Lockdown has been tough on everyone. Most of us are separated from the people, the things and the places that we love so it’s no wonder that many people’s mental health is suffering.
I’ve been battling depression for at least six years now on and off and one of the only positive ways I’ve dealt with it was distracting myself with activities I mention here. When I felt terrible I often went to a cheap coffee shop or visited my friend. Getting a change of scenery and socialising really helped me. My family often took us out for dinner pre-pandemic and my brother often went to soft play centres or school events.
But what do you do when you can no longer get a coffee with your friend? What do you do when you’re stuck in the house all day with nothing but your thoughts? You end up struggling, that’s what.
As someone who was doing well mentally before the outbreak, taking steps backwards in my depression recovery was very painful. Familiar feelings of worthlessness, lack of caring and downright sadness were all-too-familiar. I think of depression as something similar to physical pain in the sense that human beings cannot exactly recall the feeling of having a stubbed toe or a broken ankle. You remember it’s painful and you never want it to happen again but you don’t truly remember. I think it’s the same for depression. Sadness is memorable; happiness is memorable, but depression is like a plastic bag wrapped over any positive emotion. It stifles the joy leaving only the bad.
So how do you – to quote a song from my childhood – ‘get up from an all-time low’? You find something to get excited for, to begin with. During a pandemic, millions of empty calendars are disheartening, to say the least, so find something else, something fun, or at least not sad.
Rewatch/reread your favourite books/shows
Often, I want to watch and read new things. New books, television shows and films are good to watch and end up loving but sometimes you need to go back to your old favourites. When everything in life is bad there’s nothing better than watching Once Upon a Time on Netflix to make you giggle and smile.
Get your work/school work planned out
When you’re depressed the last thing you care about doing is work or school work but as you know deep down – you need to get it done. You will have likely fallen behind on deadlines but if you start immediately you can catch up with little ramifications. Create a to-do list for your work gently easing yourself into the process of working again. When you feel like you’re achieving something – you inevitably feel better about yourself.
Do something creative
Personally, I hate drawing; I am jealous of those who can draw and it just makes me angry when I try and draw (a horrible experience from an ableist art teacher didn’t help either) – but I love scrapbooking. I recently started a scrapbook of all my favourite things to make me feel happier and it’s really worked. My scrapbook doesn’t really feature my friends and family but rather different quotes and characters that have made me smile or inspire me and it’s nowhere near finished. It’s not perfect, it has mistakes and impurities but it’s mine. It has stickers I printed off myself and glossy photos that I glue on with care. Of course, when you feel at your worst doing anything creative is difficult but a scrapbook is a great way of keeping positive and distracting yourself.
At the end of the day no matter how alone you feel and no matter how much of a lost cause you think you are, you will feel better eventually. It will take time. It may take days, weeks or even months to start feeling better but no matter how much you want to stay in bed, you need to get up.
Medusa is a 17-year-old girl from Scotland who is diagnosed with OCD, depression, and autism. She runs The Medusa Diaries.