May is Mental Health Awareness month so today we’re getting real about mental health during a pandemic.
It’s no secret I suffer from depression. Sure, I don’t talk about it often but it’s not something I’m necessarily ashamed of either. When the world began shutting down, instantly I knew this would be a difficult time for me. Being forced to self-isolate when self-isolation is a symptom of your sickness is rough. Why? Because one of the easiest ways to kick myself out of an “episode” is to force myself to be around people, and now that was a no-no.
This is usually the time of the year that my depression takes a vacation, and by vacation I mean dark days are few and far-between. Time outdoors, vitamin D, planned travel – it’s the best – but due to COVID-19, for obvious reasons, this summer’s going to be different.
Typical ways I keep my depression at bay are by socializing and spending time outside of the home. Meaning, I am not a homebody, I’m a social butterfly all the way. But since everything began, roughly 70-something days ago, my standard go-to’s aren’t available options. I can’t roam around Target, I can’t meet up with friends for a girls night, I can’t leave everything on the gym floor. Needless to say, I panicked.
Candidly, towards the beginning, some days were fine while other days were complete darkness. I would check-in with myself often but that didn’t prevent the bad days from happening. I’m realizing now that that’s okay and that bad days are inevitable. One thing I’ve learned living with depression during a pandemic, I need to take my anxieties and worries one day at a time. Tomorrow will always be a fresh, new day to start all over.
I really don’t want to call our current circumstances the new normal, but it is what it is. As things are slowly opening up around the country, I’m still very hesitant to live life pre-coronavirus. So I’m staying put for a while. In doing so, I gotta prepare for more time in isolation (with my family, of course, but that’s its separate thing), so here are a few things I’ve been doing when I feel a bout of depression settling in the deep, dark corners of my mind:
- Exercise. I make sure I’m moving my body regularly throughout the week. If I’m really feeling on edge I go on a run to clear my head.
- Connect with friends. Sure, I can’t physically see my tribe but you better believe we FaceTime/hop on House Party on the daily. I think we talk more now than we did before!
- Go on walks. I try to step away from my computer if not once, at least twice a day, for a mile walk in my neighborhood. This is also a great time to listen to an audio-book and unplug.
- Join a support group online. If you do your research, you can find a free one to join too. Yes, this exists, and yes, it can really help not feeling alone. Someone else’s experience can be a connection.
It may sound weird, but I’ve been pretty even-keeled as of late. Maybe because I’ve finally “adjusted” to this new way of life, I don’t know. But even when I’m not “in crisis”, I’ve been actively doing these things to keep me balanced, and honestly I think they’re working. If you suffer from depression, I hope this post is helpful in some way.