It’s 8pm on Thursday evening, and I’ve just come in from clapping for the NHS and all other key workers putting themselves at risk from COVID-19 whilst I, along with millions of others, have been in lockdown for what feels like eternity. In reality, it’s only been 17 days.
When you rely on social interaction and staying busy and active to keep your mental health on the right track, this is an extremely hard and challenging time. Potentially nothing but your thoughts and being locked in your own home could cause a potential negative response to this way of life.
I’m writing this from my point of view, and I understand people are in different situations during this time – for example, key workers and NHS staff. I am however self-employed and currently cannot work due to the social distancing and isolation rules brought in by the government so I am currently living with my parents with not much room to swing a cat (which is ironic as we have six cats and a dog. Don’t worry, we wouldn’t swing any of our pets – even if we had the room).
In the last few years, I have suffered personal periods of very bad mental health. I do feel for the most part I have come out of the other side (apart from the occasional blips) and wrestling has been a huge part of that journey of happiness and wellbeing. In the current lockdown situation across the country, I haven’t been to a wrestling show in nearly a month.
Usually, I’m at one show a week, some weeks up to four and I go travelling all around the country. At shows not only do I get to lose myself in some wrestling and ignore the outside world for a few hours with interesting characters and storylines, I also get to see the people behind the baby oil, the fake tan and the backstage scenes. These people are my friends. These people have supported me through thick and thin – whether they know it or not – and even just being around like-minded and positive people has an amazing effect on my mental wellbeing.
So how am I coping in this time where I can’t be in my happy place? It literally varies from day to day. Some days I’m okay and positive, other days, I’m not okay. And that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay.
This year, I was meant to be making the wrestling pilgrimage to Wrestlemania, in Tampa, Florida with Wrestling Travel to do their social media reports. However, COVID-19 had other ideas and three weeks before I was due to go, travel restrictions came in and I was unable to make the trip of a lifetime. Instead of in a packed stadium of 80,000 wrestling fans in the heat of Florida, I had to watch from home, alone.
I was kind of dreading watching Mania because I knew it wasn’t going to be the usual exciting situation, where I would be with friends and getting excited to see the fireworks, the crowd reaction and the whole spectacle of the show. Knowing it was being filmed in the Performance Centre with no audience was going to be strange and I was wondering how they were going to make it memorable.
I’m part of a group on Facebook of people who work in wrestling Supporting each other with their mental health and offering advice and friendship. This year one of the guys suggested we make a Whatsapp group and watch along together, whilst using the group to discuss what was happening.
So I set up, PJs on, TV streaming the Network and good to go. At first, I was sceptical. It was a very quiet and eerie atmosphere for some of the matches – even though the wrestling was brilliant, it felt a bit like a standard Monday Night Raw. However when the matches started, I was in my happy place again. I was chatting away to my friends in the group chatwatching wrestling and the outside world didn’t matter for those few hours. The spectacle of the Boneyard Match; the Firefly Fun House; along with Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair’s match and finishing with Drew MacIntrye becoming the first British WWE World Champion; it was a Mania I personally will never forget. Not because I wasn’t there and that I was sad, but because I enjoyed it even under the circumstances the world is currently in and it gave me light in a somewhat dark time.
With Mania being over two nights this year, I feel it really helped me personally stay connected with people and now because of this, we are doing weekly streams of shows and using the group to talk about the matches and keep in touch with my friends.
Social media can be toxic and negative, I cannot deny that. However, it has also proved that it can be a wonderful and friendly place and a great way of keeping in touch with people who you cannot physically see. This weekend I’m playing a movie quiz with seven other people on the Futureshock roster, I have a wrestling quiz on Sunday with some friends and also a watch along show in the group chat.
I’m finding myself talking to people on the phone and video call more than I have before and just random messages to people who I would see often just to check in. I have found that I am making stronger relationships in this time and excited for plans for after the lockdown has been lifted.
With apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Zoom, Houseparty and the good old-fashioned telephone, it is possible to keep in touch with people and still stay social. I miss wrestling so much, but we have to make do with what we have.
With so many shows being online now, why don’t you get a group of you, get a chat or a video call going, and all watch the shows together?
Until we can all get back to a real-life show, we might as well enjoy shows that you couldn’t get to or want to watch again from the comfort of your own home.
Might I suggest Fight The Good Fight which is currently on YouTube – a charity show that raised £4,000 for mental health charities and it had an extremely positive vibe and message to the show, along with some amazing wrestling.
Keep in contact with people.
Focus on the positives in life.
Don’t go looking for negatives.
If you are a key worker, thank you for everything you are doing to keep the country going, you are amazing.
Each day that passes is a day closer to normality.
Stay safe, all my love.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @MsLucyOpenshaw. Thanks for reading!