M Is for Mental Health Awareness Month
For most of us, the uncertainty of the future looms in the foreground of our minds, in the face of the new pandemic as we wade through the muddy headlines pouring into our daily news feeds. I find myself fastened into the driver’s seat of the automobile of my own anxieties, squeamishly yet cautiously and ever-so-steadily steering past the collisions of the crisis as I try to move forward, only to find myself unable to look away from the disaster always tailing just a few feet from behind me.
Each of us are faced with dealing with the uneasiness of the new “abnormal” and we all share one common denominator, across the globe, despite the differences in our individual circumstances, for better or worse-grappling with the new strange face of the unknown. My day to day moods have become a pendulum swing, under the influence of the overwhelming paranoia of endless handwashing and cleaning and my perseverance to remain “hopeful and resilient” yet all the while feeling powerless, a feeling that is recycled each and every day.
For those of us who are already prone to anxiety, the quarantine can exacerbate our apprehension, a rubber band that’s already stretching beyond its limits. We squint to view the translucent line between keeping ourselves informed and tip toeing around the cliff plummeting down the black rabbit holes of never-ending information. One wrong news story can throw me off course for the entire day. Many of us who are among the anxious are already sensitive to the slight changes in the merry-go-round of our routines, and for us life has become increasingly more difficult as we try to go about our day to day in lieu of the rising death toll and intimidating new findings.
On Instagram, we are flooded with humorous memes masking the alarming concern that we all have. The truth is always funnier and sometimes it’s easier to laugh than cry. With the click of a button, we are bombarded with new heart wrenching stories of those fighting on the frontlines and lives lost. As an introvert by nature, it can be easy for me to get lost in a torpedo of thought. Quarantine can easily begin to feel as though I’m stuck in “The Bell Jar” — even if I am introverted. In my experience, my loner nature doesn’t make the quarantine any easier than anyone else who isn’t.
I make a point to unplug from it all, at least every now and again, for the sake of feeling a sense of “normalcy” — I’m sure many of us have tried a variation of this for the sake of their own mental health. When I return from my breaks from reality, whether a day walking outside for the simple enjoyments of sunshine and being outdoors, the news stops me in my tracks. I read the latest news feeling detached from the intoxication of nature only to feel as one would while walking aloofly and accidentally tripping over a pothole on the sidewalk.
I now limit myself to just how much news I read and when. As the theories of “everything” pull me in with the ferocity of a tornado ripping apart every sense of security I’ve ever known, the quiet mantra I repeat to myself in whispers of “everything will be okay” is now replaced with, to quote Radiohead’s Idioteque’s lyrics “This is really happening, happening” — my former worries now appear now to be miniscule in comparison to the new onslaught of trepidation. On other days, it feels as though this is yet just another brick bearing down and pulling me further into another dark, dreary downward spiral. My mind — a ping pong ball, moving back and forth between the net of the two sides — one of which is comprised of the fragile quavering thoughts of “everything will be fine in time” in the croaky, shaky voice of my subconscious and on the other a frenzied, panic unsettled and plagued by “what ifs” scenarios.
It takes a toll for some of us to find the still place of our minds where we can be unphased, at least temporarily by the ills of the world in a steady stream of calm and it’s okay to admit that. There are moments, however fleeting, where I feel as though I am nothing more than a sitting duck, waiting and biding my time, worrying for what the news refers to as the “invisible enemy” as I walk the tightrope of life thinking of all the days I squandered for granted in believing many others will soon follow with another chance to do x, y and z, pining over a time when life was alive, buzzing with the laughter and the chanting and noise of a living world.
It is important for us to acknowledge the smallest gestures of kindness, not only this month but every month, are what truly matter most now, for all of us are battling the ability to stay sane in a time of insanity, at a time when it feels though the world has gone off the rails. As we all find ways to distract ourselves from the creeping discomfort in our comfort zones and pass time, we have to remember to keep the flame of the hope, humanity and motivation burning, candles that will only help light the way out of one of the darkest chapters in our lives.
Navarra, N. (2020). M Is for Mental Health Awareness Month . Psych Central. Retrieved on August 7, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/m-is-for-mental-health-awareness-month/