Madison woman stresses mental health focus amid Coronavirus isolation

Published: Mar. 18, 2020 at 11:56 PM CDT
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More people are practicing social distance and self-isolation as Coronavirus cases grow and some see the lifestyle change as positive.

Nikyra McCann has lived in Madison since she was 3 years old. She said isolating herself to stop the spread of the Coronavirus brings back painful memories.

“Just being alone and to yourself sometimes that brings fear, ” McCann said.

Nine years ago, McCann was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

“I remember times being in isolation for 18 hours,” she said.

She said battling her mental illness forced her to spend a lot of time alone.

“Isolation is wheewww something very difficult being trapped in a room,” McCann said.

But she said this type of isolation is different.

“I think it’s in a more peaceful place because it’s my home. It’s somewhere I’m comfortable,” she said.

Amid the recent closures of entertainment venues, bars and restaurants, McCann said people should take a negative situation and turn it into a positive.

“Do yoga, watch movies, spend time with your family, do all the things you couldn’t do. Take it as a break, a time out to work on your mental health and work on yourself,” she said.

McCann said being bored is not always a bad thing. She spends her free time checking in with family on FaceTime.

“When I was bored, my mom would always say ‘When you’re bored, you’re at peace,’” she said.

Jerry Halverson, Rogers Behavioral Health Chief Medical Officer, explained there is a lot of uncertainty associated with the Coronavirus. He explained this can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

“What makes people comfortable is predictability and the unknown is pretty scary,” he said.

Halverson said the feeling of anxiety and being overwhelmed is “pretty normal” under these circumstances, but there are ways to stay healthy mentally even in isolation.

“You can still talk to friends and family on the phone. This FaceTime is a nice way to do it,” Halverson said. “Certainly there are things within your circle of family and friends that can bring you joy.”

Halverson said exercising and taking a walk outside produces endorphins that make you feel naturally better.

“Just because you are quarantined and isolating doesn’t mean you have to isolate,” he said.

“Even though you’re in isolation from each other, we can still stay together,” McCann said.

McCann said if you have faith, anything is possible.