Has The Pandemic Actually Hurt Mental Health?
A different way of looking at this headlining topic
It is a theory that doesn’t seem like it would need much debate. When we consider the effects on mental health that the isolation of the pandemic has brought us, many of us would likely just automatically agree. We would assume that of course, these past several months have been horrific on those of us with a history of mental illness.
I just don’t know if it is really so black and white.
For my own self, I’d say that my mental health has not necessarily suffered because of the isolation that this new way of life. I think it has been put to the test, but I think generally speaking, I am still doing well, right along the lines of where I was mentally, six or eight months ago.
I have approached this topic quite often since last spring. As I look back, I am able to see a trend that actually looks rather steady, and stable. A middle of the road balance that I have been able to keep myself ever since I got sober (again) almost three years ago. I don’t feel like I am losing grip, or falling into an endless abyss.
During this pandemic, I am not able to look back and really see any period of time where my struggles were amplified. And I wasn’t really suffering on any type of subconscious level either.
I have made it a point to keep my education of Mindfulness exceptionally strong and present as much as possible. I figured to try and do that, so if my mental health or sobriety did take a nasty turn because of covid-19, I would be at a level of preparedness that would better suit and protect my own stability.
The heavy-duty treatment and therapy I have gone through over the past many years, has been an absolute difference-maker when getting through the challenges of today. Especially the learning I have received over the past three years.
I still swear that these times might literally be more difficult for people who have not gone through the experiences of those mentally ill or in addiction.
The difference-maker for me, through the care I have received is learning to accept me for exactly who I am. Becoming able to sit here and be okay in my own skin, when I am all alone with no person and nothing to distract me from myself.
I have come to learn that one of the best signs that mental healthcare is doing its job, is to look at that comfort with oneself. If you can’t complete treatment, without being totally comfortable and accepting of exactly who you are, I would seriously reconsider the validity of the treatment provider.
These times can certainly be much more difficult for people that aren’t mentally ill, because for the first time ever, they are being forced to look in the mirror, and find that comfort and self-acceptance. The distractions of being a workaholic, busy taking care of kids, being a neat freak, gym ray or etc, were all taken away, and the person was left with just themselves, and all the time in the world.
That is not an easy setting to get used to, and it often takes a very long time of soul searching and internal work to really get to a place of comfort. We are our own biggest bully and our most intense critic. We spend lifetimes criticizing and self-judging to points so strong, that to change those ways take a long time and true consistency to change behaviors.
The pandemic has been the difference-maker, and the real teacher of life’s lessons on self-comfort, acceptance, and awareness.
I don’t downplay the mental health struggles that this pandemic has caused people. We are all at different places in our recovery, and I don’t say any of this to lessen any struggles that others may be going through. I just write on this subject, to bring a different realization to the table.
This is shed light, and spotlight the fact that many people in mental illness have come to a better place during this pandemic. Or people already stable have been able to stay in the better place that they reached before all of this.
By MICHAEL PATANELLA
is a Trenton, New Jersey Author, Publisher, Columnist, Editor, Advocate, and recovering addict, covering topics of mental health, addiction, sobriety, mindfulness, self-help, faith, spirituality, Smart Recovery, social advocacy, and countless other nonfiction topics. His articles, publications, memoirs, and stories are geared towards being a voice for the voiceless. Hoping to reach others out there still struggling.