In this episode, we are continuing the trend of focusing on content related to the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. However, this week, we are getting back to the normal Q&A format.
Hi, Dr Duff!Hope you’re doing well and keeping safe during this weird and scary time. I was wondering whether you had any tips for someone who’s mental health is taking a turn for the very worse during a strict quarantine with an abusive mother? I got diagnosed with MDD over a year ago and being stuck with her abuse doesn’t help matters and I can’t get medication.Thank you for any advice
This is a tough situation and I’m sorry that you have to go through this. A lot of people find themselves stuck with people that they do not feel safe and it’s definitely something that’s worth considering. With any abusive relationship, it’s important to keep in mind the risks of your situation. Are you at risk of being physically harmed? Are you at risk of retaliation for your behavior? What sort of safety issues are present for you?
There are broad pieces of advice that don’t apply right now because you are literally stuck with this person and you need to find a way to survive it. Just remember that – you might have to play the game a little bit to get through, which is unfair to you, but as I said you need to survive. That might mean appeasing them or avoiding arguments. I can’t speak to your particular situation, but do what you need to do to survive. There are also avenues of support that you can tap into without leaving the home. Make sure you are not isolated and you are getting some form of support. This can be with friends or like-minded strangers on the internet. You can also use an online therapy app or something like 7-cups for support. If you are in an area that has non-crowded public outdoor spaces, you can also try to be out of the house as much as possible. As long as you are avoiding places with other people, you can go for walks, play with your dog in a field, or simply find a nice place to sit. Be smart and abide by health guidelines, but sometimes you just need to get out of your environment to stop walking on eggshells so much.
While the quarantine is serious business and we have individual and public health to consider, we also need to be mindful of other risks. By that I mean, if you are much more likely to be injured or killed in your home environment than the virus, you may need to take measures that other people are not taking. So if you have another family member or trusted friend that can take you in during the quarantine process, that may need to happen even though we ideally want to be avoiding contact with other people.
For your depression, you may also want to just focus on the basics. Now probably isn’t the time for a huge mental health makeover, but things like trying to regulate your sleep cycle, getting some sunshine each day, considering light exercise, and learning more about depression coping strategies through books, videos, podcasts etc. might be helpful.
Overall, you’re going to do whatever you need to do while planning for what happens when this is all over.
Hi, I have thought about getting therapy in the past I was just about to when the coronavirus broke out I suffer from high anxiety being around people even though I’m a very successful business owner and have a large family that I am around a lot. No one would know that I have this high anxiety before and after gatherings. I am a perfectionist and always review every step I take its very draining. Since the coronavirus has broke out I feel extremely happy feeling like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I love having my children and husband around and not having to compete for their time. I recently have been feeling some anxiety about the fact that life will come back to normal. I know I am the exception to this. I love my normal life but there is a tremendous amount of pressure, one I can not change. People often seem to invade my space and I can’t seem to keep them in a appropriate amount of distance that is comfortable for me. I’m not quite sure what to do with the situation and would like to get ahead of it now.
This is a very interesting situation! I also applaud your self-awareness here. Basically you are saying that you have been relieved by the forced social distancing and having your close people even closer to you. While your experience of quarantine is probably different than many, it’s normal given how you DO feel to dread things going back to normal. This is like a nice break for you. It’s like when you are on vacation and you know that it will end at some point and things have to go back to normal.
I would think of this as a learning experience. You are learning something about the way that you interact with and feel about other people. It’s almost a proof of concept. If you come out of this and realize that there were some significant benefits, that’s good information. For instance, maybe you find that you are more well-rested and clear-headed. Maybe you’re able to withstand more of the BS that you need to deal with from other people because you got this break. Whatever the case may be, pay attention to what you have gained from this experience. While you aren’t going to be able to make another quarantine happen (not that you would if you could), you can take some time to identify the key ingredients that made this period nice for you. The focus on your immediate family, the physical distance from other people, maybe having time to tend to the home or other projects that you have been putting off. You are going to have to be the one to identify those key ingredients. But once you do, you can begin to as yourself how to accomplish those things without a quarantine.
While large vacations are hard to take very frequently for most people, maybe there are mini-vacations or staycations that you can impose to help you get some separation from other people. There may also be some things that can change in terms of how you manage your business once this is all over. I think a lot of people are learning how many in-person meetings could have been emails and other ways that work can actually be more efficient when we don’t impose the old standard ways of operating on them. There might be some permanent changes that you can make to your business to help you maintain a more favorable balance between closeness and distance.
Hi Dr Duff,I have a quick question for the podcast. In this time of self isolating and social distancing single people who live alone like me are getting no physical human contact. I’m starting to really miss and crave a hug, a touch on the arm, or even a handshake. Do you have any suggestions for how to cope with this, given that we don’t know how long it’ll last?
There’s not a perfect answer for this and it is totally normal to be missing physical contact. There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when you are not allowed to do something. Even if you might go for weeks without physical contact normally, the moment you are told that you are not allowed to have it, you start to crave it and yearn for it more. It’s like eating. On a given day, you might skip a meal just because you aren’t hungry or you were so busy that you forgot about it. You might be more hungry later, but it’s usually not that big of a deal. But if you are having a medical procedure or something and are told that you must not eat for a given time, suddenly that becomes much more difficult because you are now forbidden from doing it. I think that same sort of thing applies here. All of this is to say that I think there are a lot of people in the same boat of starting to feel desperate yearning for physical contact.
I saw a funny meme that was like “I’m going to make out with every one of my friends for 45 minutes when this is all over”. Unfortunately, the physical distance is just something that we are going to have to live with for now. For all of this, we are playing it by ear. Seeing what the situation looks like from week to week. It could be that restrictions will be loosened or modified in the near future, but we just don’t know. So at least we are all in this together.
I think it’s important to challenge your assumptions about closeness, connection, and intimacy during a time like this though. There are more avenues than ever to connect with other people. That can be through games, through text, phone, or video chat. You can embrace existing relationships or build new ones. You may also wish to channel that frustration into some sort of action. It sounds so cliche, but staying busy can help to keep your mind off of the ever-present frustrating thoughts that you might have. You don’t need to be super productive because that is still tough in a time like this, but picking up a new hobby, a new game, or working on a skill can be helpful.
While you are not able to have physical interactions with other people right now, it might be a good time to get more in touch with your own body. This could mean any number of things ranging from stretching to exercising to masturbating to spending time giving self-massage or touch.
The possibilities are endless and I’m sure there are numerous resources out there for getting in touch with your own body.
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