Grieving our past way of life, and being in the "Emotional Middle" - #MENtalHealthMonday
You can read this if you like, or you can take an audio version as well:
We're all adjusting to a new normal way of life...I'm beginning to get sick of that phrase, "new normal", but it's true. At least for the time being - this is our NEW way of life. Staying inside as much as possible. Limiting contact with others - even close friends and family. Wearing a scarf or mask over your face when you run out every week or two and make an "essential" grocery run. Washing and sanitizing our hands until the skin is chaffing.
Our former way of life as we knew it, has died. Death means you need time to grieve. It's perfectly normal to feel the way you do - sad or happy. Could be a mixture of both. Some days more happy than sad, some days more sad than happy. Your former normal life, is now gone. This can take a HUGE toll on our mental health.
It's important to know that THAT'S OKAY. It's okay to be bummed that things are different. It's fine to be sad that you can't make weekend plans, that you can't randomly text a friend to meet up for patio drinks. It's okay to be devastated that you cannot do your first "nice weather backyard cookout" you want to plan. It's okay to be upset that you aren't making plans to go to baseball games, or basketball games. It doesn't mean that you aren't taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.
Just because someone else may have it worse doesn't mean you aren't valid in the way you feel. You are always entitled to feel the way you feel. Acknowledge your sad side and don't be afraid to reach out to someone and talk about it. Don't feel bad if someone else seems to "have it all together" -or is always "getting so much done" - comparing yourself to the actions of others only causes you to fall into a shame spiral and worry about things that don't concern you and most of all- things you CANNOT control. Someone else may be coping privately or with help of another trusted friend - and that's okay too.
We're all in a strange time together - and there is no right or wrong way to feel. While you don't want to wallow in your grieving of the way things used to be, or the way things CAN'T be for now, it's okay to admit that you are struggling - and not feel guilty about it in the process.
Now - to the point I made in the subject of this blog - being "somewhere in the middle". I think of it like this. In many situations, there are two ways things can be, emotionally - it often suits us best to be somewhere in the middle in these situations.
Example: Skydiving. I do it a lot, and am confident in my ability. I realize that it is a dangerous activity and shouldn't be taken lightly. After 533 skydives, jumping out of an airplane is like going to the coffee shop for most people. Now I have two choices:
1. I've done this 533 times, I know what I'm doing. Everything is going to be fine.
2. HOLY SH*T I'M DOING THIS AGAIN....ok, did I check all my gear? Is the battery on my altimeter dead? Did I double and triple check my parachute? OMG. OMG.
Both situations are INSANELY dangerous. In situation #1, I am overly confident. Maybe even unprepared for an emergency situation - should one arise. I could easily be caught off guard and be in peril.
In situation #2 I am freaking out and panicked. I am so overly worried about every little thing, that the fun has been completely lost and I have allowed my anxiety to get the best of me, and I will also be equally as unprepared should an emergency situation arise.
It's much safer to be somewhere in the middle. Confident in my ability and seemingly "expertise" of the skydive, but also well aware of the risk that I am taking by jumping out of an airplane. Expect the best, but plan for the worst. Every time I jump, I know that while things will mostly likely go as planned, there is a very good chance that things could get dicey. Living in the middle allows you to use emotions from both ends of the spectrum and cherry pick the best parts of both scenarios.
Now I'll make this same analogy about something that you can actually relate to...and that's our current situation - COVID-19. There are two types of emotions on this pandemic.
Side #1 thinks of this time as a vacation, time away from work, drinking every night, it's time to party! The world is just shut down for a silly flu bug, scientists and government officials don't know what they're talking about - the media is blowing it all out of proportion anyways.
Side #2 is freaking out as though this is the apocalypse. Hoarding supplies, hiding indoors, cutting off from the outside world. These people are consumed with the news, consumed with the negative side of social media, and are constantly on edge about what's going to happen in the next hour? There's no way we can survive!
Truth is - emotionally - we are best off somewhere in the middle of this scale. Not panicked, but vigilant...and not flippant, but rational. A beautiful balance of vigilance and rationality is ideal. You're right in the middle.
You realize that this is a serious problem of historic proportions, but you also realize that this too shall pass like all things. Life will be different, for sure, but it is not by any means the end of the world. There IS light at the end of the tunnel...we just don't know how far the tunnel goes...
Still freaking out? Still sad? Think about this:
Take some solace knowing that we have scientists around the world who are literally losing sleep on a day to day basis trying to find a vaccine or treatment. It's their job and they will stop at nothing to find a vaccine.
It's okay to be happy during these times. It's okay to be sad sometimes. But most of all, if you can find a way to live in the middle of those two emotions for a majority of the time, you just might find that balance can bring you the calm you need to get through another day. If all that doesn't work, try meditation! I wrote a blog on that a few weeks ago...
Stay healthy. Stay safe. Mind your MENTAL health and I'll talk to you next week.