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

As British isles modern society began to shut down in March 2020, the uncertainty close to the long term began to get to Tina Flintham. “I felt entirely not in control. You just didn’t know what was likely to transpire.”

Flintham, 61, from Rotherham, is one of quite a few who uncovered the pandemic brought psychological wellness troubles. She skilled significant degrees of anxiousness, particularly as she had aged moms and dads in weak wellness. “Every early morning I would wake up pressured, wanting to know if I, my lover or parents would get Covid or die,” she says. “A very near friend’s husband died with Covid [early on] – it genuinely brought house how terrible it was.”

Tina Flintham
Tina Flintham

Study has found that in late 2020, British persons in their 50s and early 60s have been dealing with increased concentrations of psychological distress than they experienced at any time seasoned in advance of in adulthood. For numerous in excess of-50s, the pandemic brought on a “second midlife crisis”, with ladies worst impacted.

Flintham, who is now retired, had been as a result of a period of depression in her mid-50s, which she attributes to the menopause. “I was very low but I managed to carry on operating. It was a physical feeling of [being] down and went on for 3 months. I was at the place of thinking go to the health care provider, but then it just went.” She claims she “gritted her teeth” and got by way of it, adding that she has always relied on exercise.

But lockdown brought new issues for Flintham, who worked for the nearby authority at the time. “I’ve generally been a very sociable individual, constantly assembly up with pals, accomplishing yoga and swimming, but I had none of that to support me by means of. I seriously skipped swimming – I even dreamt about it.” She found having walks in the nearby countryside was a “godsend” in coping with the worry.

The turning issue for her mental health and fitness arrived with the vaccine rollout and as culture opened up. Though much of the panic commenced to dissipate, she however feels its echoes. “Sometimes I wake up and have related inner thoughts about what now is likely to bring. I shed my self confidence I really do not go out 50 {fc1509ea675b3874d16a3203a98b9a1bd8da61315181db431b4a7ea1394b614e} as much as I utilised to, [and] I have to push myself to. Once I’m out, I’m great, but prior to I never even believed matters like that. Also, currently being in confined spaces with heaps of people today – I still truly feel weird about that.”

Mark Dawes
Mark Dawes

Whilst Mark Dawes, 60, experienced seasoned bouts of gentle to average despair just before, he was usually able to cope by “forcing” himself to socialise and keep energetic. But when the London-primarily based charity worker lost his father on the second working day of lockdown, his grief blurred into despair for months.

“I had to deal with the grief on your own – even the funeral had to be completely virtual as it was not attainable to vacation,” he says. “Living by itself was very isolating and all social existence was stopped – and relying on public transportation intended I could not even vacation to go strolling in the nearby countryside.”

While he has skilled psychologically difficult intervals in advance of, this time, “the isolation felt really different”. “It all floor to a halt. Then you had the pandemic by itself, which was pretty frightening when it started out off. It was a blur of days with no activities in them. I was living, but not seriously dwelling.”

About a year into the pandemic, Dawes started to undergo cognitive behavioural treatment, and with the “loosening” of the pandemic begun to really feel superior. But he suggests there has been a long lasting effect, together with not staying able to correctly grieve for his father. “I really don’t enjoy lifetime as a great deal as I utilised to. I look ahead to issues significantly less – life’s a bit greyer.”

The pandemic also landed a blow to those who experienced in no way dealt with psychological overall health issues ahead of. In the early months of lockdown, Sally (not her actual name), in her early 60s, created extreme stress and reduced temper for the 1st time in her daily life. “I was fully taken by shock as I have by no means endured with these troubles right before. I used big areas of the working day in tears.

“Everyday responsibilities became challenging and, over time, I identified it tricky to experience people. At evening-time I shook, had incredibly hot flushes, bad goals and struggled to snooze.”

Sally, who is retired and life in the east Midlands, became pretty fearful of Covid. “When some constraints started to be comfortable I struggled to cope with seeing men and women, even in the garden. I did not sense ready to go to public places this kind of as shops. Each and every morning I woke up with a emotion of dread and disappointment.”

By October 2020, she realised she essential enable and started chatting therapy around the cellular phone. “In the end I resolved I necessary to encounter my fears and get again to some type of normal existence. I began by forcing myself to do things this kind of as go into shops little by very little: not anything that I uncovered uncomplicated,” she claims, introducing that returning to the gymnasium was also vital. “I no for a longer time consider about Covid each waking instant and I am ultimately beginning to enjoy lifetime again.”