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COVID Lockdowns and Mental Health Breakdowns

Comparing life or death to economic livelihoods and mental health.

Suppose you are like me and reside in the beautiful state of California. In that case, we are under another lockdown for at least three weeks due to the increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations. Another lockdown during which businesses cannot operate, resulting in many individuals out of work, with no signs of payments or stimulus money in the near future.

Trying to figure out how to pay rent with another sudden job loss and wondering if you will be able to provide meals for your family is beyond stressful. It can negatively affect your mental health, especially around the holidays, which can already be a trying time for many. Not to mention the present anxiety associated with being infected with COVID or passing it along to someone else. Unfortunately, we are in a desperate, unprecedented time. Depression, anxiety, domestic abuse, child abuse, substance abuse, and suicide rates are all on the rise.

The devastation of choosing sides

For many of us in the mental health field, we begin to wonder what is worse? The actual virus or the devastation it has done to our country's economic backbone and the mental health of millions of people?

Unfortunately, there is no right answer. People's physical lives should never be compared to people's livelihoods, but unfortunately, this virus has forced many people to pick one over the other. As a community, we are all trying to do our best to prevent transmission of COVID, while simultaneously trying to make ends meet financially and take care of our mental health. There has been COVID shaming for those who have tested positive. People are afraid to be honest with themselves and others out of fear that they will be judged and shut out from their support groups. Being infected with COVID is scary, and so is losing your job, being lonely, and battling depression.

Isolation, loneliness, and depression

Sitting in isolation is challenging for many, especially those who live alone and/or work from home. Loneliness feeds depression and vice versa, and we, as humans, are social creatures. We thrive being around others. We thrive on taking care of our families, and without a stable paycheck, we are unable to do that.

Skiing is open but you must stay home

I live in a small ski town, where there are usually more tourists than locals. Over the weekend, when the lockdown went into place, tourists left town as hotels and restaurants shut down. Retail stores and the mountain remain open, but without any tourism, nearly every small business will suffer financially, in one way or another. Thank goodness the mountain is open so we can still get outside, breathe fresh air, clear our minds and go skiing while safely socially distancing, but I have not stopped thinking about the thousands of people who have lost their livelihood at the blink of an eye.

Adopting another point of view

Many individuals who strongly support this lockdown are mostly fully employed and have hefty savings. This second lockdown does not affect them financially, so of course, they are in favor of yet another closure in hopes it will save lives. This is not a debate about whether or not this lockdown should take place, but instead, this is about learning to empathize with others who are struggling. As a community, we must practice compassion and empathy towards others, as many people are struggling in one way or another due to COVID and the effects it has had on our everyday lives.

Everyone is affected

Parents are overly stressed, trying to help their kids at home with Zoom school. Kids are missing out on spending time with their friends and important school milestones such as graduations and high school dances. Weddings have been canceled. People are dying in hospitals alone. Domestic abuse is on the rise because now people are told to stay home with their abuser. People are lonely. The economy is unstable, and the mental and emotional health of so many is being compromised. People are turning to alcohol and drugs to fill their empty void.

Eventually, this will end, but in the meantime, we must take care of our mental health. We must find healthy and safe ways to interact with each other, we must spend time outdoors, and we must keep our bodies moving and fueled with healthy foods. We must take time to love one another, hug one another, and laugh with one another. We must stop judging each other and pointing fingers and instead understand that everyone is trying their best, in the only way they know.

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