United Kingdom

Britons reveal they are suffering from 'post-lockdown anxiety'

The next wave of lockdown restrictions ease tomorrow, with non-essential shops, beauty salons and pub beer gardens all opening their doors for the first time in months. 

But not everyone is ready for life to return to normal. 

People across the UK have reported suffering from 'post-lockdown anxiety', triggered by a fear that the rules will suddenly be so different to the ones we've been living under for so long.  

Speaking to FEMAIL, five women from across the UK have explained why they are not 100 per cent ready for the next stage.   

One woman revealed that she had never suffered from anxiety before the Covid-19 pandemic, but now feels anxious about returning to work and socialising after lockdown, and is speaking to a therapist about her worries. 

Meanwhile, a mother admitted that her 'worst fear' is her children getting Covid as lockdown lifts, and added that it will be difficult for her to leave them for 'days at a time' after spending 24 hours a day together. 

'RELATIONSHIPS HAVE CHANGED OVER LOCKDOWN'

Charlotte said her anxiety does not stem from a fear of getting Covid, but she feels overwhelmed by the expectation that she needs to immediately resume life as normal

Charlotte Morrell, 22, from Kegworth, East Midlands, has been furloughed from her job as a trainee hotel manager for the majority of lockdown and has been feeling extremely anxious about returning to work.

She explained that despite Boris Johnson's roadmap plan, she feels like everything is changing at once and she doesn't feel 'ready' to socialise with large groups of people after months in her small bubble.

Charlotte, who recently completed a business and law degree, added that she didn't suffer with anxiety before the pandemic, but has developed anxieties after losing her 'confidence' and she has now started seeing a therapist.

'I FEEL OVERWHELMED WITH TEACHING IN-PERSON' 

Natasha Rose Mills, 33, from Oxfordshire, has experienced anxiety since her childhood, particularly in social situations, and admitted that the pandemic has had an influence on her mental health.

The yoga teacher has been working-from-home and teaching over Zoom during lockdown and admitted she is 'worried' about starting face-to-face teaching.     

'The only worries I have will be when I start teaching in person. We can easily get used to a way of living which becomes normal after a period of time because of this we might find it hard to accept change.' 

She continued: 'I have experienced high levels of anxiety since I was young this has always become a preventive from pushing myself forward. I do feel a level of overwhelming with the thought of teaching in-person however, I feel I'm able to push past the fear and do it anyway.

'We all experience fear and anxiety if we work with fear rather than against allows us to overcome obstacles with ease and flow.'

Natasha Rose Mills (pictured), 33, from Oxfordshire, has experienced anxiety since she was a child and said she is 'worried' about beginning to teach yoga classes in person

Charlotte, who runs a lifestyle YouTube channel, said: 'Now all of a sudden, we can go and do everything all at once and I don't think I'm ready for that, I don't think a lot of people are ready for that.'

Charlotte has been living with her boyfriend Lewis and his family during lockdown, and she said she feels overwhelmed by the prospect of socialising, particularly after not being able to see her own family often during the last year.

She continued: 'I know they are saying with the roadmap that things are going to be gradual but it already feels overwhelming because you look on the telly, on This Morning, and they're saying "this is what you can wear when you come out of lockdown, these are the holidays you can book when you come out of lockdown, these are the garden parties you can have when you come out of lockdown".

'I understand everybody is very excited and want to get back to normality but for the people that are suffering with the anxieties and pressures of going back to normal, it just intensifies when you see everybody talking about it. It doesn't feel gradual.'

Charlotte said that her anxiety does not stem from a fear of contracting Covid-19, but she instead feels overwhelmed by the expectation that she needs to go out, meet her friends and resume life as normal after being stuck indoors for months. 

She added that her relationships have suffered from the pressures of lockdown restrictions, explaining: 'I think certain people take the lockdown rules into their own hands and they do things their own way, I think people that feel anxious follow the rules to a T.

'So for me, I haven't seen much of my family at all this year, or last year. So I've felt very isolated, and some of those relationships have suffered because of the anxieties of the lockdown because you are not able to see people. 

'They perhaps don't understand the anxiety and think, "oh just come over, it will be fine, everybody's doing it" but I don't feel comfortable with that.' 

The YouTuber and blogger also admitted that some of her friends and family are unknowingly putting extra pressure on her to see them, forgetting that it has been a 'very difficult time for some people'.

She said: 'I think when people think "oh this is great" they've had some level of normality, it seems fine just to message and say "when are you coming to see me?" and don't really think that's going to be quite a lot for somebody to do. Even just as simple as going round to somebody's house.'

'I'M ANXIOUS ABOUT BEING AWAY FROM MY CHILDREN'

Martina Mercer (pictured), 41, from Devon, said her anxiety focuses on the health of her three children and admitted she is anxious about them catching Covid-19

Marketing and PR consultant Martina Mercer, 41, from Devon, has anxiety and rare mood disorder cyclothymia, and takes the anti-depressant sertraline to manage the 'huge highs and lows' in her mood.

She explained that her anxiety mainly revolves around the health of her three children - Poppy, 16, Mitchell, 20, and Persephone, nine - as she admitted that her 'worst fear' is her children contracting Covid-19.

Martina, who is the director of Sunday Woman Magazine, has been working-from-home during the pandemic and has coped with her anxiety by keeping busy doing jobs including cleaning, gardening and decorating.

