*Trigger warning: Mental health/Covid-19
It’s the second wave of Covid-19 in India right now and everywhere I turn, I see one of two things:
- Amplified messages of people requesting oxygen cylinders, ambulances or hospital beds
- News that tells me that things are going from bad to worse, with people dying, quite literally by the minute
This also means that every time I read these things, my anxiety gets triggered. As someone who suffered (and recovered) from severe clinical depression, bipolar disorder & schizophrenia this isn’t easy to write.
First, I am not a mental health expert. I’ve never claimed to be one. All I have ever done is talk about mental health and mental illness from my own personal experience.
Every time someone reaches out to ask me for help in this space, I direct them to professionals who are more qualified to give specific directives. Because the truth is, each person’s lived experience is different. Someone who goes through depression is not the same as someone who can help treat depression.
Most people will tell you to ‘reach out’ when you feel like talking or to pick up the phone and call. This is easier said than done.
When you don’t feel like getting out of bed, picking up the phone or reaching out is the last thing on your mind. The same goes for the reverse, where people say you should call people and check up on them. You could actually do everything right- call them/meet them/talk to them and you’d still not be 100% certain that they are okay.
In the current scenario (COVID) it is an even bigger task to stay on top of your triggers. For me, personally, a LOT of things are triggers.
Reading about untimely deaths is a trigger.
Reading about anything that induces anger and outrage in graphic detail is a trigger.
Most people wonder why some of us don’t speak up/amplify social causes/ share updates in the public eye. I know some people on Instagram were called out for going about their regular schedule of content when there was ‘so much more they could be doing.’
I’ll answer for myself: Talking about these things are triggers.
Each person deals with triggers and anxiety in their own way. Some of us do it silently. Some do it in private with friends and family. Others do it in the public eye. There is no single way to handle an issue that is this sensitive.
What actually helps me cope
On a personal note, the one thing that helps me with my anxiety is this:
Writing: It doesn’t matter what it is/ how long it is. Just writing things out helps calm me down.
If you follow me on social media (Instagram/Facebook/LinkedIn), you’d have seen that I haven’t addressed the current COVID situation on any of my channels. It’s not because I don’t care; it’s because I know I don’t have the ability to handle the anxiety if it gets overwhelming.
Also, a very close family member struggled with COVID-19 for 4 weeks and it was day after day of waking up with dread and anxiety and checking messages for updates. On some days the news was terrible and close to fatal; other days things were better. But this see-saw of emotions took a toll on me.
I was exhausted, spent and had little to no energy for anything at all. As painful as it is to admit, I don’t think I have the capacity for handling anxiety and staying on top of things simultaneously.
Mental health is very important. I know that sounds like such a platitude but it’s true. Everything from your physical well-being to your emotional quotient depends on it.
So, in addition to stay home, stay safe, I want to add: Stay well in body and mind. And please, do whatever it takes to help you cope on a day-to-day basis.
We’re all doing the best we can.