I think most of us can agree that 2020 was not the most fantastic year. It was like someone accidentally set life’s gameplay mode to Legendary Expert or something.
Depending on where you live, the lockdowns may have occurred sooner or later than in other cities, counties, states, providences, or countries. They also may have been more extreme in their restrictive rules than others faced. Still, since January 2020, we have seen a rise in depression, anxiety, and suicides, many of which have been in children and teenagers.
The cause of this increase is clear, and the lockdowns have done a lot to break people. Many feel isolated and lonely, while others become lost and unsure of their future. This allows depression to grow, and those of us who have felt that way know what that can be like.
I’m no stranger to depression or the feeling of loneliness. In fact, I’ve been best friends with both of them for a long time. We don’t hang out quite as much these days, but they still drop by for an uninvited visit every now and then.
If you don’t understand what I mean, that’s OK because this blog is intended for everyone. I’ll try again.
I have battled through depression for most of my life, and feeling completely alone is what drove me to suicide in the past. I understand how the lockdowns can make someone feel that way.
And this post is here to help you get through it.
Missing Friends and In-Person Connections
School is where most kids learn to socialize. It’s where you find people who you like and trust. The closer you are to some people, the more you’re going to want to be around them. More than that, for some, you may feel the need to be around them.
I come from the days before cell phones and the Internet, and no, I’m not talking about back when we had covered wagons or when the train was invented. I’m talking about the 1980s and 1990s. If you couldn’t meet your friends, you had no way to contact them other than your house phone, which had no texting or video option. You could always write them a letter and mail it, and though that was fun, it wasn’t the same as meeting in person.
These days, we have many instant ways of communicating. You can send a text through your phone or favorite social media app, open up a video chat, and even play games or watch movies together online. But it’s not the same as in-person contact, is it?
I like talking to my wife, but I prefer doing it when she’s there in front of me. Texting and phone calls aren’t the same. Without that in-person contact, it doesn’t feel the same, and over time, I’ll begin to feel depressed.
The lockdowns have caused many people to feel the same loneliness. Not being able to personally interact with friends and loved ones can be hard on a person, especially in kids and teenagers who need these relationships.
Methods of Coping with Depression and Loneliness During Lockdown
While being away from your friends can suck, you don’t want to get stuck on those feelings. The more you focus on them, the more they’ll bug the shit out of you. Trust me, I know. I spent 7 years dwelling on a broken heart.
That said, there are things you can do to keep those feelings in check. I’ll go over a few below.
Write about it
One of the best things you can do to keep from drowning in your emotions is to write about what’s bothering you. Yes, writing. It’s almost like schoolwork, but it isn’t. Instead, what you’re doing is dumping what’s in your head and heart out on paper. If you prefer, dump it all into Google Docs or whatever typing tool you choose. You don’t need to make it public.
When you start writing, it may go slow, but keep at it. When I write anything, it usually takes me a few minutes to get going. Unless I have a very clear idea of what I want to say, I may sit here for several minutes before writing anything that makes sense.
Music is my go-to when it comes to dealing with my emotions and things going on in my head. I’ve used it for over 20 years to help get around whatever shit is bothering me. I started with the crappiest of all crap microphones, some really awful software, and a junky beat-making program. And my lyrics…well, they were worse than terrible.
But none of that mattered. What mattered was that I was using music to fight off the depression that was taking over. The quality of the recordings I made wasn’t important. My lyrics weren’t meant to win a Grammy, either. They were meant to make me feel better.
It doesn’t matter if you sing, rap, or do spoken word. Music can help you get through the depression from these lockdowns. Many people around the world have made songs about COVID-19 lockdowns. Some did it to help others cope, others did it for money, but many did it to help themselves feel better.
Art can be very helpful with dealing with depression from COVID-19 lockdowns. It gives you a way to make something visual that can represent what you are feeling.
And don’t worry about your skill level. You don’t have to be good at drawing to sit down and illustrate something. Grab some crayons and a sheet of notebook paper if that’s all you have. Make something that you can see and show how you feel. Many artists use their emotions to create their art.
In the past, I would take what I was feeling and pour it into what I was drawing. Yes, I had to think about what was bothering me, but it wasn’t the same. It was almost like I was just there, letting the bothersome junk run through me and onto the page.
It doesn’t matter what you make. Draw, color, make a collage, whatever it is, channel your sadness and negative feelings into something productive.
Most people don’t really feel like dancing when they’re depressed. I totally get that. The idea here is to get moving and release the energy building up inside you, the crap that’s making you feel bad.
