We talk to 'Kidding' star actress Gwen Hollander about how she is coping under lockdown, how she is filling her time and her thoughts on dealing with anxiety.

This has been the most surreal few weeks... it feels straight out of a movie. My husband and I will be walking our two dogs through our ghost-town of a neighborhood, wearing gloves and masks, and we'll see another human approaching (also wearing gloves and a mask), and we'll cut into the street to give said approaching human a wide berth.

Kidding Star Gwen Hollander - Photo: Birdie Thompson  Hair: Lisa Truong
Kidding Star Gwen Hollander - Photo: Birdie Thompson Hair: Lisa Truong

It's just so deeply bizarre. And the emotional toll the news is taking on everyone is no joke. It's frustrating that the only thing we can do to help is to stay at home. For someone with depression and anxiety (me), that could've been a recipe for disaster. I really had to work to quiet my mind in those first few days. My "shoulds" were coming fast and furious:

"You should take this time to write."

"You should take this time to clean."

"You should learn a language."

"Don't be lazy, use this time!"

I know a lot of people are going through this, and I hope everyone can try to be gentle and patient with themselves. No one has to do anything. In my case, as soon as I gave myself permission to do nothing, I was suddenly inspired to do a bunch of things.

I started working on a little series of videos called "Avenue Q(uarantine)" with a bunch of my actor/puppeteer friends (I rewrote lyrics to a bunch of songs from the musical "Avenue Q" to reflect our current situation), and that has been a huge blessing for me. I've loved having something to focus on, and it feels really good to make something just because I want to, not because I'm supposed to.

Incidentally, I've also learned a lot throughout the process, about editing, mixing and all kinds of things I've never had time to think about. I pulled out all my old knitting stuff (I haven't knit in about eight years) and have just been knitting while I'm watching TV; I find it soothes me to have something to do with my hands. And I'm not even making anything; I'm just knitting in a straight line and then I'll probably unravel it all and start over!

I'm doing lots of crossword puzzles, catching up on movies and TV shows I haven't seen because I've been so busy since the Fall... and spending time with my husband and our dogs. I feel really lucky to have them with me, because we're all on an emotional roller coaster and we've been taking turns comforting each other. 

It's been really interesting to see how my years of struggling with the aforementioned depression and anxiety have actually mentally prepared me for a situation that seems impossible to prepare for. If anything, there's a strange (and sad) comfort in knowing that we're all feeling it; one of the worst aspects of depression/anxiety, for me, is feeling alone in those feelings. Suddenly, we're all in it. Globally. And we'll all get through it, together.

Again, I hope everyone is able to be kind to themselves during this time and do whatever they need to get through. There's no right or wrong, there's only what makes you feel better. Thank you to our essential workers and healthcare professionals; you are all heroes. Stay safe, everyone!

Hollander is best known for her role as Sheryl on the hit Showtime series Kidding. The show chronicles the life of Jeff Piccirillo, the host of the popular children's television show Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time. Sheryl is a puppeteer on the series