A mum holding a baby feeling anxious

My experience as a young mum during COVID-19

Bio - A young single mum living in Glasgow with my 2 year old son.

In 2020 I had my son, and post-natal depression (PND) landed at my door. I felt OK, but to everyone else the signs were very evident.

My health visitor and support worker from Barnardo’s knew there was something not quite right. I thought I was just feeling a little alone because I wasn't allowed to socialise with anyone and was a single mum.

My head changed completely. I believed everything I was hearing from the horrendous voice in my head. I’ve never felt like that. I felt as if everyone around me was trying to get my baby from me. My mental health took over completely and it felt very real.

Being in hospital with my mental health

Trying to get help from an NHS service was a shambles. I was put under the Intense Home Treatment team and that never worked. I was then admitted to the local mental health unit. I had an isolation period where I couldn’t leave my room due to COVID-19. I felt my head wasn’t well, so this would never work.

I wasn't allowed to see my little boy when I was in hospital. One staff member eventually listened and let me go for a walk outside (supervised) with him.

After the visit I was put back in my room with even more emotions going through my head. As rubbish as the world I lived in was, I felt a little switch tell me I have to be here for my boy.

My support worker from Barnardo’s contacted me every day, even on his day’s off. He was the only constant person involved with me, and still is.

Being in hospital made me worse. But it gave me a clear picture of what was out there. It proved to me that hospital isn’t the be all and end all. It didn’t work. When I got out, I knew I needed to find my own help.

Things that worked for me

I wrote letters and poems. It was the only thing that kept me focussed. If I hadn’t written them in a book, I would have binned them, but I needed that book. Sometimes looking at it can be enough to kick the negatives thoughts back down and show I’m best-off living in this world.

Writing was my only way to say how I really felt.

Grounding yourself can help. Not physically but thinking about senses. Thinking about 5 things you can see, feel, taste, or hear. When I feel anxious, I think about colour and how many I can see and count in my head. It gives me a reason to focus.

I knew I had to fight. I was below rock bottom when I came out of hospital. All I could see was water, and I was just drowning. I knew I needed to keep above the water and keep swimming. I knew I had to do something, like socialising.

How I helped myself

There was no support for struggling mums during COVID-19, so I formed a group for parents. We met up outside to socialise and it has flourished into an amazing group, which is still going.

Medication doesn’t work for me but going to the gym does. Joining the gym started my road to recovery.

I started to open up a little and be honest with people closest to me about how I felt. Conversations are difficult about mental health. It’s about having a fight in you, and if something isn’t right for you, speaking up and telling them.

It doesn’t happen overnight but reflecting back on my experience and hitting rock bottom, you can get above that rock!

self-help • COVID-19 • depression