When You Are Depressed for Seemingly No Reason During COVID-19
Yesterday and today I woke up just feeling low, sad, down in the dumps. Nothing happened to trigger me feeling sad, things are actually slightly getting better than they were. So I tell myself I’m being stupid and get annoyed at myself for being sad for “no reason.” I should just snap out of it. Then I’m adding more negative emotions, the frustration at myself and at the sadness. I say “no reason” in quotes because this story is about challenging the thought that I have no reason to be sad.
In dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) we learn about different emotions and what kind of situations emotions are justified, and talk about them “fitting the facts.” It sounds pretty basic, but is actually complex. I honestly believe emotions and how to regulate them should be taught in schools. They are such valuable skills that I think many adults don’t understand! So when does DBT say that sadness fits the facts? When you have lost something or someone and when things haven’t gone to plan or turned out the way you had hoped.
Now is there anyone who predicted and expected a global pandemic to hit us? If there is why didn’t they warn the rest of us?!? So to some extent all of us in the whole world are living this year not how we expected it or hoped it to be. People had plans and goals they wanted to accomplish which they haven’t been able to because of lockdown restrictions. Through no fault of their own, through something completely out of all of our control. There is also the fact that people haven’t seen those they love in a long time, while they hopefully aren’t lost forever they are for a while. There have also been lost opportunities, lost progress, personally, or in other ways due to lockdown restrictions.
For me personally, I was in a good place mentally before COVID-19 took over. I had support workers twice a week and therapy twice a week. Then in a flash the therapy turned into a phone call and group therapy just stopped. Support had strict restrictions when it used to be very much up to me, I could do whatever I wanted with them. I was doing so well before lockdown that I was discharged from CMHT (Community Mental Health Team), a mutual decision between me and the professionals working with me that we all agreed was for the best. Now I have had to be referred back to them because I’m not doing well and need more support. This is a loss in itself, a loss of my progress, a loss of my independence and ability to cope by myself.
I’m a very goal-orientated person and I use a bullet journal to do this. I set goals for 2020 at the end of 2019. I set challenges for myself like “swim 100 times” and “visit 20 new places.” These seemed difficult but manageable. Now thanks to COVID, I haven’t been able to complete any of my goals! If COVID-19 hadn’t have happened I would now be finished DBT and on to the next phase of my recovery/therapy journey; I had this all planned out. Now it will be a long time before I am ready for this. I also was about to start volunteering in a school in March when schools had to shut down. I’m determined to make sure this will happen in time, but I’ve lost five months.
I’ve lost five months in a number of ways. Time has been ticking, I’ve been getting older, life hasn’t stopped. And yet in so many ways it has. Five months of no social outings. Five months of self isolation at home with no company. Five months of deep depression. Five months of no progress on my mental health and goals that make my life worth living.
I write about myself and my personal sadness and set backs as a result of lockdown, but I hope others can use this to see their own reasons they may be sad. If you, like me, wake up just feeling sad, before you beat yourself up and tell yourself you have no reason to, stop and think. I realized I have reasons to be sad because of all I have lost and how 2020 has not gone to plan.
Give yourself some compassion and kindness if you feel sad. We are all allowed to. If you planned to spend the extra time eating healthily and getting fit, but find yourself staying in bed or not wanting to move from the sofa and craving chocolate. Or if you find yourself not being able to find the motivation to do anything: be kind to yourself, tell yourself it’s OK to be sad, grieve what you have lost because of this awful situation we are all living in. But most of all be kind to yourself. Sadness needs kindness!
Photo by Cosiela Borta on Unsplash