Welcome to another week of social distancing. You’re enjoying this, right?! It is just the most fun we’ve ever had, right?! No, no…it’s not. There is a sense of heightened anxiety I am hearing all of us voice in sessions, staff meetings, and those I interact with on a day-to-day life. Alongside that anxiety is a side of depression symptoms as we all voice our concerns for ourselves, our family members, all those we know and love, and even those we don’t know and yet, are experiencing a more unified sense of solidarity in anticipatory grief and very real and present grief for all of those suffering worldwide. It. Is. A. Lot. All the time.
Then, just for an added dose of fun…let’s add in strained family dynamics as we are all spending much more time together than we may have spent together in the last several years (I’m looking at all of you young adults that might be living again in your childhood bedrooms and adopting the teen angst attitudes that you last remember having there). Deep breath. We are going to get through this and it is very ok to feel all of the feelings right now. Here is a resource for you on the family dynamics front.
I wanted to give you the reassurance today from a mental health professional that it is totally normal to be feeling totally abnormal in this chaos. We are all experiencing those feelings. I am right there with you. There are moments where I feel overwhelmed and lacking in my trademark humor. I get cranky. And snippy. I am not my best version of myself. But…
There are moments of grounded joy when I am fully present in the moment I am sharing with my family members. In observing a moment I would otherwise not have had, like my son catching my eye and winking at me while I am in a Zoom meeting as he sits on another computer doing his schoolwork. It is such a small thing, yet it gives me hope when mine is lacking. When I see something life affirming like people writing in chalk on the sidewalk in their respective communities to inspire others (nod to Professor Lori Sherlock specifically on this one).
Take heart from the moments that remind you there is a world of beautiful people, places, and things to connect to, even virtually, for all of us. Maybe we gain something in this process and even if things are not going to return to the same type of normal we were used to, there is a possibility that we take some of the forced slowness and increased attention to present-focused things forward. And it makes us stronger. Like we have been forged in a collective traumatic experience and decided we are going to be better at taking time for those we love, and slowing down enough to catch each other’s eye across the room to give a reassuring wink when needed.
You’ve got this. We all do.
- Dr. Jen