4 Lessons the COVID-19 Pandemic Taught Me About My Mental Health
As someone living with mental health challenges, the first few weeks of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic were emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting as I adjusted to our “new normal.” I fainted the second week of my county’s stay-at-home order. I experienced a severe panic attack initiated by the stress associated with COVID-19 and how it may impact my career coaching business.
However, the pandemic has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on my mental health. As the time of writing this, my anxiety is at an all-time low and my productivity is at an all-time high. I attribute both of these facts to social distancing and shelter-in-place.
I never imagined a global pandemic would boost my mental health, especially as someone living with mental health challenges — I live with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yet, experiencing the pandemic has taught me a lot about my mental health and recovery.
Four lessons the COVID-19 pandemic taught me about my mental health:
1. I am resilient.
As with every other human, my routines were disrupted as a result of the pandemic. I could no longer work out of my favorite local coffee shop. I wasn’t able to see family and friends in person. The list goes on. All of the change fueled my anxiety and triggered a major panic attack.
Despite the difficult start I had to shelter-in-place, I quickly rebounded. I learned powerful coping techniques and created self-care routines during the last 7+ years of therapy.
I was reminded that I am resilient, even in the face of a global pandemic. I was reminded of all of the time, energy and effort I put in since bringing diagnosed with GAD and OCD in college and PTSD in college, following a sexual assault. And, I was reminded of the incredible support system I built to support me.
2. My support system is incredible.
My partner, J.V., was with me when I fainted the second week of shelter-in-place (and when I requested a McDonald’s M&M McFlurry immediately afterward). My parents and I have continued our routine of texting and talking on the phone each day. My therapist has moved our weekly in-person sessions to phone sessions. And, I continue to lean on The Stability Network for support and guidance.
I recognize how fortunate I am to have created and nurtured this support system pre-coronavirus. I also recognize how critical this support system is for persevering throughout this global pandemic.
3. Less is more.
Before social distancing and shelter-in-place, my self-care consisted of frequent Lululemon and Nordstrom shopping sprees, eating out several times per week and monthly trips to Disneyland. Now, I have significantly reduced my spending, increased how much I connect with friends (via text and Zoom, of course), and spend more time outside.
The common theme is less doing and more being. I am so very much enjoying the slowness. (Although I definitely miss Disneyland and will be returning as soon as the park opens back up!) I am feeling lighter, freer and less anxious thanks to being intentional with how I spend my time.
4. There are silver linings.
I am heartbroken by the record-high unemployment rates, economic impact and deaths. I am also beginning to find the silver livings, like learning how resilient I truly am, tapping deeper into my support systems and taking time to slow down and recharge.
While I know this is a challenging time, if you’re up for it, I encourage you to join me in finding the silver livings of this pandemic.
Struggling with your mental health due to COVID-19? Check out the following articles from our community:
- An Activist-Therapist’s 15 Affirmations for Hope Amidst COVID-19
- 10 COVID-19 Emotions You’re Not the Only One Having
- How the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Triggering My Complex PTSD
- Hey You: It’s OK to Grieve the ‘Small’ Things You’ve Lost During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- 25 Hilarious (and Sweet) Photos That Show What Parenting During COVID-19 Is Really Like
Photo by KartiKey Panchal on Unsplash