The World Health Organization recognizes that mental health disorders are the leading cause of illness and disability worldwide. That’s 450 million people suffering from a mental health disorder today. That’s a lot of people! With the Covid-19 pandemic at its peak, the number of diagnosed mental health disorders worldwide is rising daily, as observed by the Mental Health America monitoring database system. That number is likely to continue increasing as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America identifies anxiety as the overall most common mental health disorder and notes that nearly half of individuals living with it have a co-occurring disorder, such as depression. Where there is one disorder, there are often additional co-occurring disorders. I’m a perfect example. I suffer from a range of mental health disorders, including anxiety and borderline personality disorder.
Because of my disorders, my ability to keep healthy friendships is impaired. Because of my disorder, my ability to have a relationship with another person is impaired. As a result of my disorder, I experience an unstable self-image and sense of self. These symptoms have severely impacted the way I function in life.
It is evident that mental health has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus. Mental health disorders do not discriminate. You can be affected no matter who you are. These disorders can be genetic. If a family member suffers from mental illness or addiction, know that you are at an increased risk for developing problems.
I thrive in a structured environment where I am constantly being held responsible by my professors, therapists, parents, and supervisors. But without a job, a gym membership, or a set school schedule, I’m left with nearly nothing to fill my time and have very little accountability. For someone like myself, this scenario brews trouble, as boredom is a trigger and potential risk factor for relapse.
Financial stress, isolation from family and friends, grief for those who have lost a loved one to the virus, are additional triggers people like me may be experiencing at this time. President Trump recently made the statement that he was “expecting suicide rates and drug addiction to increase as a result of economic fallout.” And there is evidence to support that.
We need to stop being so hard on ourselves. My disorder tells me that because it feels as if everyone else has abandoned me, I might as well abandon myself and my life, too. Without structure, my thoughts consume me all day, unfiltered and uninterrupted, a sure recipe for disaster.
I speculate I am not alone in my feelings. I feel stir crazy, a prisoner without the prison, and a strong sense of restlessness. I lack a purpose without a job or a degree to pursue each day.
It also doesn’t help my situation that I tripped and fell down the stairs working the evening shift at a restaurant. I was carrying a tray of food to the restaurant’s private party room when I fell down the stairs. The tray was heavier than usual, containing metal buckets full of ice and oysters. The fall happened so fast I fractured my ankle in three places. I was rescued by firemen and paramedics and taken to the emergency room in March 2020. I will spend the next two to three months, unable to walk or drive.
Because I am immobile, I spend a lot of time doing homework and on my laptop reading and researching, sending emails, etc. I feel abandoned by my university during this pandemic. All my questions were met with run-around answers, telling me who I should contact instead, and that’s if I even got a response from the administrative staff and my professors.
One of the first things my therapist told me when she found out I fell was that this injury would teach me who my real friends are – who is there for me and who isn’t. She was right. Not a lot of people came around.
Many Americans can relate to my feelings of abandonment right now. Perhaps we feel abandoned by the government in a situation such as this pandemic. We wonder why there isn’t a system in place to help us yet. When will we get back to life as we knew it? Answers are uncertain. As victims of a pandemic we can’t control, we fear the unknown.
As a result of this coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been more withdrawn than ever before. My depression causes me to sleep too much, and my anxiety has skyrocketed. Money and making payments on time is a huge concern. I’d rather be asleep than dealing with reality. I’m currently taking more anxiety medicine now just sitting at home than I did on days I had interviews, speeches, or tests.
This is a friendly reminder that we cannot control what’s happening in the world around us. We can only control ourselves and how we respond to this crisis. I encourage everyone to practice healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise, music, art, nature, and cleaning. What works for me is reading and writing.
We all should take this time to focus more on ourselves and becoming better people. Before we know it, this too shall pass, and we’ll be back to work before we know it and missing the days of quarantine when we sat around doing nothing. Remember that nothing lasts forever, not even a pandemic.
Thanks for reading.
About the Author: Olivia Fletter, Language of Liv. English major seeking an online presence while in pursuit of becoming a successful freelance writer, blogger, and author. I demonstrate exceptional typography skills and a desire to revise and improve my craft. It’s nice to meet you, let’s connect!
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios only.
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