.…by Emma – CAMHS Research Advisory Member (22 years)
“Everything is so strange at the moment, everything is confusing, everything is uncertain!!
No one knows what is happening, no one knows (really) how to handle the situation, no one knows what this means for the future.
As a university student during this pandemic, this period has been a HUGE learning curve for me. Not only has all of our learning been transferred online, but so has (or, so it seems) the entirety of our lives! If I want to see my friends, we have to organise a videocall (I quickly learnt how to use Zoom, pre-March, I had never heard of it before), if I want to see my grandparents… videocall! If I want to organise birthday gifts for family/friends… online shopping (I thought I’d save money during lockdown, but it is clear to me that online shopping can very easily become your new best friend). Our new online lives are strange and confusing, but they are also exciting.
And, that is why I feel so lucky and grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of the CAMHS digital advisory group. This group uses the involvement of young people to conduct research and, as a result, develop digital mental health interventions relevant to service users. How relevant is such a group, especially at the moment, in a world that is increasingly relying on technology to run. CAMHS digital group is still running every week and it is amazing to feel surrounded by such dedicated and passionate individuals who, not only, want to create positive change for mental health services but who want the resources to be easily accessible to our online generation! The passion, dedication, ambition and commitment of everyone involved is inspiring to see, especially so as a university student, and I feel proud to be part of such a valuable group.
I am also passionate about helping others (in whatever way I can), so here is my unsolicited advice on how to cope and be kind to yourself during this pandemic:
While it’s important to keep up to date with Covid-19 developments, it is equally as important (if not, more so) that you keep a check on your mental health over the coming weeks and months, to ensure you’re best placed to handle any impending challenges with resilience and strength.
- Distinguishing between what you can and can’t control is a key component of managing your mental health and lessening anxiety. By focusing your energy and attention on the factors within your control, you’re giving your mind something practical and helpful to focus on.
- It’s important to acknowledge how you are feeling, rather than dismissing ‘negative’ emotions or beating yourself up for feeling them. Accept that you feel the way you do, and that it may be what you need to feel in this moment.
- Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a great way to express emotions.
- Have self-compassion – be kind to yourself. Showing yourself a little kindness can often be the best way to help keep anxiety under control.
- Self-isolation might become a very real experience for many of us over the coming months, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected with loved ones and the outside world. If you’re worried about being alone, try to prepare in advance by reaching out to your community, friends or family.
- Don’t force yourself to be productive. The current climate is crap enough without the added guilt of not learning Latin, doing Tai Chi or making artisan bread from scratch. If you woke up, brushed your teeth, ate something and spent 15 minutes not thinking about the Coronavirus then well done. That IS an achievement. Sometimes the best thing to do is just be, feel things and get through. Survive. That is more than enough.
- Talking. Talk about how you feel. You’re not going through this alone. WE’RE not going through this alone. It is okay to struggle. Struggling is understandable and reaching out for help does not make you weak.
- It is okay to feel what you feel now.
Ultimately, the difference in how we get through these uncertain times will come down to how we think about the situation. We can’t predict the future, and if we focus on our fears and doubt our ability to cope with what will happen, we will naturally feel anxious. If, on the other hand, we focus on the present and what we can control, as well as our strength and resilience, then together we will get through this difficult time.
At times like these, we need to remind ourselves that, whatever we may feel, it is valid. It is okay. It is important. It is justified. And, equally, it will pass. It is okay to be a mess. It is okay to respond differently to how others respond. It is okay to not be productive with every single minute of your day. It is okay to survive. These aren’t normal times so do not have normal expectations of yourself. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. Allow yourself to simply exist.
Your thoughts are only thoughts, they too shall pass. Our current situation shall pass as well. What is important is that you stay true to yourself. Who you truly are will never change.
One day this will be over and we will all be so grateful for life in ways we never recognised before.
If you’ve got to the end of this blog (well done) and would like the chance to get involved in this inspiring group, follow this link – https://camhs.digital/contact/
Blogging off (like ‘logging off’ – I’m proud of my pun okay), Emma”