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My Lockdown: Covid has delayed my treatment, and destroyed my mental health

Dwain Schouten is a Gript reader, who submitted this personal story for publication. The views expressed here are his alone. 

I am 37 years old. In recent years I became unemployed due to an injury to my left shoulder and back, after which I was diagnosed with extreme whiplash. The ideal treatment was discussed, and planned. But then with Covid I have been told my appointment(s) are on back burner until Covid has passed. Last year I was told I would be waiting two years before my treatment can even begin. Automatically I just add a year everytime I see either lockdowns or suspensions in services, and all the while, I live with physical pain. But the pain is not just physical, difficult as it is to talk about.

But to start with the positive: I am a single father to a fantastic 12 year old. Best kid in the world. Has old head on young shoulders I do think sometimes.

Last January during the lockdown until April I didn’t see my son or family for four long months. Christ it was hard. But I got through it. I didn’t see a need to burden anyone with my difficulties.  Each person was dealing with their own private battles. I didn’t want to add to anyone’s frustrations or headaches.

I am unvaccinated, personal choice. I prefer to have all information before I do something. I understand some people will be upset with me for that choice, but it is mine, and my reasons are straightforward.

I cannot help but feel that the HSE and government have held back information with regards side effects and other things. Of the three main companies, J&J (which I was seriously thinking of getting) have so many lawsuits against them, for cancer causing products from baby food to talcum powder, that from where I am sitting, the risk/reward calculation just does not make sense for me, when I am physically healthy apart from my injury. Pfizer, for their part, donated €250,000 to the HSE and if I am not mistaken not a single question has been asked about conflicts of interest. And finally moderna, between the heart issues reported by our EU neighbours and Norwegians, I have concerns about this. I think these are reasonable concerns. Maybe you do not, and have made a different choice. That’s fair enough.

But I also remember when Micheal Martin said the vaccine passports were a conspiracy theory on the 6.1 News on RTÈ last year, just before the formation of this current government. So forgive me if my trust levels are low.

But back to mental health.

I am in therapy. I know the guy is doing his best to see his patients often. I know his workload has exploded and that he has lost patients to suicide. We never outright discussed that. I gave a hypothesis and he more or less agreed with it.

I spoke with the G.M. of the facility where I attend, and he said to me that for every 1 suicide I had heard of, 3 more have died that you didn’t. He had lost staff due to retirements and breakdowns. Which is completely understandable. I suspect were he asked about this, the G.M. would probably issue a no comment. But I could see the pain and frustration in his eyes. They are so underfunded and understaffed.

2020 was to be the largest budget for mental health in Ireland history. Sweet f*ck all actually went where it was supposed to go.

And I guess if we head towards an other lockdown, I will be wondering can I make it through again. Like feeling worthless and a sponge to society is better I think that letting a little voice take over and giving in to it.

I don’t know if I am explaining properly or not. Mental Health is still a taboo subject in Ireland. Feeling like a burden, feeling useless, feeling like you are waiting for help – all of it grinds me down, every single day.

Pre-Covid I already felt like I was left behind and punished because of an injury. Can you imagine what it is like now? I do not know when I will get the help I need to be able to work again.

I have an email from Heather Humpherys where I am told if I don’t feel I get enough, annoy the Community Welfare Officer.

Is this my worth to Irish Society? A blight on services? A nuisance? A sponge? Or a drain? Because it is how I feel, after two years waiting on treatment, and trying to get back on my feet.


I am hoping that the media might ask NPHET or Donnelly or whoever if my life is worthless, and for how much longer it must be sacrificed to protect a creaking health service, which is their fault, and not mine.

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