Christ, I really hope Monkeypox is going to be a thing. We don’t need another pandemic ever again but so soon after COVID I am not convinced we could all cope, let alone people with mental health struggles. I can’t foresee that anyone would be as compliant and how could they be? Unless it started wiping people out by the tens of thousands each day the public will not comply to any restrictions this time. The government, in my opinion got so many decisions wrong during the early stages of the pandemic. In fact, that isn’t an opinion it is totally accurate. Anyone who argues otherwise is either doing it in bad faith or fails to understand the enormity of what has happened over the last two years. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months, we have all seen the reports and inquiry findings of how the people who we put in charge (don’t get me fucking started on this) were behaving during lockdowns and all of 2020. Whilst we the public were adhering to the rules and restrictions, the government partied on. Again, if you or anyone you know is happy to defend those actions then seriously give your heads a wobble. We are all being told to move on now, but just go back to that time and remember what you couldn’t do. Families, friends and loved ones unable to come together for funerals, celebrations, or anything with more than a few people outside and yet Johnson and his colleagues carried on like nothing was going on outside of Whitehall and Westminster. I said I wouldn’t get political but come on.

It is crazy (there’s that word again sorry) to think COVID-19 has been in our lives for over two years and will likely be amongst us forever. Think back to how your life was pre-pandemic. So much has changed for us all. Some things for the better and then some not so good.

Christmas 2020 was a strange affair for us all, we were told essentially not to mix to try and limit the spread of the virus. I spent Christmas day with Chloe and her family which was nice then saw a few people over boxing day. To me, it didn’t feel like a normal Christmas holiday. I am not the biggest fan of the festive period anyway as something usually goes wrong, but its normally of my own making. I saw friends on boxing day, but it wasn’t how we usually would have spent it. We all had to make the best of it and ultimately things could have been a lot worse. So many families would not have been able to spend it together having lost loved ones to the pandemic or being out of the area and unable to travel to their homes. I remember feeling incredibly low around this point but masked it as much as possible. I felt guilty for feeling like crap, so many people had it worse than me and yet that didn’t help. I was thirty on January 2nd and that was again and underwhelming affair. I mean, the second is literally the worst possible day of the year to have a birthday but it was certainly compounded even further by the restrictions. Again, we made the best of it.

In the new year, unfortunately Chloe and her family contracted COVID which meant I had to isolate as well. This meant I was unable to see her or anyone for a few weeks as the positive tests kept coming one after the other. Although, I didn’t test positive myself I kept to the rules and isolated. This led to me working from home which at first, I enjoyed. The novelty of getting up twenty minutes before work and rolling out of bed to my desk certainly didn’t wear off for a few months. Even after the isolation periods had ended, I carried on working from home which my employers were happy to endorse. As long as I was doing my job effectively and producing the results, we both saw no reason for me to return to the office. I am still working at home currently and don’t plan on returning full time to the office. However, now I make an effort to go in at least once a week.

As the months ticked on and I was working at home, coupled with the strict training and diet regime I was doing with Ross I think in my head I was in a bubble that I thought was working for me. In some ways, it was. I was training and eating well and losing weight which was very positive and got into the best shape I have ever been in by the end of the summer. Reflecting on this time now though I can see that working from home for all that time had a negative effect on my mental health. I became cut off from human contact for large parts of the week. It was certainly safer for me to not go to the office, but I think if I had gone in I may have not ended where I was back in October. I was sometimes going for days and not seeing anyone or leaving the flat. I would get up, work, and then exercise after. If Chloe wasn’t coming over to stay, then I wouldn’t see anyone in person. It really isn’t healthy to be like that for someone like myself. But I didn’t recognise that whilst immersed in this regime I was in.

Summer came and the cricket season began but things still weren’t back to normal. We couldn’t socialise like we normally do before and after games. Things just didn’t feel the same. I started to think would they ever go back to how they were? Would we ever go back to the lives we had pre-covid? Towards the end of the summer, I recall seeing many articles and news items talking about another potential lockdown for the winter or harsher restrictions. I told myself that if this happened and we couldn’t see friends or family then I wouldn’t make it. I wasn’t going to go through that again and carry on. If this was going to be the never-ending cycle of lockdowns, then coming out for a few months then I couldn’t face that. I know that I would have still been able to see people, but it wouldn’t be a proper life. I decided that if we were to go back to lockdowns then I would end my life. After my training plan ended and I had drifted back into bad habits of drinking too much and not exercising coupled with the potential of going back to restrictions, this is when things ultimately came to a head on that night in October. I keep going back to that night in my mind and assessing how I got to that state and through writing these blogs I am learning more about it. I hadn’t considered the working at home aspect until more recently, but it definitely played its part. Each blog isn’t a continuation of the story, it is more a reflection and consideration as I examine myself. I may from time to time contradict what I have said in a previous edition but that isn’t by accident. Thoughts and conclusions will change over time as I seek to find what it is that makes me who I am. Through the blog writing and other forms of therapy I hope to understand fully one day what makes me the person I am today.

One of the things I changed about the working from home scenario was making sure I go to the office at least once a week. I work with some great people who share different life experiences and outlooks to myself. I believe person to person interaction is paramount to having more positive mental health. Humans thrive on it. I am glad I stopped working solely from home and got back in there to enjoy the company and colleagues I work with. I still feel that working from home is a good thing for me and I can be more productive in my working week by doing so.

Next week, the focus will be on ‘beer fear’. We have all had it. I want to look at it in more detail and look at a few examples of my experiences. Thanks again if you are reading this and if it’s helping in any way, I am genuinely chuffed to bits with that.

I hope everyone enjoys the platty joobs when it comes. Nice to see the Queen and Royal Family being of use for once.

Lots of love.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts