“Everything’s just darker, and sadder – you have to be your own light”
During a time of quarantining, cabin fever, and fear for our health, it can be tough to cope with teen depression and anxiety. Sloane Siegel, a 19-year-old actor and star of Gortimer Gibbons’ Life on Normal Street and Dwight in Shining Armor (Season 3), knows exactly how that feels. Houston Family Magazine had a chance to speak with Sloane about his experience with depression and anxiety as well as how he is coping with social distancing and staying mentally and physically healthy during these times. Read till the end for Sloane’s tips!
Sloane’s roller-coaster ride with anxiety and, subsequently, teen depression began when he was 16. He explained to his doctor that, at certain times, he gets chest pains and can’t breathe. He begins to feel walls closing in on him, everything gets louder, he can’t think, and after a bit, he passes out.
The doctor explained to him that he was suffering from panic attacks, and after taking a test and being monitored closely, he was diagnosed with severe anxiety. “I feel like [anxiety] is becoming very common. A lot of young people are being diagnosed with that, and I feel like mental health is an important issue that not many people talk about.”
His mental health was not helped by the film industry. “I’ve cultivated these negative conditions, where I have to keep injecting myself with self-worth, due to not having time to myself. Rejection, for anyone, is tough to deal with. And I’m always worrying about my next role. In acting, as soon as you get a job, you have to treat that job like it’s your last job. There are heavy doses of anxiety that come with that.”
Between his role as Gortimer in Gortimer Gibbons’ Life on Normal Street and recently signing the part of Dwight in Dwight in Shining Armor, Siegel had a gap year. He recounted an experience at an audition during that gap year. He gave one of his best performances, but the director looked him in the eyes and said: “That was way too actor-y.” He was “crushed inside.”
But no matter what happens, Sloane says he always finds the silver lining in the situation. A month ago, he was filming in Canada, and when he returned home, he had to self-quarantine for fourteen days. Those fourteen days were extended further when California Governor Newsom announced a stay-at-home order for all civilians.
Siegel spent his time at home indulging in some much-needed self-care, and cleaning and organizing his house. He found a stack of birthday cards from his teens while cleaning up which brought back great memories and put a smile on his face. He also has been doing several video interviews and video promotions, dancing to music, writing, and playing lots of video games.
“I miss going out to eat so much! You just want to meet with friends in person because no matter how much you talk to them on FaceTime or Zoom, it doesn’t replace that in-person experience. I also miss hiking and going outside! Luckily, I’m good at entertaining myself indoors as well.”
Sloane says that your power to discover doesn’t depend on if you are social distancing or not; he loves teaching himself new things, and he’s taking advantage of being at home, and learning how to play the guitar.
Sloane’s advice to everyone during these social distancing times is to do things that make you happy!
“You’ve got to find a way to take yourself out of the same room; that’s how Cabin Fever develops! Know that it’s a crazy time for everyone, and don’t be too hard on yourself. For people dealing with anxiety or depression, look at the bright side; this will all be over someday, and things will recover.
“Make your day brighter by trying new things and getting new experiences. If you think you have anxiety or teen depression, consult a physician *whenever it’s safe*. And know that you have two options to cope: Meditate or Medicate. Take medications to help regulate your emotions and meditate. It helps keep you calm and focused!”
A new episode of Dwight in Shining Armor Season 3 premieres each Sunday at 7:30 PM Central Time on BYUTV and you can catch up on seasons 1 and 2 online at BYUTV.ORG. You can watch Gortimer Gibbons’ Life on Normal Street on Amazon for free.