If you are a mother who is already living with depression, anxiety or an addiction, then the COVID-19 situation could make you feel worse. You may have a lot more body pains, sleeping problems, get angry very easily and have upsetting thoughts.
This is understandable. It’s important for you to take extra care of yourself during this time.
Here are a few tips for the many mothers who struggle with depression, anxiety or addictions.
Be kind to yourself
If you find that you spend too much time brooding, or if your thoughts are really upsetting you, just acknowledge those thoughts without judging or criticising yourself. Accept that you are going through a difficult time and tell yourself: “This will not last forever”.
If you are having regular counselling, speak to your counsellor and ask them for assistance. A lot of counsellors are now giving sessions over the phone or online.
If you are not seeing a counsellor, and you are feeling really bad or are struggling with your thoughts, phone a helpline and talk to someone about it. At the end of this article are the contacts of some organisations that can give counselling over the phone.
If you belong to a church, mosque or other faith, you can also try to contact your religious leader. You can also try to speak with other members of your family or community. If meeting them face-to-face is impossible or difficult, try to connect over the phone as often as possible. If you can, try to support others in the same way.
If you are on medication for depression or anxiety, stay on it. Before you run out of your medication, try to find out if your clinic or pharmacy has made any changes that you need to know about. For example, if there is another place where you can collect your medication (a community drop-off point), or if it can be delivered. Do NOT stop or reduce your medication without consulting your doctor.
If you and your children have to self-isolate, and you are worried about your mental health, try to find someone who is strong and under the age of 60 years – a parent, a relative or a friend – that can come and stay with you and keep you company during this time.
Otherwise, if you know anyone in a similar situation, it would help to have regular telephone/ WhatsApp communication each day to share the problems you both experience and get ideas how to solve them.
Find online support
You can find a lot of mental health support on the internet: relaxation sessions on YouTube, join an online support group, download a meditation app and many others.
Drugs and alcohol
It can be very tempting to use drugs and alcohol to help calm your fears and thoughts. Be strong when you feel like doing this. Drugs and alcohol don’t help you get control of fears and anxiety, and make you feel much worse afterwards.
If you are feeling very irritable, panicky, shaky, or sweaty, you could be in substance withdrawal. Contact SANCA (number below), your doctor, or go to your nearest clinic. Explain clearly what you are experiencing; there is no need to feel ashamed or judged because you have been using substances. You are allowed to seek medical help during a lockdown.
Look after yourself
Try to do whatever makes you feel calmer and more in control. Whether it is cleaning your house, watching soapies on TV, staying away from social media or listening to music and dancing at home, do it. These are not normal times. Do what you need to do to get through it.