I thought these words from a therapist accurately describe the current situation, because there is a huge difference between having a playbook, and not really know what to do next:
“The truth is, there is no playbook for a pandemic. As therapists, we are taught to be spontaneously available for whatever our clients bring to their sessions. Our toolkits ought to be, of necessity, diverse. Remember the adage, when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail? In light of the viral outbreak, we don’t have that luxury, even if we specialize in a particular modality. Like nearly everyone I know, they are expressing heightened anxiety. Our sessions are a combination of providing information, clarifying instructions, panic reduction, enhancing communication skills with family members with whom they might be sequestered, holding space for their fluctuating emotions.”
The struggle for many of us is that we don’t know what’s coming next. This is a situation we’ve never been in before, so we can’t really plan for what comes next, or when. It’s a mystery, and that create a ton of anxiety.
The more I think about that, the more I’m reminded of what it’s like when you start looking at healing from abuse, or treatment for depression. You don’t have a playbook, because you’ve never done it before. It’s incumbent on your therapist, or support system to have some idea of what the playbook looks like.
It’s also important to know that other people did get there. Even if your healing doesn’t look exactly like theirs, it’s vital just to know it can be done.
Right now, we don’t have that, and it’s a source of anxiety like many of us have not known before. But, just because we don’t know how this will end, doesn’t mean it won’t end. Remember, we have all navigated situations where we weren’t sure how to get there, but we have. We can do it again, by sharing what works, what doesn’t work, and how to support one another. That playbook that we’ve used for abuse survivors and those dealing with mental health issues, works for this too, because it’s the playbook we can use everyday, in any situation.