Mental Health During Quarantine

By Niah and Shreena

It’s officially been one year since we’ve been out of school and quarantined due to COVID-19. In this time, a lot has happened: we’ve done distance learning, we have lost family and friends, we know people who’ve become vaccinated, and so much more. Because of these changes, big and small, our mental health has really taken a toll.

For me personally, I feel like I’ve lost the concept of time, and that has really taken a toll on my mental health. With school being in the mornings, and extracurriculars being scattered throughout the afternoon and evenings, I find myself constantly working. And because of this, I have been feeling so drained. I’m always doing things and I’ve gotten into the habit of being busy, so much so that when I’m not doing anything at all, I feel guilty for not tackling more work. The stress of work and meetings, coupled with the guilt of not doing any work, has made my mental health plummet.

This blog post is inspired by a listener from the UK named Niah. She suggested this idea for our blog, and contributed with her own thoughts about feeling drained during this time. We also asked TTL members and listeners from across the world to contribute to this blog post by sharing a little bit about what their mental health has been like during this time.

Niah (inspiration for this blog post and a listener from the UK): : Throughout Lockdown, most teens had to quickly move their daily school life online which was very new to everyone. I felt scared and anxious about what was going on. How long would this be? How would we do work, and will we ever socialize the same? The first few weeks were okay and I was getting used to it. But as time flew by, I felt drained and not wanting to do anything. I had so many assignments due on the same day, meetings on top of each other. It was exhausting and really stressful, to be honest. My mental health was not too good and I just felt drained and sad. I think most teens felt this way. We couldn't leave our house, we couldn't socialize and our teenage years were being wasted by this virus.

Olivia: My mental health has had its ups and downs during quarantine — I never know how I’m going to feel when I wake up. Being inside and isolated has heavily amplified my normal feelings and emotions, as I have a lot of time to just sit and think about myself and everything that’s going on in the world. This tends to make me feel more melancholy, and to fight this feeling, I often overwork myself — which just makes me feel more burned out. I’ve been in a pretty steady period of burnout since January, and I’m trying to find more time to just relax and let myself be.

Jade: During the past year of quarantine I have experienced a lot of different things mentally and emotionally (as one might expect under conditions of isolation and monotony). “Drained” would be a good descriptor for how I felt a lot of the time. Even though I wasn’t really doing anything, there were just so many things we were being subjected to that I had no power to change. And we had to sit back and watch while other people behaved in ways that only served to prolong our predicament, whether they were politicians, people we had considered friends, or family members.

I also know that I had a lot of time to just sit with myself, which has led to two very different states of mind. I spent a lot of quarantine unhappy with myself, what I had done with my time in the past, why I’m not spending my time “better” now, just hating what I did and how I acted. But over the past year I have also come to feel much more comfortable in who I am, and more thoughtful of who I want to be. Though I am happier now than I have been at other points during the pandemic, I still have some days when I’m just irretrievably self-loathing, or otherwise irritated over relatively insignificant things. But I’ve stopped blaming myself for it and instead come to realize that it’s just a symptom of lacking any real outlet or stimulation. This year has been hard, but it has allowed me to develop self-awareness, a sense of direction, and an idea of who I really want to be.

Cloe : To be honest I don’t know how to describe my feelings during this quarantine. There’s been a mix of emotions that range from unbearably sad to feelings of relief and joy. I think right now my biggest heartache is not being able to be home. Worrying if my mom is safe, feeling like I don’t fit here, vaccine envy, missing my cat, it all swirls around creating bouts of crying and pain that I then lay on top of my mom who has enough going on as it is. The main thing is to just keep moving. Keep going forward because the moment I stop and melt into a puddle the harder it is to keep getting back up. I just miss feeling secure.

Bhargabi (listener from India):: My mental health during quarantine was at its lowest point. Looking back at it now, I realize how tired I was of waking up to the same things every day. There was nothing to look forward to. It was as though, everything was a chore to be done. I didn't eat or sleep because I wanted to, I did it because I had to. And having had the virus for a couple of weeks just made it worse.

Nonto (listener from South Africa): : I would be lying if I said the quarantine did any beneficial wonders to my mental health because in all honesty, it didn’t. Of course having the time and privilege to reflect on myself and still work in the comfort of my own home was amazing, a time where my introvertive self was thriving but I battled with a lot of unresolved issues I couldn’t outrun. I had to grapple with living in a new country in isolation, losing friends and family, dealing with depression all whilst still trying to pass Chemistry! It was overwhelmingly depleting. I’m just grateful I had my sister to help me through it all.

Sometimes, with the way that I’m feeling, it’s hard to find light in a tunnel of darkness. However, it’s nice knowing that so many other people my age are also feeling this way, and that I’m not alone (even during this time of social distancing).

Special thanks to Niah for suggesting this topic and making this blog post happen!