Lifestyle | April 13th, 2020

I Am Coping With a Mental Illness During COVID-19

By: Branielle Edmonds
I Am Coping With a Mental Illness During COVID-19

Many people battling mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder during this time of social distancing may experience a strain on their mental wellness. 

As a person who lives with bipolar I disorder, this has been a very difficult time for me. Not only has spring break and my birthday been ruined due to the coronavirus, but I have also been forced to follow the stay-at-home order and move back with my family. 

Living with bipolar I disorder during this pandemic is much like functioning in the dark. Dealing with overthinking and constantly beating myself up, I find that it is a struggle getting out of bed in the morning. Although I am grateful for life itself, being isolated has done more bad than good. 

In a study posted by The Lancet during and after the SARS outbreak of 2003, being stuck in quarantine is linked to post-traumatic stress disorder, confusion, and anger. 

It has been a lot to process that my family and friends could be affected by this pandemic. Though we are taking the necessary steps to stay safe, there is still no guarantee that social distancing will be enough.

Anxiety and I have become best friends. As this virus worsens I have allowed social media to be a deciding factor in my worth. I’ve allowed myself to lie awake at night comparing myself to images on a screen.

Several posts about developing a business, learning a new skill, or even losing weight has allowed me to believe that I am not doing enough. We all aren’t able to come out of a pandemic with a side hustle. The most important thing to realize about making it through this madness is that you have to reassure yourself that if your day isn’t as productive as the next person, it is okay.

Being in isolation hasn’t been the highlight of my life. Every day I have to consciously make an effort to pick myself up and manage my illness literally hour by hour. 

Health specialists, books, magazines, TV specials, and documentaries often talk about developing coping mechanisms to combat the low moments that I may experience. 

In an article posted by The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), they detail the importance of developing coping strategies such as asking for help, limiting news intake as well as finding things to do to distract yourself. 

I struggled greatly with finding things to do that I genuinely liked at first, but after forcing myself I developed a daily schedule of waking up around 10:00 a.m. Do I always wake up at that time? No, but it is important to start somewhere.  

Right after I get dressed, I have tried to get creative with my day whether that be through forcing myself to complete an assignment, reading a chapter in a book or, my personal favorite, binge-watching “Black-ish.”

Yes, I have had more bad days than good but I’ve decided to take my time and push through this time in quarantine the best way it works for me.  

While running this marathon called life there will be obstacles. Some hurdles will last longer than others, but I’ve learned that to truly win my race I have to create a pace that works for me.