The Quest for a Hobby During a Depression-Filled Quarantine

I’m not someone who is typically ungrateful for suggestions on how to help my symptoms of depression and anxiety. For the most part, I’ll take any help I can get. But honestly, if one more person recommends an adult coloring book as the answer to my problems, I just might scream. When I’m in the depths of a depression-fueled despair, I kinda bristle at the thought that a coloring book will alleviate the deep pain I feel or slow down the racing, intrusive thoughts in my brain.

When quarantine from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic started, it seemed everyone (from my therapist to my mom) thought the perfect plan to fill up the isolated days would be to start a new hobby. Even though I was skeptical, I tried a multitude of things in an attempt to get my mind off the depression (worsened by the lack of in-person therapy sessions) and anxiety (worsened because of, you know, the terrifying global health crisis). Although some areas of the U.S. are starting to open up, here in California, we’re still pretty much on lockdown. So, here are the things I’ve already tried:

Baking

Of course, baking banana bread was basically a COVID-19 rite of passage for everybody stuck at home. I’ve attempted a few other recipes in the ensuing months. I found I do like the process of baking (measuring exact ingredients and getting a tasty treat out of it is fun). But then, the “Quarantine 15” turned into an absolutely real thing for me, and I started to worry that baking cookies and muffins could lead to weight gain and even more anxiety.

Exercising

I’m not exactly what you would call an active person. But during quarantine, I decided it would be a good idea to get out of the house, so I went for walks around my neighborhood. I enjoyed these strolls at first, but now that the temperature is in the high 90s every day, becoming a sweaty mess feels a lot less appealing.

Gardening

Maybe a hobby where I could see the fruits of my labor would be a good activity. I bought seeds, soil and a garden cart to show off my efforts. Well, barely any of the seeds sprouted at all, so starting at a garden that isn’t growing ended up feeling even more depressing.

Connecting with family 

My extended family decided to do a weekly Zoom video call with everyone since we’re not able to get together in person. As much as I love connecting with my loved ones, it feels like everyone gets to talk about how well they’re doing. For someone who’s really struggling, I feel like I can’t jump into the conversation — and I begin to wonder if I’m the only one who’s feeling so hopeless about the world.

You might be reading this thinking I’m a huge complainer who somehow manages to find something negative in every single thing I do. Well, the fact is, that’s what major depression does — it saps the joy and fun out of every activity. Because I want to feel better, I continue to try new hobbies, but then I feel horrible disappointment when the hobby doesn’t lift the depression like I wish it would.

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There’s a part of me that loves that people keep suggesting I try new things — they wouldn’t do that if I were a complete lost cause, right? And logically I know that finding one perfect hobby isn’t going to cure my depression. I do understand the principle that finding things to take my mind off my sadness and anxiety can only help my life feel more manageable. So, I’ll keep trying new activities and begrudgingly accept suggestions from the people I love, just in case I find something that makes the depression feel even just a tiny bit better. Scrapbooking or knitting anyone?

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