During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most difficult things that could happen to a person is being put into quarantine or isolation. While there are many differences between quarantine and isolation, they both have the potential to be incredibly detrimental to one’s mental health. I have had to quarantine twice since the pandemic began. During both quarantine periods I felt like I was truly alone in the world.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s website, the recommended time period that someone should be in quarantine is 14 days. While the CDC also recommends that “People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others,” I remember just how mentally taxing my time being in quarantine was. A single day felt like an entire lifetime to me due to the lack of social interaction.
One of the hardest parts about being in quarantine was having to inform all my friends and co-workers about the whole situation. I truly felt like I was guilty of potentially putting others at risk even though I had no clue of the situation until it all happened. I could not even fathom how stressful it would’ve been if I were to test positive for the virus and had to inform everyone that I came into contact with that they would have to quarantine.
While I was in quarantine, I remember having this feeling of hopelessness and dread just lurking around me all the time. Whenever I initially tried to shake away those emotions, they would return again to just haunt me. It eventually got to the point where I would just start randomly breaking out in tears from the fear of falling back into the dark abyss that was depression.
One of the main ways that I managed to keep my mental health from spiraling out of control was calling my friends over the phone or having a Zoom call with them. The ability to hear my friend’s voices and see their faces, even if it was behind a screen, was honestly the best motivator to get through each day. Although, I very quickly discovered that we often take spending time with people in a face-to-face context for granted. Additionally, I never really thought about just how fortunate I am to have access to technology that allows me to talk to my friends who are many miles away without having to physically be there.
With my experiences of being stuck alone in quarantine, I genuinely believe that our country needs to take a better look at the way we treat not just our mental health but everyone’s mental health. Throughout my time in quarantine, I decided to do some research on the United States’ programs to help treat mental illnesses and was truly shocked to see that there isn’t much being done to help treat these conditions.