“Trauma in a person, decontextualized over time, looks like personality.
Trauma in a family, decontextualized over time, looks like family traits.
Trauma in a people, decontextualized over time, looks like culture.”
LOCKDOWN & QUARANTINE
Depression & Anxiety
The Office of National Statistics in the UK has found that rates of depression have doubled. Fatigue, anxiety, a lack of cues, and fewer social interactions all play into the rise of depression and anxiety.
Dozens of studies in many different countries with varying participants have been done on the effect the pandemic has had on mental health. Across the board, they’ve found that people are experiencing worse mental health problems than before the pandemic—high symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
These studies find that this stress and anxiety fuels poor sleep, creating a vicious cycle. The more we lay awake at night during the pandemic, rehashing worries we have no control over, the worse our mental health becomes.
Stay-at-home orders and social distancing have left many people isolated, so it makes sense that we would be feeling lonely.
Lack of social contact can affect the brain negatively and that the effect is most serious in those already experiencing memory difficulties. Depression and anxiety impact memory and, with quarantine, many people have seen their anxiety or depression raise, therefore causing poorer memory.
With fewer big events (like weddings or evenings out or vacations) there are fewer stories to tell your friends and family, so fewer events to relive/remember. Also, the lack of a scenery change takes away physical “pinpoints” that strengthen memory.
If you go out to work then your journey, the change of scenery, and breaks you take punctuate the day, giving you time points to anchor your memories. But from home, everything feels similar and there is less to tag your memories to help you distinguish them.
If you took part in the BLM movement, you may feel some repercussions on your mental health. Getting tear-gassed or witnessing someone be tear-gassed can cause anxiety and trauma symptoms.
Many people have crowd-induced panic plus with the added fear of a pandemic, the crowds of protests (however safe) can still be anxiety-inducing. Witnessing mentally and emotionally traumatizing videos and pictures can cause anxiety, fear, and trauma responses.
The heightened awareness of racism can make (specifically white folks) more aware of their own prejudices and racist tendencies. This is a very good thing but can also affect the mental health of the person, especially if they already have anxiety about their own “goodness.” Reading more about the horrible, racist history of the country and learning about the inherited racism of the system can be discouraging. (Again, this is a very important process to go through, but can be overwhelming when a lifetime’s worth of information is being consumed in one Summer.)
The tension surrounding race can cause so much anxiety and trauma for people of color. I can’t speak on this as much, as I am white, but there are SO MANY black influencers who have explained this more. I’ll link some in the caption. But here are just some reasons this can cause trauma/anxiety/depression amongst the Black community:
- Family history and the impact of slavery/racism in the past.
- Microaggressions causing thousands of little t trauma cultivating to a big T.
- Heightened grief.
- When black death goes viral, it can trigger PTSD-like trauma (especially when they’re killed by police members).
- This causes a heightened sense of fear and anxiety because the people who are supposed to keep you safe are killing people who look like you, you can no longer trust them.
- Can cause unfair pressure on people of color to educate the white people in their lives.
- Protest-related burnout have all exacerbated the underlying stressors of daily life for Black Americans.
WHAT DID 2020 TEACH YOU?
Your time is your own.
Having “free time” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re available to talk/engage/be there emotionally for someone else.
Everyone thinks a little differently and you can’t force people to think like you.
Community support is important.
We truly don’t know what is going on in someone else’s lives. So always be kind. Because a smile can easily be a mask.
Boundaries can change to fit what you need and your lifestyle.
WHAT TO LEAVE BEHIND
Feeling guilty for saying no and taking time to yourself.
Taking other’s choices on yourself.
Expecting yourself to always be the best “you” possible.
Ignoring your body and what it needs.
Being afraid to speak up or take a stand.
Assuming you don’t need help or guidance.
Ignoring decent advice or experts.
PRACTICAL SELF-CARE TIPS
Particularly on unfamiliar streets (which will help your memory). This will bring your brain back to attention. And being outside helps with depression and anxiety.
Make sure the weekdays and the weekends are different enough not to merge into one (will help with the distortions this new life can have on the perception of time.)
Having a hobby helps with depression AND gives you something to talk to your friends about.
Deliberately reflecting on your day each evening can help you consolidate your memories. Plus, your diary may end up being a famous book in 100 years.
Talk to your loved ones. Write letters. Call them. Play online games with them. Etc. make the effort to cultivate these relationships.
It’s okay to take a break from social media or education or whatever. You don’t have to stay away forever, but if you need to step back for a few days, that’s okay.
People who engaged in proper hand-washing, wore masks, and avoided sharing utensils tended to experience less depression, anxiety, stress, and PTSD. PLUS, stuff like baths and long showers and face masks can be great forms of self care.