COMMENTARY: How I have managed my mental health throughout the pandemic

January 31, 2021 /

According to a report released by the World Health Organization, cases of Covid-19 were first reported to the organization on Dec. 31, 2019. Exactly a month later, WHO issued a global health emergency. Shortly thereafter, the United States declared a public health emergency.

On March 11, 2020, WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. California became the first American state to issue a stay-at-home order on March 19. The Governor mandated all residents to stay at home except to go to an essential job or shop for essential needs.

Now, we are nearing the end of January in the new 2021 year and the pandemic remains a consistent and urgent issue. I think all of us can agree we did not expect a pandemic to suddenly occur and interrupt our lives.

I found myself reflecting on this past year, the experiences I have been through, and how they have made me feel. I came to realize that I confronted a whirlwind of emotions.

Sometimes, I have felt grateful, other times, resentful. During quarantine, you cannot separate your environments. There are clashes between work, school, and family. It is easy to feel deeply confined. However, there are also times of peace without the typical hurrying, bustling from place to place. It can be challenging to put into the perfect words, but I tried to explain it poetically in a couple of lines:

I am not locked in a tower

For I am a growing flower

I have heard it time and time again, that lockdown is terrible, boring, or upsetting. Similar to the princess character Rapunzel, who was locked away in a tower, being in a lockdown can drive us a tad bit mad. Depression, anxiety, and stress can become overwhelming. You may want to stay informed, but the reality of the news can be mentally draining. You may want to stay physically active, but find little motivation to do so. You may want a social connection, but it seems far away.

After an entire year, it can seem that little to no progress has been made throughout the pandemic, since we are still unable to return to ‘normal.’ This is far from the truth, yet for a lot of residents, this is how they feel.

From a mental-health perspective, redefining my ‘normal’ is how I have coped. Although negative feelings are inevitable for anyone, I have tried to view this time as a moment in my life to grow as an individual. I have had to dig up my roots and plant new seeds. This means I have reevaluated my priorities; a pandemic certainly puts things into perspective.

As a result, I have established a new daily routine and changed old habits. It is a rewriting of the narrative. Instead of feeling trapped, I try to reinterpret it as being placed in new soil, and with gentle care, I will soon sprout. This helps lighten the load and reminds me that each one of us is adapting in our
own way, and that is okay. Every individual’s personal journey is different through unprecedented times. I hope we all remember to be sensitive and mindful of one another.