My COVID Story: Thomas

Depression struggles intensified with isolation, health fears My name is Thomas. I’m 42. I lived in Greater Minnesota near St. […]

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Depression struggles intensified with isolation, health fears

My name is Thomas. I’m 42. I lived in Greater Minnesota near St. Cloud during the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic. In late 2021 I moved to the Twin Cities to be closer to family members. 

Depression and anxiety have long been part of my life. My struggles started during high school in western Wisconsin. I played sports, sang in school and church choir, and was in clubs and marching band. I have great family and friends but as time went on I felt very depressed much of the time. It was hard for me to finish college and pursue a teaching and coaching career. 

Depression was paralyzing. It cost me relationships, including the love of my life. Working is a challenge, especially coaching. Parents are much more vocal and critical than they were when I was a prep athlete. I had to give coaching up. 

I was substitute teaching and tutoring in 2020. My plan before the pandemic happened was to not teach full-time for a year, recharge mentally and then get back into the classroom. That didn’t go as planned. 

Much of my work dried up. Financial problems added to my depression.  What was hardest for me as a person living with depression and anxiety? Isolation was brutal. Utterly brutal. I could work with students online, but that’s not the same as in-person. Work with students can be energizing for me. I missed that. 

I missed friends and family, my church and  couple of community service groups I belonged to. One group was already small and disbanded during the pandemic. My support system felt very far away. 

Do you have friends you just never see anymore because they continue to isolate for health reasons? That has happened to me. Losing those friends is still hard. 

My anxiety about illness and even dying consumed my thought some days. Going into a store to pick up groceries was nerve-wracking. My longtime therapist retired and I was on a waiting list for several months before finding someone else in the Twin Cities. 

My three cases of COVID-19 have been mild. I had a reaction to one vaccine where I was very tired for a few days. But otherwise, I have been fortunate to not have the physical challenges others have had.  The pandemic drove the decision for me to sell my house and relocate to the Twin Cities to be closer to family members. I still see friends from the St. Cloud area. But I needed to be closer to supports for my mental health, and to be able to rebuild my circle of friends. 

I assume we will have more pandemics in the future. For people like me, it’s crucial to have backup plans and to actively seek out support and friendships. If I can give advice to others, hang onto your support system. Don’t stop medications and therapy if they help you. 

  • "Stay safe, Minnesota. Take steps to protect yourself & others from the COVID-19 virus."
  • "Stay safe, Minnesota. Take steps to protect yourself, & others from the COVID-19 virus."

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