There are a few reasons why I am considering the headline of this article right now, but I want to point you to just a couple of things that are causing my mind to go there.
First, I think this quote from a HuffPost article fits exactly how I feel, and how I suspect many of you feel as well.
I can’t journal away 800,000-plus COVID deaths. I can’t meditate away the endless uncertainty. I can’t exercise away the anti-vaxxers and misinformation putting all of us at risk. There comes a point where the methods we’ve been told to rely on feel more insulting than helpful.
This is, as I’ve written before, really just toxic positivity in a helpful form. The thing is, journaling, meditating, exercising, being grateful, etc. can be helpful. They can help us feel better temporarily and many of these things should be part of our own self-care routine. But, can we also be honest here about the fact that is not enough right now? This sucks. We are allowed to know, and feel, that fact right now. No amount of self-care is going to prevent me from being angry and sad about where we are in the US right now. And that’s OK.
Except, here’s where the other problem comes in. As we are all feeling this, and trying our best to simply exist, and get through each day, we’ve pretty much run out of available help.
From the New York Times survey of therapists comes this quote:
Mental health providers are in high demand, and they can’t keep up. Therapists are turning away patients, closing their waiting lists and worrying that things are about to get worse.
While we are being honest about the suck that is 2021, we also need to address this fact as well. One of our favorite suggestions for people who are struggling might not actually be available to most people.
So, what do we do? We can definitely take advantage of the suggestions made by Lindsey Holmes in that HuffPost link above. We can also acknowledge that without available therapists, many of us are going to have to do the best we can for ourselves and each other. We are going to have to muddle through this, and the only way to muddle through is by supporting each other. No, we are not therapists and we shouldn’t really try to be. But, we can be human beings who care enough about other humans to offer support. Whether that be in person, through text or calls, on social media, etc. we can all offer something to each other. We can all share our stories and our struggles because right now there’s simply no excuse for anyone to feel like they are struggling alone.
If you aren’t struggling, you just haven’t been paying attention. We are all struggling, none of us is alone in that. I’m reminded of this at least once a week, and I can only hope that you are too. And if you’re not reminded of that fact, find some other folks who can be honest about their struggles.
This is not a time to feel alone. This is a time to come together and help bridge the massive gaps that exist for mental health treatment and support in our society. Maybe we can’t magically make thousands of new therapists appear, or create the magic app that will offer the perfect AI-based therapy, but we can certainly offer up our honesty and our struggles to each other.
So yeah, it’s going to be a while before we are OK again, but we’re muddling through together and that’s something.