For most, the isolation and loneliness of quarantine did not offer much to improve one’s mental health. In my case, the isolation was exactly what I needed.
Before March 2020, when everything shut down, I struggled for years with severe anxiety and PTSD caused by family trauma. I never let anyone, even myself, come to terms that I was struggling mentally. I distracted myself with fourteen hours a week of high school basketball practice, constantly hanging out with friends, and school. Once March 2020 hit, all my distractions were ripped away.
I was alone. I had no choice but to self isolate, just like the rest of the world. I no longer had the choice of not coming to terms with my struggling mental health.
Early quarantine truly gave me nothing, but time. Time to sit and feel the raw state of my mental health. I finally had time to reflect on the way I was feeling and realize it was not healthy.
I came to terms that panic attacks, picking at my skin, having trouble breathing, shivering, and experiencing flashbacks that would take over my whole present were a part of my everyday life and were not healthy.
Since quarantine gave me nothing but time, I asked my parents to sign me up for therapy. I no longer had to worry if a therapy session would make me miss a basketball game. Quarantine had given me hours and hours to dedicate to healing.
As the pandemic continued, so did my healing. For the first time, I had finally come close to understanding who I was. It might sound simple, but I finally realized what music I liked, what hobbies I enjoyed, and what I wanted to dedicate my time to.
I realized that the one thing that took up all my time gave me the most anxiety, basketball. I realized the sport was a thing that I had grown up with, not something I enjoyed. Quitting high school basketball left an absence in my life, but it allowed me to find out what I truly was passionate for.
I started surfing. I started to participate in activism, specifically climate activism with Sunrise Sacramento. I started diving head first into hobbies I had no experience in, but truly enjoyed.
Mental health wise I realized what triggered my panic attacks. I learned the triggers of my panic attacks were never going to go away, so I must understand how to de-escalate them. Therapy provided me with many tools on how to handle the disruptions of my mental health.
The healthy habits therapy introduced to me included; Meditation, journaling, the 5 things you can see – 4 things you can feel – 3 things you can hear – 2 things you can smell – 1 thing you can taste method, and breathing exercises.
Many of these habits I had already known through Instagram infographics and brochures at school. Therapy had just given me the willingness and taught me the importance of these mental health tips and tricks.
The healthiest habit of all, I realized on my own. Surfing has been the number one tool for my process of healing. With surfing it is extremely important to be in the present. Without studying the wave patterns, studying your placement, perfecting your stance, and being present you will not catch a single wave. Surfing finally gave me the ability to be in the present and not worry about past trauma. The smell of the air, the sound of the waves, the sound of the families on the shore, and the rush of catching the perfect wave was my best form of therapy. Which would never have been possible without the immense amount of time to fill in quarantine.
The world itself shares the trauma of quarantine. The fear, anxiety, stress, and even deaths of COVID-19 will be something we all go to therapy for. I am forever grateful for the state I was placed within the pandemic to be given the chance to heal.