Thank you for the A2A.
Idk how others’ mental health has been affected because of COVID, but I can tell you personally how it is affecting me.
The main thing for me is stress; lots of stress, on top of the stress I already deal with on a daily basis. Ironically, I am not very stressed about getting COVID … I do everything I can to keep myself healthy, wear the masks, constantly wash my hands, etc, so if I ever get COVID, I know I did everything possible to prevent it.
I am also not stressed about staying inside a lot more … that is something I have done before, and it never bothered me. When I was not doing well with the agoraphobia, I was inside of my apartment 6 out of 7 days every week, for a few years, before finally getting out more. So I have no issues with that.
What really causes the most amount of stress for me, and while this might sound trivial to some people in the realm of how much COVID has affected everyone’s (or almost everyone’s) mental health, the tele-health appts with my therapist (2x/week) have really affected me.
While I 100% understand why we are having tele-health appts, and that she has no control over when the offices will be opening up (they are still closed indefinitely), the tele-health appts are getting to me.
And while I am thankful for them, because they are better than nothing, they have still added so much extra stress in my life. They didn’t stress me out in the beginning, but as months have passed, they have started to.
Compared to when we met in her office, I don’t feel like I am getting as much out of it (in terms of therapy work) as I was back then. I am getting something out of the appts over tele-health, but it isn’t anything like it was when the appts were in her office. I tend to say less than I did in the office, over tele-health; I don’t want to say as much because the walls are “thin” here, and others can most likely hear if they are around. Sometimes the appts go really well, but that doesn’t happen often enough.
Also, with the tele-health appts being from our homes, there are distractions, mainly on her end. On my end the only distraction is the phone ringing, and I only answer it if I am waiting for a call (which I tell her at the beginning of the appt as a head’s up). Otherwise I don’t answer it; if it rings, I mute the ringer, or, it is already in another room.
On her end, the main distraction is her puppy, who usually needs some sort of attention during my appts. By attention I mean being petted, barking at another dog or person he sees outside the door, etc, where she has to get up to calm him down or redirect his attention … something that takes her attention off of the appt.
When the dog is barking (for whatever reason), and after she calms him down, she is back talking with me … but by then she sometimes has lost her train of thought, so the conversation we had been in the middle of is pretty much over. (I lose my train of thought very easily, especially when I am distracted … and in general, I don’t have very good recall unless I am prompted/reminded what we were talking about).
One time she put her dog in another room and closed the door to the room she was in, because he was barking so much … however, after doing this, he just kept barking and barking until she opened the door again, letting him back in the room, because the barking itself became too distracting. Since then, the dog comes and goes as he pleases, but usually stays in the same room as her.
Since her dog has gotten older, his bark is now very loud. When he barks non-stop during any of my appts, I asked her to please stop the dog from barking because I can’t hear anything she is saying, and I can’t talk over it. One time I was getting very frustrated by it (not only because it was happening, but also because the barking happens a lot), and she said, “Melissa, he’s going to bark.” What am I supposed to say to that?
And this happens at many tele-health appts. The dog is always there and needs some sort of attending to, which interrupts my appt. Rarely does he not need attention in some way. If he causes a lot of time for her being away from the computer during my appt, she will add on some extra time to the appt. But that does not stop the barking.
Anyway, I think you get my point. So it stresses me out to have the tele-health appts with my therapist.
I know I can choose to not have the tele-health appts, but on the other hand, they are still my appts, so I shouldn’t have to choose anything in the first place. I can’t choose to not have therapy. For me, it doesn’t work like that.
Without therapy I would be much worse off, so I stick with it, despite distractions, because it is better than nothing. I have voiced to her about the barking and it being distracting, and that I hate the tele-health appts in general (when she has asked me how I like them), so she knows. She has told me that she really likes the tele-health appts because they are, to her, more personal (or a word similar to that). The whole thing also is anxiety-provoking for me.
So to answer your question, how is COVID affecting mental health, for me personally, COVID is affecting my mental health because of the tele-health appts with my therapist. They have added more stress to my life, for reasons given within this answer. However, I am not giving up.
Like I was saying, this may seem trivial to some people, but when you need therapy for mental illness reasons (2x/week), and the appts become a problem, it causes a lot of added stress, with the pandemic still going on.