I’m overwhelmed, sad, tired, frustrated, angry. . .The issues facing us today are exhausting, frightening and constant. A horrifying pandemic that threatens our very lives, creating constant fear we could contract or disseminate a life-threatening virus at any time. An economic disaster that threatens our livelihood. A political future that threatens our democratic existence. A Supreme Court hearing that threatens our healthcare accessibility. Rampant and devastating escalation in abuse that threatens our physical and emotional welfare. Racial divide and disparity that threatens our humanity. The very routines we desperately seek to maintain have been shattered. Did I leave anything out?
No wonder we are all feeling it’s just too much to handle.
We are depressed. I know I am.
Not clinically. I don’t need medications. A psychiatrist. Counseling.
I need sanity.
A sense of normalcy. Like everyone else, overnight, my life got turned upside down.
Everything I knew and cherished was changed.
How I get to see my loved ones.
How I practice Medicine.
How I interact with people.
How I socialize and enjoy my after work hours.
It’s all different.
After months of this craziness, I’ve had enough. I’m ready to move on, get over this. I miss hugging, shaking hands, seeing every aspect of a person’s face to discern empathy, sincerity, honesty, and compassion. It’s all gone. And what makes me more concerned? I fear it will never come back. That those days are gone forever.
When I was in college I did a research paper on how life altering changes affect us. In several studies researchers could anticipate submariner’s health complaints solely based on the issues that occurred in the previous year. Obviously an important concern seeing as how they are stuck underwater, in close quarters, for six months at a time. It showed categorically that experiencing two or more life altering events within the prior twelve months was associated with significant health problems in the next twelve. And it didn’t differentiate between good or bad – getting married, welcoming a new baby into the family, a promotion- or a death in the family, losing a job, or divorce. The body saw all these changes the same way metabolically- as a stressful change- and responded accordingly.
Can you imagine what’s happening to all of us now? More and more people are acknowledging not just the physical toll these times are exacting but the mental ones too. Especially since so many are beyond are ability to impact or change.
A Census Bureau survey found that one in three Americans are reporting symptoms of depression or anxiety, more than three times the rate from a similar survey conducted in the first half of 2019. And because one of the best ways to fight coronavirus is through social distancing, people have gone long stretches of time without seeing their friends or family, exacerbating the already widespread feelings of loneliness and isolation. All deeply harmful to our mental health. We are all suffering from varying degrees of depression.
Michele Obama recently came forward admitting to such feelings publicly. She emphasized that while “we’ve been through tough times in this nation” before, “we are in a unique moment in history… We are living through something that no one in our lifetimes has lived through.” It’s not a sign of weakness, but strength to acknowledge our deep and profound sense of sadness, heartache and loss. It’s the only way we can work through them and move forward. We are not alone. The entire country, the entire world, is suffering. For the first time in history we can all understand the horrors we are facing. Talk to someone, share, seek out help. . .Together we can get through this.