The pandemic has resulted in increased anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide for some Americans. If you or someone you know is having a hard time coping, the following resources are available to help.
“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -” ― Heraclitus
By Erin Neilan, LCSW
2020 has been a year of lows, and even lower lows. There is a global pandemic. The United States is amid a social justice crisis. Unemployment is skyrocketing, and everyone is faced with the difficult decision of what is the safest way for them to live their lives as normally as possible. One is routinely faced with the question “what IS normal now?”
Everyone knows change is something which is inevitable. The uncertainty of it can cause many of us to do our best to avoid it. Why? Because it is uncomfortable. It is different. It takes us out of our routines, and it can disrupt our lives. Even good change, like a promotion, marriage or buying a house can create a new level of stress and anxiety. These things, although positive, shift our routines. Our version of “normal” changes. However, we are often able to adapt. Typically there is a period of readjustment, but we do in fact, adjust.
Change means unknowns. It requires us to face the reality that we are not in control. Change is often the catalyst for us to confront the things within ourselves we would prefer to avoid when things are the status quo. COVID-19 has disrupted our status quo. Our worlds have been turned upside down.
In April of this year, the Journal of the American Medical Association wrote that economic stress, social isolation, reduced access to religious services and overall national anxiety increased both firearm sales and healthcare worker suicides. The number of Americans reporting increased symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control, has tripled since this time last year. The CDC also reports that 11% of adults surveyed in the last 30 days have had thoughts of suicide.
Job loss, economic insecurity and worries of losing housing due to eviction are thoughts millions of Americans experience daily. Monumental changes that threaten being able to maintain our basic needs is not the form of change many can just “roll with.” For many, positive affirmations, motivational statements, and reassurance that everything will be okay, simply isn’t enough. There are too many people who simply do not want to wake up in the morning.
It is crucial to recognize the individual trauma and the collective trauma we have all experienced since the pandemic began. Communicating our experiences honestly, validating others’ experiences, and acknowledging the grief that has come with COVID-19, is now our normal; and it is critical we talk about it!
Most people are not comfortable opening up about their feelings. It isn’t something that comes naturally for many. Being vulnerable with another person can be scary. However, talking, processing through thoughts and feelings and having another human validate us and be present for us, is how we can heal. It is how we can survive this incredibly difficult time in our lives.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing feelings of anxiety, fear or depression related to COVID-19, there are resources available.
Wisconsin 2-1-1 has launched a hotline specifically designated for anyone struggling with the effects of COVID-19. There are trained counselors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, who can talk and provide resources for anyone seeking assistance. Brown County residents can also call the Crisis Center of Family Services at (920) 436-8888 to talk to a trained crisis counselor. In some situations, a crisis counselor may be able to come to you.
Yes, change is constant. But we are experiencing changes that are truly out of the ordinary. It is important to know we are collectively grieving as a country. Although we are physically distanced, we do not have to handle the emotional consequences of this pandemic on our own.