Dear anyone suffering with mental illness during this pandemic, this is for you.
To the people suffering with depression,
I see you.
I am one of you.
I know this is a scary time.
Your well-being may have relied on social interaction, or your routine for how you manage your depression may have been taken from you. I’m sorry you’re going through this. But rest assured, these measures are temporary. You will have your routine back. For now, allow yourself to rest and trust yourself that you can get through a day.
Never lose the thought that you still have value and importance in the lives of your friends and family. Maybe they can’t see you but they love you and need you to take care of yourself during this time. Developing a new routine is not easy, I know, but it’s possible. Don’t underestimate your resilience, and hear me when I say you can do it.
To the people suffering with anxiety,
I see you.
If your anxiety is triggered by what you see on the news every day, please know this - You are going to be alright. What is happening is not down to you to fix, and know that is okay. You are human. If you aren’t working, that isn’t your fault. If you aren’t in school, that isn’t your fault also. These things are not in your control, and that’s scary I know, but you aren’t alone in this. Right now, it may feel overwhelming, but trust that in the end things will be okay. You are going to be okay.
To the people suffering with eating disorders,
I see you.
I am one of you too.
Your head may be making you feel guilty because quarantine has taken away your exercise routine, or the panic buying in shops leaves you feeling overwhelmed and selfish for buying food you think others deserve more than you. Maybe you’re having to eat more food than usual, or you aren’t able to get away with whatever behaviours your disorder had you obeying for so long. These feelings aren’t you, it’s your illness. Right now it is more important than ever that you feed yourself and don’t harm your body. You don’t need to earn the right to give your body the nutrients it needs to fight off any potential symptoms or illnesses it may experience in the future. Food is your friend right now. That’s scary, trust me I know. But your physical health is essential right now. So know this, you CAN go into that shop and buy your groceries, you CAN miss a workout to give your body a rest, you CAN eat more so that your body is protected and warm. You have to give your body what it needs to bring you through this pandemic. Trust me when I say your body will thank you.
To the people suffering with personality disorders,
I see you.
I’m one of you.
I understand how triggering quarantine is. If it has brought about the unhealthy habits you spent years learning to control or made your mood swings unbearable, I’m so sorry. It’s deflating when your hard work feels like it means nothing now, but your hard work hasn’t gone to waste. You have to reflect. Before quarantine you found a way of managing your thoughts, your feelings and your actions – you can do this again. Remember the importance of being grounded, allow yourself to feel any emotion during this time and manage it in a way you would tell a child experiencing the same emotion to manage it. I understand how isolation is a trigger for emotional dysregulation, you have to remember that your perception of things may be a little distorted right now and this is where you have to practise all the healthy coping mechanisms you know. It’s going to be hard, I know, but you have to stay safe for your friends and your family and yourself, because you have your life waiting for you when all this is over. It was a life you fought so hard for, and you will live again.
To the people suffering with OCD,
I see you.
As scary as the world is right now, please know that you can’t control it and that is okay. Your head may make you think you have to perform compulsions so that your loved ones are saved. That voice is lying. You don’t have to punish yourself for what is happening right now. Your responsibility only goes to the extent of ensuring your own mental and physical well-being, not of others, only your own. Allow yourself to break the fixation of rules you had for so long. If there is a time to rest – it is now.
To the people suffering with addictions,
I see you.
You may have essentially been forced to quit the thing you relied on for so long when you weren’t ready, or maybe the world feels so out of control right now that you just want a sensation of clarity from whatever it was you were addicted to. For a while, things are going to feel horrible and it will be a lot of physical, mental and emotional torture, but I promise you that it will be so worth it in the end. You are doing so well. Going back to old habits won’t bring about the resolution you are wanting. Your physical health is so important to get you through this time. I promise you will find more gratitude by resisting the urge to drink or take whatever drugs when you look back on all this in 5 years time.
I want every one of you to know, that light will come out again. The world won’t be as scary as it is right now. If you’re feeling lost, take the day as it comes and then keep going for one more and remember these things –
You have fought too hard to give up now.
You’re going to be okay.
And finally remember this - there is a life after quarantine, I promise.
Ciana O'Muireadhaigh is 21 years old and studying at Leeds College of Music.