It’s the same thing every day: Wake up, find ways to make the day go by quicker, go to bed, and do the same thing the next day all while being confined to your home. Covid- 19 has undoubtedly changed the world as we know it by taking away loved ones, significantly affecting businesses, and forcing us to stay in our households.

While we’re waiting for the world to return to a sense of normalcy, we’re doing our best to stay productive and healthy while we wait for the green light to proceed with our regular routine. It seems like a simple order: Stay at home.

Doing this is the most efficient way to protect ourselves from exposure of the novel Coronavirus, but what happens if something so easy to do is also the most challenging for those who are struggling with mental illness?

According to a recent survey conducted by the American Psychiatric Association, 36 percent of Americans feel that the Coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected their emotional well- being. However, this statistic doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of those around the world who are also struggling to cope.

Living with depression and anxiety are one thing, but living with these illnesses during such a dark time is a completely different story.

For those suffering with depression, the battle of simply getting of bed is a tough one. The voice of depression is loud; often times overpowering those who are striving to overcome it. Likewise, other disorders such as anxiety, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) can manifest in unrecognizable ways.

This pandemic is not only damaging the physical health of people – it is damaging their minds too. With limited ways to stay busy, it’s hard to think of anything else but Coronavirus. It’s all over our newsfeeds, written on the front doors of businesses, and the topic of most conversations.

Being one of those people fighting the war against her own mental health issues, the past few weeks have been extremely difficult for me and I’m not ashamed to admit it (and write about it).

Before Coronavirus, I had ways to manage my symptoms of depression. I could grab a coffee and go to my local bookstore to discover new books to read. I could walk around the mall and find ways to preoccupy myself. I could go to a park, without the fear of getting too close to anyone. 

Unfortunately, those coping skills are gone for the time being due to government stay at home orders. Don’t get me wrong, these requirements are for the best in order to prevent the spread of Covid- 19 and abiding by them is a very simple thing to do.

However, for those living with mental illness, this can be a difficult thing to do. Depression can make us feel like we’re walking around with a dark cloud over our heads; we struggle to find happiness from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep.

On any given day, anxiety can engulf us, often causing fear and panic that prevents us from participating in everyday activities. And now, Covid- 19 has magnified mental health issues for millions of people around the world.

We’re sad, scared, and lonely as we watch the world go by from our windows. Such questions have become a norm for us: Have I been exposed to this virus? When will this end? What will the next day bring?

It’s okay to feel this way. This is a new situation we’re dealing with and it’s not easy by any means. That voice of depression can be so loud that it can convince you to stay at home every day and not get out of bed, yet we still had the strength to take a walk to a store or go to therapy before this.

The difference now, however, is that those options have been taken away from us. If we aren’t able to utilize our coping skills to help fight our mental battles, how are we supposed to conquer them?

Right now, more than ever, it’s important to stay strong during this unpredictable time. I know it may seem as if the world will never be the same again, but normalcy will return and we will overcome Covid- 19. This is not forever.

Additionally, with limited things to do, it’s inevitable that we use our phones as a way to entertain ourselves. However, social media might not be the best option to help pass the time.

It seems as if social media influencers are creating unrealistic expectations of how to take care of your mental health during this time. I keep coming across “self- care” posts suggesting waking up early every day, practicing yoga, reading for an hour, meditating, and so on. Do not let Instagram fool you into thinking that you must commit to a daily routine in order to feel productive.

Yes, those activities help some, but it’s not that easy for others. Taking care of yourself can be as simple as making your bed in the morning or tidying up your home. You don’t have to find a new hobby or go hiking in order to prove that you’ve made the most out of your day.

Before Coronavirus, society already branded those struggling with mental illness with a stigma, and now social media influencers are using this to post pictures suggesting that dealing with self- isolation is as simple as doing yoga in the morning. The last thing we all need is people we don’t know telling us how to stay proactive and take care of our health, especially when their end goal is to essentially gain more followers.

Simply getting out of bed is a huge victory in itself. I know it’s easier said than done, especially when depression acts as a pandemic of its own; using your mind as a host to try and triumph over you.

I try not to put pressure on myself during this quarantine. Some days, I have the motivation to write. Other days, I’m content with laying on the couch and watching Netflix all day. If it works for me, it works for me. 

If the only thing you’ve done today is take your dog out, be proud of yourself. Doing anything healthy that has helped you maintain your sense of mental balance, stick with it. Don’t push yourself; everyone is dealing with this quarantine in different ways.

I know you’re struggling. Believe me, I am too. Yet, knowing that we are all in this together provides me with a sense of relief. Mental health issues can make you feel like you’re alone; as if no one else can understand what you’re going through.

The good news is: We’re all in this together.

It’s dark right now. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. However, within all of this darkness, there is a shimmer of light.

You have been fighting with your mental health for awhile now and you continue to survive every day, thus beating it every time. You are already a warrior. You are stronger than your mental illnesses and you are stronger than this pandemic.

You, my friend, are prepared for this. You can do this. We can do this.

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

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