Mental Health Lessons That COVID-19 Should Teach All of Us
This year has been a doozy on everyone’s mental health. I mean, when you consider how much has happened in the span of 9 months, it isn’t alarming that there has been a serious increase in addiction, domestic abuse, suicides, and alcohol consumption.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental health challenges and substance addiction has more than tripled since 2019. This is not surprising, given the hand we have all been dealt this year.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, and the blind siding of the lockdown that we all went through, I have had a lot of time to go up and down with mental health struggles, with anxiety and depression, as well as Complex PTSD. I have been on various medications to help keep a handle on my rabbit hole visits, and have been talking with a mental health specialist. I have learned some valuable lessons along the way, that I need to learn and adhere to, and that I believe would benefit everyone.
Here are some of those lessons:
Everyone has a Covid Story- I spent a great deal of the first few weeks of lockdown feeling sorry for myself, and frantic about my job, while going through a purchase of a home, and my birthday. I had to cancel trips, and concerts that were based around the big dates in March, April and May, and when that was taken from me, I became angry, frustrated and depressed. How could this happen to ME? Meanwhile, EVERYONE was suffering the same way I was, or much worse. It became crystal clear, even while my fiancé and I hid in our home, ignoring the world outside, that other people had it way worse than we did. People were losing homes, loved ones, jobs, freedom, and so much more. My life was actually pretty good, even while my luxuries were taken from me. We still had our health, and a roof over our head. The purchase of our new home still worked out, and we managed to settle in during lockdown. Other people’s stories are much sadder, much more frustrating, and more heart breaking than mine.
The lesson here, is that it becomes easy to wallow in self pity while you are locked up at home. Always remember that others have it much worse than you do, and you need to be grateful for what you have.
Hoarding is Selfish and Unnecessary- It became such a joke that people were panicking and stocking up on all the toilet paper, flour and even Borax during the pandemic. Shoppers were buying up ALL the hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes and trying to sell them at a premium price online. In the end, after the lockdown was over, the people who hoarded these products would have had enough stored to get the through all of 2020 and beyond. It fascinates me that human beings can act in this manner, during a crisis. Why? Why would you want to take all you can, to stash it away, and allow others to have nothing? Whomever is guilty of this should be ashamed of themselves. I read stories like a family of 7 (5 children and their parents) who couldn’t find toilet paper in any stores, or online, while the pandemic was happening. I read about families who ended up damaging their toilets trying to flush paper towels, because that’s all they had, and having to pay ridiculous amounts of money to plumbers who charged extra during Covid. We, as human beings who share this planet need to do better.
The lesson here is that we are all in the mess together. We need to take what we NEED, and learn to let go of greed. Living with a lifetime supply of toilet paper won’t matter in the end. It only makes you look like an ass.
This is the perfect time to find your happiness- I said it before, and I will say it again. I feel beyond relieved that I left a very toxic relationship a year before Covid began. I couldn’t imagine still trying to coexist in an abusive relationship during lockdown and all of the restrictions we are now under. It would have ultimately either made me suicidal, or worse. We have all had to live in such close quarters through all of this, and it indicates our level of happiness within our homes. If you were miserable locked up with your partner, or if you were alone and unhappy, now is the time to make changes to find your happy zone. If nothing else, this pandemic has taught us that life is way too short to be miserable, and we never know what could happen from one day to the next to challenge our happiness.
The lesson is don’t settle for unhappiness. Take charge of your life and make the changes you need or want to make you happy. Don't wait for another pandemic, or another lock down, You are worth more than that.
We can live without luxuries-I color my hair regularly, and get my eyelashes lifted and extended. It is my own little treat to myself. It may seem superficial, but it makes me feel better to get it done. During Covid, none of the services for hair, nails, eyebrows, Botox, or any other luxuries were available. And guess what. We all lived though it! All of us. Nothing was more validating than seeing celebrities on Zoom with bad hair, no makeup and in their sweat pants. Even our work Zoom sessions have been full of images of all the women I work with, sans makeup, with roots of grey or blonde exposed, more and more as the weeks rolled by. I have to say, I love it. It is somewhat refreshing to not have to look perfect all the time, and liberating to just let your natural look shine. Many women I know have waved the white flag, and have allowed their grey hair to just be grey.
The lesson here is obvious. It’s rewarding to just be “ourselves”, and as much as Covid has sucked for all of us, at least we are back to who we are. Luxuries are just that, luxury items and services. This pandemic has taught us to save our time and money, and find our true selves again, It has taught us what is important in our lives, and what is not.
This pandemic has challenged mental health on new levels- It is beyond devastating to read that suicide, drug abuse, domestic abuse, addiction, alcoholism, depression, anxiety and PTSD are off the statistical charts since this past March sent us all into lockdown. It is not surprising, however, as none of us could have ever seen such a disaster coming. This year, 2020, should have been an epic year for all of us! I mean, it’s 2020! Grads were cancelled, weddings postponed, funerals couldn’t be held, as well as all of the other losses people have suffered. For people who already struggled with mental health issues before, such as myself and my fiancé, these past months have amplified them to a whole new level. It is so easy to become depressed, listening to the news, the numbers, the cases, the deaths, and all of the other terrifying moments this year has fed to us. Empathy overload, trauma, and anxiety take over and throw our thought process into a sort of new chaos that we are unfamiliar with, making us fear the unknowns.
The lesson is to reach out and find help. Talk it out, feel your fears, and try to live one day at a time. This world is foreign to all of us, and it is important to fight through it. Surround yourself with friends and family, and focus on what is under your control, rather than what isn’t.
This too shall pass- It doesn’t get more cliché’ than that- But, it will. There will be a time, eventually, when we can all look at 2020 in awe. The fact that we make/made it through this year shows us how resilient we can be, as human beings. Right now, in many countries, Covid is still in the forefront. Where I live, numbers are increasing rapidly, on a daily basis, and I hide at home. We are facing potential lock down over Christmas at the rate we are going, and that feels like such a great loss this year. The one holiday season, at the end of a long, hard year, may be taken away from us-at least the traditions, the gatherings and the excitement of is all. My worry is that this will make people spiral further into their depressions, not being able to be around family and friends during such a critical time.
The lesson here, is to find peace within your home, and make the best of it. This may not be easy for our seniors, or people who are in the hospital, or vulnerable people, but it is only a day in the year. It may look very different from past Christmases but we can hopefully all make up for it when this thing finally blows over.
Through all of this, I have been forced to look at the home I live in, and the man I share it with, and feel blessed. It becomes so easy to focus on the curse that lives outside of our walls, taking lives of vulnerable people, and destroying the lifestyles of others.
There are so many little things that Covid cannot take away from us- the love of family, the joy of or pets, the time we spend together with our close loved ones, and the moments of peace inside of our homes. Learning to appreciate all of these small things, makes the BIG thing seem less terrifying annoying and stressful.
Stay kind. Stay humble. Stay well.
The world needs you.