The Inner Battles of the COVID-19 Quarantine

Written by Tabitha Compton

Tabitha Compton and her dog
Tabitha and her dog
Picture: Tabitha Compton

After being quarantined, learning from home, and coming to the conclusion that I am going crazy, COVID-19 has had a significant impact in my life. Mental illness can be hard enough to manage when you have proper resources available to you, let alone when resources become unavailable due to being in quarantine.

Fresh air while going on walks, training new tasks with my service dog, and making lists have been what have saved me during this time. I think it has been important for my sanity to continue to find things to focus on. I have found myself painting, sewing, drawing, and throwing even the least dirty items in the washing machine, just to feel as if I am being productive.

For some people, staying home all day is the perfect cup of tea, or coffee, or whatever you drink, but for me it tastes pretty sour. Being able to live my life outside of my home is an important part of my mental health. With the quarantine in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection, it has been difficult to do that.

Being someone with mental illness makes me very aware of other people with mental illness, and how this current situation can be scary for people, myself included. Not to mention, there are many people, like myself, who experience compulsive and intrusive thoughts, which is something that happens to everyone but people who suffer from this are unable to push the thought out of their mind, and can’t continue “normal” daily life without addressing the thought. They are usually irrational, uncomfortable thoughts that cannot be pushed aside and forgotten about. With the concern with COVID-19, these thoughts may be negatively influenced by the social and news media. These thoughts that people experience are really not only going to affect them now, but these intrusive thoughts can persist after the pandemic has been resolved.

I think the main emotion I have had during this quarantine is frustration. Frustration about having to stay home, about the mass of people hoarding toiletries, medical supplies, and food. Having generalized anxiety disorder during a time of mass panic has been difficult to navigate. Usually I find myself silently anxious about all of the components in my life, but the anxiety I have had during the outbreak of COVID-19 is definitely different. The best way to describe it has to be that it has turned more into a constant panic about whether or not there will be food, paper towels, and normal resources at the store. It usually gets worse once I get to the store and see that there is a small inventory of these items, which makes me feel like I should be buying in bulk or stocking up on household items and food.

I think part of my frustration also comes from a feeling of being robbed of the opportunity to succeed in school, while we are in the current situation. It is not the school’s fault, of course, and I definitely appreciate all the steps that Eastern Oregon University has taken to flatten the curve. As a student with disabilities, I have to work harder than a student without disabilities. To be able to succeed while in a school setting has become even harder in my school away from school, also known as, my couch, my desk, my living room floor, or wherever I decide to set up for the day. Online classes have never been easy for me, so during my time at EOU, I have done everything in my power to avoid them at all costs. With school closures and the need to quarantine, online classes are my only option if I wish to continue my education. It is very achievable, but for a student with mental illness, studying from home definitely presents a different set of challenges.

As someone who combats mental illness on a daily basis, I can confidently say that the quarantine has not had a positive impact directly, but being able to push through the different obstacles that come with being bound to the house has shown me how to be able to cope with a situation such as this one.

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