Captain Obvious here with your daily briefing: everything has changed in the past year. How we work, who we see, even what we carry in our purses and pockets. We ask permission to hug old dear friends, if we are lucky enough to see them, cross the street to avoid getting too close to anyone else, and plan for the future? What is this planning witchcraft you speak of? Folk lore I tell you. Seriously, though, what is the toll on our mental health living in a world where every move we make is shrouded in fear? Honestly, no one can say, but if you take a moment to consider everything you’ve changed (see petting the household animal while you attend the Zoom meeting of the hour in your pajamas while simultaneously ordering something online you would normally pick up in person), how have you restructured your self-care regimen? You’ve got that down, right? You work out in your living room WITH your infant (I actually saw that on a recent Facebook post,) have learned to cut and dye your own hair (you don’t go out so who cares anyway,) and share meals or wine virtually with loved ones for special occasions. It’s fine. You’re fine. Everything’s fine (my BFF and I actually bought matching T-shirts that say that.)
Not so much. We are doing the very best we can, and let’s face it, there are some unexpected gifts in all of this. Now we roll out of bed with a five min ETA to “be” at the “meeting.” Some things are easier. Some are not. When I talk to people about the past year, regardless of who they are or where they come from I hear the same words. “A lot of unexpected things have come to the surface.” We have more time on our hands, and a lot of more of it in isolation. Feelings, flaws and unrest you thought you’d buried at the bottom of the ocean has bubbled up. Priorities have changed, and losses have been endured, many of them not even discussed. Graduations that didn’t happen, drive by baby showers and countless other ceremonial and mundane opportunities “unhappened” (yeah, I made THAT a word.) Can we talk?
It’s hard to talk about any of this, because it’s happening to everyone. It’s hard to name your grief when you know ten people who have it worse. “At least…….” Yeah, there’s that. So let me say this, about that. Our bodies hold everything we don’t release. When we feel pain, weight, weakness or exhilaration it’s the body speaking up for us. The one thing that often is NOT getting attended to in this new world that we hide in is mental health. I think there is a level of shame associated with voicing any “non-essential” needs right now. Parents that feel guilty for wanting a break from their family, partners who never knew “that” about their significant other, people who spent this past year WITH themselves in a way they never knew they were missing. We SHOULD talk. Most therapists (myself included) are seeing people online, and some of us still work in person, safely. It’s that important. If you stay alive but you lose your mind in the process, we’re defeating the purpose. Whatever has happened or not happened this year, it’s your story and it deserves to be told. We are so conditioned to “handle” everything by ourselves that we often don’t seek out support until the struggle has brimmed over the edge.
Do you need permission? I’m giving it to you. I’m not a Doctor, but I play a therapist on Zoom and if you’re reading this blog, perhaps, it’s time to reach out. As a society we have found substitutions for just about everything, and we’ve adjusted, and life has sort of gone on. My question for you is what has been revealed in the process? Not just working, school, socializing from home, what is present now that wasn’t there before? More importantly, how are you handling that? This is bigger than “how do I get my cardio in now that my gym is closed?” We’ve “lost” during this time, but we’ve also accumulated some new layers. That can be a lot to sit with and wade through. You are not alone and you are not “insert descriptive, derogatory crazy synonym here,” for needing an ear and a shoulder. In fact, I’m going to suggest that you are healthier, more empowered and basically a spiritual bad-ass if you do the emotional roto-rooter around “whatever” has transpired for you in the past twelve months. You don’t have to be in a crisis to need a clean-up. We get an oil change every X-amount of miles, and we wash our bodies, dust our homes, change the water filter, is it time remove the emotional debris? You’ve got this. You are hip, slick, and cool because you understand self-care is more than cleaning the “surfaces” in your physical space with 99% effective germ killer. Yeah, I went there. Wishing you whole-hearted health and wellness,
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If you need help finding a therapist that will support you how and where you are, just ask. If we can’t help you we’ll find someone who can.