“How are you?” messaged a friend.
I am not sure how to answer this question, these days.
In the grand scheme of things, I am unbelievably blessed and I am very aware of that, I am hyper conscious of the little ways in which my life could be much scarier right now, or my situation much more precarious. I feel the flush of that gratitude every day.
I was cruising along pretty happily in February and early March, enjoying the momentum of the life I had crafted for myself and my little family and feeling glad I don’t live in Wuhan, China.
Then. Emergency handbrake pulled.
I still have a lingering sense of whiplash. And of WTF.
And my way of connecting with the world, which I tried to modify for equal amounts of for-real face time, has focussed largely on Facebook, for better and worse. So now, I haven’t seen anyone’s real faces up close and personal but I feel up to speed on a really shallow, but instantaneous level, of what’s really stressing everyone out. And I am literally drowning in information about annoying things that I can’t do anything about. (All your angry posts about people not social distancing is like yelling into an Echo Chamber, my dear ones. Noone is listening, except the people who are social distancing. So it’s not really helping!)
It’s too much. But I’m also quite afraid of the utter silence (apart from husband and son yelling, “mama, can you help me?”), if I unplug.
I type out a response to my friend, trying to be real, but not to swamp her with dark energy: “I’m good. Riding some big waves of ups and downs, for sure, but still on my surfboard and no sharks in sight yet.”
It drives my husband crazy that I talk in metaphors so much.
Well, to clarify, it used to drive him crazy, and now that we’re spending a quality 24 hours a day seven days a week together, with our 7 year old, who is admittedly underwhelmed at our completeness as playmates, now, I think almost everything about me probably pushes my dear life partner close to his edge.
We’re constantly workshopping with each other how to navigate this experience without combusting. A few things that are kinda helping:
- a morning anxiety grade, out of ten. We’re both putting on our best game face for the kidlet, but it’s helpful to know that you’re partner in crime read too many news stories on his ipad before getting out of bed and is now at an 8/10 on the anxiety level.
- We’re trying to tag team with each other on the “lead parent” front, so one person is “on” lead kid duty, and the other can work, or work on other things.
- He’s encouraging me to make time to make phone calls with friends, because that’s not a go-to way for me to check in with people… I tend to rely on lunch dates.
- We’re trying our hardest to be kind.
- We’re slipping. I’m losing my shit now and then. We’re forgiving each other.
- I’m hugging trees when shit gets really bad. Like literally finding trees and sitting by them, leaning against them, or lying on them. I’m trying to do this with trees in my yard or out of the way places, that aren’t being fondled frequently (like the Iranian holy places that are being licked and kissed in devotion, that I saw on the National last night and wish I could unsee.)
I can’t imagine that anyone who is practicing isolation with diligence, in their homes, is holding up super great.
Joking. Even my friends who are introverts, crafters and non-huggers, while they are appreciating the reprieve from certain social rituals, still like quality time with other humans. Noone is immune. (Not even my dad, who is a total loner and lives with 3 cats. The sports are being cancelled. He’s not sure if he can be bothered staying above ground without any sport to watch.)
But perhaps we can share this: anxiety is a pretty healthy reaction to the current situation – your personal domestic situation (including work and finances and family/housemates/living scenario), the regional situation and the global situation.
Anxiety is a way your body has to tell you to be alert, that things are out of balance, are not business as usual, that conditions suggest a need to be hyper-vigilant, the scent of danger is in the air.
I am trying to thank my body for these clues. These are good things to be aware of. It is a blessed thing to have a system that functions to keep us safe in this way!
Hand on chest. Big breath. “Thanks nervous system. I got you.”
Friends in this community have shared that they are struggling, and it’s caught them by surprise.
Some wonderful people took the initiative to reach out to mental health workers and pull together some resources. We share them here, that they might help us all to navigate these strange days, and help us come out the other side of this more whole.
It’s okay if you’re finding this hard. As my favourite Buddhist teacher would say, hardness is arising. (Something else worth paying attention to will arise in a second. Keep an eye out for that too. It might look and feel like gratitude, silliness, relief, grief… )
We’re out past the break these day, having cast off from our known lives. Keep surfing.
Manage/limit your exposure to social media.
It is hard not to be inundated by all the information coming at us. Before reading a post on social media is to ask yourself a few quick questions:
1. Is this information that I NEED to know? Is it a source that is typically factual and not sensationalized?
2. Will it cause me to adjust my behaviour (or am I already doing everything within my control?)
3. Do I really need to read this? Often you can tell by the headline if it’s going to trigger you.
Mental health during COVID.
Finding calm amidst the Coronavirus storm – every weekday at 5:30: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1361569714035730/?ref=share
❤️Some links & tips from mental health professionals❤️:
Online yoga at Village Yoga Pemberton for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yoga Nidra also very good, especially for sleep: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9chHovre6Q&app=desktop
Deep breaths into the belly. Insight timer has lots of breathing exercises too.
Making face time/skype dates with family and friends
Spend time outside
Spend time with animals
Supplements can help- Gaba, 5-HTP, Rescue remedy
Acceptance of the way things are right now.
If you’re struggling, you’re healthy! You just don’t have to be alone in the struggle.