I am not okay.
There, I’ve said it. Stop asking me how I’m doing.
I’m an extrovert living in a world where we can’t even shake hands or be within 2 meters of each other. This is not okay.
Everyone is handling this pandemic differently. Some areas are starting to loosen up – we are too. I can go out to eat now and get my hair cut. But we still can’t gather in large numbers; masks and distance are still required. There’s nothing casual about it.
I miss people. I miss casual conversations and being able to move through a party overhearing snippets of conversation. I miss hanging out with people, and not having to worry about wearing my mask or wishing my glasses would stop f-ing fogging up. Heck, I miss going into the office! I want to shake someone’s hand; I want to hug someone other than my partner. I want to be around people – lots of people – with music and singing and joy.
But that’s not the world we live in right now. Right now, people are tired, scared, worried, and just trying to keep it together.
There are days when I’m managing, days when I want to burn it all down, and days when I collapse in a puddle of tears.
I’m going out to dinner (in an outdoor seating area) with a coworker tomorrow. We’re both careful, but there is still the concern, the half-joking jokes. I went up to the Mountain last weekend. It was great to get outside for a few hours, but everywhere were reminders of the current pandemic – put your mask on to go inside!
I haven’t found a way to get away from it all. I haven’t found a way to be around all the people I want. I need. I don’t know that it’s even possible until we have a vaccine or better options for symptomatic care.
I’m just trying to ignore it all and keep on with my life.
So, please … stop asking if I’m okay. I’m not. But right now, that’s okay.
So What Do We Do?
So … how do we bandage the holes in our emotions and psyche? Repeated application of salves and a change in perspective can help. We can’t fix the world, but maybe, just maybe, we can help ourselves be a little more positive about things.
First off – if none of these things work for you, even a little bit, or if you can’t think of anything that can, please see if you can get ahold of a therapist! We all need some external support at times, and sometimes you need someone who’s not emotionally involved with the situation to help. There are safe spaces to reach out. I’ve included some resources at the end of this article – please do so. Hang in there. We will get through this. As they say here, “ça va bien aller” (It’s going to be okay).
Now, some tactics to try on our own (or at least motivated by ourselves)
Get up, get cleaned, and get dressed every day. Continue to wear comfy clothes, but they should be different from what you sleep in. If you’re working from home, dress up a little for work, then dress down afterward. I have been wearing jackets for work, then hoodies after.
Get outside. Go to your patio, a backyard, or step outside your apartment complex or home, even for a few minutes. Change your environment. Do something to break the monotony of the inside of your home.
If you are somewhere that it’s safe and allowed to do so, go out to a park or dinner. Run out and get a cup of coffee and hang out in a park to drink it. Take a mug of tea outside – even if it’s just on the strip of grass outside your home. Maybe even have a social meetup with friends – with appropriate social distancing. Go somewhere quiet, so you don’t have to shout at each other!
Start a gratitude journal if you like. It helps to keep us focused on the good things and helps to counter all the bad. Use your existing journal or start a new one – whatever works for you! And if all you are grateful for is that you woke up that morning – that’s great.
Play an instrument, read a book, journal, doodle … do. Do things to get yourself out of your head. Do something that interacts with the world around you. Really take the time to enjoy that cup of tea, or soda, or water, or whatever. Get creative in your cooking or your plating. Take that delivery food and put it on your plates – enjoy it! Do everything you can to find small joys in life. They add up.
We are not all okay, but that’s okay. Ça va bien aller.
If you can’t do it on your own – and not everyone can – please, please, get help. Here are some resources for folks in North America and the UK. If you’re elsewhere in the world. Please google for what you need “talk therapy,” “suicide prevention” … whatever it is, get the help you need to be the best you that you can be.
US Suicide Prevention Hotline (English, Spanish, Hard of Hearing): https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org – 800-273-8255
Canadian Crisis Services Suicide prevention: https://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/ (English, French) – 1.833.456.4566 or SMS 45645 (4pm – Midnight ET)
List of different Crisis lines in many countries including Canada, United States, China, England, France, India, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom: https://thelifelinecanada.ca/help/call/
Psychology Today provides resources for finding an online therapist in many countries: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/counsellors