The world has seen nothing like the Covid-19 pandemic before. It has so affected our psychological state that we are now obsessed with it. We keep looking up the data regarding patients infected and dead because of Covid-19. A sword seems to be hanging over our heads and we have become like puppets in the way Covid-19 is determining how we live and act. Add to it the financial and economic devastation that Covid-19 has caused and it is safe to say that we are all suffering from active or passive mild to moderate stress, anxiety, OCD, and depression. Many of us who are emotionally dependent upon others, or people who are already suffering from psychological problems where they aren’t supposed to be alone, and people who need emotional and physical support have to maintain physical distance and cannot visit their friends or loved ones. Not only this, people look at social media and feel they are not able to do what other people can do so easily, and this makes them feel worthless.
Initially it seemed like a good option to lay low, rest at home, take a break from a busy life, but gradually it became a mental burden. The fact that we are not able to move freely, go out, or visit a favourite place has made us realise that the lockdown is no picnic break, that it is much more serious than it looks at the surface. It is a deadly disease which has locked us up. It has not only confined us to a physical space but our mental space has shrunk as well. We are mentally caged! For me, personally, the initial lockdown stage was more of a fun time, where I could stay home and write and talk about things I wanted to express, read books and enjoy my time, but as the situation started to sink in, I experienced the worst type of writer’s block. I wanted to write, I had many ideas, but I was just not inspired enough to put them down in words. I was not in the right mental state. Every time I opened my notepad to write something, I just couldn’t. Similarly, people at first were creative and enthused but gradually everything started to fade and things lost meaning. Now, when the first phases of unlocking are starting around the world, this psychological state is going to hinder our process of getting back to our normal lives and daily routines.
I feel that this is high time we address our mental health issues, which might have surfaced due to the lockdown’s psychological impact. Even if we might not be experiencing it first hand, we need to make people aware of how their behaviour might have fallen into unhealthy patterns, and how it is important to disregard the stigma related to mental health and speak out or reach out to people who are in need of help. Let’s not forget that mental health is as real as physical health. It hurts and disturbs twice as much, which makes it a greater concern. Usually what happens is that we tend to ignore these things and keep ourselves in denial, because somewhere in our mind we are not ready to accept the possibility of suffering from a disturbed psychological state. But right now, given the fact that we are all trying to come out of a situation that has been no less than a nightmare, is the time where we need to prioritise our mental health and see to it that we don’t fall into the trap of “everything is alright”. We should not ignore the problems that can surface in worse ways in the near future.
The writer is a psychologist