When the COVID pandemic first began, like so many others worldwide I assumed that the worst would be over in a couple of months. In the beginning, I actually flourished, practicing good self-care by keeping in touch with friends and family through phone calls, emails and FaceTime. I also kept up faithfully with regular Zoom appointments with my therapist and psychiatrist.
However, as the months agonizingly stretched on I slacked off of my previously effective coping skills. As spring flowed into summer I sometimes became lax about filling prescriptions in a timely manner, as I always had before. I began to isolate myself from friends and family and instead spent my time engaging in lonely crying spells. Instead of trying to eat and sleep healthfully I often filled up on junk food and spent sleepless nights followed by fitful naps during the days.
Eventually I gave in to bleak, all-encompassing depression in which, every time I went to sleep I hoped that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. With the classic tunnel vision in which severe depression traps its victims, I simply could see no path to recovery.
With the compassionate love and support of my mother and sister, I entered the psychiatric unit of a local hospital where I received excellent care for a week and improved greatly. Again with the help of my family, shortly after my discharge I was able to move to a new apartment in the same city where they live. Now I count myself very lucky to enjoy regular – and safe! – visits from my family members.
And I couldn’t have survived my mental health crisis without the assistance of my empathetic therapist and psychiatrist who have always encouraged me to involve myself in my new community. COVID-19 continues to be a challenge, but now more often than not I feel hopeful, not hopeless.