Marsha McAdam, Expert by Experience member of Equally Well
This is now my third week of self-isolation, and I have to be honest and say that some days or even some hours are worse than others – especially when my brain goes into overdrive, telling me that I am useless for staying at home. I also sometimes feel like I have lost my sense of identity. I usually have routine and boundaries. Where have they gone?
Being stuck at home and not being able to distract myself by being out and about has meant that some of my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) traits have resurfaced. Years ago, when I used to get mentally low, I would find myself in a dark hole that had a wrecking ball smashing from one side to the other. I remember having thoughts of needing to hoard food, water and even going out and buying a camping stove from either Argos, Amazon or Blacks (I was precise in where I would search for one!)
everything that is going on around the world due to COVID-19 actually validates some of my original fears… It’s surreal the way that the current situation mirrors the fears I had years ago
During those dark times I remember my Community Psychiatric Nurse telling me that I was catastrophising and that everything would be fine. I put the thoughts down to a mish-mash of various crappy Saturday night movies where the world falls apart. Now everything that is going on around the world due to COVID-19 actually validates some of my original fears. Perhaps it cannot be put down to an overactive imagination after all? It’s surreal the way that the current situation mirrors the fears I had years ago. Thankfully, after having Mentalisation-Based Therapy, I’m able to see that these are just fears and thoughts, rather than reality.
I also have the worry of not knowing how the very recent Care Act easements (created under the Coronavirus Act 2020) will impact the care that I receive. I have Carers for both my physical and mental health needs. The Carers help with personal care, meal preparation, and giving me my medication. I’ve also been lucky enough that my Carers have been able to go food shopping for me, although I know that their services could be pulled at any time.
I fall into the high-risk category, but not under the vulnerable category… [this] means that I do not have priority access to book a delivery with a supermarket. This matters because it takes away the control I had on my eating disorder.
Due to my eating disorders I really don’t have a good relationship with food and often fixate on just eating one thing and nothing else. In the past I have gone from eating satsumas by the box load, navel oranges, plums, and now pears and chocolate. In my handbag I have a goodie bag which has various tablets and medicines for digestive and gastrointestinal symptoms. Through self-poisoning and eating unhealthy food over the years my system is pretty messed up.
At the minute, according to government guidelines I fall into the high-risk category, but not under the vulnerable category. Not being in the vulnerable group means that I do not have priority access to book a delivery with a supermarket. This matters because it takes away the control I had on my eating disorder. It means that I have been binge eating and waking up numerous times during the night to eat too. Eating fresh fruit, vegetables and unprocessed food helps with my fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and other health conditions, such as adult rickets.
many of us are struggling to get the basics and relying on the lottery of whether a local charity or small business is delivering food parcels to those of us with hidden disabilities and struggles with food
Why is it that I can log on to Just Eat and have a takeaway delivered to my door with 30-50 minutes, yet I cannot for love nor money get an advance supermarket delivery slot booked? The government has recognised takeaways as essential and there will be thousands of delivery drivers out and about. Yet many of us are struggling to get the basics and relying on the lottery of whether a local charity or small business is delivering food parcels to those of us with hidden disabilities and struggles with food.
I think that one of the lasting effects of COVID-19 will be an increase in be disordered eating. If we are honest, services were not adapted for the volume of clients with disordered eating previously. So how will we manage it post-Covid?
I really feel that supermarkets now more than ever have a responsibility to provide a delivery service and realise that one size does not fit all. And I hope that the Government will act to ensure that people who are vulnerable because of their mental health get the essential supplies they need to get through this most troubling of times.