Now is not the time to neglect your mental (or physical) health.
I am the first to admit I’ve been downing those quarantine snacks while sitting on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix every evening.
Hey, I am a 33-year-old married person with no kids, no backyard, and I’m bored.
And it is hard. It is SO HARD.
I’m not joking. That sounds like I am being sarcastic or teasing or joking about how difficult my DINK life is.
I am a relatively healthy adult in week 8 of quarantine and I am having a hard time coping.
Being aware of your mental health in this time is paramount
Stress, anxiety, and depression are amplified in isolation.
We are all worried about our health, our loved one’s health, scared of getting sick, or maybe of getting hurt and having to go to the hospital and potentially be exposed.
Here’s how my mental health is being affected by COVID19:
- I cannot sleep more than a couple of hours per night without medication (and I don’t like taking Ambien every day)
- I’m vaping more than ever (though I am happy I’m not smoking cigarettes anymore)
- I’m getting headaches more often
- My anxiety has skyrocketed
- My focus at work has diminished
- I feel that my general motivation to be productive or work out has gone out the window
Maybe you can relate to this.
Stress and isolation can make any mental health condition worse and it is imperative that we all try to find ways to cope with stress and help ourselves be more mentally healthy.
For the first 6.5 weeks, I tried self-medicating, making sure to video chat with family and friends often, watch and read the news less, try to find ways to entertain myself, try to distract myself, and drugged myself to sleep.
Those things were only slightly helpful for my actual mental health, though they do make isolation a bit easier.
Finally, I had a slight breakdown and cried to my husband about wanting to go outside, needing the sun, missing normalcy.
We need to do whatever it takes to stay mentally healthy and stable.
So, I decided to go back on anti-anxiety meds to help, which I am thankfully able to do. I had a telehealth doctor appointment with my primary care doc and then took a short a mask-wearing walk to the pharmacy.
Now I am dealing with the side effects of restarting them. For the first couple weeks of being on Lexapro, I get light dizziness all the time and a weird stomach. I am just sucking it up and it’s been about a week and a half now, so the side effects are starting to lighten (thank goodness). Day 1 I had a vicious migraine and wanted to stab myself in the brain.
If going back on medication or adjusting your medication is an option, please talk to your doctor. If you need to go outside and you don’t have outdoor space (like me in an NYC apartment), please take a walk staying 6 feet from others or drive to a more remote location and lay in the grass and be outdoors. If you need to talk, ask someone — a friend, a family member, a mental health professional (they’re doing video and phone appointments and there are emergency hotlines), anyone.
Reach out. Ask for help.
Humans are compassionate and empathetic. We want to help and many of us will go out of our way to do so.
Despite the isolation, you are not alone.
I remind myself of that. I’m not alone, we’re all dealing with this.
Anxiety and depression and other mental health disorders won’t stop when quarantine ends.
I’m definitely scared of reintegrating. I feel like even if/when it is deemed ‘safe,’ I won’t want to be in crowds, travel, or ride the train until a vaccine is available.
I’m nervous about restarting my life outside my apartment. And the longer quarantine goes on, the more I have to pay attention to my mental health, and the more freaked out I get about how we will resume a normal life. Or will this, someday, become normal?
Since being back on meds, I am already finding it easier to focus and be productive at work, worry a bit less, and am just starting to get a bit more sleep (I am really hoping that part gets better soon).
Please, stay safe and healthy — in all possible ways.
Check out my new book Concept to Conclusion: How to Write a Book and learn everything you need to know to conceive of, outline, write, publish, and market a book!
Sign up for my mailing list for writing and freelancing news and information.