Quarantine & Mental Health
Covid, Isolation, & Depression
In South Platte Counseling’s ongoing blog series, “Mental Health and Me,” we invite one of our clients to write openly and anonymously about their mental health journey on a topic they’ve personally experienced. We are showcasing this series to help de-stigmatize the conversation around mental health. We want to let people know mental health is an individual journey and a ubiquitous life experience. With that being said, let’s read about one person’s experience with this week’s topic: managing Covid along with their mental health.
This pandemic has been a bit of a double-edged sword for me. When everyone went into lockdown at the beginning of 2020, my access to mental health services actually increased. I had been struggling for a few years with undiagnosed depression and had recently (and luckily) started going to therapy *right* before we became home-bound.
Although I had been significantly struggling with my mental health before the pandemic, seeking help for myself just happened to coincide with everyone else’s mental health downturn while in lockdown. It seemed like almost the whole world had started therapy.
So there I am, now taking my (much-needed) prescribed anti-depressant, speaking to my counselor regularly, and making progress. Things aren’t bad. They’re starting to look up, and I begin to mentally feel better. Working from home wasn’t terrible for the most part, and it seemed the Covid pandemic was happening around me and not to me directly.
But I was wrong.
Fast forward nearly two years, and here we all are – still in a pandemic. I’m still going to therapy regularly and managing my mental health.
Then, in the new year, Covid finally came for me. I was no longer the exception. I am now the rule.
My body was in pure misery as it determinedly fought an internal battle with invisible foreign invaders. Still, I did feel fortunate that I could manage this viral blitzkrieg at home and not need medical intervention outside of my initial (and obvious) diagnosis.
I didn’t want anyone to feel the way Covid made me feel (I believe the term is Garbage Fire), and I took my time in quarantine seriously. Two weeks apart from everyone in the world I knew.
Because I have a roommate (whom I like) and am conscientious of their health, being confined to my home wasn’t going to cut it – I exiled myself to my bedroom.
My body was doing its best and winning. However, my mental health was not so fortunate.
I feel stupid and hate to admit it, but I became very lonely in my 150 square feet of solitary confinement. I’m a very social person, and I had begun to drown in my aloneness, and my depression started to rear its ugly head. I had worked so hard the past two years to get out of bed on time, put myself together, face my day, and manage my depression. The meds help, yes, but they’re not a fix-all. I also have to take an active and mindful role in managing my depression and not allowing it to control me.
Keep in mind – this is cold and dreary January, so let’s throw in Seasonal Affective Disorder on top of everything just for good measure. Even before I contracted Covid, I had been keeping myself together by the narrowest of margins.
After I had been so proactive about not depression napping – it begins. The uninvited yet familiar vacant apathy finds its way to me. Why shower? I’m only in my bed. I’m not even hungry, but I eat for comfort. The occasional tear escapes my eye – but it’s not for anything specifically. It’s for everything and nothing all at once.
Nobody really tells you it’s the emptiness inside that weighs the most.
I swear – you give your depression an inch and it takes a mile.
My quarantine time has come and gone, and I can now rejoin the land of the living. I can breathe the fresh outside air and let its crispness slowly fill my still recovering lungs. The cold breeze stings my skin, and the weak winter sun shines gently on my appreciative face. I took it for granted that contracting Covid wouldn’t happen to me, or that my depression wasn’t waiting in the wings ready for a reason to sneak in.
My time in quarantine has been difficult for me, as it has been for many others. Even though this experience has been a bit of a “two steps forward and one step back” kind of dance, I know mental health and healing aren’t a linear path. I am slowly and steadily reclaiming myself back from being in the shadow of my depression. I know seeing my therapist at South Platte Counseling is one of the best ways to do that, so I will keep fighting the good fight and take my physical and mental health recovery one step at a time.