My husband and I work from home. I have partially homeschooled the kids for the last 15 years…which means now instead of attending classes 2 days a week, they are watching video calls. Depression inside COVID-19 Nothing has changed. I even joked about it at the beginning of the pandemic 5 weeks ago saying, “it is like we have been training for this for years!” Nothing has changed, yet everything has changed. The feeling of an overwhelming weight came over me within days of the ‘stay at home’ order.  My routine changed from going to a 5:30 am pilates class everyday to sleeping until 7:30, 8…or later. I was no longer waking up, exercising, reading, eating a good breakfast and then starting the day. Instead I was in survival mode. Whatever it took to make it through the next minute, hour…until I could lay down. Daily naps were inserted into my less-productive day. I started marking off every afternoon and only working in the mornings. {insert guilt} I trained for this!  I work from home!  I homeschool my kids!  My kids are all teens and self-schooling at this point! WHAT DO I HAVE TO BE DEPRESSED ABOUT? We are healthy.  We are working.  We are blessed. The thing is…depression isn’t rational.  I saw all these memes on FB about how if you didn’t come out of the pandemic without a new skill, you suck. {UNFOLLOW} Really?  Let’s take a closer look at the SURVIVAL MODE button that has been pushed in each of our lives… Making it until bedtime with everyone educated and fed is the new success. 10 bonus points for those of you who made it without getting infected by a deadly virus. 2 bonus points for those of you who had both toilet paper and paper towels. 2 bonus points for those of you who have soap, water & hand sanitizer. 2 bonus points for those of you who were able to order or make a DIY mask (add 5 more points). 2 bonus points for those of you who supported your local restaurants with curbside pick up. 2 bonus points for those of you who sent a thank you note to a teacher or healthcare worker. I am usually better at games.  But I feel like I am ending each day with the lowest score. Because Kids Activities Blog has gotten national news attention (we have been here all along with fun, educational things to do with kids), I have been interviewed by multiple news sources over the last few weeks and I find myself saying the same thing… LET’S LOWER THE BAR. Ya’ll (I am from Texas), I have literally been training for this for years and I am walking through drying concrete. If you are feeling overwhelmed, I GET IT. Let’s all agree to take the energy we have available and direct it at what is important while not beating ourself up over what it looks like. Our kids just need us present.  And this is a really good time for them to learn independence…with us in the next room.  <--isn’t that what we want for our kids, anyway? Our partners/spouses just need us present.  And this is a really good time to do something we haven’t had time to do in the past. Raising our hand when the role is being taken each day is something that can be done without much energy/effort/enthusiasm. I feel guilty about being depressed during a pandemic And as for all the guilt…let’s lower the bar on that too.  I have some stats that should encourage us all that we are not alone (from a study of more than 2K employees conducted at the end of March/early April 2020 from Qualtrics):
  • 2/5 (41.6%) of people surveyed reported their “mental health has declined since the COVID-19 outbreak”.
  • The number of people who rated their mental health below a 3/10 (lowest range) has doubled since the outbreak began.
  • “Unemployed workers have the highest proportion of mental health declines” followed by newly remote workers.
  • After working at home for more than 2 weeks, workers are 50% more likely to report “more chronic sadness” and “more fatigue”.
  • When asked what was contributing to the feelings of stress, people reported the following in this order: Getting the coronavirus, financial worries/pressure, being stuck at home, loneliness/isolation and fears around job security.
What I have found increases my stress & feelings of despair:
  • Scrolling through FB with the never-ending quick opinion judgements.
  • Not getting up at the same time each day.
  • Binging streaming services.
  • Watching the news.
  • Worrying about catching the virus, finances, kids’ college and anything related to the future.
What I have found decreases my stress & feelings of despair:
  • Being outside…especially in the sunshine.
  • Hanging out with kids/husband/dog being bored together.
  • Long walks with neighbors with socially distant spacing – we walked a 10K yesterday!
  • Reading books.  Lots & lots of books.  <–my favorite spot is on my porch with the dog at my feet.
  • Driving with the windows down.
  • Breathing deeply.  <–I am not quite to meditation level.
  • Curbside pick up of gelato.
If you remove my book & gelato bill from that list, everything on “the good list” is free and has the underlying theme of connection to the world. We can’t give up on connection or rely on it digitally. And above all, we need to give ourself grace. Grace to feel the way we feel.  Grace to do what we can do today.  Grace to leave somethings until tomorrow…  

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