Pandemic Depression

This is what it looks like when you stop WaniKani for a while and come back. Overwhelming:

March 2020. The pandemic began. We all went on lockdown and didn’t go anywhere. My two young children couldn’t go to school and the school last minute threw together the crappiest remote learning situation. I had to stop my work and focus on teaching them until the end of the school year. It was stressful. It took all day. It was terrible. Summer. Kids stuck at home and we couldn’t go anywhere interesting. Lockdown and things still closed down. New school year Fall 2020. Guess what, our local school wasn’t doing anything during the pandemic so we had to last minute homeschool. VERY last minute. It is stressful. It takes all day.

Meanwhile, March 2020 I stopped doing my lessons. Stopped focusing on Japanese and pretty much stopped focusing on everything really other than schooling my children. I was stressed and had no outlet. I kept saying that I would start getting back into it in a minute, but never did. Over and over again I would say that and so I never pushed the vacation button on WaniKani. I always thought any minute I would go back. I realize it had nothing to do with a lack of interest in Japanese, but more of a lack of interest in anything. People were so happy that they had so much time to do all the things they wanted to do and learn new crafts and here is me, doing even less than before and not learning or drawing or doing any of the things I liked to do. Why?

I was DEPRESSED. I realize aftarward that it was a long bout of depression. I’m sure I am not the only one that went through this during the lockdown and subsequent months to follow. This pandemic has changed a lot of things and has probably made a lot of people feel stressed or depressed at least one time or another during this whole thing. People either loved all the time or hated it. I guess that is just how it effected me.

Here I am now. October 2020. I finally decide to click that button and go to WaniKani. Then I’m depressed at what I see. A billion reviews and I also didn’t remember them. So now, I have to very slowly and patiently go through those reviews while scrolling through all the levels starting at 1 to see what I remember and what I don’t. If it is burned and I don’t remember it, guess what, it gets put back in circulation. It gets revived! Adds to my review pile, but what choice do I have? I’m here to learn, not here for numbers.

So now I am back to reading Japanese and watching Japanese with English subtitles and doing Wanikani. This is my chance to get back into something I love and get out of my depression. The Pandemic Depression. Maybe that is what I’ll call it…

For all you out there, I hope you kept it up. If not and you were depressed like me, I understand. Im not really sure what the point of this long rant is. Is it to say, “I’m back!”, or to say, "Here’s what happens if you take too long of a break. ", or that people were depressed during the pandemic? I have no idea. I do know that I AM back, I WAS depressed during the pandemic and I did take too long of a break. I’m back.

Is there anyone else out there who WASN’T moved with exhilaration and creativity and motivated to do so much during all their free time? People who became lonely and depressed? I’m just glad I’m back to Japanese.


Thank you for being honest and sharing this! I think a lot of people have had (or still have) some form of pandemic depression and it’s good to see that you’re not alone, it’s not something wrong with you, it’s something wrong with the world. Especially for parents who are now expected to be full time teachers, full time day care, AND do their full time jobs because of course everyone has extra free time right now, right? :facepalm:

Might I suggest waiting on that?
A) It’ll be less depressing to add “new” (burned) items once your review pile is already under control and
B) Those items will appear in other forms: radicals will show up in active kanji, kanji will show up in active vocab. You’ll surprised how quickly you relearn them just by seeing them around.
(I also came back from a long break a while ago, when I see a vocab with unrecognizable kanji, I read through the mnemonics, then click on the kanji I’ve forgotten and read through that mnemonic as well. After a couple of rounds of that they start coming back again and they’re easier to recognize in other vocab.)


Yes, same here. I’ve really struggled to do any sort of language learning this year.

Just now trying to get going again, but it’s tough. I’ve been scatter-brained and all my previously built up habits need to be restarted.


I don’t have any kids so I cannot relate to that, but I did have a form of pandemic depression.

The first lockdown month almost felt like a holiday, working from home and having the travel time now for hobbies. But then the loneliness of missing my family came and the depression started.

I just started Wanikani yesterday again. I had about 500 reviews waiting. I decided to go back one level and got through about 300 reviews today. So now I am up to date with the reviews and my plan is now to just stay on these reviews for the next couple of days or the next week even. After that I will start again on the 60+ lessons again.

I wish you the best of luck :blush:


Hey there :slight_smile:
It is very nice to have someone being so honest about this whole lockdown situation. I felt the same way you did. Everyone was talking about how much time they have/had during lockdown. And all the amazing things they did. Like “Oh I tried this DIY” or “I started XY again” and so on…
Meanwhile I was struggling to keep up with everything. There were so many more things to do and you needed to do all of those things from home. There was no seperation between work and free time. For me the worst thing was doing everything at home. Even if I found some little tiny bit of motivation to study a language or to do something (you know there were things called hobbies before lockdown? I don’t know about you, but I lost theme somewhere in the chaos of this year) I couldn’t do it because as soon as I sat down on my desk I felt like I needed to do work, because since the lockdown started it had become my workplace. So instantly that litte tiny bit of motivation ran away, screaming.
There wasn’t a great amount of motivation for anything left. I still told myself: “Yes, I will do it. Everyone now has the time to do everything.” But than in the end of a very full and very hectic and very exhausting day all that happend was that I got depressed. Because once again a day was ending and I felt like I hadn’t spend all those precious time that we now have on something oh so wonderful.
Well I better stop before I rant here on my own in your comment section :sweat_smile:

All I wanted to say is thank you! Reading your post I felt a lot of pressure leaving. This is a confusing time. Some may use it for whatsoever, explore their new found creativ paths and some others struggle on a daily basis with keeping day to day life going.
We are here now. One day after another. We can do it. Even if it is tough.


