London, UK

I found being in lockdown really hard, like so many others. Before it started, my mental health had been great, probably the best it had been in years, and so part of me was surprised that I found lockdown as hard as I did. Being in London made me feel trapped and I struggled to stay calm. Most days I was unable to leave the house, and when I tried walking I often had panic attacks a few minutes in. My mouth would go dry, my heart would race, I would get pins and needles in my hands, I’d feel really dizzy and like someone was standing on my chest. The world would close in on me and I would just lose it, bursting into tears and needing the kind of tenderness you would normally show a child rather than an adult. In a matter of days, I went from being a well-functioning human being to being completely paralysed with panic whenever I tried to leave the house. Not only was I stuck inside physically, but I was also trapped in my own head too, having to avoid anything that might trigger my panic and feeling like I couldn’t do anything. My eating disorder started creeping back as well, an unhelpful and dangerous ‘coping strategy’ from what feels like a lifetime ago that I thought I had long-since overcome. I started calorie counting and closely controlling what I ate, probably because I felt I had control over nothing else. I took this photo on one of my failed walks because the tree made me think of my own mental health – fragile, barren, but with some signs of life and will to fight it.

Eventually, with the help of medication (beta blockers and a higher dose of antidepressants), therapy and time, things got a lot better. The world started to open up again and my mental health came back bit by bit, and the impulse to calorie count slowly faded away again. But I’m still disturbed by how quickly and suddenly I lost it, and I can’t help worrying it could come back suddenly if we have a second lockdown (or if anything else difficult happens in my life). It’s just part of life, I guess – not knowing what’s around the corner and being okay with that.