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How I'm Emerging From Depression, Even In Self-Isolation

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I’ve spent the last four weeks holed up in my own head, like a bear hibernating against its winter. I’ve been scared, worried, depressed, anxious and emotional. I hid from it all, beneath the pillows of my bed, in front of mindless television, inside the confines of my little home while it’s been raining. This is a winter none of us could ever have predicted.

Now, spring is here. The beasts of this Earth are emerging. And dare I say, I’m emerging, too.

I’m going to have to come forward in a different way considering the world is facing a global pandemic. Considering we’re all still being asked to stay inside our homes. Can we emerge when we’re being asked to self-isolate? Can we blossom when we’re told to stay indoors?

I’m trying to figure this out. Even if it’s one small sprig of green hope at a time. 

Lately I’ve been consumed with the news about the coronavirus (COVID-19) —  a new-to humans virus that causes respiratory infection and can lead to serious or fatal health complications — and so focused on all humanity has lost. It is devastating to see those on the front lines suffer. It is heartbreaking to hear of those who have family or friends who have succumbed to the virus. It is saddening to see hard workers lose their jobs.

But mostly, I have been narrow-mindedly fixated on all that is gone in my own life.

Over the course of four weeks, I have lost the ability to do many of the things that brought me joy. I am not alone. It is a collective grief we feel as humanity — we are all losing at least something. We are all being asked to give up our normal lives. 

For me, I had built my little world so carefully. I had time to write, my oldest daughter was in school, my youngest about ready to start preschool. I had playdates and book club gatherings and friends and family. Finally, I had created a life I was starting to settle into. It was no easy feat. This time last year, I struggled with debilitating depression — a byproduct of postpartum depression along with not effectively dealing with some traumatic events in my past. I had spent a year building myself back up. I had spent a year seeing a therapist, finding the right medication, creating a social network of fellow stay-at-home mothers, settling into the love of my extended family, exercising, creating time to write and finding positive outlets for my hurt.

It’s blinding not to feel as though all of this hard work has been for nothing. In the face of a pandemic, we are being asked to lose so much for the greater good of humanity. I know for many of us it isn’t easy, especially those of us who already deal with the ups and downs of mental illness. I am certainly one of those people.

However, this isn’t forever, this isn’t forever, this isn’t forever.

I say this to myself daily, whenever the fears wiggle their way into my mind like feasting maggots and proceed to devour all of the good I know I have in my life. This isn’t forever.

It’s time I start to emerge out of this sleep.

And so, here I am, writing again. Trying to layer my jumbled thoughts out onto the page in the hopes of finding some sort of meaning and hope. I am exercising again. Taking a walk or doing an online workout not because I want to necessarily lose weight, but because it calms my mind and is a healthy way to pass my time.

I’ve had to find a new way of doing the things I love. At first, I thought it was impossible with a 2 and 5-year-old home from school for the unforeseeable future. I’m trying to homeschool one while keeping the other from pressing computer buttons and erasing all the work. I’m trying to fill a very long day while social distancing. I’m trying to be a warrior mother in the midst of a very frightening time in our world.

Mostly, I’m trying to change my perspective. I may need to get up early to write. Or I may need to exercise after my daughters go to bed. Or maybe I won’t do any of these things and that is OK, too, because these are unchartered times. At least my heart is in the right place.

The truth is, I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of living in a state of constant fear, of focusing on what I’ve lost instead of focusing on what I have. I want to emerge — within the limits of social isolation. I want to thank a nurse, write a heartfelt letter to a teacher, hold my daughters, bake some cookies, kiss my husband, take a walk and write and write and write. 

It’s time I emerge from my quarantine sleep.

It’s time I wake up and live my life again.

Struggling with your mental health due to COVID-19? You’re not alone. Check out the following articles from our community:

Unsplash image by Priscilla du Preez

Originally published: April 23, 2020
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