It is hard to believe that we are on day 292 since the lockdown started. It is hard to believe that an unseen virus has turned the whole world upside down.
More than a million people have died and millions more have been infected. A vaccine has been found but the virus has mutated.
Prior to the lockdown, life at the rehabilitation unit was good. We had a variety of activities and had a familiar timetable. After living here for more than two years the daily routine became normal and comfortable.
The regime at the unit is relaxed, staff only prompt us gently to carry out different activities and do not pressurise us.
We had a weekly badminton group which was strenuous but enjoyable. A few of us would regularly go to the local cinema and watch the latest blockbusters.
At the moment there are 12 patients here but there is capacity for 20. The unit is a huge two story mansion surrounded on all sides by a large garden.
Due to living together the clients on the unit get to know each other and form bonds. My close friend who is also a Bangladeshi has recently moved back to Oldham after living here for four years.
Activities on the unit
We started a Halaal cookery group which was popular with the other patients though they would sweat profusely whilst eating. We used to travel by bus to go to the nearest Muslim shop to buy Halaal meat or poultry. We were encouraged to go to the nearby mosque for prayers.
There were regular walking and hiking trips which was gentle exercise and a chance to experience nature. During my time here we have visited a number of parks and reservoirs.
The unit Occupational Therapist started a maths group for the service users which was attended by me and my friend. I eventually enrolled at the local college to study for a GCSE in maths. I studied hard while I was there and would revise for a couple of hours every day.
At the time, I was regularly staying at my parent’s home every weekend which was very important to me as I have a very close knit family. They live about 20 miles from the rehabilitation centre.
I have had weekly psychology sessions which I have found to be really beneficial. I learned different distraction and coping techniques.
Then the Covid-19 burst onto the scene. GCSE maths got cancelled, the badminton group was also cancelled and the worst thing – weekend leave to my family’s home was cancelled.
In the space of a few weeks our normal routine was completely turned on its head. Staff at the unit are amazing, they tried to make life easy for us by arranging different activities such as pool competitions or cooking groups.
We were not even allowed to go to the local shop to buy simple things such as cigarettes or snacks. The staff organised a tuck shop where we could buy chocolate, crisps and drinks. They would also go out for shopping once a week to buy our cooking ingredients.
When the pandemic started I wrote the first draft of my novel in the space of a month. I am unsure where the creative explosion came from but I would spend hours and hours writing the story. It is a young adult fantasy about an orphan who grows to become a great magician. I hope to get published one day.
This is how I started to write again. I have been published in a few places since, including on Mental Health Today and InYourArea. I have grown to love writing as it acts as a distraction technique when I have a bad day or am unwell.
I am a firm believer in the power of words. The power to shape opinion and to inform and educate. Thanks to my sister’s influence many of my childhood days were spent in reading books and I have loved them ever since.
As it looks like we will be plunged into another nationwide lockdown we are looking to face the same rules as the first lockdown. I do not want to go through the psychological torture again.
My respected father has also passed away recently due to Covid-19 and I fear for my other family members.
To conclude I have started a blog about mental health illness in the BAME community which has been running for about five months. I am still involved with the Halal cookery group every Wednesday and I regularly contribute to the Asian Image news website.
“I have witnessed the resilience of the human spirit and know that we will come through this disaster stronger than ever.”
Although I did not complete the course, I managed to pass my GCSE Maths and recently received my certificate. Due to the new tier system I am not allowed to visit family at home but they are permitted to come to the centre where we can meet in the garden.
I have absconded from the unit a few times to go and see family for which I have had to go into isolation for two or three days each time. My leave is restricted and I am only allowed to go out escorted by a member of staff.
It has been nearly a year since the Covid-19 pandemic appeared from out of nowhere and has had an impact on all aspects of life such as social distancing and having to wear a mask.
I am hoping to move back to Oldham soon, I cannot wait to be close to my loved ones and live free from the restriction of being sectioned.
I have witnessed the resilience of the human spirit and know that we will come through this disaster stronger than ever.