Written by Desirae Guzman
As many of us are aware, thousands of Americans continue to experience mental health difficulties as we enter the second year of the pandemic. The fear and the isolation associated with the pandemic alone are responsible for a surge of anxiety and depression within the last year. Unfortunately, the facts and the amount of insensitivity the area receives seem to go head-to-head. Not an accurate estimate, but it just seems to be 50/50, doesn’t it? A true fight. You’re either supportive and understanding, or you think the mental health community is filled with overly sensitive people. You’re either struggling mentally yourself and empathize with those who are, or you absolutely do not empathize and think, “People with mental issues need to just suck it up.” Ever come across one of those? SMH.
The numbers are high and the amount of support this topic receives does not compare. Studies, surveys, and polls have shown the average physical reactions of just thinking of the virus are sweating, trouble breathing, nausea, pounding heart, racing thoughts which all can cause a post-feeling of exhaustion. Anyone else feel literally tired all the time?!
Those of us dealing with major financial hardships or major threats to our personal health are also experiencing psychological distress. Many of us have experienced death and loss. We’ve lost our loved ones – our parents, our grandparents. Many individuals were struggling mentally before the pandemic, Covid-19 just made it worse. We’re hurting as a nation. We are angry. We are sad. We are broken. We’re continuing to live our lives, provide and survive however we can, and some of us have no choice but to keep pushing forward.
Our frontline workers. Parents working from home while also caring for their children and on year 2 of virtual schooling (help us!). Fathers who have had to act like the pandemic is a non factor completely so they can continue to go out and support their families and not lose THEIR marbles. Teachers. Law enforcement. TSA. Security. Nurses. Doctors. The unemployed. While many people have been lucky enough to keep it together and continue pushing through, many of us are still struggling.
I reached out to a good friend of mine to see if she’d be willing to share how the pandemic has affected her. She was kind enough to send her answers to be shared with you all.
What is your name, where do you currently live, and what is your occupation?
My name is Ashley Diaz (@ashdeex0 on Instagram) and I live in Jersey City. I’m currently a full-time medical biller for a children’s specialized hospital and I also own my own jewelry business (@ashthejeweler on Instagram).
How did life change for you when Covid-19 hit? Do you have a child, and how did their routine(s) change?
When Covid hit us, I started working from home in March of 2020 and I’ve been working from home ever since. I have a 6-year-old son in 1st grade and it has been rough balancing life right now.
With him learning to read and write especially, these times are crucial for him. I work from 10am to 7pm, Monday through Friday. It’s been really challenging mentally, not leaving the house much and maintaining this routine at home, or lack thereof. I’m home all day 5 days a week and it drives me insane most days. Our sleep patterns are currently upside down and out of whack. I haven’t slept well in months, melatonin currently helps. All of this is just our new “normal.”
If I could describe this routine, it’s kind of just a day-to-day thing. Even though we’re home and all, no two days are the same. We wake up and are on computers all day. I work on a computer. I run my business on my computers. My son attends school on a computer.
I’ve had a hard time with virtual schooling honestly, the workload is a lot, I feel for such young children. I think this is a lot on the parents because the younger children have no choice but to rely on us, them not being able to do so much on just the computers themselves. It’s very time consuming, overall.
How would you describe your mental health before Covid? And how would you describe it now?
Life before covid was, you know, “fine.” I’ve always had anxiety, but not this bad. I had a schedule that helped me maintain it better pre-pandemic. I was very preoccupied with our routines of being in bed at reasonable hours and being up and out of the house early. It all helped me maintain my anxiety better due to my daily distractions. I slept well, I ate well. I was constantly busy. Since the start of the pandemic, my anxiety has been extremely high. I’m extremely agitated most of the time. The lack of routine, no morning drives, no coffee in the morning, it all really took a toll on my mental health. And yeah… more or less, I’m always anxious and on edge. Some days are better than others, but some days I don’t want to do anything at all. By Thursday, I’m completely over the week and am dying for it to be over. (Relatable?!)
Do you have any advice to give anyone in a similar position as yourself, or just in general regarding hardships during these times? Not just Covid, but these trying times with all the hate crimes, violent crimes, and just the circumstances we are in as a nation.
Anyone going through anything similar, especially those with little ones at home, I just suggest taking it day by day and not focusing on the future really at all, as we all have no idea what the near future even holds. Make a list for the day and tackle everything for that day and pick up the next day. Do what you can and whatever you can’t, it’s ok. Try again the next day. Find outlets to help cope with your stresses and anxiety. Get out of the house as much as you can. Self-care is super important during these times.
Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your experience during these times and your advice on how everyone can take it easy on themselves right now. I found your take very relatable and was eager to share it with our readers.
Please be kind. Please be mindful that many of us are battling something. Help your loved ones. Be there for them. Continue to practice safety both in and outside of home. Let’s respect one another and let’s try to get through these times the best we can while remaining sane and good people.
If you or anyone you know is battling mental illness in Jersey City or in need of a mental health resource, please see below a link to Bridgeway Crisis Intervention services located in Jersey City Heights on Central Ave! They help with general mental health therapy, if you are regularly on medication for mental health and need a new doctor for refills, they can help!
Hudson County – Bridgeway Crisis Intervention Services
152 Central Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07306
Phone: (201) 885-2539
Fax: (201) 885-2546
More information: https://www.bridgewayrehab.org/services.hudson.crisis-intervention.html