Opening up in Lock down

Therapist Aishling Partridge considers the extraordinary challenges to wellbeing during this period of lockdown and where to seek help.

The COVID-19 crisis has demanded changes to our daily life that are profound, rational and at the same time, deeply emotional.

Home and Work are the two pillars of our wellbeing. They both give us a sense of identity, purpose and belonging.

The dramatic and sudden change to working practices has meant we now inhabit a new reality where personal relationships and professional relationships have become locked down together.

We may find that we are better at knowing what to do when one type of these relationships is in trouble – investing attention, making an effort, focusing on the problem to find a solution but what if both are in trouble and at the same time?

Added to this is the further complexity of our relational histories, the legacy of our past relationships which come with us everywhere, to work and to home.

There is a shared sense amongst every household and profession of the need to regroup, to figure out how to move forward and cope with sudden and dramatic changes to our lifestyles.

Seeking Help

For each of us there will be feelings of isolation, anxiety and fear at varying levels of intensity, for each of us the way we deal with these unpleasant inner feelings will differ. You may find that your usual solutions to dealing with life challenges are becoming self-defeating in the current circumstances – independence may be exasperating feelings of isolation, resilience may be disavowing the importance of allowing yourself to feel vulnerable, to feel connected with the fragility of life. Try not to erase feelings of weakness, learn to sit with the feeling and let is pass. It takes strength to do this.

Compassion for the distress of others who are suffering greatly at this time may be blocking you from connecting with your own suffering. Learning to hold both, compassion for others and for yourself, is important. Allow yourself to mourn what you feel you have lost – allow yourself to reach out for help if you are struggling – the first step may feel daunting but an important move towards caring for you and your relationships.

If you are considering therapy, is a register of therapists in the UK. Therapists registered with BPC, BACP & UKCP have completed rigorous academic and clinical training and undertake annual Continuous Personal Development requirements. These professional registrations require that members adhere to a professional Code of Ethics to act with honesty and integrity to protect you and your boundaries

For now, therapy needs to be conducted by online video or telephone. Although this brings new challenges to the relationship, my experience of transitioning with clients to this new way of working in recent weeks encourages me to think it can be a beneficial therapeutic experience. You may wish to find a suitably located therapist to have the option of meeting face to face when possible.

If you urgently need to talk to someone these helplines may be able to assist:
Mind – 0300 123 3393
Samaritans – 08457 90 90 90
Sane – 0845 767 8000

Aishling Partridge is a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist registered with the British Psychoanalytic Council. She has a private practice in London Bridge and Surbiton and provides telephone and video therapy sessions during this period of social distancing.

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