Surviving the pandemic with depression and anxiety

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It’s #WorldMentalHealthDay so I thought I’d share some quick thoughts on surviving through the Coronavirus pandemic with depression and anxiety. So, in no particular order, here are some suggestions.

  1. If you are taking medication, continue to take it and review with your GP. Don’t suddenly stop. Make sure that you have a sufficient supply in the house as well just in case there are any problems with logistics.
  2. Keep up your support networks including with your counsellor if you are having therapy,  friends, church etc.
  3. Don’t be scared to put your hand up and say that you are struggling. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.  You may feel that your health issues are low down the list of priorities against the pandemic but that is not true. Mental health matters just as much as physical health
  4. Find things to do that you can keep doing even if strict lockdown returns, things that bring joy and things that help you to keep a routine.
  5. Be careful about social media involvement. On the one hand, it can be very helpful to use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in order to prevent isolation. However, sometimes content can be very harmful to your emotional well-being
  6. Similarly, think about how you engage with the news. I’ll be honest here. Normally, I love to engage with the details of current affairs and enjoy watching the news and parliament channels (nerdy I know) but throughout the pandemic I’ve been a lot more restrictive. I’ve focused on watching or reading the specific announcements. My role also requires me to engage with the detail of government guidance.  However, I avoided tuning in for the daily briefings unless something significant was coming up and I chose not to read every article or watch every video speculating about worst case scenarios. Each day had enough worries without worrying about the projections for the future.
  7. At the same time, I think it is important to be informed with the facts, not the speculation. The virus is dangerous and that can lead to high anxiety. However, knowing where the main risks are and the precautions you can take helps to reduce fear.

As a Christian I continue to believe that the biggest help to getting through a major crisis like this is found in having assurance that Christ is my rock and salvation, that I have eternal life and that he will never leave me, desert me or lose me from his hand.  This means that above all of the things I’ve mentioned above, the key is maintaining my relationship with God, taking time to pray, listen to hymns/worship songs and especially to read my Bible.

Here are a couple of resources to help provide support during this time.

Mark Meynell has written movingly about his own battle with depression. You can buy his book “When darkness seems my closest friend” from 10 of Those

Chloe Bellerby is an advocate for mental health and writes about her own experience here  you can also follow her on twitter for encouragement.

Grace in the Depths is a new website set up by 4 pastors to enable church leaders who have faced emotional health challenges to share their stories. Again, you can follow us on twitter @graceindepths, find us on Facebook or visit the website

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