By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
Life is stressful at the best of times.
Between family, work and school, we have never been busier.
Throw in a world-wide pandemic, a variety of health restrictions, and most of the world moving online, life has never been more stressful. All anybody can do during this time is just get by, the best that they can.
How that looks is going to be different for everyone.
For some, it will be mean throwing themselves into their work.
For others, it will be walking every day. Netflix binges may be an escape for some. There is no right or wrong way to get through the cumulative trauma the world is experiencing right now.
Let’s face it, every day people turn on the news, read the paper, or even open their social media of choice, and are bombarded by information regarding COVID-19. It’s just about impossible to escape the noise.
Even people otherwise neurotypical are starting to feel the stress, and the demands for mental health services are approaching an all-time high. Adding mental illness to the mix is just more fuel for the fire.
Despite everything though, the last year and a bit hasn’t been particularly challenging for me as my region has been relatively insulated from the pandemic.
The biggest change I’ve noticed to my daily routine is that most, but not all, of my meetings have moved online, and I’ve spent way more time in my home office than at any time before.
Even my mental health, which I have struggled with for the better part of the past two decades, has more or less played nice. I’ve had some struggles over the last few months, but generally speaking, my mental health has been better during this mess than at any time in the decade previous.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, I’m taking time away from all forms of media, social and otherwise, every day. I’ve been reading more, and my studies have been helping distract me from what’s been going on.
Second, work has been keeping me busy, and I love my job.
Third, I’ve been keeping my regular mental appointments. I’m not embarrassed to say that I see a therapist regularly, and that they have been instrumental in helping me with the tools I need to keep myself level.
Fourth, I’m continuing to grow in my mental health journey. I’m always learning and using new tools to keep myself level. The me now is not the me from three years ago. Hell, the me now is not the me from even a year ago.
Finally, I let myself be not okay. Some days are better than others. Period. I have good days, and I have bad days, and though my bad days do tend to be worse than the average person’s, I know that they won’t last forever, just like this mess we are living through won’t last forever.
Again, this is a collective trauma we are living through, one that is unknown in our lifetimes. Getting by the best that we can is all anyone can do. Using the tools at our disposal has never been more important.
Despite the strains on the mental health system, help is available.
Appointments with professional therapists can be made through the local mental health unit. Alberta does have a mental health helpline, which can be contacted at 1-877-303-2642. If you are in immediate risk, call 911, or a trusted friend or family member.
The world is a brutal place right now, but with kindness and compassion to ourselves and others, we can make it through.