can we finish something

before we have to go home? Only twenty-seven minutes left. I always sneak out early. I should be here for another ninety minutes. But when the workflow dries up (most of the time), I prorate my…


Mental health in the time of Covid

Isolation is a prison and my apartment the cell. That’s how I felt when the stay at home order was given and I was told I could no longer go into the office. Although I was able to keep my job because I had the flexibility to work at home, I was terrified about how the isolation would affect my mental health.

I’m 33 and I’ve spent the majority of my life battling depression and anxiety. As early as I can remember, I’ve struggled with the intensity of my emotions. Whether it be full-scale panic attacks at the thought of dying, near-crippling depression, or the almost paralyzing fear of the unknown, my mental health has always impacted my quality of life.

It’s been a tenuous relationship with my own mind and a tightrope act to balance it all. With a safety net of therapy and medication, I’ve been able to walk that rope quite well over the past few years, but that was without the cross-wind of a global pandemic and civil unrest that was to come.

When Covid hit and the world ignited in a fire that I couldn’t possibly hope to put out, things got worse for me.

During the first week of isolation, I found myself in generally good spirits but as the weeks began to pile on, so did the weight of my mental health struggles. Not knowing when it would end, put me in a near constant state of anxiety.

Weekly therapy sessions did nothing as the only thing I could do during the time was lament the world and the situation we all found ourselves in. It felt like there was no way I could claw my way out of the hole and the leg up that medication normally gave me was no longer having the same impact.

I found myself sleeping until the very moment I had to get up for work, running directly from bed to the coffee maker to my desk every morning. I spent my work day slogging through the bog of my own mind. While I was still able to get the work done, I was physically and mentally exhausted come 6 PM. So much so, that I was in bed by 8:30 PM most nights, only to start it all again the next day.

Something had to be done. With no end in sight to this pandemic, I had to find some way to overcome the miserable day to day I was living.

I found the path forward someplace I had not even considered to look. At work. I began sharing my stories with my boss, Kerry. He had always been a source of feedback and was good for an inspiring story or three. Suddenly, I found myself spilling my guts to him. I’d spent weeks in therapy uncovering all these issues and here I was dumping them on his doorstep like a cat with a dead mouse.

He took it completely in stride and began to sort the mess that I’d laid at this feet. One by one he asked questions, prioritized issues, and helped me uncover the actions I’d need to take to get out of this mess.

Here’s what we came up with:

Joy began to creep back into my work, especially with my leader Kerry continuing to support me and push me to explore my own potential.

The scale started to show the difference as I began to lose weight. The fresh air and vitamin D of being outdoors, even for a short time each day, directly impacted my mood.

Most importantly for me, I started to enjoy cooking again. I wasn’t just cooking to survive, I was cooking to explore my creativity.

Slowly (very, very slowly) things began to change. I started to feel more in control of my emotions and the weight of the world began to ease off my shoulders.

Things began to improve when my last three therapy sessions all centered around how to maintain the joy that I’ve uncovered over the past few weeks since beginning these changes.

I’ve spent years working on my mental health, never achieving the level of consistency that I’d achieved during a global pandemic. The pandemic caused me to go so deep into myself that I was forced to face the truth of my situation, I was missing something. I had uncovered years of issues to cope with in therapy, but lacked the necessary tools to take action. In the end, the connect with Kerry turned out to be the missing piece of the equation. I’d found the right person to help me turn my issues to action and help regain control of my mental health.

In the end isolation wasn’t a prison but the key to a new chapter in my life.

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