There are so many things that have been exposed under a brighter light this year that I want to comment on. Systematic racism and politics just being a couple. Last post, I touched on Covid-19 and the physical effects it had on me (disclaimer – or so I believe…I never was tested for Covid when I was that ill, nor am I able to obtain a serology test to see if I have antibodies).
I can’t move on from Covid-19 without saying something about how this pandemic has affected us all…mentally. Let me start by stating that I am an introvert…this does not mean I am antisocial, because I’m far from it…it means I really, really like my alone time. That being said, the ongoing isolation from the people I love most in this world due to my devotion to doing the right thing to minimize the risk to everybody – keeping to my household except for work and essential trips to the grocery and liquor stores – has made me a little fucking crazy. Me…a self confessed introvert who likes to be alone.
It got me thinking, if this has been hard on my mental health, what the hell is it like for others that don’t enjoy being alone…or suffer from mental health issues already? It has really brought the importance of good mental health to the forefront of my mind. It affects our productivity and drive, not to mention the way we interact with others both professionally and personally. Poor mental health also makes us more vulnerable to turning to addictions to help us cope…or am I the only person who is drinking more alcohol than I did previous to this year?
Anyone who watches or reads the news regularly can see how mental illness is predominate in those with addiction issues, are homeless and who commit violent crimes. I can’t help but think that we need to do more as a country and a society to combat mental health stigma, and provide more resources to those who treat our most vulnerable to mental illness. I don’t profess to know how we achieve that, though I do have a few thoughts on the matter….
- For starters, I believe we need to provide a system that teaches or treats people to cope without turning to drugs and alcohol…or self harm…or harming others, without making them wait months or some cases, years to access it.
- To do that, we need to allocate more dollars to mental health wellness. I hope that means we’ll be able to divert some money from our police departments instead of paying more in taxes. It makes common sense to me that a mentally stable society should lead to less crime. Or if your dead set against diverting money from our police, to task our police departments to use a bigger portion of what they do get to build up or expand partnerships between the police and mental health professionals so we all can feel safe…including both the mentally ill and the officers who attend them.
- That system needs to be built on a no shame foundation. One who is already struggling shouldn’t be made to feel like weakling to need and seek out help. We need to educate ourselves and others that mental illness is not about being weak…it’s about being human. Our minds are not invincible, they can break. And with that statement, anyone who is struggling with the challenges that Covid-19 has placed on so many, and feels they’re near a breaking point, then please seek professional help. There are crisis lines you can call. In British Columbia, Canada, you can call the following number or click the link for more information. 310-Mental Health (310-6789 – no need to dial an area code):
Although all of us are feeling some degree of stress and isolation, not all of us will need to seek professional help. For many of us its just a matter of finding an outlet. Writing again, even if it’s only a small blog that is never going to bring me fame and fortune, has helped my mental health tremendously. It has given me the means to expel the non-stop thoughts swirling around in circles in my head…I was starting to run out of room in there. Now for you, it may not be writing a blog…it may be meditation, or painting, or writing a song, or cranking the music and dancing your ass off, or exercise, or learning something new, the list of things we can do by ourselves or with our families at home goes on.
If so, until you find your outlet, whatever that may be, keep in mind that this too shall pass. When it does, I ask you to please try to remember how you felt during this time. The stress, the anxiety, the loneliness and how it affected you mentally. I’m not a mental health expert nor a politician who can allocate budgets and I don’t expect you are either. But what I can do, for now anyway, is treat everybody with patience, compassion and dignity (even the Karens…I don’t know what they’ve been through today), and encourage you to as well. I believe even that small gesture will have an impact on those who are suffering, those with the power to invoke change and yes, even on our own self esteem.
Until next time, keep yourselves in love,