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COVID-19 and the dog

By Nathan Rice

I shared my story about my battle with depression for the first time through an eight-week series published by the Suffolk News-Herald in 2018. I did my best to explain how depression can feel, gave some tips and tricks that I learned over the years, shared the hope I found, and told how people could support those who battle the “dog” of depression.

I thought I had written all I would ever write about depression, but I was wrong. I would publish one more article about depression in 2019 in which I chronicled what I learned about the two-headed dragon of grief and depression.

“There is nothing else I can write about depression,” I thought. Then COVID-19 appeared, and the dog came with it, hiding an evil grin behind the facemask that it now donned.

I was doing well in my battle with depression since COVID-19 first appeared. I felt prepared for this fight, but the “dog” of depression snuck around for a sneak attack. I was at work when I heard of events in July being canceled. I stepped away for a few moments, and the tears began to flow. I love spring and summer, and I keep a calendar full of things I like to attend. Now, everything I look forward to all winter long is not taking place. There will be no boat rides out of Virginia Beach, no festivals, no gatherings at the campground, no Tides games, and no trips with the kids to the zoo. It seems that I hear of another summer event being canceled every day. This is the hardest part for me, and these are things my “dog” is using to attack.

This is a hard time for everyone, but those who battle depression face an extra layer of emotions with which they have to deal.

I encourage those who battle depression to take some steps to help themselves during this time. Social distancing may not allow you to attend gatherings or festivals, but it does not restrict your interaction with others. Stay in touch with others by talking on the phone, having a video chat, or having conversations with neighbors from a safe distance.

Depression can make people want to shut themselves in their homes, and now this is mandated by the government. There is a stay-at-home order, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors by working in the yard or taking on some home projects. We are still allowed to take walks through our neighborhoods. It’s important for those who battle depression to stay active during this time. Sinking into the couch in front of the TV for too long is dangerous for those who battle depression. We may have to retreat from public gatherings, but we do not have to withdraw from life.

I encourage those who know people who battle depression to check on them during this time of uncertainty and social distancing. A phone call to discuss things or a simple chat about some generic things of life can be a great help. A note in the mail can let them know they aren’t forgotten. How about taking a virtual walk together by video chatting as you each walk in your neighborhoods? You could start a movie at the same time and talk about the film via text, telephone or video chat.

The phrase we are using most during this time is, “In this together.” If you battle depression, know you are not alone. If you don’t battle depression, help someone who does. It’s a hard fight, but it’s a fight we can win if we are truly in this together.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.