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The pandemic, holidays, and your mental health

When was the last time you thought about your own mental health? I mean really thought about how you’re doing right now, not the typical, “Huh, I think things are going to hell, but I’ll worry about it later” kind of thinking about things. Maybe it’s just me, but this time of year is hard to begin with, add to that the fact that we’re almost a full year into the pandemic and I would think this time of year would be overwhelming for the majority of people.

Do you routinely live with anxiety, depression, or any other sort of mental health issue? If not, then some of the things you’re most likely feeling these days may be new, confusing, and uncomfortable. Maybe you’re feeling like you are constantly run down. Maybe you feel like you’re walking through an invisible mud that makes every step more exhausting than the last. Or maybe you find that you can’t sleep, can’t focus, and can’t find the energy to do anything.

If so you may be dealing with a case of situational anxiety or even situational depression. After this is all over, you may even suffer from PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is often associated with war vets because it’s a common issue for people returning from war. However, you don’t need to be in a war zone to have PTSD, it can come from all sorts of serious stress in life. Such as (but not limited to) a pandemic. At the moment over 3000 people a day are dying. That’s about 1 person every 60 seconds. By the time you’re done reading this paragraph, there is a good chance another person died from COVID. That’s a scary thought and just being alive right now can be very traumatic.

I deal with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and a whole laundry list of other mental health issues and have been doing so well before the pandemic hit. Life was never kind to me, but you learn to deal with it. I can’t promise you that things will get better, they never did for me and for a whole lot of others. I can promise you a few things though. Namely that if you’re dealing with new mental health stuff too, when this is all over, it will get easier. They say time heals all wounds and this is partially true, for some the trauma and scars will never go away completely. For others you may find that getting out of bed gets easier and one day you feel like you fell back into that hole.

I know that feeling. That’s the next thing I can promise you, good mental health isn’t a linear progression. It’s full of twists and turns, backslides and very bad, low, dark, ugly days. Days where you find it difficult to do the minimum to survive. Those days will feel longer than any other day you’ve had prior. They will eventually pass, but while you’re in it, it won’t feel that way. Sometimes it will last longer than others and the unfortunate thing is the only real advice I can give you is to be kind to yourself. All the “tips and tricks” for dealing with mental health issues are otherwise a bunch of BS in my experience. At least for me, everyone is different so find what helps you best.

Another thing I can promise you is your new normal will not look like mine. Everyone is different and some people “recover” from traumatic events better than others. That’s okay, it doesn’t mean you’re broken, it just means something bad happened. My normal is sad, every day I wish I could just kill myself and often times I work out all the details, but every day I decide not to do it. It’s a delicate balancing act that I do every day and night, one that no amount of therapy or medication has changed over the years. Will that always be my normal? I couldn’t say and neither could a professional, but that’s the thing, no one knows the outcome from trauma. Your normal will probably not be as extreme as mine, but even if it is, hey at least you’re not alone. That for me made the biggest difference, learning that others felt like they were constantly about to drowned.

Which brings me to the end of this post. With the holidays and the almost year long stress/anxiety/depression going around with the pandemic, it is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed and depressed or anxious, or a whole lot of other things. The thing that helped me the most was learning that I wasn’t the only one and I keep seeing posts on twitter and what not from people who feel like they’re the only ones struggling, you’re not. That’s the last thing I can promise, I promise you’re not alone.


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