Oh absolutely hit with that pandemic depression. I was lucky that I lived in a house with several friends for the first couple months of the pandemic, but they moved away and now I have basically no friends in the area except my partner who I live with. Feeling very isolated and depressed. I actually decided to pick up studying Japanese again because I thought it might help me feel a little better, more productive, and that it might help me establish SOME kind of routine again.

I’m lucky that my work does require me to go in person to my workplace so I have the opportunity to get out of the house, but we’ve been switching between morning shifts and evening shifts so it’s incredibly difficult to have a consistent routine. When I have work from 7 am-3 pm one week and then I have it 3 pm-11 pm the next week, how do I really keep things consistent? It’s very frustrating. I’m definitely the type of person who thrives on established routines to keep me on track and I’m really struggling to make any progress in my work with the havoc that quarantine has thrown my way.

It definitely makes me feel inadequate seeing all those people who are like “Wow I have so much free time because of quarantine so I am going to make lots of cool things and be super productive with my hobbies,” because I’m here like “Ughhhh what’s even the point of waking up today…”


Funnily enough, in order to cope with staying at home and having sudden copious amounts of unproductive time, I finally started learning Japanese seriously - so I guess my situation was the opposite of your situation.


I’ve definitely been in your shoes off and on this year. I’ve got an almost 3 year old and when lockdown happened in March that meant that my partner and I lost any options for childcare or even just playdates outside of the house. That also meant that most of my free time I had for Wanikani and other Japanese studying went out the window. Finally, having to absorb two other people’s work when layoffs hit at my company and moving across the country this summer has meant that most if not all of my Japanese learning goals for the year aren’t going to happen (I’m looking at you “Hit Level 60 by September”).

I’ve gone through several stretches this year where it took me a month to complete a level or I just wouldn’t have the energy to even try to do reviews for a few days. I’m actually just coming out of one of those streaks and finally finished squashing the last 100 or so reviews.

One strategy that I’ve found effective this year is to judicially use vacation mode when I’m getting overwhelmed with other things in my life. I’ve found that it’s often better for me mentally to come back after a few days to a normal sized pile of reviews and be a little bit rusty rather than coming back to 500 reviews and feeling overwhelmed. Vacation mode is perfect for that.

Good luck getting back into it and know that you’re not alone. You can do this! がんばって!


So awful that so many are doing it tough. It is a very different world.
Like you though, I have used the lockdown as a time to concentrate on my Japanese. I reset Wanikani after an hiatus of 2 years and it gave me a structure and focus to my day. I continue to let it dictate to me. I also read, and grammar on Minato.
I am on my own with no children so my situation is different.


I’m having similar situation at level 32, currently just not taking lessons and trying to push some reviews every now and then. Currently 135 lessons and 900 reviews waiting. I will be again taking some lessons just to get the previous level vocab into review queue as it helps me remember the few kanjis from last level.

All my hopes of having a trip to Japan this year has been decimated and all my japanese classes have been zoomified and one intermediate class got cancelled so I’m feeling bit directionless and too exhausted to build up proper self-study regimen.

I hope this gets better soon as I have ton of other stuff I’ve been avoiding to do too and they just keep building up day after day.


Both! Been through both of these ups and downs several times since March. Luckily, I never completely stopped my reviews, but if I skip even one day, I usually wind up with 150-200 reviews the next day. There were weeks that were REALLY difficult to get through or where I had to stop adding lessons for awhile. During the first week of major protests in NYC, when I was incredibly anxious 24/7, my retention also TANKED and I went from averaging 94-98% accuracy to around 70%, which was even more demotivating. It’s back up, but I’m still not flying through levels the way I was in the months before the pandemic hit.

Anyway, I sympathize, it’s totally ok that you took a break while feeling stressed and depressed. I know that review pile looks terrible now, but I hope you’ll start to get back a sense of accomplishment as you whittle away at it. Good luck!


You too! It is coming back to me. Slowly…

I don’t mind adding it. If I start remembering it quickly, it just gets burned again. So I’m okay with that. I didn’t revive all the ones I didn’t recognize, only the ones that after looking at the reading, I still was like, “Nope!”. The ones that I didn’t remember the mnemonic for or reading for even after looking at it. That way I could be reminded each time I saw it in the queue. The ones that I didn’t remember but after reading it I slightly remembered it, I left it burned.

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This year has just been hard all around for everyone. I have been absent from WaniKani so I have missed out on any comments and feelings from others so far, but I’m sure there has been a lot of this. I wonder what what Koichi and clan think about it.

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No! Rant on! It’s totally okay! This is the place to say how it has affected you! Sometimes writing and typing it helps too.

I agree. A lot of my friends were, and still are, posting all the things they were accomplishing during all this. Painting and being artsy. I used to be artsy too. It made me feel sad that I lacked the motivation to do what I love with the pandemic time, but at the same time I was happy for my friend who was getting better with each painting.


I’m glad I picked up Japanese again. I feel so much better! Like some kind of normalcy of my routine might be returning! I still don’t have the motivation to draw and everything and I’m still stressed with school and being home, but maybe soon something will start clicking.


That’s hilarious! That means you really took advantage of such a time! I imagine it would have been a GREAT time to start learning a new language! I hope you keep it up even if our routines get a little more normal. And a belated welcome to WaniKani!

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I agree about the vacation mode. I guess I was in denial that I needed it and didn’t use it. Lesson learned!

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Wow. I’ve been amazed since I posted this how many feel the same way I did and stopped Japanese and language learning too. I thought I would come back behind, but maybe there are a lot of people coming back behind!


Thank you! Actually I got below 800 this morning. So I’m slowly chilling away.