Antidepressants helped me cope in a pandemic

A student describes her experience with anxiety and starting medication to treat it last year.


After my anxiety disorder relapsed in November 2019, it took me a few months to realize I needed a long-term solution. I was skeptical at first, but I found the courage to begin medication.

In January 2020, I began taking antidepressants. I felt like I couldn’t continue living in an anxiety-filled bubble. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was already taking online classes. My anxiety got to the point where I couldn’t sit in a classroom with others and I needed to be alone at home. 

I never understood the power of isolation until two months later. 

On March 13, 2020, the United States declared a national emergency. When the U.S. shut down, so did I. I didn’t know how I would survive when I was already struggling.

I suddenly began wondering how I would balance my anxiety with the stay-at-home restrictions. 

I knew I wouldn’t be able to do the things I usually do to de-stress, like talking to my therapist in person or going on family walks in the park. 

I also realized I couldn’t join my friends for a bonfire or hit golf balls at the driving range. Being around other people improved my mood, so quarantine was incredibly overwhelming.  

I spent the first two months of quarantine locked behind my bedroom door. Being a germaphobe, the thought of a new virus surfacing in the country only made my anxiety worse. My anxiety got to the point that I was frightened to be around my mom when she came home from working at the hospital every night. 

Taking antidepressants seemed counterintuitive when I was afraid to leave my own bedroom. Instead of focusing on mindfulness, I was worried about contracting COVID-19. 

Dreading the idea of leaving the comfort of my bed to go to the kitchen and eat, I lost my appetite and energy.  

However, after scrolling through my phone looking at TikTok videos of other people having family game nights or doing crafts, I knew that I couldn’t survive in my room forever. 

In April, I came to my senses. I woke up one day and realized hiding behind my covers wouldn’t cure my anxiety. 

It was an out-of-the-blue moment, but I changed my habits. 

I began each morning by eating a healthy breakfast of eggs on toast. I spent the afternoons working out in the sun. My nights were filled with virtual therapy sessions and family bonding. 

Although each step was small, they all played a major role in creating a positive outlook. Not only was I able to better maintain my anxiety, but I learned to enjoy the little things in life. 

With the combination of my routine and my medication, I was one step closer to managing my anxiety.

When the end of summer finally rolled around the corner, I felt ready to go to college for my freshman year. I no longer had the same fears that I did at the beginning of the pandemic. 

The medication gave me a sense of security that I didn’t have before, even during unprecedented times. I knew that I was prescribed something to help me.

Even though I’m still on medication and overcoming my fears, it’s safe to say that I’m a better version of myself than I was at the beginning of the pandemic. 

I’ve learned to try new foods and branch out on campus. I’ve searched for internships and joined Greek life. If it weren’t for the medication, I don’t think I would have discovered this social, outgoing part of me.

I was brave enough to start new medication to treat my anxiety, and I challenged myself to go outside of my comfort zone, even if that was just leaving my room.

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