“No more bad news, please.” Elliot, my husband, says flatly. We’ve shared coffee and breakfast almost every morning since the pandemic pulverized our “normal” routine several months ago. What started as a luxurious adaptation became a downtrodden dose of reality, and soon our coffee chats slowly became saturated with the latest news headlines. In addition to the news and bleak reality of Covid-19, my family was struck with an unexpected loss when my sister lost her son, Titus Daniel, in an emergency C section at 37 weeks. We were at a loss for how to move forward. I don’t blame him for saying enough is enough, at least for today.
I am certainly not the first person to take to writing as a form of sad, frustrated expression during these times, and I won’t be the last. I do not have the answers. I do not have a special solution or magic “fix it” button. I do, however, have a knack for finding silver linings and I hope to share that with you.
As a kid, people used to say, “Do you want to hear the good news first or the bad news?” I always chose bad news always first. Let’s start by getting very real, and work our way into positive coping strategies from there.
- We’re smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic, thousands dead with new cases climbing daily, and no vaccine in sight.
- The Election
- Both American presidential candidates have demonstrated utterly childlike behavior to the world in an embarrassing opening debate, and the future of this country could not be more divided or uncertain.
- Racial inequality rages in our faces – a problem that has existed since humans have walked the earth, if you ask me.
- I’ll throw in sexual inequality for those fighting for equal rights in the LGBTQ community
- Climate Change
- The entire West coast is on fire, burning more each year as a direct result of global warming. Coral reefs are dying, hurricanes are more frequent and destructive, and we’re seeing animals go extinct as forests are being destroyed.
- The Economy
- … is reflecting the devastation of a deadly virus. Thousands are jobless, homelessness is growing, and there are no signs of stimulus until the virus and testing are in a better place.
- Individual Struggle
- As I mentioned earlier, we’re all fighting our own little battles and experiences trauma on top of the world’s devastation. Perhaps you have lost a loved one, lost your job, or are just fed up with dealing with Zoom online schooling.
Alright, now that we’re nice and cozy, lets figure out what the hell we can do to survive the rest of this year. Most importantly, you have every right to be afraid, worried, angry, anxious, sad, and/or any other emotion you’ve experienced. That’s one hefty list of awful things. Honestly, I’m not here to change your political viewpoint, or even to harp about the need to wear a mask, or the importance of recycle and flight reduction. I’m here as a fellow human being, desperate to shine light on my fellow man and woman.
I’ve listed some though process and words of comfort that have helped me during this time. Before you get into them, however, I want you to know it’s ok to have a moment, an hour, a day, or even a week where you just don’t feel like yourself. It’s fine to feel the weight of reality, as long as you don’t let it crush you.
Coping with reality:
- We’ve been here before.
- Perhaps not Covid-19 and such specifically, but as a globe we’ve overcome some harsh adversities. Surprisingly, I’ve taken comfort in the idea that the world has almost always been in some state of turmoil. I’ve watched movies reliving the civil war, listened to relatives recall the AIDS, Ebola, and SARS outbreak, read books detailing the inhumanities of WWII and Vietnam. My point is: YES, this sucks, but there is so much hope! There is the ability and resilience of humankind, the same humankind that rallied to overcome all the terrors of the past.
- If our ancestors can do it, so can we.
- Invest in deep, meaningful conversations.
- Share your emotions with a friend or family member. Disarm the power of these uncomfortable feelings you have by speaking about them. Letting emotions rage internally can severely affect your quality of life. If you’re uncomfortable opening up, or aren’t ready to just yet, try journaling.
- Live In the Moment.
- We all have an End Date. The world does, too. Regardless of your religion, we share the knowledge as a society that we will not live forever. It is not easy to hear, but this is one constant that has not changed despite the wild roller coaster of 2020. This is as true today as it was on December 31, 2019. We still have no idea when our last day is going to be, so why not find joy, love, and happiness right now? Live in the moment, THIS MOMENT.
- Simple, but oh so challenging. I know… I like to travel and give hugs and high fives and go to Costco without something covering my whole face, too (although I could get used to hiding blemishes or the dark circles under my eyes on tired days!) Listen, I like everything pre-2020 just as much as you do. I miss it, and I hope it comes back. But you know what I’ve committed to? The idea that IF life doesn’t get back to “normal” I’m not going to waste the upcoming minutes, hours, days, months, and years wishing it was “the way it used to be.”
- What are some things you CAN do, right now, that bring you purpose and joy? Refer to last blog “Simple, Inexpensive, 30 Minute DIY” if you need a little guidance or a creative jumpstart. We’ve begun utilizing our local library, informally starting the Kawaoka Book Club, and I’ve enjoyed making soaps, lotion, crafty household items and breads, too!
- Get off social media
- I’m always flabbergasted at the total time I spend on my phone, especially social media. If I have X number of minutes to live, why would I waste it trying to impress other people? I’m happy to go online and share my resources, experiences and knowledge while attempting to stay moderately up to date on my friends and family, but I have set boundaries on both my followers and following. I have personal time limits for my cell phone, and I’m not afraid to shut my phone off or delete my Instagram app for as long as I need so I can process my emotions without the influence of anyone. I encourage you to separate yourself from trolls, negativity, and the pressure to influence whenever that burden is too great. Just click “OFF” and retreat to those in your inner circle.
- Fight for your rights
- As one who is deeply convicted by the wrongdoings of society, I find I feel peace when I’m doing something about it. This could mean peaceful protest, calling Senators, educating yourself, getting into DIY, and voting. I understand that it can be emotionally and physically exhausting to engage, so fight the fight but rest, guilt-free, when needed.
I’m going to adapt, live in the moment, invest in my relationships, and have hope for mankind. I’m challenging you to speak up, turn the phone off, find something you enjoy doing, stop worrying about the future or wishing for the past, and remember that we, as a globe, have been through turmoil before and we just may get through it again. If you need someone to listen, you are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am not a therapist, but I am a person who can listen. I do not know what you are struggling with, but I know you should not struggle alone. We are all going through changes, trials, and deep emotional distress.
It’s OK to not be OK.
“Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.”