By Charlotte Smith-Perry, VOX Media Cafe reporter
Due to COVID-19, most people around the globe have been in lockdown. This has caused for depression in many people to worsen and even for concerns about increases in suicide rates. Many teenagers suffer from depression, especially due to quarantine, myself included.
Since March 13, my symptoms have worsened severely, causing it to be almost impossible for me to finish my schoolwork or even stay awake without consuming high levels of caffeine in the morning. I’ve lost almost all my motivation to do simple tasks such as eating, which caused me to lose 15 pounds in a mere two months.
One day, I looked and saw myself in the mirror, and barely recognized the person staring back at me. My face was covered in acne. I had tired, puffy eyes that had black circles under them, and my legs were pale and skinny. Later that week, I told my therapist about this, and she suggested talking to my friends for support. I quickly found out I wasn’t alone.
Depression is a mental health disorder that causes people to feel sad for long periods of time. This can make people lose interest in daily activities and become irritable. Depression can be treated through therapy and/or medication but people may not know how to identify if they have depression and the steps to alleviate the symptoms.
A friend of mine, who wished to stay anonymous, told me about his experience. Jacob Brown (a pseudonym) told VOX ATL that he has friends to talk to that keep him motivated, but not being able to see them is hard because his parents don’t fully understand what he’s going through. Ultimately, this has caused him to show more symptoms of depression during lockdown. He told me, “I’m trapped. Trapped at home, trapped in my mind.”
Fortunately, during this time, there are many coping skills you can use if you are feeling depressed. A great way to start is to set one simple goal for yourself every day, such as reading one chapter of a book or to stretch. Exercising is a great place to start. Even just doing 10 pushups a day or going for a 15-minute walk can greatly improve your mood. Once you’ve been completing this goal every day for a while, you can make a schedule for yourself to follow. Try to talk to friends over the phone and exercise once per day.
If you miss a day of completing your goal or following your schedule, don’t worry. Forgetting to drink a glass of water after you wake up or not having enough motivation to go for a run doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goal. A good way to motivate yourself is to have a reward set up for you at the end of the week. For example, if you go for a run every day from Sunday-Friday, you can go to a drive-thru ice cream shop on Saturday (remember to wear a mask)!
Depression is something that many people go through, and it’s important to remember that there are others who want to support you and that you are significant. Talking to family and friends is a great way to cope or distract yourself from the situation. If you feel unable to talk to friends or family about what you’re going through, here are some numbers you can contact.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (also offers online resources for youth)
- Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL): 1-800-715-4225 (free help line 24/7/365, can come to your home and complete an assessment); also has a free app MyGCAL that offers text and chat options
- National Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741
- Metro ATL Warmline: 404-371-1414 (you do not have to be in a crisis to call, you can just need someone to talk to)
Note: If you are feeling suicidal, please call the suicide prevention line above and not 911. The first responder is trained to immediately send you to a mental hospital. Going to a mental hospital can be the opposite of what people need and can often end up traumatizing the patient.
VOX Media Cafe reporter Charlotte Smith-Perry, 14, attends DeKalb School of the Arts and enjoys writing and acting and in her spare time, reads and plays video games.
Above self portrait by the author was taken during a VOX Media Cafe photography skills-building session.