WE HEAR of the community spirit that has brought many people together, figuratively speaking of course, helping those who need it. These are uplifting and hopefully only give us a small insight into the positive impact communities are having at this difficult time. 

I wish I could join in with a similar story but unfortunately mine is of great concern for some of our most vulnerable people with the invisible illnesses that so many ‘supported’ and shared posts on social media urge others to avoid judgemental behaviour etc. 

It is a personal story but I am not telling you this out of rage or a feeling of unfair treatment of myself but a concern for millions of others like me in our nation who are being subjected to similar treatment by people who simply need to be reminded that not everything is black and white.

My story is a common one. Single, professional mother of two young children with mental health issues including Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

For me, this means I look the same as anyone else. I smile, joke, attend community events, work in a stressful, professional job that I love and am good at, play with my children and, as I say appear, ‘normal’. 

This is because I take medication. Eight pills per day to allow me to appear to be ‘normal'. It is exhausting. When my kids are with their dad, I sleep, sometimes for an entire day. I rely on my excellent network of friends and family who I am with at least once every day. Well this was when the world was ‘normal'. 

We cut to now. A pandemic that has sent 65 per cent of non-anxious individuals into a state of anxiety! I’m sure now you realise those suffering already from anxiety are in an absolute heightened state of sheer panic.

For me, I realise no matter what I feel, I must try to keep an outer appearance of calm for my children. I must do my job remotely. I must home-school my children. I must parent and also take care of myself. This has taken its toll. My family know this even though I don’t share it as there is nothing they can do about it. My partner of only a few months happens to be a clinical psychologist and so he is supporting me as best he can. 

This is when my sadness begins. My kids went to their dad's as usual this day and I went to do the first weekly shop since lockdown. I almost made it back into the car from the supermarket before having a panic attack and breaking down. I called my partner and he feared for my wellbeing and so met me at my house. After being calmed and comforted, I could continue to battle another day. 

My dad lives a short distance away and his way of checking on me was to come cut my grass and see me and his grandchildren through the window as he looked into my eyes where I can’t hide my pain.

Another day, my sister dropped off a food parcel unannounced and just left it at my door, again to check on my wellbeing as she knew I was avoiding shopping at all costs.

By this time, it is now the second week of lockdown. I have realised that I can cope. I can get through this. I simply do all I can whilst I have my kids and when they are not with me, I utilise the support my partner can provide me due to his profession and get the comfort of an adult I need to stay balanced. 

Little did I know, this unkind thing had taken hold in my neighbourhood. Judgement and assumptions had become rife without me knowing.

As I was talking through a few issues with my partner, there was a knock at the door. It was a neighbour's relative. An off-duty policeman who presented in a fairly aggressive manner. "Can I ask why you are not following the guidelines of the government for social distancing and isolating?"

As any anxiety sufferer will be able to imagine, I was hit with sheer panic. I garbled something resembling, "I’m not", before he berated me for having someone come cut the grass, someone come visit, having daily visitors (I had obviously not), telling me lots of the neighbours had approached him about it and then left. 

I was in bits. My partner again calmed me until he had to leave. I didn’t sleep. I replayed everything over in my mind and kept thinking of what I wished I said so I sat up and wrote the off-duty policeman a letter I had no intention of giving him but I needed to do it to calm my mind.

With no sleep and this confrontation playing over in my mind, I was useless and aware my kids were coming back that night. I called my partner and he came as he was concerned about me. He not long got in the door when the neighbour, who is a relative of the man who confronted me yesterday, knocked and came to have a go!

She shared the fact she’d discussed me with her sister who was going to "put it all over Facebook" that I was having visitors and was extremely personal. I tried to share my mental health issues with her but she wasn’t for listening and, in all honesty, I was a crying, hysterical wreck, trying to stop myself from hyperventilating so probably wasn’t coherent.

I went and grabbed the letter I wrote in the night and asked her and her off-duty policeman to read it and it might let them see it’s not always as clear-cut. She left and again I was in bits trying to deal with confrontation. 

Within minutes, the policeman came back and apologised. He said if he was called to a house about someone not following the guidelines and the occupants explained the mental heath issues and the situation, he would allow it to continue.

He said he’d advise my neighbours that the matter had been resolved but wouldn’t share my letter or any of my details with them. I thanked him and he left. 

Two days have passed and I feel paranoid about being watched as I go into my garden, go to my car, put my bin out. I am becoming scared to even go into my garden. 

How can people be so judgemental that it leads to vulnerable people having to open themselves up and justify their actions in order to be left alone?

I ask you to publish something to urge communities to consider their neighbours' needs, to think twice about judging that man/woman who has been buying plants for her garden or who has had someone drop something off and show that community spirit to ALL! 

Received via Facebook, 
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