People with significant mental health issues are having their health sacrificed to the welfare of a different group of people, and they are unlikely to be given the help they need when the emergency is over.
Ultimately, with the exception of a few details relating to my Christian world view, I refuse to judge whether or not the UK government has been right to place its population under virtual house arrest (it is only legal to leave your home for a few very specific purposes like buying food) in response to Corvid-19. I am glad I am not having to make the decisions.
However, as someone with long term depression and traumatic disorder problems, it cannot be avoided that I am being made seriously ill by the consequences to me of the restrictions. And while this is slightly qualified by the fact that those of us for whom this is the case are still vulnerable to the collapse of infrastructure, as someone who is at very little risk from the disease itself, I am being made significantly ill by policies enacted primarily for the sake of the health and well-being of a different group of vulnerable people.
People often seem to underestimate depression – or rather, I think they confuse the minor forms with the severe, and assume that all depression is a matter of a bit of low mood which could do with a little bit of counselling and self-help. It is quite right those things should be provided, but on the other hand, the fact that some people only need a bit of cream for their skin rash does not mean that all skin cancer is dismissed as a minor illness for which only minor measures are needed!
Given my tendencies, I have reached a point where I am desperately trying to process my emotions enough for the situation not to result in further traumatic disorder, but to keep them calm enough that the depression does not put me in hospital. Though I’ve been out walking every day, I am concerned that I’m starting to develop a real (and potentially persistent) fear of going out, and I’m really struggling with my self-care, to the point that social services is having to step in to assist. I am too fragile to communicate with people much, and this is particularly frustrating as it cuts me off from a lot of online things that would be helpful if I was well enough to access them. And though I am doing my best, and hoping it may be possible to find ways of coping, the chances are that my health is only going to get worse the longer the restrictions continue.
The fact that it is like this for me may be a result of idiosyncrasies in brain structure that result from hypermobility disorder, though I am not sure how well established that suggestion is. In any case, it is an illness like any other, not a matter of wilful weakness or simple ineptitude. It can be responded to badly – in much the same way as a diabetic can choose to try to be careful with food or not – but it isn’t a choice or a failure merely to suffer from it.
At the present moment, I have excellent medical care (without which I would be much worse) in managing the immediate symptoms, from my GP, to whom I am extremely grateful.
However, there is a reasonable likelihood that I will develop long term problems – problems that do not ease with the easing of pressure – damage that will go on crippling and harming my life indefinitely, and this is not the province of a GP. Even if I personally don’t develop long term issues, it is a reasonable assumption that there will be people who do.
What has been done has been done in an emergency situation, and as I say, I refuse to judge whether they are right or wrong to do it. But the fact remains that there is a population of people whose health and wellbeing are being sacrificed primarily for the sake of the health and wellbeing of a different group of people.
When the emergency is over, will those who find that long-term damage has been done to their mental health by the precautions, receive prompt, automatic, adequate, expert care? Or will there be no resources for them? When they have suffered horribly in order that the health service may care for others with what is perceived to be a more urgent need, will they find, when that urgent need lessens, that they are the priority and that they will, without having to fight for it, receive the same care? Will the health service then set up “field” mental health units and take on more staff to deal with the illnesses of trauma and depression and any others caused by what has been done by the government to deal with corvid-19?
From my previous experience, it is reasonable to project that the answer will be “no”. We will probably be left to our ongoing suffering, perhaps with a little bit of very limited, non-expert counselling, and such as our GPs can do with medication. Having been made ill by the precautions taken for others, we are likely to be abandoned to suffer from that illness.
Seriously, whatever else is right or wrong here, not regarding the serious mental health illnesses caused by precautions against the coronavirus as being due the same weight of medical assistance, is not right.