“I am not asking for awareness from everyone, but I am asking if you know someone who struggles with mental health to check up on them frequently and actually show them you want to help and support them.”
A normal morning for Maddie McGlinchey in quarantine starts with a cup of coffee and a good book. While studying for finals online, the Boston College student tries her best to keep a structured routine, and spends her days trying to keep as busy as possible.
“Having somewhat of a routine definitely helps me,” McGlinchey said in an interview. “I think the out of control feeling, the lack of things to do, and feeling stuck at home without any real breaks are definitely my biggest challenge.”
McGlinchey is one of many young adults struggling with mental health issues during quarantine. Stay-at-home orders across the country, however necessary, have caused countless young people to experience extreme stress and anxiety.
“Since quarantine started I’ve [woken] up just feeling really exhausted—emotionally, mentally, and physically,” McGlinchey said. “I made myself work out because I wanted to try to feel better, but I just kept having little bursts of negativity thrown at me.”
Danielle, who asked to keep her last name anonymous, struggles with bipolar disorder and said that keeping a routine helps her as well.
“I really cherish my alone time. However, during this quarantine, I do not get much of it,” she said. “I feel that I have to pretend that I am having a good day because it’s just easier to be fake than explain to someone why I am having an off day.”
Emilia Cardona, a sophomore at Emerson College, has also dealt with mental health issues during the pandemic.
“Back on campus I had a schedule, but because I was busy and running around I felt good and active like I had a purpose,” she said. “The small schedule that I made myself gets hard for me to do because it’s boring, and I feel like I’m actually not doing anything productive.”
Extreme isolation isn’t helping.
“If I’m not liking what I’m doing, then I’m not going to feel good about myself,” Cardona added. “I tend to turn my sadness into anger. It’s already hard for me to not get into old habits. My hometown is a toxic place and the only way that I can handle being back is doing things with my best friends and of course, we can’t see each other so I can’t manage my anger or sadness. My friends are my distraction.
Mary Rose Saad, another student who attends college in Boston, wishes she could return to the things that kept her in check and made her happy. Saad hasn’t seen her significant other in two months, since classes transitioned online.
“I want to walk down Newbury Street hand-in-hand with John and look at all the expensive stuff I could never buy,” she said. “I want to run in the public gardens and see the parents with their babies in strollers, and all the dogs, and musicians busking. I will turn 21 in June, and I want to go to the Tam and go out dancing.
“I want everything back. I tried to savor every moment but I still feel like I took it for granted.”
Saad said the biggest thing that makes her feel helpless is the news. She also struggles with body image, and is tired of the “get your dream body in quarantine” narrative. “It’s so damaging,” she said.
In a sense, it may seem there has been plenty of attention on the mental health issue this long into quarantine. For some people like Madi Partington, who struggles with anxiety, though, the subject still seems overlooked.
“I think that is a big universal problem,” Partington said. “Mental health isn’t viewed as a life or death illness. … There has been no good access or alternatives to things like therapy. Not everyone has access to things like video chats and the internet to make things possible with places being closed.”
During quarantine, the CDC suggests coping with mental health by taking care of yourself, taking a break from watching the news, making time to unwind, and connecting with others. With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, McGlinchey recommends being especially mindful of those who struggle with being alone, and realizing that it’s hardly an optimal scenario for everyone.
“I would tell someone, if they’re having trouble understanding, [to] think about when they’re having a really bad day, when there’s a lot of problems and negativity in their life, and all they want is a distraction,” she said. “That’s kind of how it feels every day for someone with mental health issues, at least it is for me.”
Mary Rose Saad says it’s important to remember that during a difficult time like this, your mental health is extremely important, even surrounding the pandemic’s events.
“You can be grateful to have a home and feel a wide range of emotions,” she said. “Self-care comes first during these times.”
“I think it’s up to us and others to help out friends and family who have these mental illnesses and support them during this time,” Cardona said. “I am not asking for awareness from everyone, but I am asking if you know someone who struggles with mental health to check up on them frequently and actually show them you want to help and support them.”
“Reach out,” Danielle said. “You do not need to suffer in silence. Reach out to someone you trust, someone who cares about you, someone who loves you, someone who is nonjudgmental and will just listen to your thoughts and feelings. This is a horrifying time, but your feelings matter and you do not need to suffer in silence.”
You can reach the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.