It’s OK to Feel Depressed During a Global Pandemic

COVID life is supposed to be stressful and depressing.

When COVID first hit, I embraced the slovenly lifestyle. It was a breath of fresh air. Gone were the fluorescent lights and stale air of the standard 9-5 prison that most of us occupy. I was finally free to do things during the day like work out, jerk off, run errands, and cry.

At first, I loved it. I caught up on all my reading and TV shows and other hobbies, I ordered hundreds of dollars in delivery food, I drank during the day whenever I wanted, I was a shameless fat slob. After 4 years of grinding non-stop, it was a welcome break.

Then summer came and went. Then fall. Now winter is here and instead of the curve flattening it’s skyrocketing again because half of our country listens to a failed steak salesman and known conman for medical advice. The only reason quarantine was enjoyable in March was because there was an end in sight. Now it looks like this might continue throughout 2021, if not longer.

The breath of fresh air has turned into a stale fart. The memes aren’t funny anymore. My home feels like a prison I can’t escape. Companies have adapted to working from home and I spend 4-5 hours a day on Zoom calls trying to get any little bit of human connection I can. I’m sick of watching TV shows, playoff sports are over, I’m out of distractions and stuck with my own thoughts which are slowly driving me insane.

I wake up in my apartment, walk to the living room and sit on a computer for hours in my apartment, relax after work by watching TV in my apartment, and go to sleep in my apartment. It’s groundhog day without the fun of erasing all of your mistakes and failures from the day before. I’m not sure if purgatory exists or what it’s like but it can’t be far off from living in COVID America.

Despite my best efforts to remain active or meditate or work from a coffee shop, my mental state is at an all-time low. It’s not that I don’t have options, I’m too depressed to care.

At the start of quarantine, I had maybe 1 bad day per workweek where I couldn’t take it anymore and spent the day eating fast food and scrolling endlessly through Twitter. Now it’s up to 3 or 4. Hell, I’m lucky if I get 1 day where I’m in a good mood. It keeps snowballing because I can’t see my friends to blow off some steam. Humans are social beings, we literally need human interaction to survive, take that away and we’re lost.

What makes it worse is the desire to “feel normal” amidst a Global pandemic. When I’m being lazy or unmotivated I have intense feelings of guilt and remorse for not using my quarantime productively. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be motivated to write more? Why can’t I plan and accomplish all of those things when I have ample time?

It’s a cycle of self-loathing, depression, and feeling trapped. As COVID worsens, the feelings only intensify and the list of things to do gets shorter and shorter. There is a difference between healthy and unhealthy distractions. Going to happy hour with friends, rock climbing, hiking, going to the beach, all healthy distractions. Scrolling endlessly on your smartphone and watching entire seasons of TV in a single day are not.

You’re Not Supposed to be Happy Right Now

In America, we look at being sad and depressed as something that we should avoid entirely. If you’re feeling down, there’s clearly something wrong and you need drugs to fix it because you should be feeling happy all the time. Social media exacerbates the issue because it only shows people at their best. It’s hard to commiserate with others when everybody on the surface is doing fantastic. We feel inadequate scrolling because we think that’s real life and we should all be grateful, happy, and fulfilled at every moment of every day.

It’s completely at odds with real life and especially real life during a pandemic. I’m not saying you can’t figure out a way to thrive during the pandemic, a lot of people have done that. All of you never-depressed, sunshine-beaming-out-of-your-asshole types are sitting there going “BRO GET OUTSIDE AND TRY YOGA OR LEARN HOW TO COOK OR INVEST IN THE STOCK MARKET”. But for the majority of us, we’re out here trying to survive. Anybody with mental health issues is really struggling right now. There are no outlets, no friends to see, no gatherings, nothing to focus on to give us energy. It’s easy to be consumed by your demons when your only activity is listening to them.

Being sad is just as important as being happy. There is no happiness without sadness. It forces us to grow, to learn, to become better people and realize what makes us happy. It’s OK as long as it doesn’t last for months on end.

How have I been dealing with it? Consuming myself with work, watching every TV show in existence, buying shit left and right. All of the quick fixes, the negative behaviors that make you smile for a minute then worsen the emptiness. My sneaker collection is looking better than ever but with nobody to flex on, does it even matter?

COVID fatigue and COVID depression are real. It’s why people are super spreading and acting like we beat the virus even though it’s at higher levels now than it’s ever been. Some of them are MAGA-loving idiots who wouldn’t wear a mask unless they were at a KKK rally but a lot of rational, smart people are just sick of being stuck inside and willing to take the risk to feel normal. That I can understand. All I do is sit around yet I’m exhausted every day from the strain on my mental health.

I’m not going to turn this into a Trump-bashing post, although this is entirely his fault, because that’s beside the point. The Covidiots out there super spreading and screaming about MUH FREEDOMS to minimum wage Walmart employees will always exist. There’s nothing I can do as an individual to change it. I just have to accept that this is the ridiculous situation I’m stuck in with people in charge that are doing nothing to make it better. The harder I fight the more depressed I get.

Get by with a Little Help from your Friends

Stop fighting it. Stop imagining that life should be better. Accept that life is going to suck right now but not forever and do what you can to make yourself feel better, whatever that looks like.

You’re SUPPOSED to feel stressed out, shitty, unmotivated. Don’t beat yourself up for that. Just accept that this is a nightmare for EVERYBODY and feeling like a worthless bag of shit is part of the COVID process. If you fall into a Netflix hole, that’s OK! If you gain 15 lbs., that’s OK! All of those mistakes are OK, you’re not a perfect person and this situation is making us all struggle. Be grateful you’re not dead from COVID or hooked up to a ventilator struggling to breathe.

I’ve come to accept that this is as reality for the foreseeable future. And with that acceptance comes peace. I can’t control the virus or other people spreading it, I can only make myself happy and do what I can to help my friends feel the same.

This isn’t a “let’s all be nicer to each other” bullshit call to action. But devote your energy to the things you can control. Reach out to your friends, hang out when it’s safe and available, improve relationships that have fallen by the wayside. Don’t spend your time on toxic activities, take care of yourself and lift up your friends. We’re all struggling out here and the only way to make it better is by helping each other.

Don’t tell yourself “you’re too busy” or you “don’t have the energy”. I know it seems like a lot but human interaction will make it better. Your friends want to hear from you. The only way to find out who’s really struggling is to ask. Most people are embarrassed that they’re not handling it well and unwilling to admit it to friends.

This will be over eventually despite America’s best efforts to extend it. A vaccine is on the horizon and I’m hoping by mid-2021 we’re all getting drunk together at the bar again and laughing about how ridiculous 2020 was. But until then, call your friends, stop scrolling through your phone, and do things that make you happy. Don’t suffer alone in silence, suffer a little less with friends.

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