Opinion | Stay close while maintaining distance

COVID-19 has put a lot of strain on those with mental illnesses.

Signe Nettum, Opinions Columnist

Here we are, more than a hundred days since students went home for spring break, and subsequently the COVID-19 quarantine break. Roughly fifty days left until school starts. What have you been doing since you left school? What will you do to fill the time until returning — if you return at all?

Some people are finding ways to fill in the gaps of their day that COVID-19 ripped out — maybe you lost a job, maybe you finished schooling and are just waiting like the rest of us — some people are picking up new hobbies, some are adopting furry friends now that they have the free time they never had, some are getting fit despite gyms closing by participating in “at home” workouts with whatever they can improvise with.

Me? Well, after school ended for the semester, I bided my time like everyone else. I also enrolled in summer classes — I had thought about them prior to COVID, but I’m glad I went through with them — they’ve helped me have some routine during this sluggish time.

Talking with friends over Zoom or even having six-feet-apart-with-masks hangouts in my backyard seem to perk me up momentarily, but once the talking ends, and the hug-less goodbyes are had, I am once again alone.

With the combination of COVID-19 quarantine and mental illness — depression and anxiety — the sum of the equation is not so good. It is a recipe for disaster if you do not take care of yourself.

Now, I’ll start by saying that not every inspirational post on Facebook or Instagram is going to magically cure someone’s depressive slump during this summer. It might inspire some, but it might not stick with others. Everyone has their own way of dealing with their mental illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a perfect article listing many healthy coping mechanisms, along with symptoms that the stress the pandemic might bring. Some items from the list include taking a break from the news and practicing small exercise routines instead of big runs or weight lifting (some is better than none). Healthline.com recommends watching live videos of animals set up by wildlife organizations or taking virtual tours of national parks and museums.

In the end, know that you are not alone. Although it may seem like it if you are quarantining by yourself or even with others. Know that there are other people going through this as well. Do not think about if they are doing better than you, just know they are there, too. Different boats, same storm.

Never miss out on an opportunity to connect or contact someone. Send emails, texts, even snail mail, to someone, anyone! I even sent my future self a letter in a few months, just to look forward to something.

Just keep at it and do not give up during COVID-19 or this summer slump. While it may sound repetitive these days, know that I mean it. There will be better days.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.