She explained: 'I'm really concerned that one of the children catch it [Covid]. That's my worst fear. It seems that all the onus of vaccinations is on adults, yet children do catch it and can pass it on. 

'The new variants are worrying and I'm concerned people feel invincible due to the vaccine even though it's not 100% effective.'  

She went on to explain that she is also worried about having to leave her children for 'days at a time' after spending 'twenty-four hours a day' together in lockdown. 

'I also like being with the children all of the time, and think I may struggle with letting go again, although I won't show it,' she said.

Comparing lockdown lifting to the initial imposing of lockdown last March, she admitted that she finds it is harder to be positive now because she feels we are taking our 'barricades' down and putting ourselves 'at risk'.

She continued: 'We turned the initial imposing of lockdown into a game. It was easier to be positive, the sun was shining, the weather was incredible, there was lots to do in the garden. 

'We also had a naive view that it would only be for a few weeks. We treated it as a mini home holiday and saw no one. 

'The lifting is different as instead of building the barricades to keep everyone safe, we're taking them down and putting ourselves at risk, however gently.' 

'I'M A CANCER SURVIVOR AND NOT EVERYONE FOLLOWS THE RULES'

Sunita Thind (pictured), 38, who lives in Derby, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer five years ago and has been receiving chemotherapy treatment during the Covid-19 pandemic

Sunita Thind, 38, who lives in Derby, was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 33 years old and has been receiving chemotherapy treatment during the pandemic.

The author, who has penned two poetry books during lockdown, has not been able to see her family, who live in Bedford, since last March because she has been shielding after having an ovarian cancer recurrence amid the coronavirus crisis.

Sunita underwent an oophorectomy, to remove her ovary, during the pandemic and also contracted coronavirus last summer. She admitted that she fears getting Covid for a second time as lockdown begins to lift.    

Sunita likened the ongoing pandemic to a 'war', saying that although people are looking forward to returning to normal, they are still 'very wary' of the changes.

But on the flip-side, the former teacher said that she also gets 'annoyed' at people who aren't taking the pandemic seriously and think that they are 'invincible'.

'It's half-and-half, you want to go back but you're a bit scared. It's almost like there has been a war on and then people want to go back to normal but people are still very wary,' Sunita said. 

'As a person who has had Covid and cancer, I would definitely say that some people aren't taking it seriously and that is what annoys me.

'You've got people who are treating it like a joke and think they are invincible - I thought I was invincible before I had cancer. Health is precious and things are hard enough without things being made harder.'      

Despite the difficulties of battling cancer amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Sunita admitted that she has been 'protected' in her bubble, but now feels 'nervous' about going out again.

She explained: 'In the grand scheme of things, with everything that has happened, I feel like I've been lucky, and I've been protected and I've been in my bubble. 

'I'm happy that I'm here doing that, but I do get a bit nervous when I go out now. You know this social anxiety because you're getting paranoid now.'

'I DON'T WANT TO RUSH TO RETURN TO NORMAL'  

Emily Rose Mason, 25, (pictured) from Edinburgh, admitted she is worried about being 'left behind' after lockdown lifts due to her agoraphobia - a fear of particular situations or places

Emily Rose Mason, 25, from Edinburgh, has had severe anxiety for years and occasionally struggles to leave the house due to agoraphobia, which is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult.

Emily, who runs a YouTube channel discussing anxiety, revealed that she has a fear of being 'left behind' as lockdown begins to lift and people resume social activities.

She explained that during lockdown, her agoraphobia did not seem as 'weird' because everyone else was in the 'same boat' as she was, but when lockdown lifts, she won't be able to 'travel or go to clubs' like everyone else.

She continued: 'One of the main difficulties is feeling left behind. During lockdown my agoraphobia didn't seem as weird because I was in the same boat as everyone.

'I still won't be able to travel or go to clubs when things are back due to agoraphobia.

'I think I'm scared about being overwhelmed by big crowds and heavy traffic in places. I've found it easier to go out in the quiet.'

Emily added that although she is excited to see her friends again, her anxiety has gotten worse because she knows everyone will 'rush back out' and places will become extremely 'busy'.

She also said that she believes many other people will also feel pressured to 'go out as much as possible' when lockdown lifts, but she hopes people will try to remember that everyone has 'different needs'.

She continued: 'I am excited for some things to come back and to see friends again but I do feel a rise of anxiety, knowing everyone is going to rush back out and everywhere is going to be busy is anxious for me.

'But I am really happy that people are able to see their family again and hopefully get back to normal.

'I feel like a lot of people will feel pressure to go out as much as possible. I hope we have learned from all this that we are not all the same and different people have different needs and it's OK if you don't want to go out but I think people will feel pressure from seeing everyone else doing things.'

Emily said that although she knows she will readjust to life after lockdown, she worries that some people might 'judge' her speed in doing this and she will be 'left behind'.

She explained: 'I know that I will readjust to life after lockdown but I know it won't be easy. It will take time for people with mental health issues to get back to normal and that's okay. We will all, anxiety or not, have different experiences of lockdown lifting and we should all be patient and kind with each other.

'I worry people will judge each other's ability to get back to normal quickly, that the most vulnerable people will be left behind and that people might not understand me not still being able to travel.

'I think we know what its going to be like getting back there so hopefully it will take less time to readjust. Going into lockdown was so unknown so that was more difficult than coming out.' 

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