This Is What Social Distancing With Depression Looks Like
How is it so overwhelming to do nothing at all?
I’ve been seeing a lot of memes recently about COVID-19. Well, we all have. It’s everywhere, viral even online. But, specifically, I saw a meme that said something like “how sad is it that my life hasn’t changed at all since I started self-isolating”. A joke for introverts, I’m sure. But it felt true to me in this deeply uncomfortable way.
Before this whole thing started (at least in the U.S.), I was in New York coming down from my last dose of Lexapro—aka the antidepressant that had been stabilizing me for the first two months of the year. I was sleeping 20 hours a day, spending the remaining 4 hours in kind of shifts.
Mindlessly binge watching Love Is Blind, munching on whatever junk food feast I could grab from the local bodega, and crying inconsolably. The kind of crying that leaves you quietly shaking, face down, wishing you lived alone so that you could just scream without your roommates freaking out about it.
Instead of causing that unwanted scene, though, I went to my parents’ house in Louisiana. Right in time for the coronavirus to become a global pandemic.
So, now I’m quarantined (“self-isolated”) to my childhood house—my childhood room. I sleep most of the day now just to...I don’t know, skip ahead? Maybe I think sleep will help me get through this. Like some kind of fast forward button.
Still, I feel so much pressure to “make the most of my free time”. Or, more accurately, my captive time. Sometimes I paint. Sometimes I do yoga and hope that each pose will add up, eventually curing my mental malfunction. Most days I’ll do my eyeliner and change my clothes just to feel a little bit like a person. I cook. Then, I eat, even if I’m not hungry. Just to enjoy something purely and entirely good for a moment.
And, yes, this is all pretty par for the course. It’s familiar. What is getting to me isn’t the inaction, but instead the inability to return to action.
In the city (when life was somewhat normal) I went to a friend’s apartment when I was feeling down. Or I went on a date with a pretty girl at my favorite coffee shop in Manhattan. Or I went to a movie theater to see something alone, experiencing a room full of emotions from strangers covering me just like the light from the screen.
And leaving the house in itself was a reset. It recharged me, reminding me of what I actually was living for. I was working for tea with friends on the West Side and underground indie concerts. But here, in all this silence, it’s hard to remember.
And I know that I could be speaking with friends. I could be video calling my loved ones. But I’ve never felt like I really could.
I imagine them seeing the text (do you want to do a video call today?) and rolling their eyes. Ugh, they’d think. Here we go again. And then, no I’m sorry I’m actually really busy today. And I’d sit, just as alone as before, now just more defeated. More disappointed.
So, I read. Worse (and more frequently), I spend hours letting YouTube videos or shows I’ve already seen a thousand times drone on in the background while I scroll again through endless memes, untraceable “statistics”, tweets about people’s lost jobs, and pictures of empty shelves.
I bounce between apps like it’s a skill I’ve worked years to master. Like I’m juggling on a tightrope and the audience below me is just thrilled by how fast I can move between Instagram and my inbox and that unfinished lesson on Duolingo. I commit to none of it, because that would be too much effort.
It’s all tossed around as I avoid the unfinished article from a gig that I accepted only a few days ago, knowing how little energy I have. Because I do still have the ability to work, unlike so many people. And yet I can’t. My brain continues to withhold that ability. It’s pointless, it says. The world’s ending anyway.
But it was saying that before I locked myself in this house. Now I just have less to remind me of how wrong my brain really is.