Linux, Open Source & Unrelated Topics by Paul Barker

A mental health update

Tags: meta

This winter was pretty harsh on my mental health. Lockdown restrictions imposed here in the UK to fight the spread of COVID-19 cut me off from my usual routines and ways of keeping mentally healthy. My initial response was to fill up my time with work and other projects but this didn't really work out. Days became both monotonous and stressful, with no change of scenery or face-to-face contact with friends to refresh things. There's no blame here on the folks I was working with, everyone who I spoke to about this has been understanding and supportive. If blame must the thrown then it can be aimed at the current UK government and their completely inadequate response to this crisis.

I reduced my work hours, took a break from open source contributions for a bit and put on hold my plans for more YouTube videos. This was frustrating after having to take weeks off last year due to a COVID-19 infection and wasting a lot of what could have been productive time on unnecessary bureaucracy (dealing with impacts of Brexit & legislation changes on my consulting business). But sometimes one hit is followed by another, and sometimes we have to accept that our capabilities have been limited for a while.

The village of Malham (Yorkshire, UK) and the surrounding countryside seen from higher ground to the North.

Malham and surrounding countryside in the Yorkshire Dales

At that start of May this year I was able to get away for a week in a cottage in the hills of the Yorkshire Dales with my partner. Fresh air, sun, wind, rain and the occasional hailstone blew off some of the "lockdown cobwebs" I'd acquired. I've more recently also got to spend time catching up with friends over a (mostly outdoor) couple of pints and this has done me a lot of good. I've found energy & motivation returning and have been hacking on a few projects again. I'm making sure to keep things sustainable though rather than rushing back into being too busy.

I know that many folks have experienced similar difficulties in the last ~16 months, many have suffered worse and many are still struggling. None of us are alone in this but our experiences do differ. I have been privileged to be able to prioritise self care for a while, others are unable to make the changes they need due to risks of debt, poverty and homelessness. As others have said, we're not all in the same boat here - we're in the same sea, but some of us don't even have a boat. If you're struggling with things then I hope that today and tomorrow are better than yesterday for you and I urge you to take advantage of any support you can find without feelings of guilt - we're in the middle of multiple crises, none of this is your fault. If you're on dry land then I ask you to support organisations which are helping people - in the UK I recommend supporting The Trussell Trust who provide foodbanks and Mind who provide mental health support.