Coronavirus has had an impact on the mental health of women across the country. Increased concerns about health, finances, relationships, juggling work and childcare and uncertainties around lockdown have led to greater strain on mental health. 

In this blog, a mental health nurse explains the impact Coronavirus has had on her and how this has changed the way she views her role. 

I had a panic attack. It was the morning after lockdown was announced and I was at home in my kitchen collecting my bag for work. I couldn’t breath. I pushed the palms of my hands up against my kitchen wall to ground myself and catch my breath, a technique I have taught others but one I have never had to use myself. My 5 year old asked me why I was crying, I didn’t realise I had been.

From the beginning of this crisis I have been worried about the long lasting social and economic impact it will have. It’s always been my worry; for me, it’s more worrying than the virus itself. I am a mental health nurse, I risk assess - that’s my bread and butter. This means I find it hard to live in the moment, I often think about what next? Every action has a reaction. I spend all of my time weighing up risks versus benefits.

I felt unanchored.

Every morning on my way to work I would practice living in the moment, being mindful, one foot in front of another, one day at a time. More techniques and skills that I have taught others.

Overwhelmed. It made me think a lot about anxiety disorders and how the way I felt is how so many people feel every single day. We all need to hold on to that feeling, store it somewhere and recall it when we hear that someone we know is struggling with their mental health.

People often describe me as calm, collected and pragmatic. I have resilience, I have support, love and friendship. I felt the opposite. I felt isolated, and, at times, I felt incredibly alone.

As a manager of a nursing team, I was containing what felt like everyone else’s anxieties, and as a mother of two small children I was helping them to make sense of what was happening. I am also married to a keyworker. We worked opposite each other in order to be home for our children. Our youngest's nursery closed. It’s been a lot.

But, this experience, I hope, will make me a better nurse. I experienced, on a much smaller scale, the fear, the isolation, the panic - fight or flight - which people I care for experience relentlessly. So much love and respect to all of you. I remember every person I have cared for in the 15 years I have been nursing. It’s been a privilege.

I love my job, and not many people can say that. I am grateful and I hope now nurse with even more empathy and kindness.