You don’t have to be a great dancer, so don’t worry about looking ridiculous. Trust me, you can’t be worse than me. I will forever hold that title, and no one can take it from me. Just put on some music or use the rhythm in your head, and start moving. Waltz, twerk, do a 2 step, a country line dance, the Electric Slide, or something you just made up. Just get out of your own head and let your body do the rest.
Need music to dance to? I’ve got you covered.
Start a blog
Blogs are great ways to talk to the world, even if no one is listening. I’ve been a blogger since before WordPress existed. Why is that significant? It’s not, really, but WordPress is the tool of choice for most bloggers. Plus, it’s free.
Much like the topic of writing, you can use a blog to say what’s on your mind. These days, everyone has a voice, and though we seem to be using it to create a massive unintelligible noise, we can break free to stand apart. This site is an example of that. I don’t use this site to scream and yell my political opinions. I use it to focus on trying to help kids, teenagers, and anyone else who finds themselves lost in depression, anxiety, frustration, and loneliness. And it runs on WordPress.
If you want to speak your mind in a way that others can read it, check out WordPress.com. You can set up a free site to talk about what you’re thinking and what you’re going through. I do not recommend doing this on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter (especially Twitter, which has become a pit of monkey shit).
Instead, launch your own site and add content. WordPress is easy. You don’t need to know how to code anything, you don’t need your own domain name, and you don’t need to find a web host. WordPress.com gives you a web address, the tools to use, and the power to make it run.
Looking at this as an opportunity
In December 2020, COVID-19 decided to run its stupid ass through our house. It really only affected my wife and me, and while I can’t say the fog of confusion it put us into was fun, nor was the weird squeezing of my face it did, I can say that the time off was helpful.
At the time, I was working on completing a series of albums I called “A Year of Music.” I was also digging deeper into the background and mythology of a character in a novel I’m releasing soon. In short, I had time to do things.
At this very moment, you have more information available to you than at any previous point in history. The Internet gives you the ability to learn how to do things you may have been putting off. This is why I suggest looking at lockdowns as an opportunity rather than a burden.
Now, I’m not arguing in favor of lockdowns. I’m simply saying that if you’re stuck in that position, use it to your benefit. Find something you want to learn more about or learn to do, and dig deeper into it. When you’re depressed, your mind tries to focus on that depression. It amplifies it right in your face like some jerk screaming into your eyeballs. You need to replace that with something else.
And when I say to use it to your benefit, I don’t mean sit on Facebook all day posting memes, even if those memes are about how you’re going to improve your life. Skip the memes and go straight toward the part where you improve your life. Nobody needs to know your plans, but you need to get started. Often, we let distractions like Facebook and other social media sites keep us from the things we want to do in life. You are at a rare moment in time where you have a chance to put time in yourself, so use it.
Previously, I listed ways to try to cope with the depression and loneliness that come with lockdowns. If you find that you are interested in those things, use the time spent in lockdown to get better at them. You may start out not being able to draw much more than a stick figure, but if you put in the work and time — of which governments are giving us a lot of — you’ll be able to improve your stick figure art. The same goes for making music, writing, dancing, cooking, telling jokes, or whatever else you do to deal with depression during COVID-19 lockdowns.
My point is that if you have this time in front of you, don’t fill it with pain. Use it to improve and rise above. Come out the other end as a better version of yourself than when you went in.
This is not the end
Last but not least, this needs to be said: this is not the end. Many people have looked at the lockdowns as if they are the last stage of their life. They think that this is the end of the road for them and that being locked down takes away their purpose. This is not true.
Depression is an asshole, and it has a way of making us feel like everything is an over-exaggerated, soul-crushing moment. The more I listen to my older music, the more I see that. Things I wrote and said in my music 20 years ago sounded as if the world would stop spinning. I was under the impression that if I died, no one would give a shit. I was wrong.
The thing is, there are a lot of people in my life who would actually care. While depression does try to convince you otherwise, it doesn’t really know what it’s talking about. The goal of it, as far as I can tell, is to make you feel worse. It’s a kind of virus all on its own. The depression virus infects and attacks the host until it finally conquers it. It’s up to you to stop that from happening. Beat it back and make that bastard wish it never tried to mess with you.
Always remember: you are not alone in this. I know that wealthy celebrities with massive million-dollar homes and private services have turned it into a cliche. Still, many of us are in this together. You can and will find your way through this, just as the rest of us will. If you need help, no problem. Reach out to friends, family, anyone you can.
Do not give up, do not give in, and always remember that this bullshit will not last forever.