5 months later
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Today I met with my daughter's teacher on zoom and was reminded that, coincidentally, it was five months ago today that I sat with her in the tidy little classroom for our last parent-teacher conference. Our last conference was to discuss progress being made and any concerns we have. None? Great. Me neither. Zero concerns. Great. Five months ago feels simultaneously like yesterday and a lifetime ago. Today my husband and I were asked what concerns we had, if any, for our daughter who has just started 2nd grade. Well, still no major concerns... but now the tables have turned. Now I find myself asking the teacher, "I don't have any concerns, but what should we be looking for? Should a kid her age have a better grip on spelling? Shouldn't we have a better grip on teaching??? What is expected of us???" It was clear from her response that I'm not the only parent asking these questions, with just a hint of panic in my voice.
As I reflect now on this meeting and how disconnected it felt I recognize how it also felt somewhat.... normal. Is this the way of life now? What does our future hold? How will this country recover from this shared trauma and.... what if it doesn't? 9/11 was the last incident that I can recall vividly that our country has gone through a shared experience/trauma that has drastically changed the trajectory of the nation as well as the lives of every single person. Will we never again shake hands with a stranger or hug a loved one in the same way that we will we never travel the globe with ease, breeze through security checkpoints, and wave to our loved ones from the gate? I don't know, but I do know that we are all in this together. We are all here together in this surreal, devastating, and shared traumatic experience. We are all soaked in grief, even if it doesn't look the same for each of us.
As a therapist I am exceptionally concerned about the country's mental health, I have seen the rate and severity of anxiety and depression skyrocket, just in my small practice alone. One study reports, "The pandemic, according to the data, affects people ages 18 to 29 more, with 42 percent reporting anxiety and 36 percent depression. The second most-affected age group was people 30 to 39, with 34 percent reporting anxiety and 28 percent depression".
If you are reading this now and feeling like some of this is hitting home and you are having feelings of anxiety or depression I urge you to reach out; find a therapist, a friend, a support group, or helpline. Below are some steps that may also be helpful to keep your brain moving forward when moving forward feels impossible.
Keep a daily routine
Get up, get dressed, and make your bed
Reach out on the phone, text, communicate via internet with friends and family as much as possible
Reach out to your therapist, many have quickly moved to telehealth and are accessible
Take a walk if possible. If not possible sit outside or by a window for some fresh air.
Don't forget to eat and feed your body and your brain as well.
Reach out. Reach out. Reach out.
Be mindful of the amount of news you are reading/watching. If it's making you feel bad, turn it off.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-8255 is always available.