How to deal with the COVID-19 darkness

The global corona quarantine is effecting all of us. Our lives have changes radically. Not only are we bound to our homes, unable to see friends of family or visit the places that used to bring some fun into our days, the lockdown had changed much more. Health care, for example, is purely focussed on the COVID-19 virus. Visiting a doctor for another pain or problem had become nearly impossible. Many people don’t get the help they need and dentists go bankrupt. Besides, the corona virus comes with anxiety, a simple walk outside or a trip to the grocery store have become stressful experiences, trying to avoid the many people that just don’t get the severeness of the virus that is spreading around the world.

Emotional damage

COVID-19 effects all of us, but the effect is much bigger than the social distance that comes with the quarantine. Today I saw the things that people searched to get to my website and this made me very upset. In between the keywords that lead to my blog, there where a couple that really got to me:

“Lockdown is making me cry all the time”
Quarantine is making me sad”
Corona makes me anxious and not leave the house”

The quarantine is making us depressed in a way, taking away our life we used to have, disconnecting us from the people and places that made us get through our days. The lockdown is doing more harm than it should, it is causing too much emotional damage.

Growing darkness

What scared me the most was the idea of these people being alone. Maybe they work or study from home or maybe they lost their job because of the corona virus, but for sure they lost their connection to the world and other people. Their days, all by themselves, inside their houses have become too dark without the brightness that comes from the connection they had to the world. And since there is no foreseeable end to the lockdown, the darkness can keep growing.

It scares me that there are probably so many people like myself out there. People that where barely hanging on before the corona crisis began, but are now disconnected from the things that allowed them to hang on. The things that where able to get them to the next day disappeared and now they’re slowly drowning deeper into a darkness. It scares me that the lack of social interaction and health care will make it impossible for them to get the help they need, impossible to even have a person that can recognize what they’re going through. I am afraid of the emotional damage we will discover after the corona virus is under control.

Timing

I am very lucky I broke down just before the world went in lockdown. Although the quarantine is making my days harder, people saw my breakdown and and this is why I have people that encourage me to get the help I need and check in on me with video calls and text messages. Because I broke down before the lockdown I have a support team that is able to help me, although it’s far away, they are there.

For those of you that lack a support team and feel like they’re drowning in the darkness and loneliness that’s created by the quarantine taking away the light in your days, I want to share the things that are able to get me through my days. The things that help me to stay sane and bring some brightness in the dark days of the lockdown.

Enjoy the peace

Social distancing covers the world in a blanket of silence and peace. Although this is what makes us disconnected from the world, there is also a benefit to this peace. We are allowed to slow down together with the world and this gives us the opportunity to relax and see the beauty that is hidden in the things around us. We spend more time inside our houses as we ever did but and this gives us the opportunity to really start looking at it, find the beauty in the things you own and the place you have created for yourself and try to make it even more beautiful. Enjoy a big breakfast you can actually take time for, buy flowers and spread them around the house, cuddle with your pet more often or paint a wall. Find what makes you happy inside your own bubble, spend more time with this and make it even more enjoyable.

Stop expecting

Like I said, the world slows down, so you are allowed to do the same. Don’t expect yourself to do too much. The lockdown allows us time, we no longer need to do the millions of things we were supposed to do each day. It is ok to do less, it is ok to workout less, to eat less healthy, to get behind on laundry, to get caught up in a game you can not stop playing. It is ok because this is not your fault. The world is in a strange place right now and you are allowed to do the same. Your life radically changed all of a sudden and it is ok to get a little lost, just don’t blame yourself for this.

Go outside

I know this is not really in line with the rules of the quarantine but everyone needs some time outside in order to stay sane. I try to go for a little walk or a short round on my bike once a day and this brings me joy. Just 5 to 10 minutes of an activity outside can make you reset and gives you just enough freedom to feel less trapped throughout the day. I also like to open all my windows when I’m doing a workout inside the living room or do my writing inside my garden. Fresh air, sunlight and raindrops make you feel part of the rest of the world and help you to feel better.

