“I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I feel as though I have just drifted through the last year of my life. I moved to a new house in January 2020 and three weeks later, my mother died. It was a huge shock. We now know, of course, that it was Covid related, but we thought at the time that she had pneumonia or something.
“Since then, I haven’t had the energy to do anything. I still haven’t finished unpacking everything and our new house is a mess. I have gone right off sex and all I want to do is crawl under a rock and hide.
“My husband is a good man and has tried to reassure me that there is nothing to worry about. However, I can’t make him see that I’m not worried about anything in particular; it’s just an underlying anxiety that just won’t go away.
“I just can’t focus any more on what’s important, but how do I start to get my life back?”
“Many people’s mental health has suffered hugely as a result of the pandemic. It’s not just the anxiety about the condition itself, even when you know you’re not in a vulnerable group. It’s all the associated concerns about jobs and money; the state of the country and how it’s going to recover, and indeed, the state of the world. We want and expect everything to return to normal, but we all recognise this may take some time.
“On top of all that, swishing around in your head, you will be struggling to cope with grief and the loss of your mum. That is a huge thing at any time, let alone this past year. In a sense, you have already taken the first steps. You have recognised that you have a problem and, by writing to me, you have taken a positive step to address it.
“Depression can sometimes creep over people, without them really understanding what has happened. In your case, the move away from familiar surroundings and friends, coupled with the death of your mother, were probably additional triggers for this bout of depression and grief.
“The process of grieving can take years – and if you let other considerations, like the pandemic, divert you, it could be deferred indefinitely. I would really encourage you to talk to a grief counsellor to discuss your feelings. Cruse Bereavement Care (Cruse.org.uk) would be a good place to start – have a look through their website but don’t be afraid or embarrassed to call their helpline.
“I would also encourage you to talk to your GP, as it may be that there’s some depression and anxiety here that they can help with. You really need an outlet to talk about your feelings. At the moment, you are ‘boxed in’ – hence your lack of intimacy with your husband – so, if you feel you can (and this is something a counsellor could help with), tell him what’s going on for you.
“For him, the reassurance that it’s not that you’ve ‘gone off’ him, but that you’re unable to cope with anything right now, will help. And once you start talking to him, it may get easier. If you can’t cope with sex right now, that’s ok, but a cuddle might really help both you and him.”
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