Confronting The Lockdown Blues

When I started this blog way, way back one of the main motivations was to tackle my fragile mental health. I found that writing was a great release for me, it was a mental cleanse badly needed at times when I feared my mind was overflowing with toxic negativity. It allowed me to tackle difficult personal issues head-on, as opposed to allowing them to fester and rot deep down within, causing unseen but irreparable damage.

If I was anxious or angry about something I would write about it and afterwards it wouldn’t seem quite so bad anymore. It was akin to throwing out the dirty bath water and starting afresh. Initially I was concerned about the reaction I would get, exposing myself in such a brutal fashion. But, almost universally, my posts were met with empathy, understanding and kindness. Many had been through, and shared, similar experiences.

This is where WordPress, and blogging in general, is so great. The sense of community. No matter how awful your personal experiences might be, somebody has been through it and probably a lot worse. It puts your personal plight into much sharper perspective. I was able to connect with like minded souls, to support them as they supported me via the medium of the written word. Airing your dirty linen in public carry risks but I learnt the benefits far outweighed these.

I want to blog about mental health more. It’s a subject I’m passionate about and even more so in these most turbulent of times we are living through. If living is even the word. Existing? Surviving? Life is to be lived and we cannot do that unless we take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally. The two go in hand and we often overlook one in favour of the other, not recognising this connectivity. I try to cover both bases through my writing and my running.

Both have been victims of the the motivation monster in recent weeks as Northern Ireland enters its eighth week of lockdown. My running has been sporadic and I can feel my fitness levels dropping off as the weight creeps back on. When I do run, I’m frustrated and annoyed with myself for the lack of pace and stamina. I don’t want to be back blasting out 3:30 marathons but my current efforts are worse than when I started running, seven years ago. It seems an awful long way to go.

This, in turn, hasn’t been good for me mentally. A voice within tells me to give up, I’m too old and I need to knock it on the head. But I see the link, it’s there. As my physical training has tapered off, so my writing has as well. I’ve been blogging less and my new book has been sitting staring at me for two months now. I’m feeling sluggish and cloudy, the edge has been taken off. It’s a slippery slope that I’m slowly sliding down again. I can sense it every day that passes. The work ethic, the consistency isn’t there at the moment.

So, I need to get my head back in the game. Because what’s going on in my head largely dictates the quality of life I lead. It also impacts upon my loved ones and the relationships I have with them. I’m reading more about mental health and strategies and tactics I can apply to my everyday life. This blog is at the heart of this and I hope I can be more productive in respect of both the quality and quantity of forthcoming posts.

I plan to start today with a 4.5 mile run and a blog post. So far, the latter looks like it’s almost in the bag. When I’ve finished it, I’ll lace up my trainers and hit the roads. It won’t be pretty, and it will be painful. But I’m determined to do it even if the heavens open or hell freezes over. My fellow bloggers can hold me accountable so feel free to comment and ask how I got on. Who knows, it may inspire one or two of you to blow away the cobwebs and confront your own lockdown blues.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

38 thoughts on “Confronting The Lockdown Blues

  1. I really enjoy your open and honest style, and certainly can relate to much of what you have written about today. You’re an excellent writer, and no doubt a pretty good runner as well! I hope the run you do today won’t be as tough as you imagine. I know that the battle is in the mind, not just with running, but with writing and many other aspects of life. All the best to you

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  2. I’m afraid it’s a fact that our pace falls away by 2 secs per km or 3s per mile for every year beyond about 45 years old. So don’t despair Stephen. Be glad that you can get out there, as there are many (many) people who never even got off the couch to get to 5k. You will still get that buzz of adrenalin and satisfaction from having finished your run. It’s priceless and better than an other mechanism I can think of for clearing the mind and making you feel good about yourself. 😊

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  3. You can do it! You’ve faced challenges and surmounted them before in life and you will again. I must confess, I have also had a hard time getting motivated to write a blog post – most of mine recently have been more photographs than anything else. Reading this has given me a little push – let’s see how far we can go!

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  4. Steven – I am glad you are lacing up the shoes again! It will help both mind, body, and a bit of that Irish soul of yours. May the muses smile upon those eyes and the words come out in rivers of knowledge to those who read your blog. But seriously, your openness and honesty are two of the reasons that I continue to read your writing. It has changed and grown over the years I have followed you, as you have grown as well. Now we just have to get you back to running regularly and talking about the miles you are wearing off the bottoms of those running shoes. 🙂 Keep at it Steven, you are one of the good ones.

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  5. I thought you would enjoy this quote by Flannery O’Connor: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I write”. So enjoy your blog and encourage you to share your beautiful writing ability about mental health. You have a unique gift that could help thousands of your readers! Thanks for being you!
    Jan from mindlessprayer.wordpress.com

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  6. I hope you enjoyed your run. I’ve been feeling rather blah lately as well. I don’t run, but I love to walk fast in the cold winter air. It clears out the cobwebs and helps me to feel more energetic and ready to launch the rest of the day. I’m glad to have a nice place to walk nearby.

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  7. I so understand this! We are in our 18th week of lockdown and my running is almost nonexistent. Pair that with freezing cold temperatures and no interactions with people, you can guess where my mental health has been at lately. Writing is my one outlet and it seems to help me on the darkest days.

    Good on you for taking initiative. How did your run go?

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  8. Hi Stephen. I am sorry for the lockdown and the cold in your region. In our country we have neither, just nice warm weather and a President who has chosen not to acknowledge the Corona pandemic. Faith over reason works wonders.
    I will be praying for you. May your faith in Christ stand firm and may you know the peace that passes all understanding.

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  9. Nice post. I can relate so much to this, as lockdown crushes and demotivates and stagnates me too. It has caused me various problems mentally and physically. I got seriously fed up. Then one day a few weeks ago, during a conference call, I picked up a pencil and started doodling cartoons. Vented my political frustrations. It felt good, so I did more. Then I decided to polish them up on Photoshop and put them online using WordPress to add some words. It sparked something in me. Now I am back to writing daily and drawing, yes drawing, which I haven’t done for 30 years. My creative energy is going to be what gets me through this fog. Let it do the same for you. Excercise/running is great, but don’t punish yourself or kick yourself if you don’t run. Today is about survival, no more. A simple walk round the block can be more than enough sometimes. I’m not much of a runner, though I’ve dabbled. More of a biker, though it’s been sat unused in garage since the working-from-home started. Stay safe. Best wishes from England.

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  10. You’ve got this. I’ve struggled with consistency in editing my own book recently. What had helped is sinking my teeth into a different writing poisoner for a few days that has no “due date”. I’m not being driven by an external force like a publisher yet, but I want to finish my first edit by the end of this month, which is fast approaching. Taking an active break writing something else has helped me dive back in. Maybe churning out a short story with no deadline might help?

    You know you best, and are probably already onto it with aplomb.

    Keep on keeping on being awesome, and thank your for the encouragement to keep up with my physical a well as mental wellbeing. 😊

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