Today I saw more posts about people contracting Covid19 or dying from it. We are living in frightening times. This, I believe, is why I am also seeing a lot more sharing about emotional health, depression and suicidal feelings. These times are challenging for the heartiest of souls nevermind those who were already struggling.
It is so hard not to put the fear pedal to the metal in the midst of all this. It is especially overwhelming for those who no longer have their regular supports to lean on. Where once we could rely on simple daily routines of getting ready for work or running Saturday errands, we flounder as we try to find our place, make sense of how the world was fine one day and upside down the next. Personally I miss grocery shopping. I have always enjoyed it, even done it free for others over the years and of my routine outings it is the one I miss the most.
So many of our regular tasks are suspended as are our social touch stones. All our usual meeting places are closed. Those who celebrate Easter are unable to get together for services, egg hunts or turkey dinners with every chair possible squished around the table. It is not safe to shop for birthday or other celebratory gifts. For most of us this is manageable. But for some this means spending an inordinate amount of time alone. More time alone than usual with nothing to look forward to or lift their spirits.
it’s hard to stay strong when we are so scared so much of the time especially for those we love who are still out there providing essential services. But we have been here before and most of us made it through. Let me share some past storms we’ve weathered:
In no way am I saying we should dismiss our current fears. Letting ourselves feel our feelings is okay. Finding ways to remind ourselves that this is all temporary is helpful, I find, and sharing this chart is part of realizing that perspective.
Many are already terrified about whether they will even have a job when this is all over. Others are panicking because they can’t even see where next weeks groceries will come from. I don’t have answers for those situations beyond hope. When everything else is gone, hope is all we have left. It is so important to hold onto hope because looking at the list of all we’ve survived is a reminder that following the path of hope is helpful. Whenever I thought there was no hope left, a human Angel proved me wrong.
When H1N1 struck I caught it on an airplane Three days into what was to be my last visit with my mother I was banned from seeing her because she was too frail to risk giving her H1N1. I was delirious for two weeks, thought my long dead father was in the room with me and that I was still babysitting “the little ones,” my four younger siblings . I even told an adult sister she couldn’t see a brother without my permission I cannot remember any of it.
Wheel chaired onto and off of the plane home, I was sick for three months, coughing blood and generally unable to shake the virus that had set off my asthma and compromised immune system. Doctors kept stepping up my antibiotics until they could go no further. But I finally started getting better in the third month. I really thought I was going to die. But I didn’t. I never lost hope and will always believe that’s what saved me, helped me survive.
Most of us are going to make it through Covid19 just as we made it through the list of world challenges I shared above. Please note this is not my list but I felt it worth sharing because when fear threatens to swallow me whole, it helps me to maintain perspective.
And perspective is what we need. Fear is normal. We’ve never been here before. Staying in fear keeps us physiologically and psychologically revved up. Trust me, I get it because all fears and anxieties trigger my PTSD into the relentless nightmare zone. I can’t stay there because I can’t let fear choke me out of my own life
Each day I try to “normalize” myself by doing routine tasks. At first I fell into not caring if I got dressed until I realized dressing helped me feel better. Whatever the little things are, hold fast to those. These are our anchors. Fixing meals, doing laundry, normalizing as much as possible. I have discovered I can actually forget we are still in this Covid19 crisis. In the midst of doing chores or getting absorbed in a movie or documentary, I forgot about the world out there. In fact, watching a series to the final episode saw me forget everything in the world until it was over. Then when it struck me that we are in the Covid19 crisis, I felt my muscles tighten, my stomach went queasy and I felt tears rising again. .
So I told myself, if you can do this, if you can feel better just by being distracted for watching a series, doing chores or reading, you can practise “mind relief.” Which is what led me to writing this.
Seeing this list of all we have survived in the past may not be much help but it is if we use it to maintain a healthy perspective. Knowing we are not powerless to help ourselves is also proving helpful for me right now. It means I don’t have to succumb to the fear mongering. It means I can do something to distract from staying in a constant flight or fight mode. It means I can still try to help others which is an innate desire I was born with.
That’s what compelled me to write this today. If just one person sees this and it helps at all, then mission accomplished. We may not be able to do much but whatever we can do, let’s just keep doing it. This is how we will make it through to the other side of this challenging time. We really are in this together and just knowing this is comforting, too.
Being scared is okay. Staying there can be costly. Staying strong is wiser. And staying safe is a must. We may make more phone calls, send more texts, play more on or offline games, video chat more, post more, read more on social media, paint, draw, write, Garden or clean every closet in the house. Whatever it takes, I have to believe we will make it, a minute at a time, an hour at a time, a day at a time, whatever we can manage. I am scared sometimes too but I look forward to the day when we can add covid19 to the above list. And, in the meantime, if you are struggling and need to reach out for help, here are some helpful links:
(c) Janni Styles