By: Escher Walcott
Credit: Polina Zimmerman

The moment the UK announced there would be a lockdown back in March, a quiet sense of trepidation overcame me. I knew it was the right move and I felt relief in the decision, however, my concern quickly grew as I wondered how I’d be able to cope with these new measures emotionally.

Anxiety had already filled my head watching news reports of coronavirus spreading into the country, despite feeling a sense of separation from the situation at the time. Lockdown changed everything as we all know. It has directly affecting us all in some way either through job insecurity, relationship strain or the inevitable sense of isolation stuck indoors. Since the beginning, I have gone through euphoric highs and heavy lows. Every day has been a mental battle between pursuit and stillness, all in the hope of making it out on the other side.

As a creative, my head is constantly spinning with new ideas. In the past, changes in my mentality have affected this. If I’m not in the best mood my zest for creativity plummets while I go through the motions of feeling down. After a moment of languishing, I’m usually able to get back to my normal self again, yet there have been other occasions. I’ve slumped into something deeper and heavier, much harder to clamber from. Depression is a beast that creeps up on you. It clouds up the mind, affecting your ability to think freely or move fluidly. It has sat with me for a while, often when I put a lot of pressure on myself and feel like I’m losing control. 

After obtaining my master’s degree a few years ago, I was met with some hurdles professionally. I realized that people will apply their own prejudices on me as a black woman regardless of how hard I worked. It was a harsh lesson I learned early on in my career which I have since prepared myself to be met with again in the future.

Black women face this daily. I am hopeful that with enough acknowledgment on this issue. There can be a resolution put forward in preventing prejudice and preserving mental health in the workplace. This is part of the reason I went freelance three years ago. I wouldn’t have to faced the consistent evaluation of superiors as I could manage my own workload and set goals for myself. Once I began, however, the unstable nature of freelance life brought up other stresses, bringing back that familiar heavy feeling again.

“Putting time aside to strengthen your mind is just as important as exercising the body…”

Compartmentalizing my work away from time hanging out with friends has helped me destress loads. A degree of separation as a freelancer is necessary in order to strike the right work/home balance, so you don’t get too weighed down mentally. As a millennial, I feel my generation is freer in accessing emotions and openly acknowledges mental health.

I think it’s always best to voice how you’re feeling to somebody and if it’s not someone in your circle, step outside and talk to a psychologist. In the UK, therapy isn’t discussed as openly as it is in America, however, there are many resources still available online and through the NHS. I’m encouraged at the positive effects after witnessing how its helped people close to me deal with their emotions.

Since being in lockdown, I’ve started meditating in the morning. Whenever I feel a wave of anxiety coming over me and it’s actually helped. Putting time aside to strengthen your mind is just as important as exercising the body as your mood can affect your drive to do anything physically. This, along with my creativity is my therapy. Its helped me establish a routine daily and done wonders for my outlook on the future as I realize, even in this pandemic, there is always room for change and development.

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