Start something new

Do have something you have always wanted to do but never had time for? Something like baking an amazing cake, paint your furniture, learn how to become a magician, learn a new language, finish a game you started playing years ago, learn how to draw or turn you garden into something beautiful. The current quarantine is the perfect time to finally start doing these things!

Because of the lockdown, we all have more time in a day. Instead of focussing on the things you can not do anymore or on the boredom that comes with being bound to the house, start something new. Give it the hour a day you usually spend on getting to work or school and enjoy how you can now use this otherwise boring travel hour on something that is just for you, something that will make you feel better about yourself.

Add some fun

Some times the boredom of staying at home really gets to me, I feel like I have to go out, like I have to change my environment, the walls around me are making we claustrophobic and I just need to get out but the quarantine doesn’t allow me. This is when I use my imagination. Last night I had dinner with my boyfriend in an Italian restaurant, we put a flower on the table sat down across each other and drank from fancy wine glasses while we were eating pizza in candlelight. I know it’s far from real life, but it changes the mood and the environment, it adds some fun to the otherwise normal dinner.

Another thing I try to do each day is truly relax, cook amazing food or run around the house with my rabbit chasing me. Each day I try to pick one thing that is usually normal and try to turn it into something more special, something I can enjoy more and gives me a little feeling of happiness.

Stick to the days

I feel like the only thing we can do to keep ourselves connected to the world is waking up early enough to experience the day. It doesn’t really matter what you do with your days, how you spend your time, as long as you keep to your normal rhythm of day and night you are connected to your normal life. Set an alarm, wake up, get dressed, spend 8 hours doing whatever, have dinner and relax, this is the schedule a normal life follows and as long as you stick to this schedule you’ll feel like you’re actually still part of the rest of the world, no matter how useless your days are. Besides, our bodies are designed to stick to the rhythm of being awake when the sun is up and sleeping in the night. Sticking to your natural clock makes being awake more easy.

Get dressed

Pajamas are extremely dangerous in times of a quarantine. Too many days I find myself feeling miserable late in the afternoon, and what these days have in common is that I am not dressed, wearing the clothes I slept in or even wore the day before as well. We don’t just get dressed for the world outside, we dress also for ourselves. Get into the shower every morning, dress nicely, do your hair, put some make-up and wear shoes. This really makes you feel better.

Move around

In the end of March, artist Kera Till created this drawing. It takes the essential signifiers of a metro map (the circle, the colored lines) and uses the new patterns of commute within our homes, thanks to our collective isolation due to the coronavirus. I believe it is important to create a map like this one for yourself, to keep moving within your house. Don’t work in your bed and don’t eat on the couch, try to do different things on the different places inside your house to keep a sense of diversity and keep moving.

Use the internet

We are blessed with internet, and although we spend our days alone in our houses, the internet can bring the whole inside our living rooms. Video calls with your friends, phone calls with your grandma or messages with your colleagues, due to the internet staying inside no longer means being alone. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone, connect to the people you trust and open up about how hard the quarantine is on you. Be honest about your feelings and experiences, share them with someone. It might be even easier to do this through the internet and the other person will be happy to hear from you, even when you are in a dark place, everyone is lonely these days.

You’re not alone

Every person, all over the world, is feeling different because of the quarantine and the fear of the COVID-19 virus. Everyone’s life has changed, everyone has to give up a part of his or herself, everyone feels less joy and everyone got damaged by the lockdown. It is ok if you feel sad, it is ok if you’re scared and it’s ok if you feel lost. Even my boss, who seemed to be really in control of his life, is struggling these days. Unsure how to manage all my colleagues using just the internet while his 2 sons are running around, asking for his attention all the time. Everyone is lost, you are not alone in this feeling and it is completely normal under these circumstances.

Find help

If the lockdown really covered you days in too much darkness, a darkness you can not brighten up yourself, look for help. Although health care mostly focusses on the corona patients, a doctor will help you if you explain the darkness. I started my therapy using video and phone calls, and although it is different than before, the people I speak with are doing the best they can to help me get better. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t wait till it’s all over. If you find yourself crying each day, unable to leave the house or scared all the time call a doctor and ask for help.


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