Adding COVID-19 to our already complicated lives

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: SALMA HUSSEIN
Life before the pandemic was hard enough, so what does life look like now?

We all have moments of anxiety in our lives, but some of us live with mental health issues constantly. So, how are we doing mentally during this crazy time, and more importantly, if we already deal with mental health issues, how are we managing now?

Routines and mental health management that were set in place in our lives have been bulldozed by an unexpected global virus. The world has been shaken up by a microscopic organism, and a lot of people are suffering physically, emotionally, and mentally.

As students, the past few months have been a rollercoaster as we tried to figure out how schools would resume and how to balance our socially distant lives with the upcoming pressures of academics. All of us are walking on eggshells, trying to keep ourselves safe, but at the same time making sure we’re taking parts of our day for ourselves

Wilma. Women Driving Women. Save up to $4.75 per ride! Image of a women in the backseat of a vehicle.

But what about those of us who were always suffering from mental illness? Life before the pandemic was hard enough, so what does life look like now for those with mental illnesses, and how are they coping?

People living with all types of mental health illness, such as anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and many more, all take a toll on a person in an “average” day. Regular coping mechanisms and any recreations that helped manage mental illness during quarantine were put on hold and down on the priority list while the virus was at work.

While it is understandable and mandatory to ensure the safety of the populations, it is inevitable that feelings of isolation, loneliness, and anxiety over the implications of what quarantine really entails, is going to be experienced.

In addition to feelings of isolation and loneliness, the stress of either the possibility of losing a job, or for some, having to be let go from their jobs, is a great source of worry that plagued much of the Canadian population. Financial issues in an unprecedented time, in addition to all the other worries of infection control during the pandemic has definitely been one of the biggest hurdles for many these past few months.

Many people have been restricted to their homes for the past six months, only leaving the house to secure groceries and essentials. Due to the limited activity, people were, and still are (myself included) neglecting physical activity and indulged in one too many walks to the kitchen. In other cases, alcohol, substance abuse, and online gambling have been increased to pass time since the limitations of the pandemic have been set in place.

According to an article from The Lancet titled “How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19pandemic” by Carmen Moreno, the coping mechanisms and management for mental health had to change, and continue to change in order to maintain it in one of the most life changing times of this decade.

Emergency funds like CERB have helped a lot of the population with the financial issues of this pandemic. Other services like virtual mutual support meetings, community conversations, help lines, and more virtual resources have been a great way to keep our mental health in check.

Although it is still unsafe to visit recreational centres and other public settings regularly, taking walks and engaging in other outdoor activities in your neighbourhood is recommended.

Reach out to the resources that have changed and adapted to this pandemic. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has laid out tips for managing mental health during the pandemic and provided resources and programs to help with this stressful time.

Visit their website for more information.

I want each and every one of you to take a look at your day and reflect. Ask yourself if you feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious. I know there will be at least one “yes” to one of those things, it’s inevitable, but if so, take a few minutes away from your busy schedule and do something for yourself.

Stay safe and stay healthy from the outside as well as on the inside!