I’m a nurse and my mental health is really struggling since COVID

Hi everyone! So a little background. I'm a full time nurse in the US and have been since 2013. I am also a mother to two boys and I'm in college part time to further my degree. I started back in college last August.

I'm posting because I am so completely overwhelmed, depressed, and anxious. It's… overwhelming. I've always had bouts of depression and I live with anxiety but it used to be pretty manageable. I would have maybe 3 or 4 panic attacks a year. I've never been on any anxiety or depression medication because I feel like I've been able to manage it ok without.

In March we sent our kids to live with my in-laws until we learned more about COVID because my in-laws already watched the boys when both my husband and I were working and my job is considerably high risk. A week after that I came down with COVID and the kids ended up living with my in-laws for 11 weeks. We talked on Zoom but that was it. That period of my life was the absolute darkest period of my life. I cried multiple times a day and was in the deepest pits of depression that I have ever known. I would cry multiple times a day and I was having panic attacks every week, often in the middle of work, and contemplated suicide for the first time in my life. There was absolutely no joy in life. The phone calls with my kids always ended with me leaving early because I was crying to much and I didn't want them to see.

Anyway they've been home for a couple months and things have been better but it's still a struggle. I continue to disassociate throughout the day and every couple of weeks I feel like I "wake up" from a depressive episode. I'm still having panic attacks every few weeks. For instance, I had a really really bad one today. A manager at Trader Joe's gave me flowers and said thank you for being a nurse and for when I got back to my car I just….broke. His kindness broke me, for some stupid reason. I was sobbing and hyperventilating and my hands went numb and I almost blacked out. It was very rough.

My question is this- I know that I'm depressed. I know that my anxiety is at an all time high. I know that I should seek help. But I also know that this is all related to COVID. It's related to nursing in a pandemic, the isolation, and the general uncertainty in the world. Therefor, I think that this will end. I believe that it will. I don't want to start medication when COVID is, hopefully, a temporary problem. Many depression/ anxiety medication have a ton of side effects and are hard to stop one they've been started. What would you do? Should I just keep soldiering through or seek medication? Thanks y'all. Stay safe and healthy out there.

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