I know it’s become cliché to talk about depression and anxiety as part of the response to COVID19, but that really ignores the fact that the rates were going up even before the pandemic. Why? I think our cultish belief in productivity, and “hustling” is a big part of that. If you can’t ever rest, and take a break from your to-do list, you’re going to struggle.
Depression tells you that you are alone. Knowing that there are other people, lots of other people, also dealing with it helps. It also helps to have a constant reminder that someone is on your side in this and looking for ways to remind you that you are not alone. If someone close to you is dealing with depression, and feeling alone, the best thing you can do is just be in their corner, helping them find help and connecting them with other people who can be part of their support network.
That’s how we fight back against something telling us we are alone.
In my experience all of that is true. The trauma of my childhood left me numb in early adulthood. The current pandemic and all of the other things going on around us every day have left me numb from time to time now. It’s the overwhelming stress that just living every day can bring right now. So, I find myself doing some of the things recommended in the article below to help in the short term, while also knowing that if that doesn’t work, I need to consider the long-term options as well.
As you read the rest of the article you’ll see how self-distancing conversations look a lot more like those conversations with friends I referenced earlier. Getting away from all of the “I” and “me” and fairly judging the situation quietly and calmly as if it was happening to someone else can put it into a perspective that we sometimes lose when we are thinking of ourselves, especially those of us who struggle with self-blame. Of course, then that self-blame turns to rumination which feeds into depression, and round and round we go.
There is a better way, and the examples given can help if we are willing to practice them. Especially the idea of reminding ourselves that we’ve already been through tougher, and more stressful situations and come out the other side.
As a society, we have, rightfully, tried to move away from doing those things, but we haven’t really gotten better at helping people build resiliency. Is it any wonder that we had an epidemic of anxiety, even before COVID-19? We’ve kind of left people with an uncertain world, in which anything can just randomly happen to anyone, while leaving intact our belief systems that teach us that the world is fair.
It’s not. It’s not even close, and yes part of the reason it isn’t fair is that there are bad people in power doing bad things, but even if we could rid ourselves of that as much as possible, (and we should), the world would still be a random place where random things happen, for no good reason.
There would still be natural disasters, accidents, and yes, even abuse and crime. There would still be people with disabilities, mental and psychical, and there would still be victims. Because we’re human, and being human is kind of messy and random.
That’s not going anywhere. The challenge is to find the resiliency to live our lives anyway. This is where we’ve failed too many people, and where we have failed ourselves, finding comfort in false “explanations” instead of facing the hard truths.