While COVID-19 has been detrimental for many lives, the pandemic has affected less talked about areas such as mental health. We have seen a surge of mental health issues due to quarantine. This is a subject that often goes un-talked about because of the stigma behind it but Emeka and Caleb shared their story.
Emeka Okoll, a 30-year-old male who has suffered from depression for years, says that quarantine exacerbated his mental health issues due to the lack of social interaction and exposure to mundane tasks.
“Constantly seeing the same four walls. The only time I got to get out is to get a breath of fresh air and walk around a little bit, so,” said Emeka. “Just feeling restricted, you feel like a prisoner in your own home. You are stuck with your own thoughts; you can’t escape them. It got to a pretty low point.”
Caleb Garcia, also a 30-year-old male, has suffered from depression and diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, shares that his anxiety was really elevated when quarantine and a stay-at-home order was in place throughout his state.
“My anxiety was really bad. I kept worrying about what’s going to happen to me, what’s going to happen to my parents because they are older, what’s going to happen to my brother who is immunocompromised,” said Caleb. “So, there were all these thoughts that just kept going through my mind and I couldn’t escape them.
When suffering from a mental illness, support is really important especially during this pandemic. Both Emeka and Caleb find it crucial to have someone to talk to or have a healthy distraction that can keep your mind from wandering into negative thoughts.
“Talk to someone. Whether it’s a friend, a family member or a mental health professional,” said Emeka. “Getting out, going for a walk, working out, do whatever you need to do to escape the demons in your home.”
Caleb has a similar outlook on how to avoid overthinking or feeling worse while being stuck at home.
“Talking it out with [friends] and going to counseling has also helped me put things into perspective to focus on the things I can control and not worry about the things I can’t control,” said Caleb.
Decreasing daily activities and losing structure is the enemy of depression and anxiety. This pandemic has exacerbated the need for more conversations about mental health.
Emeka and Caleb hope outsiders can educate themselves and understand that this is an illness, not a choice.
“We should take it as seriously as any other health issue,” said Emeka. “If people were more aware of it, we could have more solutions to prevent suicides and really dark depression.”
“I wish more people understood that mental illness is a disease,” said Caleb.
Reach out to someone you trust. Know that you are not alone. Seek help when needed.
“Treat people kindly,” said Emeka. “You can be the person who either saves their life or pushes them over the edge.”