OPINION: Seasonal depression mixed with a pandemic is a recipe for disaster

But I know the pain will ease soon

Graphic by Magaly Munoz

Graphic by Magaly Munoz

Magaly Muñoz

What would you do if I told you that for three months out of the year you were stuck in a dark, empty space, no motivation to do anything and you had absolutely nowhere to go?

What if I also told you that it had nothing to do with COVID-19 and quarantine?

That deep, dark space is how it feels to be in my head during my seasonal depression.

I’m fully aware that depression is a sensitive subject and it’s nothing to take lightly, which is why I felt the need to talk about it so that people understand what this illness does to you. Especially in the middle of a massive pandemic.

In high school, I’d go through this weird time in the spring where I’d spend weeks with zero motivation to do anything or talk to anyone. I’d lose interest in school and in being around my friends everyday. I would sit in my room staring at the ceiling for hours or take naps every day after I got home because I felt exhausted in every way.

A lot of times this exhaustion would result in an extremely short temper, where any little thing would set me off and there was no telling how a situation would end.

I hate to admit that some of these bouts of anger would be toward teachers at my high school, but I never had any idea why I was picking arguments with people for no reason and why I didn’t really care about the outcome of those arguments.

My brain was foggy and each day blended into the next.

The best way I can describe it is like that one episode of “Spongebob Squarepants” where Squidward moves into a suburb and everyday feels like the same thing over and over again.

That’s what the emptiness felt like.

But this wasn’t just a one or two time feeling, this happened every year I was in high school, and beyond. It was years before I realized something was wrong.

Even after I noticed that there might be a pattern, it took friends, family and teachers to pull me back in. They told me that they knew something wasn’t right, but they didn’t know how to approach the situation with me without crossing a line.

There are definitely days where I wish they would’ve done something. Maybe I would be better off today. 

Ironically, 2020 was the year I really thought I was going to beat this cloudy feeling.

I set goals for myself at the beginning of the year: I was going to find distractions for myself, like going to the gym (to also start my weight-loss plan and kill two birds with one stone). I was going to find more time to be with the people I loved because they always kept my mind off the bad stuff. I was going to find a therapist before my depression had a chance to control me.

Fast forward to today and you can see where I might have a problem doing any of these things in the middle of a statewide shelter-at-home order. 

A worry crept over me like I had never felt before. What was going to happen when I was inevitably forced into isolation and stuck with my thoughts all day long?

Let’s just say, it hasn’t been easy.

My mind is either empty and weirdly calm or I’m on the brink of having a mental breakdown. There’s not much of an in-between.

Losing my normal day-to-day schedule hit me like a bus. I would already fail to stay motivated during this depressive period any other year, but making me do online work and pay attention to lectures while I’m in my house, in my bed and in sweats all day is the perfect recipe for disaster.

The structure I had thought was going to keep my depression at bay, was pulled out from under me.

But before I get a million people asking if I’m going to be OK, just know I will be eventually.

I have amazing people in my life who keep me sane and from going too far off the ledge, so while it might feel like I’m spiraling, I know it’ll be over soon. I’ll be back to the person that can tolerate being alone for long periods of time without feeling clouded.

I know the pain will ease soon.