I truly skipped swimming – I even dreamt about it.” She found using walks in the close by countryside was a “godsend” in coping with the strain.

The turning point for her mental wellness arrived with the vaccine rollout and as culture opened up. When much of the anxiety commenced to dissipate, she still feels its echoes. “Sometimes I wake up and have very similar feelings about what nowadays is likely to carry. I misplaced my confidence I don’t go out half as substantially as I employed to, [and] I have to force myself to. As soon as I’m out, I’m fine, but right before I hardly ever even considered issues like that. Also, becoming in confined spaces with heaps of individuals – I nevertheless feel strange about that.”

Mark Dawes
Mark Dawes

Though Mark Dawes, 60, experienced seasoned bouts of delicate to reasonable despair before, he was always equipped to cope by “forcing” himself to socialise and remain lively. But when the London-centered charity worker lost his father on the 2nd working day of lockdown, his grief blurred into despair for months.

“I had to offer with the grief on your own – even the funeral had to be completely virtual as it was not attainable to travel,” he says. “Living on your own was really isolating and all social lifetime was stopped – and relying on public transportation meant I could not even vacation to go walking in the close by countryside.”

Even though he has skilled psychologically complicated intervals in advance of, this time, “the isolation felt extremely different”. “It all floor to a halt. Then you had the pandemic alone, which was very terrifying when it begun off. It was a blur of times with no occasions in them. I was dwelling, but not truly dwelling.”

About a yr into the pandemic, Dawes began to undergo cognitive behavioural treatment, and with the “loosening” of the pandemic begun to come to feel far better. But he claims there has been a lasting influence, like not becoming in a position to appropriately grieve for his father. “I don’t enjoy existence as significantly as I employed to. I search forward to items significantly less – life’s a bit greyer.”

The pandemic also landed a blow to people who experienced never dealt with mental wellness troubles before. In the early months of lockdown, Sally (not her real identify), in her early 60s, made extreme stress and anxiety and minimal temper for the initial time in her lifestyle. “I was wholly taken by shock as I have never ever experienced with these difficulties right before. I used large pieces of the working day in tears.

“Everyday responsibilities turned hard and, around time, I found it difficult to confront people today. At night time-time I shook, had incredibly hot flushes, terrible desires and struggled to rest.”

Sally, who is retired and life in the east Midlands, grew to become quite fearful of Covid. “When some restrictions commenced to be relaxed I struggled to cope with seeing folks, even in the yard. I did not come to feel capable to go to general public sites these as retailers. Every single morning I woke up with a emotion of dread and unhappiness.”

By Oct 2020, she realised she essential assistance and commenced speaking therapy above the cell phone. “In the stop I decided I required to confront my fears and get back to some sort of usual lifetime. I began by forcing myself to do items this sort of as go into retailers tiny by tiny: not something that I uncovered straightforward,” she says, introducing that returning to the health and fitness center was also essential. “I no longer believe about Covid each waking minute and I am at last commencing to delight in existence again.”