“How am I going to get through this?”

Managing depression and anxiety through quarantine

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

1. Writing

I tend to refer to my depressive thoughts as “spiraling.” It’s what happens when one negative thought leads to another, which leads to another , and so on, indefinitely. Recently, my therapist suggested that I keep a journal, and when I begin spiraling, start writing what that looks like. I began doing this, and found that when I wrote things out I could see my thoughts laid out like a map. It can be hurtful and difficult to read your own worst thoughts, but in my experience, I have been able to find a glitch — something that, when written down no longer seems right or accurate. It’s a chink in the chain of my spiral and helps me think “well, if this dark thought is incorrect, then there is nothing to justify the next thought” and so on. It also helps me to slow down my thoughts, so I can take time on them rather than jump from one to the next. For me, journaling during my darkest times lead to journaling all of the time, which lead to writing articles on Medium. Maybe it could lead you somewhere completely different? Start writing, and see where it leads you.

2. Making lists

Obviously, I started with the list that you are reading now. ✔

3. Finding A Mantra

This is the part of the article that, as I type, I keep thinking “I can’t believe I’m sharing this with the whole world!!” but here we go. When I was first diagnosed with depression, it was during the lowest point in my life. I will leave out the details, but I was staying in bed for days at a time, and my lack of motivation began costing me everything. I would sometimes put on the TV, or sometimes would do nothing for hours on end. To this day I don’t know what motivated me to read a book, but I believe that it was because I found comfort in re-reading my favorite book: The Great Gatsby. It remains my favorite because, though the story and characters all remain familiar, every time that I read it there is something new within the beauty of the language that sticks out to me. This particular time that I was reading it, it was a quote at the very end that stuck:

Photo by Hugo Kemmel on Unsplash

4. Starting a new hobby

Most artists are currently out of work, which means the number of online teachers has sky-rocketed. Whether it’s learning how to do yoga or taking an online workout class or learning a new skill like painting or sewing, the internet is currently blowing up with artists who are suddenly out of work and itching to share their craft with you. I found most of the tagged links just by searching for hashtags like #learntopaint or #learntodoyoga on Instagram. Plus, there’s always that drawer you’ve never organized, or that book you never got around to reading. You know that thing you always wanted to do but never thought you’d have time for? Now’s the time.

5. Watching Netflix

I KNOW I’m supposed to be “inspirational” and “encourage people to be productive” but this week has been the first time that I’ve sat in front of my TV for more than an hour at a time in MONTHS and ya know what? I’m not mad about it. Take time to watch Netflix. For a couple hours. Then get up and do something else on this list. Or on the list that you wrote! (please see #1)

6. Going over a stranger’s house for meaningless sex

This one is obviously a joke. However, I would imagine that some people read that and thought “Oh, sure.” We all have our toxic habits (think binge eating, drinking, drugs, etc.) that give us temporary comfort but only hurt us in the long run. We don’t know how long this quarantine will last. Why not use it to try and break some of those habits? Try starting with something small, like not biting your nails, and see where it grows from there. Right now may not be the best of times, but we can make changes now that will better our future.

The seeds we plant today will be the flowers that bloom tomorrow.

7. Learning more about mental health

Like I previously said, it was my (unprofessional, but still acquired) knowledge of mental health that helped me get through my first panic attack until I could seek professional help. Though knowledge is power, do not try to self-diagnose. Mental health is not “one-size-fits-all” and it is a very dangerous and slippery slope to read up on mental illnesses and think “that’s me, I must have that.” Researching does not mean that you are equipped to diagnose. Use your knowledge as tool to help you rationalize your thoughts until you are able to seek the advice of a trained professional. As The National Institute of Mental Health puts it:

8. Get help

If you feel that your life is in danger, reach out for help. There are resources like the SAMSA National Helpline or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. I found a list on this website as well. Don’t take your beauty from the world.

Photo by MissMushroom on Unsplash

Tech by day, comedy by night, opinionated always. www.amymaniscalco.com

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