Depressed and stressed woman sitting on the floor alone head in hands in the dark room

Dealing With Anxiety and Depression During A Pandemic: It Is OK Not To Be OK

This week I was thinking about my next blog post, I had several ideas but then it happened, anxiety happened. How many times a week do I hear and use this word? A little too many. Are we normalizing a problem? Or is being vocal about a reality that is striking most people our age (millennials) the right thing to do? I am not an expert in the area, but I am someone who has been struggling with anxiety and depression for years now. Something I have learned in recent years is that it is OK to not be OK, and I will tell you my reasoning behind this and, in the process, I will share my story with you. As always, I hope this helps.

I started dealing with anxiety and depression when I was 21 years old. I was not able to recognize the symptoms or the red flags that my body was communicating to me. I just felt something was wrong. Back then, there were several stressful situations happening in my life. Things that I used to minimize but were a trigger. It all started with vertigo. I was unable to get on a car without being terrified, I was in constant fear of crashing and dying. It was horrible and confusing, I thought I was losing my mind.

Years passed, and I developed an irrational fear of darkness, until last year I was unable to sleep with the lights off. Then, I began to feel like I was about to have a heart attack. I had to pull my car off of the road on several occasions because I was unable to drive anymore. 2015 and 2016 were terrible years for my anxiety, they were the worst years I ever had. Circa 2017, things started to get better, I was accustomed to the “anxiety process”, my family knew by then how to deal with me and I learned how to identify the sudden attacks.

2018 came and, with it, the best journey and decision of my life. And 2019 was just the continuation of a dream, my anxiety was still there but it was under control. Then, 2020 started, it seemed like a pretty normal year… how wrong I was. I have to be honest here and say that my anxiety was not the main issue this year, depression was. I had these days in which I did everything, I was full of energy, happy, hopeful. And the next day was so sad and gray, I even found it difficult to do an easy task such as taking a shower. And this was the contrasting cycle I followed the entire last year: good days and terrible days.

I was scared of myself, sometimes I felt I could not trust myself and decided to stay away from knives. I made a conscious effort not to harm myself. I feel ashamed just by writing this. It is something embarrassing and sad. Depression is like a hole and you know you are in it but you have no energy, no motivation to get out. If I could describe my life during those moments I can only say gray. I sometimes felt like an empty box, and I sometimes still feel like that. It is something I am still struggling with; nonetheless, some days are better than others.

I talked to so many people, I started going to therapy which is an incredible—and necessary—tool when you are dealing with these two situations. I think what works for me the best is to understand it, to understand how it happens, and try to listen to my body. Most of the time, our body is giving us the clues we need to know what is going on. That is the best piece of advice I can share. Listen to your body, give yourself time, be nice to yourself. Understand that everyone is different and everyone is dealing with something, no one’s life is perfect.

I understood that I will most likely have to deal with anxiety and depression for the rest of my life. But now I know that does not make me weaker or wrong, it does not define me in any way. And as I have mentioned before, it is OK not to be OK, and to give yourself some time to heal and understand what is going on inside your mind. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Take care of it and stay safe during these difficult times.

Now, to answer my questions at the beginning of this post: Are we normalizing a problem? Or is being vocal about a reality that is striking most people our age (millennials) the right thing to do? The answer to both of these questions, from my perspective, is: Yes, and we need to do it. We need to normalize talking about mental health, speaking about it is part of healing. We should not keep ourselves quiet about this reality anymore. It is time to have these conversations and, most importantly, it is time to heal.

Lots of love,



Monica Violante-Drost

A professional with a background as a language teacher and translator, also a traveler enthusiast currently living in Europe. Loves to recreate make-up looks and discover new beauty products. Her passions are learning and reading.

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