Back in March, I wrote my first post about the coronavirus pandemic. Like most of us, I had some naievete about the situation (to be fair, what’s happened in the United States isn’t very surprising, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing). Regardless, my first post about mental health during this pandemic was focused on how you define success at this point in time. I hadn’t thought about it in awhile but after hearing a friend recently bring up feeling like she was in a COVID slump, it clicked. Those questions still remained. What does it mean to be successful during a pandemic? How do we define what it means to be productive? I didn’t know much at the time, but there’s one thing I knew then that remains to be true: finding those moments during a pandemic continue to matter, especially when it comes to our mental health.
I love being on Twitter, and one of the more interesting tweets that I’ve seen across my timeline in the past month or so is a variation of people saying that it’s wild “how people just decided the pandemic was over.” And people really have. It felt like some people played ‘quarantine’ like you played ‘house’ when you were a kid, and at some point they just decided that we weren’t in a pandemic anymore. But we were then and we are now. So how do we continue to do what we need to stay happy and healthy? There are a few ways to do it, and we can use mental health as a guide.
In the past few years, I’ve developed a real sense of ownership over my mental health. While I have the love and support of friends, family and mental health professionals, the biggest improvements I saw were when I realized how much I could elevate my own mental health. I wouldn’t say things have been sunshine and rainbows since, but I have more confidence in my struggle. My journey doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, and where I end up isn’t more or less successful than anyone because it’s relative to my own life. Sometimes that means celebrating a personal breakthrough and sometimes that means surviving the day in the most literal sense. And I’ve done my best to keep that attitude in 2020.
It’s understandable to fall into a COVID slump at this point in time. Some days, it feels like we’re just in a holding pattern, waiting to get the signal that we’ve done the work to get back normal life (I’d argue here that life shouldn’t go back to whatever ‘normal’ is, but that’s a post for another day). But I don’t know when that day will come, and I won’t live thinking that everything has to be awful until it does.
Mental health isn’t always linear and to be honest, neither is living through a pandemic. Some days we just have to take the wins where they are, and make time for feeling good. Some days we’ll feel off, because the world is a little off its rocker. It’s okay to acknowledge that. And on the days when we feel like we’re not in control of this pandemic, find something smaller to take control of – a FaceTime with a friend, a book to read, some antiracism learning to do. It’s not much, but we have to make it through this time however we can.
Have you been in a ‘COVID slump’ at all this year? Share your experiences in the comments! Wishing all the best to my readers as we continue the crazy ride that 2020 has become.