By: Allie Joy Hudson
6 min. read
Quarantine and Depression
I can’t tell you how many times I pick up my phone when I’m feeling depressed.
I hate it, but it’s almost become a reflex to open up Facebook or Instagram and scroll when I feel myself shutting down. Especially with so many of us being quarantined at home due to COVID-19. Isolation and depression are very relevant to our daily lives right now. I’ve heard of many being home alone and struggling with anxiety, fear, and loneliness, and depression.
What exactly is depression? It’s a term we hear a lot, but let’s take a closer look at it. According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is defined as follows:
…A common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act…Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Similar to anxiety, depression is a common condition in our society. That doesn’t make it less real or less important though. Especially in the wake of COVID-19, depression is a tool in the hands of the enemy, plaguing the lives of many. Depression impacts the way that we structure our daily routines, what we place before our eyes, and the way that we interact with others.
To understand the significance of depression and pornography, let’s pause and look at our relationship with technology.
Related: Pornography and Anxiety
A Quick Fix
So many of us, myself included, turn to technology for quick relief when feeling depressed. Why do we do this?
- It’s easy. If you’re struggling with depression, it can be hard to physically make yourself get out of bed or off the couch. In contrast, grabbing your phone or logging onto your laptop takes minimal effort.
- It numbs our pain and our boredom, and it requires nothing from us. We have to put very little thought into the time we spend on the Internet. We can let our brains tune out as we visually consume.
- It fills time – and lots of it. This seems appealing right now while so many of us are home from work and school because of COVID-19. Though we could use this time to be intentional in our one-on-one relationships with Jesus and others, we’re often consumed by a lack of motivation.
- In a way, it offers companionship. This is real for me. When I was first married and moved to a new city with my husband, I didn’t have friends where I was, I didn’t have a job, and my husband would work long days. I was lonely, and I spent a lot of time on social media, trying (in vain) to feel connected to other people by at least seeing their pictures. This is very real for many people shut in at home right now!
Though technology offers an easy, quick alternative to feeling stuck in our depression, it only further reinforces our desperate need for community. The fix doesn’t fill us. It only reminds us that we are alone, using our phones like social and emotional IVs. We’re left even lonelier than before.
A Darker Way to Cope
How does porn fit into this overdependence on technology or social media?
There is a lot of overlap between these addictions. We turn to porn for a lot of the same reasons we turn to technology in general. Porn is quick and easy. It distracts us. Porn attempts to fill our need for relationship, and it numbs us. So many of these deep heart issues are the same.
Porn websites recognize and take advantage of our God-given desire to be known and then twist it, offering us artificial and destructive companionship. That’s why the world’s largest porn site is offering free premium access to all of Italy to “help” people at home during COVID-19.
There is a dark pattern present in a porn addiction. Porn caters to our need to consume. It offers to fulfill our every fantasy with whatever we can dream up and type in.
If you are depressed and are turning to pornography to cope, please know that the more you turn to porn when you feel alone and empty, it will only make things worse. Porn rewires the chemicals in your brain to need more and more stimulation each time you watch, so that it becomes harder and harder to find pleasure, especially when you are already feeling stripped of joy or you’re simply hurting.
Healing Our Minds
So, what do we do?
First off, know that we are not hopeless. Jesus sees us in our pain and ache and numbness, and He loves us too much to leave us there. But He will walk with us along the way.
He wants to see healing in our lives – healing from depression, anxiety, and addiction. Here are some practical ways that Jesus offers us help in His embrace:
- Be self-aware. When you feel your particular trigger to watch porn, whether that’s depression or something else, recognize that. Become aware of your weakest points, and then put extra protective measures around them. Tell trusted friends or family members about them so they can be there to pray and talk with you. Reach out in the moment if you’re feeling tempted to isolate yourself in porn.
- Take a step. Literally, stand up, walk around, go outside, go for a run, or start doing some sort of activity if you’re able. Check out the results of this study. Keeping your body active helps to keep your mind moving too.
- Know that you can retrain your brain. Neuroplasticity is a real and fascinating phenomenon that allows us to forge new, healthy connections in our brains, thus building new, healthy habits in our lives. When you feel the urge to watch porn or start to scroll, be intentional about refusing to give in (even say “no” out loud if it helps!). And then, quickly fill your mind with something else. Cry out to Jesus, tell Him that you’re feeling weak, and then ask Him for His strength. Dwell on thoughts of His good character or things that He has done for you. Forge new pathways in your mind.
Porn, Depression, and Jesus
The Internet and pornography can become serious idols in our lives. When we start turning to technological relief as a way to try to make ourselves feel again, we know deep down that we can’t fix ourselves. We need help.
And we have it. On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples that it was a good thing for Him to return to be with God so He could send them (and us) His Holy Spirit. When we accept Jesus as the Savior of our sins and the Lord of our lives, we are filled with His Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that is in Jesus is now in us. The Spirit comforts, helps, convicts, guides, strengthens, emboldens, fills, and encourages us. He continually directs our focus back to Jesus.
However, His voice and His promptings are quiet. We really need to allow ourselves space to sit, be ready, and listen. Learning to hear the Holy Spirit is a practice that is so beautiful and worthwhile, but it takes time and discipline to do. When we run to our phones and fill our minds with noise and lust and stimulation, it becomes so much harder to hear the Spirit’s voice.
When you’re feeling the weight of depression, don’t dive further into numbness by rushing to artificial stimulation. While you have time at home during this COVID-19 quarantine, allow yourself to hear and be refreshed by the voice of the living God inside of you. He alone provides true freedom, life, and joy.
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Allie Joy Hudson is first and foremost a daughter of the King. She has worked with Proven Men for almost two years and serves in the position of Content Manager. Allie graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minors in Spanish and Psychology. She completed her Senior Honors Thesis on the presentation of postmodern sexuality in short fiction. She enjoys reading, writing, playing the viola, singing, theatre, and photography. Allie is passionate about her ever-growing C.S. Lewis collection, cultivating relationships, and proclaiming truth in the twisted arena of postmodern sexuality. Allie lives in Pennsylvania and is overjoyed to be married to the love of her life.