Lockdown 2.0 is the absolute last thing I need as a student with mental health issues

I can’t just pretend everything is fine

The Covid restrictions are back and we’ve re-entered lockdown. Last time was bad enough, but a second wave of restrictions on freedom and lack of control is maybe even worse.

For me, Lockdown 2.0 isn’t just restricting my freedoms, it’s hurting my mental health, which can’t take much more battering. Suffering from depression, struggling with suicide and self-harm and then being told I need to endure yet more corona restrictions is getting too much.

We’ve all got to make sacrifices for the health of our communities, but I’m not going to put myself at risk mentally for it. And neither should you.

Tell this precious baby that he can’t get fuss from me, I dare you

Going home for a hug is no longer so simple 

As a student with mental health difficulties, I rely on friends and family to get me through the hard days. Being confined to seeing just my housemates every day is draining on them, as they quickly became the only people I was able to spend time around. That’s not fair on them (especially as they didn’t sign up for that when we signed our house contract!) and I quickly felt isolated from my friends from my first two years at uni.

Now this second lockdown has hit, it’s hurt everyone. But the knowledge of not being able to go home and see my family whenever I want to, but also that the government wanted me to stay at university, and decide where I should be locked in for a full month? That’s a restriction of freedom that stressed me out.

Although mental health problems are technically a legitimate reason for travel, why hasn’t the government clarified that? Why haven’t they come out and said that students struggling with their mental health at this time can and should be able to travel to see their families?

Just getting a train at this time is stressful when you feel like you could be busted at any point for making a ‘non-essential’ journey. A fine of £200 is stupid to be slapped with for the crime of being depressed and wanting a hug from your mum.

I chose UoB because it’s close to home for me, and it gives me that freedom to go home and see my sisters, cat and parents when I need them most. I’ve had housemate issues in the past, and it’s always been my place of safety – especially when I broke up with my long-term boyfriend at the beginning of 2020. I need to be able to travel between those two places, with a mask and hand sanitiser and a negative rona test.

Exercising outside just isn’t safe

There have been multiple studies which say mental health can be drastically improved by physical activity, and if you go to your doctor saying that you’re struggling with your mental state, it’s pretty likely that they’ll suggest a gym membership, or daily morning jogs.

So why close gyms? You can run outside, but it’s winter, and the nights come in early. It’s cold, unpleasant and unsafe for women that might need to exercise after they finish work for the day – at 5pm now it’s already dark. Uni houses rarely have space to use for indoor exercise, and even if yours does, it’s easier for some to make a distinction between where they relax and where they work out.

Closing gyms is a massive issue with this new round of restrictions, and something I hope is reconsidered.

Being able to go for a run helps so many people’s mental health. And even me, a mostly laptop-bound final year student, can understand the importance of it. I love the gym, the freedom it gives me to run in peace with my headphones in and my friends next to me, not having to glance over my shoulder to check if I’m being followed. Selly isn’t the safest place, and I’ve been catcalled and harassed walking back from uni in the past. I don’t want to have to take my runs outside – my anxiety over being mugged or worse won’t let me.

Guidance and advice for students at the university concerned about the current coronavirus outbreak can be found here.

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