The great Pandemic of 2020.  The coronavirus.  COVID-19.  Whatever you want to call it…has changed our lives in many ways.  If you’re looking for politics in a post, you came to the wrong place.  I am concerned about Mental Health and how everyone is coping with what is going on.  The media and Facebook can be a toxic place, but it can also be an uplifting place with positive messages, people reaching out who normally wouldn’t reach out, and people doing things with their families that they may not have the time to do on a regular basis.  

Obviously, everyone’s experience is different throughout this whole thing, some people are working from home (myself), some people are still working just like normal, some are working more than normal, some, sadly, have closed their doors or have been laid off or furloughed.  Although all of these options may not be our choice, we have to make the best of it.  

We talk about Mental Health through all of this, and to me, that is the most important thing at play here.  When this first all started, I was a wreck.  I’m not going to sugar coat that.  I cried, I prayed, I cried some more and wondered how in the world things were ever going to be okay again.  I’m a worrier, it’s true, but I try not to let it overtake my life…even though it definitely rears its ugly head sometimes in my life.  I know that telling someone, adult or child, to “calm down” never usually results in the person calming down.  We talk in school counseling, especially in times of crisis, using terms of safety.  “What can we do to make you feel safe?”  “Show me that you are being safe.”  

Today, more than ever, our feelings of safety are important.  There are people on the frontlines that do not have the proper PPE, their feelings of safety are in jeopardy.  We have family members, friends, etc that are part of the “vulnerable” and we are worried for them.  We want them to be safe.  I have seen more than a few times someone post about “older people and the most vulnerable ones” and literally say that older people die anyway.  I have such a hard time fathoming this as I grew up with only one grandmother who passed away and I would give anything to see her again.  

We have to put into perspective that these death toll “numbers” are not just numbers.  They have names.  Each and every one of them have names.  They have sons, daughters, wives, husbands, friends, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, etc.  Everyone is valuable.  Everyone matters.  

With all of this, it can be easy to catastrophize and think about the worst of the worst.  It can be easy to think “what if?”  It can be easy to look at all of the news stories and become frightened.  What I’m here to tell you is that taking care of yourself, first and foremost, is very important.  People will judge your situation, they may judge how you handle anxiety, they may judge you for how you deal with staying at home or having to still work, but taking care of yourself is not selfish. 

There are many healthy ways to cope.  Notice, I say “healthy.”  I get outside daily.  I walk by myself or with James once he’s done working and we just get some fresh air.  We cook, we listen to music, we go for hikes, and we have discovered Ozark on Netflix.  What I want to stress is that in the beginning of this I felt like a coward.  I felt like I could not help others at all at the beginning because I was scared myself.  What has changed is that I feel a little more in tune with my feelings and the anxiety has lessened.

I still have feelings of worry here and there and I am very cautious still with that.  I grocery shop once a week and I haven’t seen my family members in person in months which is indeed, heart breaking, but I am constantly thinking about what I can control in all of this mess.  I can take the precautions that I can take.  I can’t help what others do.  I can set my schedule for the day.  I can go for walks.  I can video chat with my family and friends.    

The point I want to drive home is we must take care of ourselves (and our families too!) before we can go to help others because you cannot pour from an empty cup.  Reaching out if you have a problem is not a bad thing.  In fact, you should reach out if there is a problem and talk about it.  Too many times we bottle up our feelings and it only causes the problem to get bigger or worse in our minds.  Sometimes the biggest enemy is our own mind.  

I post positive messages because I truly be believe and practice what I preach.  I just want you to know that it’s okay to struggle.  It’s okay to cry, get frustrated.  It’s okay to seek out interactions on the web and from a distance.  I am so excited for the day that I can hug my family again.  I am so excited when I can go for a casual coffee or lunch date with a friend.  We’ll get there; but we all need to be in this together.  

Take care of yourself so you can help others, friends.  Love you all!